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Clearing the Air: In Praise of Synthetics Part 2

Posted: January 22, 2008

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Sims: This is essentially the role of perfumery today. This is what perfumers are good at: knowing when to use the naturals and when to use the synthetics in order to create a beautiful winning fragrance. One of my favorite examples, which Bruce already mentioned, is Tom Ford’s Tobacco Vanille. That fragrance has a lot of synthetics in it but without the use of patchouli the fragrance would not have the same character.

Garlick: Although by and large natural ingredients play a fairly small role in a finished fragrance, unless it’s a lavender or citrus fragrance, it is a very important role. If you want to create a lavender or citrus note, we, as perfumers, rely on the natural oils. We rely on oils like patchouli, because these are notes that cannot be reproduced synthetically.

The idea of a perfumer’s palette being limited to all synthetic or all natural would severely restrict a perfumer’s creativity. I think a majority of the fragrances in fine fragrance and personal care contain both synthetics and naturals. As perfumers it’s important for us to make the point that while the emphasis of this interview has been on the value of synthetics, naturals are just as important. We are asked frequently to make all-natural fragrances, but it is much harder to make than an all synthetic fragrance, because your palette is so limited.

Sims: I think we will see an increase in requests for all-natural fragrances. We are happy to create natural fragrances and for a segment of consumers it is important for them, but we just don’t want to get into a situation where the claim of all-natural means that synthetics are bad.