How would you describe the smell of a pear? This is an exercise I like to do when I am teaching perfumery as it drives home the fact that we rarely think about scent in an analytical way. No matter which ingredient I pick, the answer is almost always the same; “I have no clue!”. Learning to describe scent and developing a vocabulary to speak about fragrance is always the first step in learning perfumery. So often we only think about scent in a subjective way, resorting to saying “I like this” or “I don’t like this”, as we simply aren’t taught how to translate what we smell into words. Let’s take a deeper dive into this as we talk about one of my personal favourite scent notes, Pear 🍐.
You’ve heard the phrase “stop and smell the roses”, but today I am going to encourage you to stop and smell the pears. If you have a pear kicking around the house, I encourage you to grab it, but your imagination will also work perfectly. The first word that comes to mind when smelling a pear is usually “fruity”. While this sounds overly simplified, it is a great place to start your description. As perfumers, we first like to define the family the scent belongs to, whether that is fruity, floral, woody, spicy, and so on. From there, I encourage people to borrow some words from their other senses to continue their description. Fresh, sweet, green, vibrant, sparkling, crisp and effervescent are all words we would typically use to describe things we taste or see, but work perfectly when describing the smell of pear. As you start to learn more about perfumery and it’s individual components, we can reference smells by specific molecules. In the case of pear, the molecule that provides this characteristic smell in perfumes is mainly Hexyl Acetate.
I hope I haven’t lost you. The moment I start talking about chemistry is the moment people start to look for the nearest exit. It’s much simpler than you think when you realize that scents come from molecules. Let’s go back to smelling the imaginary pear and thinking about all the words we used to describe it. These nuances come from the fact that pear is not just “one smell”, we are actually smelling a bunch of different molecules, which in that particular ratio, create the scent of pear. This same notion applies to everything we smell! Before I get further into this, it is important to understand that we can’t extract any natural fragrance from fruits (with the exception of citruses), so when you are smelling a fruit note in a perfume, it is always a perfumer's recreation of the smell using molecules. Think of it like building a big scented puzzle using a bunch of different smelling puzzle pieces. Hexyl Acetate, is the main molecule which creates the smell of pear in perfumes and despite it being just one individual molecule, it instantly imparts that fresh feeling of pear.
I wouldn’t say pear is an incredibly common note in perfumery, but it definitely adds a unique sparkle to a fragrance. It creates a bright and fruity opening that imparts a more delicate feel than citrus notes, so you’ll often find it combined with soft florals, lighter woods and white musks to create fragrances that have a beautiful sheerness to them. When dreaming of our first four fragrances we knew we wanted to include a pear note, thus Veil was born. A sheer skin scent that opens with a fizzy champagne note, a sparkly pear nuance, spicy cardamom and powdery foundation of orris root, and soft woods. At Piper & Perro we appreciate a little bit of grittiness, so you’ll also find a note of tattoo ink which brings that edge and mystery to Veil.
You can now eat your pear (or imaginary pear) and revel in all that you have learned today. If you’re intrigued by pear notes we encourage you to give Veil a try, or sample any of the other amazing fragrances on the market featuring this fun note. Maybe you’ll find the fragrance that is your “perfect pear”.
Anita Munn said:
I am embarrassed to say that I hadn’t checked out this website until today but am so glad I finally did.
I am truly impressed with the vibe, vocabulary and informative feel. You two have done it again!
February 04, 2023