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Style : Looks : Making Scents: A Perfume Primer

August 18, 1991

It used to be so simple. When you wanted perfume or men's cologne, there were only a few big names--Guerlain, Chanel, Givenchy, English Leather, Old Spice. All that changed in 1973, when Revlon's Charlie made an unprecedented $15-million splash. Ever since, we've been deluged with new scents in artfully designed bottles, beautifully packaged and promoted. So many, in fact, that relative newcomers such as Giorgio Beverly Hills and even Obsession now seem like vintage perfumes.

This year, the Fragrance Foundation in New York has already recorded 38 new scents, 22 of them for women and 16 for men. Ralph Lauren's Safari, Cover Girl's Navy and Max Factor's California for Men--all 1990 standouts that are still going strong--have been joined by Calvin Klein's Escape, SpellBound from Estee Lauder, Elizabeth Taylor's White Diamonds and Egoiste by Chanel, among others.

But even in the age of these blockbuster 4 fragrances, there are some things that never change. 2 For example, the most concentrated (and therefore the most expensive) form of women's fragrance remains perfume, 3 followed by eau de parfum, eau de toilette and cologne; men can choose from cologne, after shave and body splash. Fragrances still fall into a handful of categories: floral, Oriental, citrus, woodsy and a new classification called "fresh." All contain scores of aromatic ingredients, some derived from real flowers, herbs and spices and others manufactured in laboratories to simulate the smell of, say, an ocean breeze or mountain air.

When selecting a fragrance, it's best not to sample everything in sight. After just three whiffs, your nose will lose its ability to distinguish one scent from another. Be sure to spritz or dab the fragrance on your skin, and not inside the cap of the tester, since the best way to wear perfume is on pulse points--the nape of the neck, wrists and ankles. Your body heat and skin chemistry will intensify a fragrance in a unique way, so what smells wonderful on you may smell quite different on your friends. And first impressions can be deceiving: Give a fragrance enough time to develop so that you can familiarize yourself with its subtle top, middle and base notes.

In the end, you may discover that you favor a classic such as White Linen or Aramis. Or you may find that you are partial to one of the newer scents shown here. In either case, you should follow your nose--and let it pick your potion.

FLORAL: Year-Round Blooms Floral fragrances account for the majority of women's perfumes (but never men's colognes). They contain the pleasing smells, both natural and synthetic, of a variety of flowers, common and exotic alike. Typical ingredients include the essential oils of rose, jasmine, orange blossom, gardenia, iris, tuberose, marigold and lily of the valley. A light floral is delicate enough to wear at the office. A heavy floral is sultry, the scent to wear for a night on the town.

Floral Fragrances

Anais Anais by Jean Cacharel

Aromatics Elixir by Clinique

Beautiful by Estee Lauder

Beverly Hills by Gale Hayman

Bill Blass

Bill Blass Basic Black

Bill Blass Hot

Bill Blass Nude

Carel by Visage Beaute

Carolina Herrera

Chanel No. 5

Chanel No. 19

Chanel No. 22

Charlie by Revlon

Charlie Express by Revlon

Chloe by Elizabeth Arden

Clinique Wrappings

Cristalle by Chanel

Escape by Calvin Klein

(currently launching)

Eternity by Calvin Klein

Fendi

Giorgio Beverly Hills

Gucci No. 3

Halston by Revlon

Jaclyn Smith's California

by Max Factor

Jardins de Bagatelle by Guerlain

JOOP! Pour Femmes

by Wolfgang Joop

(to be launched this fall)

KL by Karl Lagerfeld

Knowing by Estee Lauder

L'Arte di Gucci

(currently launching)

Lauren by Ralph Lauren

Le Jardin d'Amour

by Max Factor

Le Jardin de Max Factor

Le Jardin Fleur de Rose

by Max Factor

Listen

Moments by Priscilla Presley

Murasaki by Shiseido

Must de Cartier

Norell by Revlon

Only by Julio Iglesias

Paloma Picasso

Panthere de Cartier

Paris by Yves Saint Laurent

Passion by Elizabeth Taylor

RED by Giorgio Beverly Hills

Red Door by Elizabeth Arden

Rive Gauche

by Yves Saint Laurent

Romeo Gigli

Safari by Ralph Lauren

Society by Burberrys

Tea Rose

Tiffany

Tresor by Lancome

273 by Fred Hayman

Beverly Hills

U II by Ultima II

White Diamonds by Eliabeth Taylor

(currently launching)

White Linen by Estee Lauder

Zen by Shiseido

ORIENTAL: Sugar and Spice and More

Unlike floral scents, Oriental fragrances are worn by women and men. Derived from a number of pungent ingredients, these scents often contain the essences of flowers such as carnations, lavender and ylang-ylang and the oils of herbs such as bay leaf, coriander and patchouli. Add to that heady spices such as nutmeg, clove and cinnamon, and these fragrances take on a "warmer," more potent character than floral scents. For that reason, Oriental perfumes and colognes are generally recommended for evening rather than day, and winter rather than summer.

Other Oriental Fragrances

Women:

Bijan

Coco by Chanel

Colors de Benetton

Magie Noire by Lancome

Moschino (currently launching)

Navy by Cover Girl

Obsession by Calvin Klein

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