PARIS--The fragrance industry has a new take on fresh. Perfumers are serving up an abundance of clear, light blends, nature-inspired accords and lower-than-usual concentrations. While fresh scents have been the rage for a couple of years now, Christopher Sheldrake, perfumer at Quest, sees even gentler versions as the very latest trend for both men and women. "We're going to get away from obviously marine smells and go towards watery, transparent notes," he said. "The originality is not due to new ingredients, but a tendency to use less of the heavier, chypre notes." Fragrance consultant Ann Gottlieb also forecast a softer touch with seashore effects. "Ozone will be used as a top note booster, but not as obviously as in [L'Eau d'Issey by Issey] Miyake and Escape," she said. In the near future, look for sheer, aquatic accords in Giorgio Armani's Acqua di Gio and Lancome's new women's fragrance, Poème. Today's fresh notes are long-lasting and diffusive, pointed out Patrick Firmenich, vice president and managing director at Firmenich. "The treatment is more modern and this evolution extends to all fragrances," he added. Perfumers are thinning the concentrations in both men's and women's scents, making them more wearable. "There is a trend for less of a punch in fragrance, and what contributed to it was those overly powerful fragrances that were popular," noted Manfred Pawlak, vice president of perfumery at Mane USA. Another use of transparent notes is to lighten classic formulations. "There's a comeback of florals and even orientals, but with a modern transparency," said Roger Schmid, senior vice president for Europe at Givaudan Roure. On the men's front, fresh is being channeled into hot and cold contrasts. "Fresh, cooling notes on top dry down to soft, long-lasting warmth on the skin with sandalwood, musk, amber, vetiver," said Mane's Pawlak. Citrusy men's sports scents such as Polo Sport are being picked up in the U.S. by women, too, according to Robert Foster, Haarmann & Reimer's vice president of fine fragrance development. "This has culminated in the shared scent approach," he observed, referring to Calvin Klein's unisex CK One. Unisex remains an American phenomenon, however. "For the time being, we're watching and waiting," said Patrick de Givenchy, director of the Creative Center at Takasago Europe. Nature-inspired outdoorsy scents also are commanding attention. Geraldine O'Keefe, a fragrance consultant and perfumer, predicted more use of natural woody or green accords and citrus notes "because they work well with fresh and clean." One offshoot of natural is warm, cozy scents with lots of vanilla, almond, honey and talc. Such ingredients are making themselves comfortable in the women's arena. IFF perfumer Nathalie Lorson said these notes--which she says bring back memories of childhood--will soon be used in men's fragrances. Perfumers also agree more feminine notes are seeping into men's formulations. But, Lorson noted, any of these movements could change overnight. "All you need is a major company to launch a new direction and that will become the trend."
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