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Fougere Newsletter

Fougere, which means fern, is a perfume which was created as a fantasy concept, with the idea that it would capture the combined mossy, earthy, green aromas of the forest, the natural habitat of ferns.

The core essences that came to be associated with fougere perfumes are forestoakmoss, lavender, hay absolute, tonka bean absolute with a secondary base accord that might include vetiver, patchouli, geranium,clary sage, bergamot. Once the formula for these two base accords has been worked out then many other materials can be added to give ones fougere creation its own unique character.

The key notes of fougere first gain prominence in 1882 when the French perfume house , Houbigant introduced Fougere Royal which was destined to become a classic and which served as an inspiration for many perfumes to come. The basic materials that were incorporated into Fougere Royal, i.e. , oakmoss, tonka bean, lavender, hay etc were known to European perfumers well in advance of the introduction of Fougere Royal and it is highly likely that this particular accord was already quite popular but as often happens in history, a specific moment comes when a particular concept finds its time, and captures the fancy of people on a wider stage than hitherto and comes into prominence.

Fougere Royal further captivated the imagination of perfumers and those who enjoyed their creations by incorporating into its composition a newly synthesized chemical, coumarin, which predominates in tonka bean absolute, hay absolute, and sweet woodruff absolute and deertongue absolute. The aromatic chemical sciences were in their ascendant at the time and the new creations that emerged in the laboratory were considered to be wonderful additions to the perfumers creative palette. From a perfumer wishing to work with only naturals this poses no problem as one can use the natural alternative and create a lovely fougere essence.

Originally Fougere Royal was created as a woman's fragrance but within a relatively short period of time it found equal appreciation amongst men and many subsequent fougere creations were specifically oriented to the masculine gender. Apart from the traditional associations of such elegant perfume families as being masculine or feminine, it is possible that the aspiring perfumer of any gender would find the aroma enchanting and with his or her own unique touches attractive to just about anyone who would smell it and wish to wear it.

In a previous newsletter on Chypre, different accords were explored that gave to the central Chypre theme there own unique characteristics and in a similar way we can find floral fougeres, amber fougeres, spicy fougeres, leather fougeres, fresh fougeres, precious woods fougeres, etc In fact there is almost no category of fougere that would in the end be anything short of delightful as the core ingredients of fougere go well with almost every fragrant material. It is in short, the core base has a unique property of harmonizing and rounding essences added to it as well as lending very good fixative qualities to the composition.

Here is the base formula which may prove helpful for further creative work in the realm of fougere perfumes of all types.

FernsFougere Base

lavender mailette organic 2 ounces
lavender absolute 1 ounce
oakmoss abs 1 ounce
tonka abs 1/3 ounce
hay absolute 1/3 ounce

Tier 1
patchouli eo 1 ounce
vetiver eo 1/4 ounce
clary sage eo 1/2 ounce
geranium eo 3/4 ounce

My suggestion is that the above base or variations thereof should be allowed to mature for a minimum of 3 months and ideally 6 months. It is quite amazing to see the impact maturation has on a perfume composition. Put the creation in a place where you can shake it periodically and be sure to do an olfactory evaluation from time to time as well.

Now that one has created their base it is possible to move into the arena of adding ones signature to the creation. Here are some ideas of different materials for the subcategories of fougere.

Leather fougere
Choya ral, choya nakh, choya loban, cade eo, birch tar eo, sweet birch eo, ambrette co2 or abs, calamus eo or co2, cananga eo, arnica abs, betel leaf eo, wintergreen eo, henna leaf abs

Precious woods fougere
agarwood co2 or eo, virginia cedarwood eo, cedar atlas eo, sandalwood eo or abs, coriander co2 or eo, costus co2 or eo, nagarmotha co2 or eo

Fresh fougere
yuzu eo, elemi eo or abs, davana eo, bergamot eo, bay leaf eo, combava petitgrain eo, hyssop eo, hops co2 or eo, rosemary flower eo, rosemary verbenone eo, bergamot mint eo, mandarin red eo, mandarin green eo, lime essence eo

Oriental fougere
frankincense abs or co2, labdanum abs, cistus eo, cinnamon bark eo, angelica root co2, turmeric co2 or eo, cumin co2 or eo, ambrette co2 or eo, shamama attar, black musk attar, galbanum abs or co2, champaca abs

Amber fougere
patchouli abs or co2, ambrette seed co2 or abs, labdanum incense note abs, benzoin abs, styrax eo, amberi attar, cypress eo or abs

Floral fougere
rose otto or abs, orange flower abs, ylang abs, ylang complete, violet leaf abs, tuberose abs, neroli eo, cassie abs, mimosa abs, boronia abs