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Installation 27: Ambery for the Win

Updated: Jun 23, 2021

This installation marks an important shift in the perfume industry, where an entire genre has been renamed out of respect for the fact that a term was outdated and derogatory. I commend colleagues, perfumers and writers for demanding a change, and doing so on no uncertain terms. This gesture by the industry insiders is hopefully the beginning of many such moves, where words to describe scent are more descriptive and precise versus a fantasy. By making words more accurate to the materials, things become more creative and inclusive.

Ambery - A new genre term to replace "Oriental" in the Michael Edward's fragrance wheel in June 2021. The new term would encompass the notes the old category did which would include amber, sandalwood, coumarin, orris, vanilla and gum resins: in other words all scents considered "warm and sensual" in the parlance of the perfume world are now defined as amber/ambery.

Fragrance groups :

Floral > Oriental > Woody > Fresh changes to Floral > Ambery > Woody > Fresh

Fragrance Families:

Oriental to Amber

Soft Oriental to Soft Amber

Floral Oriental to Floral Amber

Woody Oriental to Woody Amber

Sentence: "While the term Oriental was historically not meant to be offensive, through our current lens its removal and replacement with the term Ambery/Amber is a move in the right direction to improve descriptive and inclusive vocabulary in the field of perfumery."

Camphoraceous - A semantic odor quality descriptor used for profiling (adapted from Dravnieks, 1985). A camphoraceous scent is strongly aromatic and medicinal. Some camphoraceous scents commonly used in perfumery and aromatherapy include eucalyptus, frankincense, hyssop, and marjoram.

Sentence: "In a composition for scent, the camphoraceous notes often eat up the more gentle notes in the mix."

Hawthorne - A flowering hedge whose scent is described as "sweet, floral, nutty, powdery." Charles Nelson, of Ireland’s National Botanic Gardens finds that hawthorn blossom "exudes that heavy musky fragrance with sexual undertones”.

Sentence: "The triethlyamine responsible for the stale element in hawthorn's complicated smell is one of the first chemicals produced when living tissue starts to decay" and reminds nurses who have worked in Africa of the smell of gangrene. Yet triethylamine's fishy scent is also the smell of sex - something rarely acknowledged in folklore, but implicit in much of the popular culture of the hawthorn." - Richard Mabey, Flora Britannica

Vamber - Another term inspired by the movement to shift words in perfumery Vanilla + Amber = Vamber. This term was coined in 2020 by Ryan Day Castle, a fragrance brand strategist and enthusiast, when brainstorming with a group that is now disbanded the "Future Olfactives".

Sentence: "...when we were brainstorming, I thought about the most common olfactive notes in the broad “oriental” family. As vanilla and amber seemed to be a thread throughout this resinous group, Vamber seemed to be an easy term that is more descriptive to the notes." - Ryan Day Castle

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