The Last Word

Even as the fragrance industry addresses the recent European Union Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) opinion, which threatens the use of certain perfumery ingredients, New York’s Museum of Arts and Design has unveiled “The Art of Scent 1889–2012,” a historical survey of key fragrances that highlights the creative and ingredient innovations that have shaped perfumery over the past century. The exhibition represents a unique foray into the formal appreciation of perfumery, its creative talents and its ingredients. The presentation and impending EU actions led P&F to begin a series of dialogues with perfumers to learn more about their favorite ingredients and their effects, and what a broad palette means for these creative and technical professionalsa. “The creative perfumer’s job is like that of an artist,” says Janardhanan Mahalingam, a senior perfumer for Givaudan APAC in Singapore. Mahalingam’s prized ingredients include a-amyl cinnamaldehyde, Lilialb, citronellol, Peru balsam, vetiver oil, geranium oil, sandalwood oil, lavender and jasmine absolute, some of which have fallen under regulatory scrutiny. The perfumer notes that while some of the commodity synthetics bring high odor value and cost-effectiveness, key naturals can “bring wonder” in even small doses. “If an artist has a variety of color shades to create a picture, it will be well-appreciated,” says Mahalingam. “I look at the palette of ingredients the same way. At the same time, I would like to stress the formulas should not be very long to be effective.”

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