The Fougère Project, part 3

(Feb 13, 2014) Bryan Ross said:

Funny you mention Moustache, I was just reading a blog post about it from a blog I'd never heard of before:

I hold a degree in graphic design, and I've been toying with the idea of creating my own genealogy chart for masculine fragrances. The only thing holding me back is the scope of my knowledge - a good chart would incorporate at least 150 - 200 fragrances, and I doubt I've smelled enough classic masculines to fully inform the grid. However, it is a pending project, something that might be made as a subjective "revision" to the Fragrance Wheel and the H&R chart.

I want to extend some thoughts to Christos as well. Christos, you say that you can see Cool Water and Jazz being classified as fougeres, but things like Mouchoir de Monsieur and Kouros don't seem to relate (I wager you're indirectly asking, how can they also be fougeres lumped in with the other two) - I have a few thoughts on that. My understanding of fougeres is that they inhabit two different worlds, and there are "bridges" between those worlds that historically connect them to each other. The first world is for the "traditional fougere, while the second is for the "aromatic fougere." Traditional fougeres make heavy use of lavender and other mints, coumarin, musk, and ambery wood notes. Aromatic Fougeres take the same structure but play around with countless variations of lavender "freshness," coumarin's "grassy warmth," and the "earthiness" of musk and wood notes. So you have things like Dunhill and Moustache and Arden Sandalwood in the traditional category, and Cool Water and Kouros in the aromatic category. Bridging them are things like Brut, Agua Brava, and Paco Rabanne - these "bridges" maintain more traditional components than their offspring, but also show evolutionary signs of breaking from tradition in their compositions.

(Feb 13, 2014) jtd said:

Interesting points, Bryan. The wide range of experiences that the fougère category offers is what has intrigued me for so long. I'm interested in the way you place the fougère as an evolving and historic form. I'm often at a loss distinguishing an aromatic fougère from a traditional fougère. And Cool Water baffles me. I can understand that it is technically a fougère, but its aquatic note changes the balance enough that it seems like a whole new genre to my nose. It doesn't 'feel' like a fougère, but compositionally it is.

So with the Jicky/Mouchoir business at one end of the discussion, and Coolwater at the other, the fougère seems to be a very broad and inclusive category.

(Feb 16, 2014) Christos MemoryOfScent said:

This is a wonderful discussion guys!
@jtd, I think our brain is hard-wired to detect notes, even if it smells ingredients. The human brain is incapable of registering "new" stimuli even if it comes into contact with them for the first time. It will either capture a sketchy, blurred image of it and forget about it or it will transcribe it to something already familiar, a note in the case of perfumes. The new stimulus will be registered as such only after repeated exposure and identification. To take the idea a little further, all fragrant ingredients in a bottle will be combined in each person's brain in different ways, filtered by their personal experience, and pictured in a different way, much like through a lens or a camera obscura (I know Bryan does not agree with my theory completely)
@ Bryan, I recently smelled a very interesting scent, DSH Le Smoking. A sample is only $5 so I would be very interested to hear what you have to say about it because it is labelled as a green chypre but in the drydown it smells like a a fougere to me.

(Feb 17, 2014) Bryan Ross said:
@Christos - I'll look into Dawn's scent, thanks for mentioning it. I should also say that I do believe in "hybrids" as a subcategory of fragrance, although I've encountered very few true-blue hybrids. The most commonly mentioned one in my circle is Z-14. It's classified as a leathery/fresh chypre by the H&R but some formulas have a more pronounced lavender note than others (oakmoss versions by EA seem to tune that note up a hair, but only slightly).

@jtd - actually I 90% agree with your last statement, especially in the sense that we process notes and note combinations in ways that include personal associations to certain scents. The 10% where I disagree is only if the idea extends into actually physically smelling the notes differently. One of the reasons I consistently believe that my nose reads fragrance the same as any other olfactorily-functioning person is that the nose has evolved as a protective mechanism. Our noses are designed to protect us from harm, mostly via the intake of "bad" smells produced by spoiled or contaminated food. I wager we all think sour milk smells nasty. The notion that I will smell sour milk and think it smells drinkable, and you will smell it and wrinkle your nose, is I suppose remotely possible but flimsy science. I've published a post on a study that proved people smell things the same way already, but haven't fully addressed the fact that people interpret smells differently. So I may smell soured milk and think, "I'm surprised it doesn't smell worse," while you may smell it and think, "I'm surprised it smells this bad." With fragrances, and especially reformulations, I think interpretations come into play big time. Luca Turin & Tania Sanchez feel that the current Cool Water smells fine, for example. Numerous basenoters gripe on a regular basis that Coty's formula sucks. The same fragrance is being smelled. Different expectations and interpretations are being expressed.

(later) Bryan Ross said: sorry I meant to post as myself there, and also correction, my comment was entirely @ Christos and not jtd

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