Even if you're just starting to explore the world of scents, you’re likely aware of the various fragrance families. They’re broad categories defined by a range of individual aromas. Cedar and patchouli fall within the woody families, for example, and rose and jasmine are floral. Bright aromas like citrus and grass are in the fresh families, and spicier smells are found in the oriental families. (Yep, that one's a little problematic, but it's the terminology that has taken hold in the industry.)
If you like a scent, often you’ll like many other scents from that same family. But how do you know which cologne falls where?
That’s where Michael Edwards and his company, Fragrances of the World comes in. In the 1980s, after working in-house at notable parfumerie Halston, Edwards noticed that scents could be classified almost like wines, and each consumer has his or her own preference for specific varietals. Think about how wines can be full-bodied or thin, dry or sweet: If you prefer white wines, you’ll be asked further if you like Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, and so forth. The same goes for scents.
So how is this relevant to you, the curious consumer? Well, Fragrances of the World creates a massive database of all of this information—by brand, family, creator, notes, year, and so forth. Department stores and other big retailers will subscribe to this database in order to suggest fragrances to their customers. Say you like a specific scent—maybe Dior's Eau Sauvage. (Edwards calls this one “the fragrance of my life.”) You could walk into a store, say “I like the citrus notes in Eau Sauvage, but my best friend wears it. So can you recommend me something similar, with many of the same notes?” Then, using the database created by Edwards and his team, you’ll get a load of suggestions—or even one very honed suggestion—and be on the way to finding your new signature scent.
You can also try out Edwards’ interactive Fragrance Wheel for yourself, or try the “Match My Fragrance” feature on that same page. Type in one fragrance, and the database will recommend numerous others, which are each similar in some way.