Fragrance Frustrations

Fragrance Frustrations - Flankers

FABULOUS FRANCHISE: Mugler Alien fragrances more often than not add something new or different to the original.

The last time I had a bit of a whinge about the world of perfumes it was about the foibles of my shopping experience (you can read that post here). Since that post, I’ve been thinking a lot about other fragrance frustrations. Admittedly, some of these fragrance frustrations are really petty and personal to me; others I’m sure you can relate to. What are your top fragrance frustrations? Perhaps, it’s whining bloggers…

“Perhaps perfume producers could introduce an innovation just for me.”

Spray nozzle facing the wrong way

This one is really silly, yet I’m amazed how many times I get this wrong. Scenario: I’m in a rush to wear one of my favourite fragrances, I remove the cap and start spraying… into my hands and everywhere else, but my body. As I said, really silly. Apart from taking more time to check the direction of the spray nozzle to save myself from unnecessary harm, perhaps perfume producers could introduce an innovation just for me. A luminous hole on the nozzle so that I can quickly spot which way I am spraying? Please tell I’m not the only one to experience this problem.

Fragrance Frustrations - Nozzle Facing The Wrong Way

The umpteenth flanker (and limited edition)

I understand and appreciate the business model of releasing fragrance flankers. Old fans might love the original enough to buy the new version and new consumers might be gained with each new release. The best flankers add something new to the original, but all too often the release of yet another one smacks of desperate cash-ins and diminishing returns. One of my favourite fragrances from the 90s, L’Eau d’Issey, now numbers a staggering 49 flankers and limited editions for the male and female versions combined. YSL Black Opium was released in 2014 and already numbers 14 flankers and limited editions. Are you keeping up?

Fragrance Frustrations - Flankers - Issey Miyake L'Eau d'Issey Summer 2017 For He

Bad Instagram behaviour

What’s the deal with people who follow you on Instagram, then unfollow you, then follow you and then unfollow you again? I really don’t get the point of this behaviour. It seems while some people collect fragrances, others collect followers, but have no intention of ever liking your content. You’ve heard of “empty calories”. Well, welcome to the world of “empty followers”. Recently, I’ve even noticed some people liking my content and then unliking it. Oh, stop it now!

Fragrance Frustrations - Instagram Behaviour

Niche fragrance snobbery 

I’ve only really started exploring niche fragrances in the last few years and am thoroughly enjoying making so many new discoveries. There’s also the thrill of so many more to discover, as the market has exploded in the last five years. What does get to me, though, is the wholesale rejection of anything non-niche, including designer, celebrity and bargain fragrances. As if all niche fragrances are good and anything else is rubbish. I agree that most of the innovation is happening in the niche category, but there’s still good stuff to be found in other categories.

Fragrance Frustrations - Niche Fragrance Snobbery - Les Eaux de Chanel Paris-Biarritz EDP

Perfume stories

This is one of my fragrance frustrations/guilty pleasures. Stories are increasingly important in the land of perfume, especially when it comes to the inspiration/creation of a fragrance. Generally, designer fragrance brands go for the story of the man/woman who the fragrance is created for. No matter how many adjectives they use, these ideal people all sound very interchangeable. On the other hand, niche fragrances can be guilty of trying too hard to be different and many of their stories land up being bafflingly obscure. While I find these stories hard work when I want to extract some useful info, I also get perverse joy from reading their nonsensical content.

Fragrance Frustrations - Perfume Stories

GREAT STORY-TELLING AND PERFUME-MAKING: According to DS & Durga, the inspiration for their Burning Barbershop EDP is that “a fire broke out in the Curling Bros. barbershop in Westlake, N.Y. in 1891. All the shaving tonics with their spearmint, lime, vanilla and lavender burned. A charred bottle was found half-full. It smelled like this.” The fragrance captures this story so well.

  • You can read my reviews of DS & Durga Burning Barbershop EDP and Escentric Molecules Molecule 01 on my Instagram page, @richgoller. 

Atelier Cologne Pomélo Paradis Cologne Absolue – Fragrance Of The Month

Atelier Cologne Pomélo Paradis - Fragrance Of The Month

Atelier Cologne Pomélo Paradis Cologne Absolue



Ralf Schwieger (Atelier Cologne Orange Sanguine, Etat Libre d’Orange The Afternoon of a Faun EDP, Frédéric Malle Lipstick Rose EDP, Hermès Eau de Merveiilles EDT, Mugler Womanity EDP).

Atelier Cologne Pomélo Paradis - Fragrance Of The Month

Notes (according to

Top notes: pink pomelo from Florida, mandarin from Calabria, blackcurrant bud from Burgundy. Heart notes: Moroccan orange blossom, Bulgarian rose essence, mint from China. Base notes: vetiver from Haiti, iris from Tuscany, amber (main notes in italics).

About the brand

Founded by Sylvie Ganter and Christophe Cervasel in 2009, the Parisian niche fragrance brand takes its inspiration from the citrus profile of the classic eau de cologne. According to the duo, they launched a new olfactive family, Cologne Absolue, that blends citruses with “the most precious natural raw materials”.

Atelier Cologne Pomélo Paradis - Fragrance Of The Month

CLASSIC INSPIRATION: Sylvie Ganter is the co-founder of Atelier Cologne.


Pomelo notes can be harsh and off-putting. Not this one. It’s sunny and full of blissful life. The addictive kind you want to experience again and again. As the fragrance develops, the second main note, mandarin, starts coming through. Smooth and super-realistic, it maintains the invigorating vibe going with aplomb. As a vetiver-lover, I was very keen to experience the other key-note, hopefully, in a big way. But it’s more of a subtle, grassy hint in Atelier de Cologne Pomelo Paradis. However, that’s a quibble in the scheme of things.

“It’s sunny and full of blissful life. The addictive kind you want to experience again and again.”

Atelier Cologne Pomélo Paradis - Fragrance Of The Month


It’s only when I did some more research that I discovered that this fragrance comes from the brand’s Joie de Vivre collection. That’s exactly what Atelier Cologne Pomélo Paradis does so well. If you believe a perfume can have uplifting, mood-enhancing qualities, this one is definitely for you.

What others say

“Delightful and probably the best thing in this genre since Guerlain Pamplelune).” – Luca Turin, Perfumes: The Guide 2018

Atelier Cologne Pomélo Paradis - Fragrance Of The Month

To buy

From R1 055 – R2 640

For more info


Fragrance News Snippets Edition 5: Victoria Beckham Does Beauty, Anne Flipo Gets Master Perfumer Recognition, Narciso Rodriguez Pure Musc For Her Hits The Shelves, Givaudan Launches The Digital Factory, Paco Rabanne To Launch Invictus Legend

Fragrance News Snippets - Victoria Beckham

From a new master perfumer to digital transformation, it’s all in this month’s edition of Fragrance News Snippets.


The celebrity beauty range trend (Rihanna, Kylie Jenner, Madonna) gathers pace. Victoria Beckham will be launching Victoria Beckham Beauty later this year. Sarah Creal, former head of global make-up development and marketing at Estée Lauder, will be the co-founder and CEO of the division. Beckham said: “I want to take care of women inside and out, providing them with the must-have items in make-up, skincare, fragrance and wellness that I feel I need in my own life.”

Fragrance News Snippets - Victoria Beckham Fashion

THE BEAUTY OF IT: Victoria Beckham Beauty will fall under the larger Victoria Beckham fashion brand. Image:

Original source for more info: here.


Perfumer Anne Flipo has a very impressive list of fragrance creations and co-creations to her name. These include: YSL L’Homme EDT, Paco Rabanne Invictus EDT, Lancôme La Vie Est Belle EDP, L’Artisan Parfumeur Mont de Narcisse EDP and Jo Malone Basil & Neroli Cologne. The multi-award-winning perfumer joined International Flavors & Fragrances Inc in 2004. She was recently named as the fifth master perfumer by the company in recognition of her “consistent and outstanding levels of creativity and craftsmanship in the art of perfumery”.

Fragrance News Snippets - Anne Flipo

Original source for more info: here.


Narciso Rodriguez fragrances for women are always characterised by a good dose of musk and Pure Musc for Her EDP is no exception. The latest addition to the For Her range was created by Sonia Constant, who has produced several fragrances for the American brand. The EDP features notes of musk, florals and cashmeran.

Fragrance News Snippets - Narciso Rodriguez Pure Musc For Her EDP

Original source for more info: here.


Digital transformation, innovation and keeping up with trends are essentials of any modern business. Swiss fragrance and flavour giant Givaudan has launched The Digital Factory. This Paris-based project accelerator will see worldwide company experts, partners and customers working together to enhance innovation through technology, including AI.

Givaudan The Digital Factory

Original source for more info: here.


For a hugely popular fragrance, the flankers and limited editions for Paco Rabanne Invictus have been slow by industry standards. That will change with the launch of the fresh oriental Paco Rabanne Invictus Legend EDP later this year. Details are scant at this stage, but no doubt it will be a hit.

Original source for more info: here.


Dermalogica Rapid Reveal Peel Review

Dermalogica Rapid Reveal Peel

As much as I love a good at-home face treatment, they rarely compare with the results one gets when having it in a salon. This was until I recently used Dermalogica Rapid Reveal Peel. It’s the brand’s strongest at-home peel and produces exceptional results.

“Dermalogica Rapid Reveal Peel is the brand’s strongest at-home peel and produces exceptional results.”

As I get older, it’s not easy to achieve radiant skin. That’s because cell turnover slows down as we age. And did I mention the other pleasures of getting older: fine lines, wrinkles, discolouration and lacklustre skin?

Dermalogica Rapid Reveal Peel

Dermalogica Rapid Reveal Peel is designed to deal with these harsh realities with a highly effective combination of ingredients. According to Dermalogica, these include:

  • A unique complex of phytoactive alpha hydroxy acids to help reveal new and firmer skin, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by removing dulling surface debris without causing dehydration.
  • Fermented plant enzymes to help even skin tone by resurfacing the skin and accelerating cell turnover.
  • Australian caviar lime extract to smooth and brighten for a more radiant complexion.

Dermalogica Rapid Reveal Peel


The product comes in a travel bag of 10 x 3ml tubes. As directed, I’ve been using one capsule a week and love the tingling I experience while the active ingredients do their thing. If you want super-quick results, you can use a capsule a day for the first three days.

Dermalogica Rapid Reveal Peel

After rinsing my face with cold water, I can already feel how my skin is feeling smoother. Even better, I’ve received several compliments about the general condition of my skin.

If you want an at-home product that produces noticeably different results in the radiance of your skin and reduction of fine lines, Dermalogica Rapid Reveal Peel is highly recommended. No downtime is required and the product is also artificial fragrance- and colour-free.

R1 450 for 10 x 3ml tubes in a travel bag with suction cups.

Dermalogica Rapid Reveal Peel

Lydia von Wielligh-Steyn Interview: Working Behind The Givaudan Scenes

Lydia von Wielligh-Steyn Portrait 1


As much as I love smelling perfumes for their beauty, I also want to know what goes on behind the scenes in the complex creation of a fragrance. Lydia von Wielligh-Steyn is a key account manager at Swiss fragrance and flavour giant Givaudan’s Johannesburg office.

“Lydia von Wielligh-Steyn has been with the company for 20 years, so her knowledge of the fragrance industry is vast and impressive.”

She has been with the company for 20 years, so her knowledge of the fragrance industry is vast and impressive. Lydia von Wielligh-Steyn very generously gave me almost two hours of her time to tell me about her work and the company. She also introduced me to the Road Stories Cape Town project. Up-and-coming American perfumer Linda Song spent over a week in Cape Town exploring the region’s unique flora for a collection of 12 wonderful accords. You can read my interview with Linda Song here.

Lydia von Wielligh-Steyn - Linda Song Road Stories Cape Town - Portrait

FRAGRANCE HUNTER: Lydia von Wielligh-Steyn introduced me to perfumer Linda Song’s contribution to Givaudan’s Road Stories project.

What does your role at Givaudan entail?

I am an account manager, responsible for handling South African and Malagasy accounts. Our office is based in Johannesburg and we work with clients across the whole Sub-Saharan African region.

How long have you been with the company?

This will be my 20th year. Time truly flies!

Lydia von Wielligh-Steyn portrait

ADDICTIVE: Lydia von Wielligh-Steyn says: “Fragrances are like an addiction – once you become interested in the topic, there is no turning back.”

What is the attraction working for Givaudan?

Givaudan is the number one role-player in the global fragrance and flavour industry. I am surrounded by people who are passionate about what they do. Fragrances are like an addiction – once you become interested in the topic, there is no turning back.

Lydia von Wielligh-Steyn Givaudan Jhb Exterior

UNASSUMING: The exterior of the Givaudan office in Johannesburg.

Is your role very creative?

On the commercial side we are responsible for liaising with our clients and handling projects they may have. I enter these briefs into our global system and then act as intermediary with our evaluators, who in turn task perfumers to create fragrances according to the requirements of the client brief. I then evaluate these submissions to make sure that they answer the client’s requirements (eg, a fine fragrance for a young target market, a hygiene soap range, etc).

Creativity is required in order to ensure that we deliver the best possible fragrances and that we really go out of our way to assist our clients. Sometimes we have to rework fragrances a couple of times to achieve the right result. So maybe perseverance is a more important attribute in this position than creativity!

“Sometimes we have to rework fragrances a couple of times to achieve the right result. So maybe perseverance is a more important attribute in this position than creativity!”

Lydia von Wielligh-Steyn - The LCMS lab

WELL OILED: The LCMS lab where fragrance oils are prepared by staff based on the formulae they receive on the internal system from Givaudan’s perfumers worldwide.

How does the evaluation process work? And what is your role in that process?

The evaluator is a technically (highly) trained person who handles the client brief, once entered into the system. This individual needs a great nose, loads of olfactory experience and the ability to reach out to perfumers and reconcile their offerings with what the commercial team wants.

Lydia von Wielligh-Steyn - Wesley Perumal

GREAT NOSE: Wesley Perumal is a personal care evaluator at Givaudan’s Johannesburg office.

Your job entails a fair amount of travel? Any favourite place so far?

I guess it will remain Paris, as this city has been the non-official capital of the fragrance industry since the 17th century. However, in this job you have to be at ease in European surroundings, as well as in bustling African cities.

Lydia von Wielligh-Steyn - Paris


How does Givaudan South Africa contribute to the business, particularly fine fragrances?

Our fine fragrance headquarters are based in Paris, France. The South African office works closely with the Dubai and Paris teams to create fine fragrances for our local market. Something few people outside the industry realise is that the same perfumers who create fragrances for the famous premium and niche brands also work on mass market fragrances for countries like South Africa.

Lydia von Wielligh-Steyn - The LCMS lab 2

The creation of a perfume iS a complicated process. Please share some details with us on that.

Perfumers have a very long road to travel before becoming fully fledged “noses” or perfumers. Before, the world’s perfumery hub was based in the town of Grasse in France and it was a bit of a family tradition to work in the perfumery business. However, nowawdays, thanks to the Internet, our perfumers come from all over the world and have different backgrounds and interests, ranging from philosophy to architecture. A solid chemistry training is still a prerequisite, combined with an artistic ability. Creating fragrances is a real art.

“Perfumers have to be pragmatic, working within the pricing parameters of a client brief and making sure that all requirements are met.”

Having said that, perfumers have to be pragmatic, working within the pricing parameters of a client brief and making sure that all requirements are met. Some fragrances can be quite simple, while others can contain up to 100 ingredients. Creating a fragrance is a complex process and in our current context of high raw material prices and/or shortages, also a real challenge. The perfumer has to skilfully blend ingredients in such a way that there is a fresh hook in the fragrance, followed by the heart or signature of the fragrance and the dry down notes (amber, woods, or musks that ensure longevity). All of this has to provide a coherent, rounded effect.

Lydia von Wielligh-Steyn - Reception Area

BUSINESS AS USUAL: Givaudan will probably celebrate its 250th year in the biz with low-key celebrations, says Lydia von Wielligh-Steyn.

How is Givaudan celebrating its 250th year in business?

We are used to working incognito and will probably not have huge celebrations. Despite being 250 years old, most people outside the fragrance industry have never heard of us. We basically work behind the scenes, doing our best to assist our clients to make their brands perform well.

Please tell us about the Road Stories Cape Town Project. Why is this so important to Givaudan?

Sub-Saharan Africa is often neglected when it comes to raw ingredients for use in perfumery. Apart from rooibos, tagete (good old kakiebos) and buchu, none of our other fascinating ingredients are known or appreciated. Linda Song’s 12 beautiful accords, inspired by her visit to the Western Cape, are absolutely exquisite. Her collection shows that we have a lot to be proud of.

Lydia von Wielligh-Steyn - Mona lavender

RAW INGREDIENTS: Perfumer Linda Song created a Mona lavender fragrance accord after exploring the species that’s unique to South Africa.

I was very impressed by the Linda Song fragrances you shared with me. What can we do to promote an appreciation of our own ingredients?

For some reason, South Africans do not always appreciate local ingredients. They are not perceived to be aspirational. This is a real pity, as overseas they are often sought-after ingredients and feature in high-end products. Hugo Boss uses the maninka fruit in some of its fragrances – what a shame that most of us have never heard of this fruit!

Lydia von Wielligh-Steyn - Maninka Fruit

SOUGHT AFTER: Hugo Boss uses the maninka fruit from South Africa in its Boss The Scent fragrance range, according to Lydia von Wielligh-Steyn.

There is a tremendous growth and interest in local design and fashion in this country. Maybe it is time that we also start rediscovering the fascinating botanical world that surrounds us. The precious knowledge of the medicinal and other uses of local plants is becoming extinct. It should concern all of us that such an important part of our heritage is vanishing.

Lydia von Wielligh-Steyn - Golden Pagoda

BOTANICAL HERITAGE: The golden pagoda is another South African plant that Linda Song used as an inspiration for a fragrance accord.