Olfactory Families

Every year, more than 200 new perfumes are launched on the market. They are feminine, masculine or unisex and even sometimes for children. They are added to the perfumes already existing even if a small number disappears at the same time. To describe all of them, we use olfactory families.

The French perfumers’ society (SFP) chooses this classification to :

  • better discern them from one to another,
  • help to describe,
  • define more precisely the olfactory pyramid,
  • write a clear and precise brief,
  • guide and advise clients in their purchase choice.

These seven groups allow to bring perfumes with the same characteristic scent together.
The “olfactory perfume families” are different from “olfactory raw material families” ; for example the green family exists for raw material but not as a principal perfume family.

Seven principal olfactory families

  • Hespéridé family ; turns around the citrus fruits, bringing together colognes.
  • Floral family ; the most important one until today and mostly feminine.
  • Chypre family ; born from François Coty perfume “Chypre” in 1917, this family is based on oak moss, ciste-labdanum, patchouli and bergamot chord.
  • Fougère family ; accord of lavender and woody notes, associated with geranium, bergamot or oak moss, its name come from Houbigan perfume “Fougère Royale” launched in 1882.
  • Woody family ; originally rather masculine, this family is today as appreciated by men as women.
  • Amber-Oriental family ; this family makes us travel around vanilla, warm, spicy and resinous notes.
  • Leather family ; powerful, smoky perfumes with animal facets. This family was very trendy during the XXe century, but not that much today.

Each of these families has secondary families to precise a little more the perfumes facet. These subfamilies are different for each principal family. To this end, I invite you to consult the SFP website to know more.
However, among these principal olfactory families, even before characterize them with a subfamily I would add two more. It seems to me that today a lot of perfumes are very fruity like “La Petite Robe Noire” and its cherry note, the Hugo Boss perfumes and their apple notes… Others are very gourmet like Black Opium or Noir Exquis with this coffee note. They are thus fruity before being floral, aromatic or woody, gourmet before being oriental.
By the way, in different creation house another classification from SFP one exists even if it stays the reference.

Olfactory subfamilies

Once the principal family identified, subfamilies come to precise a little bit more the perfume universe. These subfamilies look like the olfactive raw materials families. You will be able to find the aldehydic, fruity or green family.
Some subfamilies are specific to a principal family. For example, in florals, some perfumes like “Diorissimo” are soliflore. It means that they interpret only one flower ; in this case, lily of the Valley. On the contrary, floral bouquet perfumes exist, like Anaïs Anaïs.

Should we choose a family before choosing our perfume ?

I would say no. As I told you, from a society to another, the families can slightly change. Sometimes, for certain perfumes classify them in a family rather than another can be delicate and professionals might have difficulties to agree. So, trust your nose and your feelings.
I think that when you are looking for a perfume, you must prepare to be surprised. Sometimes, its name or bottle could displease you, sometimes they do not look like to any of your old perfume but it still pleases you.
For all these reasons, when I create a bespoke perfume, I like to create from an artwork, a personality, a music, a life story or a passion. Much more than starting from an olfactory pyramid already pre-built, very precise whose boxes are often too narrow.