Is perfumery embracing the green fairy?

By Julia Wray | Published: 8-Mar-2019

The Perfume Shop declares absinthe is the note of 2019

When you hear ‘absinthe’ the first thing that springs to mind is 19th century artists knocking back glasses of the spirit, dubbed ‘the green fairy’, in Paris’ red light district, rather than fine fragrance. But this might be about to change.

According to retailer The Perfume Shop, absinthe is set to be the fragrance note of 2019.

The potent, green, aniseed-flavoured spirit plays a key role in the new YSL Black Opium Intense fragrance, which blends the scent with more traditional food extracts including vanilla and liquorice, as well as orange blossom and sandalwood.

Is perfumery embracing the green fairy?

The Perfume Shop noted that the industry has seen a surge in the use of interesting ingredients, including popcorn, gunpowder and, more recently, cannabis: a lead note in Caroline Herrera’s 212 Party Fever, which launched last summer.

And while absinthe and wormwood notes (the narcotic wormwood was a traditional ingredient in absinthe) have sporadically popped up in male fragrances, such as Paco Rabanne Black XS for Him and niche perfumes like Penhaligon’s Levantium and L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Fou d’Absinthe, its use in YSL Black Opium Intense signals its wider acceptance in feminine and fashion fragrances.

Outside of the fragrance industry, absinthe is enlivening 2019 cocktail culture, making something of a comeback, and bars and pubs are gearing up for National Absinthe Day, which takes place on 5 March.

For example, Opium, located in London’s Chinatown, is said to offer guests a Snake cocktail, blending absinthe with the liqueur Suze and spiced apple.

Commenting on the growing popularity of absinthe notes and unusual scents in general, Andrea Rickard, The Perfume Shop’s Trading Director, said: “Customers are taking a more holistic approach to fragrance shopping, which is driving a surge in interest and innovation in notes and ingredients.

“For example, milk notes give customers the illusion of a more natural scent, which customers enjoy, whereas popcorn has a real sense of comfort and nostalgia, and cannabis is energising but also designed to lift your spirit and exude the feeling of summer when nights are longer and drinks are colder.

“The trend for using unique ingredients… is driving a real opportunity for innovation in the industry.”

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