Oriental fragrances recall the rich warmth of resins and balsams and spices from the east. They can be ambery with notes of labdanum and vanilla, edible with notes of chocolate and foodie accords or exotic and spicy with floral notes. They are warm, rich and sensual, often seen as evening or winter fragrances. There are two distinct types of classical oriental fragrance from which most modern interpretations stem. The first is based on the relationship between bergamot, vanillin (or the much more potent ethyl vanillin), coumarin and civet. It is known as the “Ambreine” accord and is represented in the 1925 Guerlain fragrance – Shalimar. Orientals of this type are the least floral of any fragrance and are based around a small amount of rose at the heart. Modern fragrances that owe more than a passing nod to Shalimar include Obsession by Calvin Klein and more recently Musc Ravageur by Editions de Frederic Malle.
The second starting point for an oriental lineage is the “Mellis” accord from which Opium by YSL and Youth Dew by Estee Lauder stem. The mellis accord is based on the relationship between benzyl salicylate and eugenol which gives the impression of clove or carnation (as seen in the floral L’air du Temps) along with patchouli, lily of the valley in the form of hydroxycitronellal and coumarin. Ambery and balsamic notes are added along with woods and spices. This type of fragrance is usually classified as the spicy oriental.