Fragrance 101: We Are Family!

We get it: fragrance can be confusing - and that’s because it’s marketed to you that way! At Olfactory, we make things simple, so you know exactly what you’re spritzing. Welcome to Fragrance 101! 


We’ve gone over the concentrations of a fragrance and what it means to be a ‘parfum’ vs. a ‘toilette.’ But what about the way fragrances are classified

Fragrance classification is responsible for words like ‘citrusy,’ ‘woody,’ and ‘fruity’ being used to describe scent. We enjoy the very modern and extensive Michael Edwards Fragrance Wheel to understand fragrance families. 


Image by Michael Edwards Fragrances of the World


According to this model, fragrances are categorized under four main families: Floral, Oriental, Fresh, and Woody, each of which have many subfamilies. The subfamilies are the nitty-gritty of fragrance classification, with each subfamily containing a handful of key fragrance ‘notes.’ For example, under the Oriental family is the ‘Woody Oriental’ subfamily, which usually will contain woody notes like cedarwood and sandalwood paired with spicy, warm notes like vanilla, incense, and cardamom. Subfamilies truly represent the sheer variety of scent combinations that we have in perfumery! Wondering where in the wheel Olfactory NYC fragrances can be found? See below!



In the Floral category, we’ve got the iris-laden Lulu, beachy-floral Blake, rosy Ryan and jasminic Taylor. To customize these scents, we find it really beautiful when floral notes like jasmine, lily, freesia, geranium, or hydrangea are added. 

For our Oriental scents, Hunter and Riley take the stage with their notes of vanilla, sandal and cedarwood, and ambrette. Oriental accords like our vanilla, cardamom, and tobacco and toffee, oud, and saffron enhance these scents best. 

Fresh and clean - a common request we get in our Scent Studio. Ashton, Dylan, Cam, and Max compose this category. Ashton and Max are citrusy with lemon and grapefruit, Dylan totes fruits like apple and lychee, while Cam is quite green and grassy with elemi and violet leaves. To customize these fragrances, you can’t go wrong with a blend of tart blackcurrant and patchouli or a fresh lemon and smoky tea accord. 

Lastly, our Woods category houses Reed, Jayden, Rio, and Leo. Reed is a mossy, earthy blend, Leo contains leathery notes, and Jayden and Rio are grounded by dry woods like cedar. Woody, smoky accords like cedarwood and incense or an earthier sage, orris, and patchouli accord enhance these fragrances well.


Comment below your favorite fragrance family!