Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Cinquieme Sens perfume school. Experiments

My perfume hobby requires ever more serious input now. The expansion of my perfume collection has been deliberately limited by the size of the shelf I chose for it. That space is packed now. So what’s left is collecting something intangible. Now I want to be able to read the perfume composition, define the family, etc. 

Just before Christmas I was lucky to be on a 2-day almost professional course in the Cinquieme Sens perfume school in Paris (next to the Eiffel Tower, the photo above was taken from the school's entrance). 2 days for 7 hours. They start with unexciting stuff about the current industry players and its inner workings. Skip that and read Chandler Burr’s The Emperor of Scent and The Perfect Scent for a full exciting account.

Then the interesting part: introduction to the original perfume ingredients. Firstly, I was given a chance to smell unique perfume materials (which long have been out of stock, or banned for extraction and/or use, or otherwise rare and prohibitively expensive). Musk as it was back then from the deer’s, beaver’s, civet’s bottoms, ambergris, the Mysore sandal and so on. Secondly, they introduce you to the quality modern materials. For example, there’s a striking difference between jasmine from France and Egypt, a distilled rose differs from a rose treated with solvents. Thirdly, all is illustrated by perfume samples which the teaching perfumer keeps fetching from a wine like cellar. The trap door to that scent library is right in the class room. Finally they tell you the truth about the synthetics in perfume.

The perfumer talks enthusiastically and keeps uncorking bottles. I thought you can employ your nose for half an hour… well an hour maximum. But for the whole day?! Apparently it is possible even without getting a headache.

As a result of a two-day endeavor I got:
- 2 handy kits of samples of perfume notes, facets, synthetic reproductions and signature perfumes to study and experiment on my own;
- a good idea about perfume families, notes, tons of information about history, extraction methods, etc.
- access to unique smells.



It all was a bit like a biology, chemistry and history lesson with a lot of interesting experiments. Ah! And Christmas Paris as a bonus…

P.S. It was in English, but that was lucky. They plan to hold another session in English however in April. That one will be full 8 days on perfume materials, 1 day per fragrant group.


  1. точно, интересный опыт. Собираюсь туда в апреле, если все сложится.