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April 01, 2007

Chocolate Fragrances : From Flowers to Woods

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Bittersweet and lusciously smooth, redolent of roasted nuts and foiled in delicate spicy notes, alluding to late August roses and ripe berries…. The contrasting and intriguing flavours present in a piece of fine chocolate are the reason for its irresistible allure. Those who love chocolate would not be surprised that more than 2000 years ago the Maya Indians not only created the first beverage from the crushed cocoa beans, but also built temples embellished with images of the cocoa pod. Michelle Krell Kydd has vividly described the beautiful marriage of olfactory and gustatory pleasures inherent in chocolate. I would like to continue the discussion by offering an overview of perfumes that beautifully explore the idea of chocolate, whether they actually rely on chocolate aroma-materials or create the effect via other notes. I hope that my list will go beyond the usual feminine gourmand offerings and will inspire even those who do not have a particularly strong sweet tooth.…

Created in 1982 (more than a decade before Thierry Mugler Angel), Annick Goutal Eau de Charlotte is one of the first fragrances to use the chocolate note. Paired with the leathery warmth of mimosa and the verdant tartness of blackcurrant, the bittersweet cocoa is memorable and sophisticated.

Armani Privé Ambre Soie is a fragrance which makes me think of melting chocolate. The composition creates this effect via warm spices, rich amber and effervescent patchouli.

Bvlgari Omnia is a soft fragrance that gently clings to the skin. Its spicy and gourmand touches are subtle ornaments over its elegant woody form. Created by Alberto Morillas, it possesses a seductive aura like other fragrances created by this great perfumer.

Chanel Coco is another fragrance that contains no chocolate notes, and yet it conjures the decadent pleasure of eating bittersweet chocolate with its intoxicating combination of rose, clove, leather and sandalwood. The animalic and incensy tones of its opulent resinous base further heighten the chocolate illusion.

Christian Dior Dior Homme is an interesting combination of chilly iris with the nutty sweetness of cocoa bean. Finished with a smooth touch of leather, the fragrance possesses a refined character as well as an edgy quality.

Estée Lauder Youth Dew Amber Nude is an oriental fragrance based on amber and resins, including chocolate absolute. Much more than a new take on the classical Youth Dew, Youth Dew Amber Nude explores the novel direction of a gourmand theme—dark and mysterious, rather than sweet and pretty. Radiant and weightless, despite its dusky character, Youth Dew Amber Nude is a stunning beauty.

Frédéric Malle Musc Ravageur is a fragrance that manages to capture the seductive effect of chocolate in a rather unexpected manner—via its rich animalic accord. Taste the bittersweet chocolate and notice that it contains quite a few animalic facets, ranging from an indolic jasmine like note to leathery spiciness. Likewise, Musc Ravageur brings to mind the same multifaceted effect given its beautiful composition of woods, resins and spices.

L’Artisan Parfumeur Piment Brûlant is a vision of sweet red peppers dusted with cocoa powder -- a fragrance that is subtle and understated, marked by an interesting juxtaposition of green vegetal and creamy woody notes.

Serge Lutens Borneo 1834 is an austere and dry chocolate note, lacking the honeyed, melting sweetness that one might expect from it. Yet, its minimalist and paired down form is striking and distinctive, reminiscent as much of charred wood as it is of mouthwatering desserts.

The chocolate illusion of Serge Lutens Vétiver Oriental resides in the luscious and smooth quality of its woods and vetiver accord. It conjures the decadent richness of chocolate and teases the senses, without ever becoming sweet and trite.

S-Perfume 100% Love created by perfumer Sophia Grojsman takes the rose and chocolate pairing into a completely unexpected direction -- seductive and irresistible, with classical elegance and a quirky character.

Thierry Mugler Angel and Angel Men – no discussion of chocolate can overlook Angel, the fragrance that engendered a whole new gourmand genre of fragrances. Fresh and crisp notes are layered with the warm richness of chocolate, honey and caramel. Even if the success of Angel made it rather ubiquitous, one cannot deny its genius. Although Angel Men was marketed to men, it is a great fragrance for women, being less sweet and somewhat duskier in spirit than its feminine counterpart.

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