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October 26, 2005

Fragrance Ingredient: Hedione

Jasmine_grand What makes a perfect jasmine perfume? Jasmine absolute contains more than 300 different components, and traditionally, inspiration comes from the constituents identified. The aromachemicals would be combined in such a way as to replicate the fruity, flowery and animalic facets of jasmine, with additional green notes for capturing jasmine sambac. The effect of hedione (Firmenich tradename, also known as methyl dihydrojasmonate) on jasmine notes can be compared to a sunray hitting a flower. Given its ability to lend a radiant, warm quality to the floral notes, the perfume history of the last thirty years is incomplete without a discussion of hedione.

Hedione combines remarkably well with various perfumery materials, and its first significant usage of 2% was seen in Christian Dior Eau Sauvage, created by Edmond Roudnitska in 1966. A layer of luminous jasmine against the backdrop of herbs, patchouli, woods and coumarin makes Eau Sauvage revolutionary in its ability to interpret floral notes in the domain of masculine perfumery. ...

The influence of Eau Sauvage was felt in the coming years, with fragrances like Eau de Rochas and Ô de Lancôme, among many others, deriving inspiration from its refined aura.

Another Roudnitska’s fragrance that heavily relied on hedione was Christian Dior Diorella (1972), an elegant composition pairing a peachy quality of aldehyde C14 (same one as was used in Guerlain Mitsouko) against a veil of diffusive green jasmine, with the entire arrangement supported by a chypre base of patchouli, oakmoss and vetiver. Dominated by floral and patchouli notes, Diorella almost begets a category of its own, despite the fact that it is often classified as chypre. Clinique Aromatics Elixir launched in the same year as Diorella explores a similar combination of hedione and patchouli, adding a heavier touch of rose and lily of the valley to the arrangement.

In 1976, Jean-Claude Ellena’s beautiful floral bouquet, First by Van Cleef&Arpels incorporated an even larger of percentage of hedione in its formula, lending a radiant shimmering quality to the composition that almost makes it seem as if flowers unfold slowly on the skin. Finally, in 1998, Martine Pallix created Comme de Garçons Odeur 53, which contains the highest percentage of hedione on the market, making up more than half of the formula.

Hedione, like another larger molecule material Iso E Super, possesses not only high diffusion, but also tenacity. As it evaporates, hedione seems to remain in the air, which is an important quality, making it one of the most popular perfume materials. It is used to accent many compositions, therefore it is next to impossible to list all of the fragrances containing hedione. Interestingly enough, some marketing descriptions tend to include it among the notes, such as Kenzo Flower (wild hawthorn, Bulgarian rose, parma violet, cassia, hedione, white musk and vanilla), Pure Perfume by Jil Sander (hedione, wild cyclamens and green notes), Lauren Style by Ralph Lauren, and Gai Mattiolo Uomo, to name a few.

References: Calkin, Robert and J. Stephan Jellinek. Perfumery: Practice and Principles. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, 1994. Kraft, P.; Bajgrowicz, J. A.; Denis, C.; Fráter, G. Odds and Trends: Recent Developments in the Chemistry of Odorants, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2000, 39, 2980–3010.

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