Lily of the Valley


ORTIR Apothecari perfumes are composed using key natural ingredients. But for me, working as a perfumer, it is when I blend them with carefully chosen synthetic ingredients that they truly sing.

Most modern fragrances (since1882 that is) are composed using natural as well as synthetic ingredients. The benefit to the perfumer is an expanded (and in my opinion a more exciting) palette. For the wearer it adds longevity to the fragrance, as well as helping a scent stay true on the skin.

Many flowers do not release an odour and some that do only yield a tiny precious amount of oil. Take for example the exquisite perfume of lily of the valley. Yes, I can grow it but the flower is impervious to perfume extraction.

So, instead we build ACCORDS – short formulae that mimic the molecular structure of a real (natural) smell or use ISOLATES - synthetic versions that can very often boast their own interesting notes that cannot be found in nature. In both cases perfumers are encouraged to be creative with new interpretations of natural ingredients.

Critical when it comes to protecting rare and endangered species.

Crucial when I’m formulating ORTIR fragrances that only use ethically sourced and sustainable materials.

When we start working with SYNTHETIC ingredients we move into the realm of unnatural or imaginary smells. It is when these are used by the modern perfumer to exciting effect that the magic happens, as was the case with Chanel No 5.

Working with chemist and perfumer Ernest Beaux, Coco Chanel launched Chanel No 5 in 1921. Her eponymous fragrance rose to fame due to its radical use of synthetic aldehydes. These scent molecules, naturally found in citrus and flowers, were used in substantial amounts as top notes adding effervescence and sparkle to the scent. These aroma-chemicals were blended seamlessly into the beautiful floral heart comprised of natural oils including jasmine flower, orange blossom and rose.

This marriage of the exquisite natural harvest together with innovative science-led materials gave birth to a new era of creative possibilities in the world of perfumery.

The debate between natural and aroma chemicals continues: a complex matter of preference, of fashions, of pushing boundaries as well as of sustainability. The addition of aroma chemicals in an otherwise natural accord creates space and helps to diffuse the fragrance when sprayed.

For me, as a perfumer, it is when the magic happens.

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