In the complicated world of perfumery, fragrances are not just ingredients and notes that are danced together. They are the fruit of stories, rituals and associated cultures. Let’s travel to the four corners of the world to discover some well-kept secrets…
Asia: the birthplace of perfumery
The art of perfume in Asia is an expression of culture, tradition and spirituality. Asian countries have a thousand-year history of creating and using fragrances, each with its own practices and cultural influences. Asia is known as one of the cradles of perfumery, with historical evidence of perfumes dating back thousands of years. The oldest civilisations in Asia, such as India, China and Japan, all contributed to the development of the art of perfume.
The traditional uses of perfumes in Asia
India: incense and spices
India is famous for its rich, spicy fragrances, which play an essential role in culture and spirituality. Incense, such as ‘nag champa’, features in religious rituals and meditation. Jasmine and rose scents are popular in India, worn by women at ceremonies and weddings. Spices such as saffron and cardamom are used in perfumes and essential oils.
Japan: zenitude and serenity
In Japan, fragrance is closely linked to spirituality and Zen meditation. Natural incense, such as kyara wood and sandalwood, promotes concentration and tranquillity. Matcha green tea is also an emblematic Japanese fragrance, a symbol of simplicity and calm.
China: incense and traditional medicine
In China, fragrances have been used for medicinal, spiritual and everyday purposes for thousands of years. Incense, aromatic plants and herbs were commonly used. Traditional Chinese medicine also incorporates the use of scents to diagnose and treat illness.
The key ingredients in Asian perfumery
Asian perfumes often incorporate natural ingredients specific to each region to create unique fragrances. Flowers, precious woods, spices and resins play a central role in the composition of fragrances. Examples include jasmine and lotus in India, sandalwood in Japan and incense in China.
Olfactory preferences: choose discretion
Here, we like floral notes, and that goes for women as well as men! Consumers prefer the delicate scents of flowers and fruit trees. So go for refinement.
Europe: elegance and luxury
Europe has always been synonymous with elegance and luxury when it comes to perfumery. France and Italy have played a predominant role in the development of world-renowned perfumery.
France: the world capital of perfumery
The history of French perfumery goes back several centuries. In the 17th century, under the reign of Louis XIV, French perfumery became a flourishing industry with the opening of the first perfume shop in Paris. It was in the 18th century that France consolidated its reputation as the world’s perfume capital, thanks to talented perfumers… and Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, the anti-hero of Patrick Süskind’s novel “Le Parfum”.
The great French perfume houses have become renowned institutions, including Chanel, Dior, Guerlain and many others. These houses have created some of the most iconic fragrances in the history of perfumery, such as the legendary Chanel N°5 and Guerlain’s Shalimar, to name but a few.
The influence of Provence and the Côte d’Azur on French fragrances is undeniable. Famous for its lavender, rose and jasmine fields, the region serves as a resource for many perfumers. With its sunny climate, it has given birth to iconic perfumes and an equally iconic town: Grasse, the world capital of perfume, and its craftsmen whose skills are recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Italy: art and romance in the Mediterranean
Italy too has a special place in the art of perfumery in Europe, imbued with the sunny atmosphere and richness of the Mediterranean.
The combination of citrus fruits and Mediterranean herbs is a distinctive feature of Italian fragrances. Citrus fruits such as Sicilian lemon, Calabrian bergamot and blood orange are used to give Italian fragrances their bright, lively character. Mediterranean herbs such as rosemary and lavender add a touch of authenticity to these fragrances.
Italy also has a well-established tradition of artisan perfumery. A city like Florence is famous for its master perfumers who perpetuate artisanal manufacturing techniques handed down from generation to generation. These artisans create bespoke fragrances, using high-quality ingredients to satisfy the most demanding tastes.
Leather perfumes and Venetian leather are another Italian speciality. Inspired by Venetian tradition, these fragrances evoke luxury and sophistication. They often combine notes of leather, amber and wood to create sensual, elegant fragrances.
The olfactory preferences of Europeans
Europeans have been nourished by the world’s different olfactory cultures, and love a variety of notes, including floral, gourmand, opulent and leathery accords.
Northern Europe: simplicity and freshness
In Northern Europe, olfactory preferences are characterised by minimalist scents. This region, which includes countries such as Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Iceland, stands out for its sober, elegant approach to perfumery.
Light, non-intrusive scents
In Northern Europe, preference is often given to discreet, light fragrances that don’t dominate the space but blend harmoniously with the skin. This region appreciates fragrances that are not intrusive, that don’t overwhelm the senses, and that leave a subtle imprint.
Fresh, airy notes
Fragrances are composed of notes such as mint, bergamot, lavender and cucumber. These notes evoke cleanliness, nature and well-being, in keeping with the Nordic philosophy of simplicity and connection with nature.
The influence of nature and design
Respect for nature
Northern Europe is renowned for its commitment to preserving nature and the environment. Fragrances from the region incorporate notes of native plants, forest woods and wild herbs. This environmentally-friendly approach is reflected in the fragrance compositions.
Their olfactory preferences
Nordics are keen to express their own style and personality through their choice of perfume, even if it remains subtle. Light, fresh fragrances are favoured, combined with a refined aesthetic.
The American continent
This continent reflects a fascinating cultural diversity spanning thousands of years and encompassing a wide range of historical, ethnic and environmental influences. From the icy tundras of Alaska to the rainforests of Amazonia and the arid deserts of the American Southwest, this vast land offers a rich choice of fragrances.
A vast expanse
One of the most striking features of North America is the association between nature and fragrance. The vast expanses of coniferous forests in the northern regions give off a fresh, woody aroma. On the other hand, the fields of wildflowers on the prairies of the Midwest offer floral scents. Canadians, for example, have a particular fondness for the fresh, clean smell of mountain and lake air.
It has to be said that the Aboriginal influence in North America has also played a major role in shaping olfactory preferences. Native peoples have traditionally used aromatic plants such as sage, cedar and tobacco in spiritual rituals and purification ceremonies. These fragrances are still valued for their deep cultural significance.
In Central and South America, where tropical climates abound, olfactory preferences are often linked to the richness of the flora and fauna. The bustling markets of Latin American cities are filled with the scent of exotic fruits, spices and freshly roasted coffee. Coffee in particular has become emblematic in Latin America, and the smell of a freshly brewed cup is a daily comfort in the region.
On the other hand, in the desert regions of the American Southwest, such as Arizona and New Mexico, the air is charged with a distinctive smell. It’s that of desert sage and the spices that are often used in the local cuisine!
When migratory history comes into play…
America’s migratory history has also left its mark on the continent’s olfactory preferences. The influence of European, Asian, African and other cultures has brought a variety of exotic aromas to the United States and beyond. Fragrances from Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Indian and other cultures have found their way into the American olfactory landscape.
If we go back to the modern era, hygiene and perfumery products should smell clean, delicious, sweet and fruity. It’s the quintessential expression of opulence.
West Africa: raw, heady fragrances
West Africa is a region of the world rich in cultures and traditions, including perfumery.
Perfumery traditions among African tribes
In West Africa, many tribes have developed their own perfumery traditions. These traditions are often linked to rituals, traditional medicine and daily life. Perfumes are sprayed to adorn, purify and communicate with the spirits.
In some tribes, women wear perfumes made from essential oils extracted from local plants and herbs. These perfumes are designed to seduce and attract the attention of men. In other tribes, perfumes are used in religious and healing ceremonies to create a sacred atmosphere.
The Middle East: perfumes of tradition and royalty
The Middle East is a crossroads for perfumery: the art of creation is based on culture, religion and history. This region of the world is famous for its opulent fragrances and exotic ingredients, creating a rich olfactory heritage.
The use of fragrances in the Middle East
In the Middle East, fragrances play a major role in daily life and ceremonies. Here, fragrances are worn with pride, not only as an expression of beauty, but also as a mark of respect.
Fragrances are also used in religious rituals, particularly in Islam. Incense and scented oils are used in mosques and during prayers to create a spiritual and sacred atmosphere.
Fragrances based on oud, amber and rose
The Middle East is famous for the use of certain key ingredients in perfumery. Oud, also known as ‘liquid gold’, is one of the most precious and emblematic of these ingredients. It is extracted from agarwood and gives rise to a rich, woody and sensual fragrance. Oud is a symbol of luxury and prestige in the region.
Amber creates deep, warm fragrances. It is often combined with woody, spicy and balsamic notes to create rich, complex compositions.
Rose, with its delicate, floral fragrance, is another emblematic ingredient. It is used to create soft, bewitching fragrances, and is worn by women and men alike.
In the Middle East, men and women particularly appreciate powerful, woody, musky and spicy fragrances. Power and long lasting scents are key!
And what about us?
At Carrement Belle, we draw our inspiration from encounters and travels and awaken our senses to all cultures. We’ve created fragrances from every olfactory family to suit all the tastes of your discerning noses! Fragrance is rich when it immerses us in a sensory journey and takes us on a journey…