The fern accord in perfumery

Ferns fragrances are elegant and timeless, and are no longer only for men

Among the different olfactory families, there is an accord with a mysterious name: the fern. But beware and go beyond this name, the fragrances belonging to this family don’t give off the smell of a green plant, but rather fresh and aromatic notes. For a long time confined to men’s perfumery, the fern accord has been making a revolution in recent years! Let’s decipher the multiple facets of these elegant and timeless fragrances.

The birth of the fern family

The era of the clean

Contrary to oriental or woody perfumes, the fern accord only came to light very recently, in view of the history of perfumery. Before the appearance of the first fern fragrance, which would become the leader of this new family, the trend was more towards heavy and animal scents. Indeed, during the Renaissance, opulent fragrances with musk, civet or amber were popular at a time when hygiene was not always a priority. But at the beginning of the 19th century, Napoleon Ist established a new fashion and became a fervent lover of Eau de Cologne, fresh and invigorating. The technical progress of the time also led to the modernization of perfumery and the beginnings of synthetic chemistry. Fragrances became much lighter, and the desire for clean scents, particularly in men’s perfumery, would dominate until the 1960s.

The fern, royal scent

It wasn’t until the end of the 1800s that the fern accord came to life and won its spurs. At that time, the modern man was a true dandy who liked to take care of himself. He made it a point of honor to take care of his hygiene. Barbers and hairdressers for these gentlemen flourished. It is in this universe that the perfume house Houbigant, with the nose Paul Parquet, will launch the fragrance Fougère Royale in 1882. The notes of lavender mixed with geranium and coumarin, reminiscent of the fresh scent of shaving products. Originally designed for women, this fragrance quickly became the leader of a new family of fragrances and seduce men. Guy de Maupassant even became one of its most iconic ambassadors.


Faced with such success, other fragrances with the same olfactory pattern were created a few years later. The appearance of the fern accord thus marked the beginning of men’s perfumery, which favored before toiletries and shaving products. The fresh and woody scent of fern was then widely used by the men’s cosmetics industry. Wr find it in shaving foams, aftershave, shower gel… Indeed, the nuances of fern fragrances bring a clean and light side.

The olfactory characteristics of fern fragrances

The construction of the fern accord is based on a fairly precise structure. These perfumes generally integrate emblematic ingredients such as bergamot, lavender, geranium and coumarin. Let’s take a closer look at the olfactory pyramid of this family of perfumes:

  • The top note: the top note of the fern accord is very fresh and light. We find citrus notes with bergamot, which mixes with aromatic nuances of lavender (we also think of thyme, sage, rosemary or even mint).
  • The middle note: the heart of the fern accord is floral, thanks to the geranium rosat. A very fragrant ingredient which reveals both vegetal and rosy facets. The perfumer can also integrate a carnation accord or rose directly.
  • The base note: the fern accord concludes with woody notes and oakmoss, as well as a soft and powdery sensation brought by the coumarin. This synthetic ingredient, naturally present in the tonka bean, evokes the scent of cut hay. Vetiver, vanilla, amber or leathery notes can also be used as a base note in these compositions.

The different types of fern fragrances

There are generally two types of fern perfumes: aromatic and oriental. Depending on the composition, the fragrance will reveal a more herbaceous and fruitier dimension, or an amber and spicy side. But the olfactory scheme of the fern is often associated with other scents and worked in many ways, creating sub-families. The fern becomes aquatic with water fruits such as melon, woodier and more virile with vetiver, fruity with coconut, cherry or pineapple and more floral with notes of iris or violet. This is one of its strengths, the fern can be declined infinitely.

the eau de parfum alfred kafé highlights coffee and lavender

At Carrément Belle, we have interpreted the fern accord in our own way in a fresh and full-bodied eau de parfum with alfred kafé. This composition takes off in a warm and comforting coffee aroma that awakens your senses and titillates your nose. Then, the aromatic and fresh notes are revealed thanks to bergamot, mint, sage but also lavender which brings a soothing and comforting nuance. This fragrance concludes with woody and balsamic tones, where vanilla, cedar and sandalwood blend to create an unforgettable wake.

The fern undergoes a revolution!

Man or woman?

The fern fragrances evoke the olfactory sensation of a beard soap, an after-shave, a clean side with virile and dynamic notes… That have long confined them to men’s perfumery. But in recent years, this accord has been modernized to seduce women looking for different fragrances. It is in this direction that the oriental or amber facet of the fern has developed. Its brings a more sensual and gourmand shade. Some perfumers even add the famous molecules of benzyle salicylates (which we talk about here), reminiscent of the beach and warm sand. These deeper and warmer notes bring a more nuanced touch of modernity.

New freshness

Although the fern remains known for its tonic, invigorating and dynamic notes, it is orchestrated in a modern way with more fruity, woody or amber facets. Freshness has become the key to these light and easy-to-wear fragrances. Lavender is still present but in the form of a lavandin, which is galvanized with dhydro mercenol, a synthetic molecule that brings power. This olfactory family has also experienced another turning point with woody notes replacing oak moss. This gives a more ambery and warm fragrance, especially thanks to vetiver. The basic accord evolves over time by changing certain ingredients that allow the fern to follow the tastes and desires of our noses.

Did you know about this olfactory family and its so characteristic accord?

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