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Health, Beauty & Fashion

Good enough to eat

Delicious new scents which smell of vanilla, chocolate, macarons, marshmallows and other food are the latest trend in perfumes.
The Straits Times - October 5, 2012
By: Gladys Chung
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Good enough to eat Kate Spade Twirl EDP, $79 for 30ml (left), Lancome La Vie Est BelleEDP, $98 for 30ml (right) -- ST PHOTOS: DESMOND WEE

The latest perfume trend comes from an unlikely source: the candy bar.

"Gourmand scents" - industry speak for delicious accords of everything from spices such as pink pepper and saffron to spun sugar, macarons and chocolate - are now one of the biggest global trends in premium fragrances.

That is what Mr Nicolas Mirzayantz, group president of fragrances at American scent maker International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF), points out during a recent interview with Urban on the evolution of fragrance trends.

IFF is one of the world's leading fragrance and flavour manufacturers and has created well-known scents such as Clinique's Happy, Lancome's Tresor and Guy Laroche's Drakkar Noir.

Mr Mirzayantz was in Singapore for the opening of IFF's new 12,000 sq m facility in Jurong. The new plant has a production capacity three times that of its previous one here, which was also in Jurong. The facility serves IFF's clients who are expanding their presence in Asia.

"Some of our most successful launches come from perfumers who immerse themselves in the flavours division to find out what drives consumers' preferences from the taste and olfactory points of view," he says.

For example, IFF has done research on the chocolate accords that trigger addiction and how to leverage on that to create fragrances, he adds.

Sophisticated extraction methods, which capture volatile scents so molecules can be accurately replicated, have also helped to boost the popularity of gourmand scents.

Ms Mimi Kumar, a senior scientist at P&G Prestige, which focuses on premium beauty and grooming products for the American beauty conglomerate, explains why advanced technology is crucial.

"When you use, say, chocolate accords in a fragrance, you are not really using chocolate but a synthetic version of it that helps to support the story of the perfume, but not overwhelm it."

Contrary to what some may think, gourmand notes do not necessarily make fragrances smell "sweet and sickly", says Mr Christophe Neuerburg, senior fragrance development manager at IFF.

In fact, the addition of woody and Oriental notes can render the scent suitable for an everyday men's fragrance, he adds.

This year, at least 10 perfumes with gourmand notes were launched here; three of which are men's fragrances.

For women, these include Prada's Candy, with a sweet caramel accord; Lancome's La Vie Est Belle, which contains notes of vanilla, tonka bean, praline, blackcurrant and pear; and Kate Spade's Twirl, which has a hint of macarons.

For men, there are Jean Paul Gaultier's Kokorico, which is infused with a bitter cocoa bean accord; Dolce & Gabbana's Pour Homme, laced with the vanilla-scented tonka bean; and Serge Lutens' Santal Majuscule, available later this month at Escentials, which has hints of cocoa powder mixed with sandalwood.

THE MAGIC FORMULA

There is a good reason brands and perfumers are constantly scrambling for the next hit fragrance - the market for perfumes is growing fast.

In 2010, the Asian fragrance market was worth US$2.86 billion (S$3.52 billion), of which the Singapore market made up US$157 million, or 5 per cent.

Today, the perfume market in Asia has grown by about 14 per cent to reach US$3.27 billion. In Singapore, the market has increased by 11 per cent to hit US$175 million since 2010.

Gourmand notes first appeared about two decades ago in fragrances such as Thierry Mugler's Angel, with its base notes of tonka bean, vanilla, dark chocolate and caramel; and Serge Lutens' Un Bois Vanille with vanilla, tonka bean and black licorice accords.

While vanilla and tonka bean accords are not new, sugary ones such as chocolate, marshmallow and honey started appearing only about two years ago, says Ms Kumar.

There are no official figures on the popularity of gourmand notes over other accords because perfumes are often a blend of countless ingredients. But Ms Kumar says the number of fragrances with gourmand notes being produced in recent years has been increasing.

These scents have become more appealing to affluent Asians, who are growing more adventurous and want to "stand out".

She says: "These consumers want to show that they are wearing a fragrance that is exciting. The sweet notes help to capture attention."

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