Layering Fragrances : Perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena's and French Elle Suggestions
There are two schools of thought on layering fragrances. The Purist school holds that the fragrance is a finished work and any tempering with it would destroy the perfect balance that the creator tried to achieve. The Experimentalists, on the other hand, see an interesting potential in layering fragrance in being able to come up with interesting combinations and to personalize one's fragrance choices.
The Experimentalists have a great perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena on their side, who has even suggested interesting layering combinations. A longtime fellow perfume lover and an excellent researcher, Bela has kindly shared with me excerpts from Elle magazine on the topic of perfume layering, which were translated by her from French.
NB: I also highly recommend Bela's website, which includes recordings to help pronounce French perfume names.
The Rules of Successful Layering according to French ELLE magazine:
The safest way to do it is with citrus notes. They blend easily with floral, woodsy and even ambery fragrances. Such combinations enable you to associate two different 'scent worlds' and prevent either of the two fragrances being redundant. How to go about it: spray the stronger perfume first so that the notes from the second perfume get added to the heart and base notes of the first one.
COMBOS PUBLISHED IN FRENCH ELLE (21 July 2003)
Comptoir Sud Pacifique Eau Vanille Abricot + Chanel Coco
Adds a gourmand note to the ambery/woody base of Coco
Kenzo Flower + YSL M7
Adds floral notes to the muskiness of M7; turns it into a feminine scent
L'Artisan Navegar + Annick Goutal Des Lys
Lightens the ambery notes of Navegar and adds a fresh note to them
Sisley Eau de Campagne + Kiehl's Cucumber Spray
Two green scents together. Creates a very soft, summery perfume.
Chanel Cuir de Russie + Shiseido Féminité du Bois
Creates a very rich and sensual fragrance.
Guerlain L'Heure Bleue + Eau de Cédrat
Adds a fresher note to L'Heure Bleue.
L'Artisan Parfumeur Un Zeste d'Eté + Clinique Aromatics Elixir
Adds a fresher note to the ambery and chypre accords of A. Elixir
Thierry Mugler Angel + Hermès Eau d'Orange Verte
Adds fresher notes to the gourmand and slightly oppressive accords of Angel.
PERFUME COMBINATIONS SUGGESTED BY JEAN-CLAUDE ELLENA (FRENCH PERFUME CREATOR) - PUBLISHED IN FRENCH ELLE MAGAZINE
No5 de Chanel
[to enhance the] Iris: Après l'Ondée (Guerlain)
[to enhance the] Masculine notes, aldehydes and lavender: Tabac Original
Shalimar de Guerlain
[to enhance the] Lavender: Pour un Homme (Caron)
[to enhance the] Spices: Pour Homme (Cacharel) or Comme des Garçons
[to enhance the] Patchouli: Etro, Santa Maria Novella
Arpège de Lanvin
[to enhance the]Ylang-ylang: Beauty (Sarah Schwartz)
[to enhance the] Lily of the Valley: Diorissimo
Joy de Patou
[to enhance the] Rose: Ombre Rose (Jean-Charles Brosseau) or Rose Muskissime (Maître-Parfumeur et Gantier)
[to enhance the] Green jasmine: Diorella
Trésor de Lancôme
[to enhance the] Leather: Cuir de Russie (Maître-Parfumeur et Gantier) or Centaure (Cardin)
[to enhance the] Violet: Violette (Berdoues or Floris)
[to enhance the] Rose: Evelyn (Crabtree & Evelyn), Tea Rose (Perfumer's Workshop), Rose du Jardin Retrouvé
Ysatis de Givenchy
Smells wonderful with Féminité du Bois (Shiseido)
Angel de Thierry Mugler
[to enhance the] Fruit: Fuzzy Peach (The Body Shop)
As a contrast: L'Eau d'Issey
L'Air du Temps de Nina Ricci
[to enhance the] Pepper: Poivre (Caron)
Femme de Rochas
[to enhance the] Clove and Cardamom: 4 parts Femme, 1 part Comme des Garçons
Anaïs Anaïs de Cacharel
Daytime: Acqua di Gio
Nighttime: Gio (Armani)
Diorissimo de Christian Dior
[to enhance the] Fresh marine notes: Cool Water for Woman (Davidoff), or Pleasures (Estée Lauder) Blackcurrant: First (Van Cleef & Arpels)
Opium d'Yves Saint-Laurent
[to enhance the] Fruit: Orange Sanguine (Jean-François Laporte), Orange Cannelle (Fragonard)
[to enhance the] Orange blossom (Moroccan effect): Fleurs d'Oranger (Serge Lutens)
[to enhance the] Masculine notes: Old Spice (Shulton)
COMBINATIONS CREATED BY "REAL" FRENCH WOMEN - PUBLISHED IN ELLE MAGAZINE
Iris Silver Mist (Serge Lutens) + Bouton d'Or (L'Artisan Parfumeur)
Aromatics Elixir (Clinique) + Mitsouko (Guerlain)
Aromatics Elixir (Clinique) + Blenheim Bouquet (Penhaligon's)
Aromatics Elixir (Clinique) + Tea Rose (Perfumer's Workshop)
L'Eau du Ciel (Annick Goutal) + Shalimar deodorant
Après l'Ondée (Guerlain) + Violette de Parme
A few drops of Cuir Mauresque (Serge Lutens) + Mitsouko deodorant
Cerruti 1881 + Pino Silvestre
Mûre et Musc (L'Artisan Parfumeur) + White Musc (The Body Shop)
Habanita (Molinard) body lotion + Shalimar (Guerlain)
24 Faubourg (Hermès) + Eau de Campagne (Sisley) bath oil
Lolita Lempicka + Eau Trois (Diptyque)
Thank you again, Bela!
Image: beautiful layering of colors and brush strokes by painter Séraphine Louis (also known as Séraphine de Senlis,) Musée Maillol, from flickr, some rights reserved.