The Fragrance Wheel and Notes

by jaimeparfum
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The Fragrance Wheel is a fragrance classification chart first developed in 1983 by Michael Edwards, a consultant in the fragrance industry. The wheel is a method for perfume classification which he first designed after being inspired by a fragrance seminar by Firmenich, and seeks to show the relationships between each individual fragrance family. The fragrance wheel has been shown to be highly consistent with previous studies on odor descriptor and odor profile representations.

The chart was first created in an attempt to develop a fragrance classification method and naming scheme without technical jargon that can be used in consumer settings by retailers. The main purpose of the wheel is to allow a retailer to suggest different fragrances in a similar category to ones that their customers may prefer.


Since its creation, the wheel and the developed fragrance classification scheme has been modified several times through the addition of different groups to encompass different fragrance types.

The four standard families are FloralOrientalWoody and Fresh. These are in turn divided into three sub-groups (e.g. in the Floral Family: Floral, Soft Floral, Floral Oriental) and arranged in a circle, each group being related to the next. Each of the subclasses were in turn divided into FreshCrispClassical, and Rich compositions. Prior to 2010 Fougère family was placed at the center of this wheel since they are a large family of scents that usually contain fragrance elements from each of the other four families; citrus from the fresh family, oak moss and woods from the woody family, coumarin and incense from the Oriental family, and lavender from the floral family.

In this classification scheme, Chanel No.5, which is traditionally classified as a “Floral Aldehyde” would be located under Soft Floral sub-group, and “Amber” scents would be placed within the Oriental group. As a class, Chypres is more difficult to place since they would be located under parts of the Oriental and Woody families. For instance, Guerlain Mitsouko, which is classically identified as a chypre will be placed under Mossy Woods, but Hermès Rouge, a chypre with more floral character, would be placed under Floral Oriental

  • Floral (Floral + Fresh Notes). Main notes include fresh-cut flowers.
  • Soft Floral (Floral Notes). Main notes include aldehydes and powdery notes.
  • Floral Oriental (Floral + Oriental Notes). Main notes include orange blossom and sweet spices.
  • Soft Oriental (Oriental + Floral Notes). Main notes include incense and amber.
  • Oriental (Oriental Notes). Main notes include oriental resins and vanilla.
  • Woody Oriental (Oriental + Woody Notes). Main notes include sandalwood and patchouli.
  • Woods Main notes include aromatic woods and vetiver.
  • Mossy Woods (Woody + Oriental Notes). Main notes include oakmoss and amber.
  • Dry Woods (Woody Notes). Main notes include dry woods and leather.
  • Aromatic Fougère (Fresh Notes). Main notes include lavender and aromatic herbs. This universal fragrance family includes elements from different families: the freshness of from the Citrus family, floral notes of lavender, the spicy-sweetness of a Floral Oriental, the ambery depth of an Oriental and the Mossy Woods warmth of sandalwood and oakmoss.
  • Citrus (Woody + Fresh Notes). Main notes include bergamot and other citrus oils.
  • Water (Fresh + Floral Notes). Main notes include marine and aquatic notes, generally from the chemical calone.
  • Green (Fresh + Floral Notes). Main notes include galbanum and green notes.
  • Fruity (Fresh + Floral Notes). Main notes include berries and other non-citrus fruits

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