How We Create Perfume

What does it take to create a new perfume? It starts with an IDEA, something intangible that must then be developed into a FORMULA. (Without a formula you cannot produce multiple copies of the same fragrance.) Developing the FORMULA involves selecting aroma materials – natural or "unnatural" – that will give you the scent at the goal of your quest. Knowledge of available materials and a memory for how they smell guides your development of a rough formula, a "first draft."

Then come TRIALS, adding a little of this, subtracting a little of that, balancing this and that to come closer and closer to the scent you visualized.

Next is PRODUCTION, first using your FORMULA to produce a quantity of the fragrance oil. Then measurement of proportions and the blending of the oil with alcohol and water. The result is aged for thirty days or more, allowing the elements to blend and harmonize. Then comes bottling.

I purchase bottles, caps and spray pumps in bulk. Some fragrances are bottled in "sprinkler neck" bottles to be splashed on. Others get spray pumps with overshells. For male fragrances I prefer the sprinkler neck, "splash on" bottles. For women, I almost always go with a spray.

Labels are designed by hand and then artwork is produced on a desktop computer and printed onto special sticker paper using an inkjet printer. My labels are affixed to bottles by hand. Proper alignment is demanding.

Boxes are an issue. There are no standard boxes for perfume. The bottles come in too many different sizes and shapes. To be economically viable, a custom box requires a production run of 2,500 bottles or more. My production runs are much smaller. Occasionally I find a stock box which I can use for a fragrance but the fit and paper quality are a compromise so I prefer, in most cases, to go without a box. After all, unless you are presenting a fragrance as a fancy gift, the box is generally tossed almost at once.

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Philip Goutell
Lightyears, Inc.