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The coveted Perfume Extraordinaire is a special award recognizing the perfume. The criteria are focused on design, signature, creativity and quality. To ensure objectivity, the entries are submitted blind with judges who don’t have any of their own creations vying for the award. Here, this year’s finalists.

This story first appeared in the June 17, 2015 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

See Full Coverage of Fragrance Foundation Awards Here >>


Essences Insensées Eau de Parfum

Launched: 2014

Perfumer and fragrance house: Fabrice Pellegrin, Diptyque Paris


Top: Violet leaves, pink peppercorn.

Middle: Mimosa, rose de mai, heliotrope.

Base: Yerba maté, beeswax, bourbon vanilla.

Fragrance type: Floral

Inspiration: “I like the idea of making new with old and reinterpreting traditional know-how,” said Myriam Badault, Diptyque creative director. She came upon the idea for Essences Insensees (which had a code name Mille Fleurs for “thousand flowers”) while visiting the Firmenich extraction plant near Grasse that’s dedicated to the extraction of natural ingredients — not only flowers, but exotic spices from around the world. “It was rose harvest, and we were discussing the impact the weather has on the perfumes of flowers, quantity of concentrate produced, etc. After this, I asked Fabrice Pellegrin to revisit the tradition. Instead of using all the leftover essences, I asked him to select the most exquisite quality of flowers harvested during that past year — the one flower that you may have an abundance in, only because of the specific weather conditions that year.”

Patience is required, since it takes until the end of October to know what harvest is the best. For this fragrance, it was mimosa.

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As for the bottle, Badault discovered it in the archives of Waltersperger, the last semiautomatic glassmaker in France, engraved with a pattern of leaves and flowers reminiscent of mimosas.

“Essences Insensées represents the respect of unique natural ingredients, special sourcing, time to develop the fragrances — another way to envision perfume creation. The aim is to sublimate the nature of the flowers.”

IFF Perfume Calligraphy Saffron

Launched: 2013

Perfumer and fragrance house: Clement Gavarry, IFF


Top: Bergamot, marigold.

Middle: Lavender, saffron, Turkish Rose Absolute

Base: Styrax, Tonka Bean Absolute, vetiver.

Fragrance Type: Spice.

Inspiration: “The fragrance was inspired by the ancient markets of the Middle East, where hues of orange, red and gold blend with exotic spices,” said Trudi Loren, senior vice president of corporate fragrance development for The Estée Lauder Cos.’ Aramis and Designer Fragrances Division. “This answers the local and cultural relevance of Middle Eastern consumers, no matter where they live or travel in the world. The wearer values authentic ingredients, classic construction and the richness of orientals.”

Robertet Atelier Cologne Santal Carmin

Launched: 2014

Perfumer and Fragrance House: Jérôme Epinette, Atelier Cologne


Top: Bergamot from Calabria, limette from Mexico, saffron from India.

Middle: Sandalwood from New Caledonia, gaiac wood from India, white musk.

Base: Papyrus from India, cedarwood from Texas, vanilla from Madagascar.

Fragrance Type: Spicy wood

Inspiration: This is a rare counterbalance of materials, said Sylvie Ganter, founder and creator of Atelier Cologne. “It uses sandalwood as a star and the unexpected saffron.” Ganter believes today’s consumers are more educated about raw materials used in scents, likening it to the wine industry where they know seasons favor some ingredients over others. “We often forget there is an entire and amazing science, technology and tradition in the extraction of raw materials. To me, this is a combination of spice and transparency. Wearing sets you apart, but not in a loud way — much more refined and sophisticated.”

Parfums Christian Dior Gris Montaigne

Launched: 2013

Perfumer: François Demachy


Top: Bergamot

Mid: Rose, patchouli, jasmine, Dior.

Base: Amber, cedar, sandalwood, woody moss.

Fragrance Type: Chypre floral.

Inspiration: If gray were a perfume, what would it be? François Demachy answers that question with Gris Montaigne, the olfactory signature of the Couture House’s famous location — 30 Avenue Montaigne — and color. This chypre fragrance is an interpretation of the Dior Grey, punctuated by a burst of citrus, a floral heart of Turkish rose and Jasmine Sambac from the Indian region of Tamil Nadu, followed by a woody note heightened with Indonesian Patchouli set against an ambery backdrop of moss.

Symrise Pinrose by Pinrose

Launched: 2014

Perfumer and Fragrance House: David Apel, Symrise


Top: Bulgarian rose essence, star anise, elemi gum, raspberry leaf.

Mid: Florentine iris, Madagascar clove buds, burnt rose, patchouli.

Base: Labdanum (rock rose), ambergris, vanilla bourbon, benzoin resin.

Fragrance Type: Chypre

Inspiration: “This is all about Erika Shumate and Christine Luby, the founders,” said David Apel, vice president and senior perfumer at Symrise. “They describe what they want in simple, real terms — more about personality and mood than anything olfactively descriptive.” This scent is a bouquet of roses, but burnt to a smoky char on the tips. “Just enough to draw you in with its lush dewy humid depth and push you back at the same moment with a smoky, leathery shock,” Apel said, adding, “I often use roses in cooking and I add the petals to fires that I use to smoke foods. The overall scent follows a very classic theme, recognizable, but at the same time these new elements create, at least for me, a uniqueness.”