Diabetes is epidemic. Obesity is increasing, even among children. And right now, most of the hot new perfumes smell like sugar. Traditional perfume notes typically included flowers, plants, certain tree barks, spices, and a few unusual ingredients like ambergris and musk.
The most common "edible" notes in the perfumist's repertoire were citrus scents. In fact, the world's first cologne was a citrus scent. Created in Cologne, Germany, it was marketed as Cologne Water and quickly got branded 4711 after the street number of the factory. You can still buy the centuries-old fragrance today (available through http://www.4711.
com). Fragrances in the Far East often used pineapple and other fruit-inspired notes. Today, fruity fragrances are so popular they have even started their own perfume genre.
You can sometimes search fragrance websites for "fruity florals" or "fresh" type scents. An even newer twist on the market are the sugar-inspired scents. It is hard to say when the trend toward sweet perfumes started, but they're very common today. One of the world's most famous sugary scents is Thierry Mugler's Angel, which comes in a very striking star-shaped bottle that reclines rather than stands upright.
Angel is a complicated scent, though. It's also got notes of chocolate and other spicy woody elements. A more playful sugary scent is Aquolina's Pink Sugar. With a smell that is strikingly close to cotton candy, it's a youthful fun fragrance. Unlike Angel, which is heavier and more sophisticated, Pink Sugar is light stuff. Hannae Mori is also a sugary scent, but one that is more grown-up both in composition and price.
My first introduction to the world of sugar in perfume came from Fresh which is well known for Sugar Blossom, Lemon Sugar, and just plain Sugar. All three scents are a completely different approach to the sugar note. They are all sugar-citrus blends. Starting with Sugar and then progressing to Sugar Blossom and finally Lemon Sugar, the citrus component gets increasingly more dominant. The beauty of the Fresh scents is that they are light and casual. Although available as eau de parfum, the Fresh scents remind me a bit in attitude of the original 4711 cologne.
These are great summer-time scents. Now if you like it heavy on the sugar light on the fruit, go for Sugar rather than Lemon Sugar. Of course, mixing food scents into perfume is going toward the tropical as well. Carol's Daughter makes a scent called Groove with a strong fruit punch, mostly peach. Another unexpected place to find some dramatic peach notes is a much more mysterious, smokier fragrance known as Chinatown by Bond No.
9. Chinatown has strong patchouli overtones, to me at least, but there are some top notes of peach. Escada's Sunset Heat is another tropical scent. Bond No. 9 also unveiled a new scent to its extensive collection this summer with an unusual twist.
Coney Island states that its notes include "Margarita mix." I am thinking this is a lime-sugar note, but I have yet to experience the actual scent. So why are we so eager to scent our bodies so we smell like food? Number one, the art of perfumery has changed a great deal in the past century with the increasing use of synthetic ingredients. In fact, synthetic ingredients have put a lot of new and different notes into the perfume bottle. The original perfumers could work with only natural ingredients, which were of erratic quality and not always abundantly available.
Today, a perfumer works in a lab which can cook up scents with names like "ozone" or "ocean breeze" or "clothes line." And speaking of labs, the same labs that make fragrances also make flavorings for food. Food flavoring additives are a huge business and are essentially a fragrance component that goes into the food. For foodies, taste is what you experience on your tongue but flavor is what you experience in your nose and mouth. When we bite into a Delicious apple or dig into a dish of chili or take a first bite of fresh-baked rye bread with butter, we are smelling the food as much as tasting it.
Perhaps it was inevitable that labs that made sugar and spice and lime and lemon and Margarita mix flavorings would start experimenting with these things in perfume. Not everyone likes the new sugary notes in perfume. Some people find them an acquired taste. The first time a perfume friend of mine tried a citrus sugar scent, she thought she smelled like SpriteŽ.
Many Europeans associate citrus smells with baby products (just as Americans associate powdery scents with babies). The emergence of fruit and sugary perfumes is a new wrinkle that has created a lot of excitement (not to mention new scents) in the perfume market. At this time, it is tough to predict if this is a momentary fad, a temporary trend, or a real shift in what is and what is not acceptable in a female fragrance. Interesting note: the rise of sugar in perfume in the West tracks onto the increased consumption of sugar and rising obesity levels. Are we just food obsessed? Is perfume really that close to food? So far, I think the interest in food-flavorings in perfume is more of an offshoot of our processed food supply. We find these scents appealing.
And so far, only bits and pieces of food scents have infiltrated the perfume world. Nobody wears hot dog cologne or bacon perfume. Just as flowers please our nostrils, so does the sweet smell of certain fruits and sugar itself.
Looking for more information on perfumes? For musings on new scents, reviews, and information on the exciting world of fragrance, check out http://www.theperfume-reporter.com . Joanna McLaughlin wrote this article and she also blogs at http://www.perfumecrazy.blogspot.com . Her favorite scent today is Hannae Mori.