Françoise Rapp

The tale of the Hesperides, a significant chapter in Greek mythology, holds a profound connection to the world of perfumery. Three nymphs, daughters of Atlas and Hesperis, were entrusted with the divine ethical orchard, home to golden apples that we now recognize as oranges. These apples symbolized immortality and fertility. The Hesperides, a formidable dragon with a hundred heads, fiercely guarded these precious fruits.

The ancient Greek myth of the Hesperides has left an indelible mark on perfumery, lending its name to the citrus facet. This classification, known for its refreshing and energetic qualities, encompasses all citrus notes. In some perfume classifications, it is referred to as the citrus facet. The unique citrus scents are derived from the essential oils found in the fruit’s zest or peel, playing a crucial role in fragrance classification.

The citrus family, the Hesperide family, is the oldest in perfumery. Its presence is ubiquitous, appearing in nearly every perfume created. Citrus notes typically grace the top notes of a fragrance, adding a lively “smile” to the scent. However, due to their volatile nature, these notes are short-lasting.

Both men’s and women’s fragrances frequently feature the citrus facet, which plays a crucial role in perfume classification. It’s particularly prominent in eau de Cologne and fresh fragrances, where it often becomes the dominant theme, thus determining the fragrance family.

Citrus notes, including lemon, bergamot, orange, and grapefruit, are responsible for a perfume’s initial impression. This first whiff is often described as the ‘smile’ or the ‘flight’ of the fragrance, offering a crisp, refreshing scent that immediately captures attention. Notably, these citrus notes, derived from citrus fruits, should be distinct from other fruity notes like peach, apple, pear, or various red fruits. While both are fruit-derived, they create distinctly different olfactory experiences.

The popularity of the citrus facet in perfumery can be attributed to its versatility and peeledness. Its fresh, clean scent, often associated with cleanliness and vitality, makes it a go-to choice for daytime and warm-weather fragrances. Citrus notes’ ability to blend seamlessly with other scent families—be it floral, woody, or oriental—adds to their widespread use in perfume composition, a fact that perfumery enthusiasts can genuinely appreciate and universally appreciate.

In perfumery, the citrus facet is more than just a pleasant smell. It is a bright, uplifting introduction to the more complex heart and base notes that follow. This progression from the initial citrus burst to the deeper, longer-lasting notes gives a perfume its depth and character, making the citrus facet an indispensable tool in a perfumer’s palette.

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