Fragrance News This Week in Fragrance: Unilever's Transparency, Wu's Debut and All About Aphrodisiacs

This Week in Fragrance: Unilever's Transparency, Wu's Debut and All About Aphrodisiacs

02/08/17 08:16:13 (5 comments)

by: Dr. Marlen Elliot Harrison


The fragrance world is abuzz with huge news this week from Unilever. Alex Formuzis at (Environmental Working Group) reports:

For decades, federal regulations have let companies use the word “fragrance” on soap, shampoo, skincare and other personal care product labels to hide the identity of multiple chemicals, many of them linked to allergies or other health effects. For the most part, personal care product companies and fragrance manufacturers have resisted calls for disclosure, and “fragrance” has remained a black box for hundreds of chemicals in thousands of everyday products. But in a major move today that could dramatically alter the personal care and fragrance markets, industry giant Unilever announced a bold new initiative to provide detailed information on fragrance ingredients for all products in its multibillion-dollar portfolio of personal care brands, including Dove, Noxzema, Lever 2000 and NEXXUS. READ MORE...

Do you think such a disclosure of ingredients will affect the average consumer? How do you feel about this bold move by an industry giant?

Unilever announces that they will disclose fragrance ingredients

Peter Born at reveals Parlux's newest celebrity to join their fragrance portfolio, designer Jason Wu:

The collaboration with Wu gives Parlux a boost in its determination to develop American designer fragrances. Its stable is headed now by a multitude of fragrances under the Vince Camuto and Kenneth Cole brands. Unlike some European companies, Parlux has always seen the Made in America label as an opportunity, noted Don Loftus, the company’s president. The potential of this deal was clearly not lost on him. “It is such a pleasure working with Jason and his talented team on the development of his signature scent,” he stated. “This is just the beginning of what we are sure will be a fruitful and exciting venture.” READ MORE...

The fragrance will debut this Friday during the February fashion week in New York City. Any thoughts as to what the fragrance might be named or what the concept might be?

Jason Wu

Meanwhile, US avant garde fragrance company Xyrena has been busy with the launch of cannabis-inspired fragrances and according to's Dan Avery, they've also launched a new scent developed with American actor/drag queen Willam. Xyrena describes the scent as:

Sandalwood and sex may not be the only way to describe Scented by Willam, but it’s definitely accurate. Scented opens with notes of lavender, calming chamomile, sage, and the exotic spice cumin adds a carnal sweaty top. The fragrance transitions into hearty notes of spicy cinnamon and saffron with its intimate leathery aroma. Scented dries down to a sexy animalistic bottom of sandalwood, musk, and amber, with a hint of poppers and latex.

Have you had any experiences with Xyrena's fragrances yet? I'm still enjoying last year's discovery of Dark Ride, one of my top picks from 2016.

Scented by Willam from Xyrena

Eva Recinos at discusses the power of aphrodisiacs being back in the spotlight thanks to a new workshop from Saskia Wilson-Brown (The Institute of Art & Olfaction; pictured below):

L.A.’s resident scent and fragrance expert, Saskia Wilson-Brown, knows a thing or two about how scent really works. As the founder and executive director of The Institute for Art and Olfaction, she often hosts workshops for those interested in learning more about perfumes and scents “in a way that [is] unpretentious.” In her sold-out workshop “Aphrodisiacs: Aromas of Desire” — hosted at the always-romantic Getty Villa — Wilson-Brown will cover the history of fragrances and perfumes in ancient Greece and Rome. She will focus specifically on the scents associated with seduction and desire. By the end of the workshop, attendees will create their own aphrodisiac fragrance. According to Wilson-Brown, “It’s hard to do any study of scent without aphrodisiacs coming up,” and the ancient Greek and Roman rituals definitely tie in to this study. The word aphrodisiac, after all, takes its origin from Aphrodite, the goddess of love herself. But the history of aphrodisiacs is more than just figuring out which scent will get you laid the fastest. READ MORE...

What fragrances do you find to have aphrodisiac qualities? I'm a sucker for sandalwood....

Saskia Wilson-Brown

And in a fascinating interview with Roja Dove, the reveals why "all men smell the same":

It turns out the fresh, oceanic note we’ve picked up on only came about at the start of the nineties: “It was a backlash to all the consumerism and the big ‘power’ scents of the early 1980s,” Dove explained to The Independent. As the world went into an economic slump, fresh scents came to the fore - consumers wanted to get away, hence the scents reminiscent of an escape to the beach. READ MORE...

The article goes on to explain some of the most commonly used ingredients in contemporary men's perfumery but does conclude that the fragrance scene is changing as consumers are becoming more savvy. Being a guy who uses guy fragrances, I can't say that I'm seeing much in the way of groundbreaking releases from major design houses. For that I have to look to the niche and artisan houses. What are your thoughts about the state of men's perfumery?

Man spraying fragrance

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Dr. Marlen Elliot Harrison

Managing Editor & Columnist

Dr. Marlen Elliot Harrison’s journalism in the fragrance industry has appeared in international print and online publications such as PlayboyMen’s JournalMen’s Health and the New York Times. Marlen is also a regular contributor to and works as a graduate professor, thesis advisor and faculty supervisor for MA programs in TESOL, Education, Writing and Literature. Learn more about Marlen by visiting


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I was unhappy with my haircare products and looking for a new one and was interested in Nexxus. They've been deeply discounted and disappearing from shelves everywhere and now thanks to this article I know why. I hope they are not discontinuing them but only reformulating them according to the new regulations because it is a very good product.

Certain musks are very sexy but they can't be too light, don't care for the white ones like Body Shop or too dirty. I just know when I smell the right one, jLo's seem to find the right balance for me. Of course sandalwood is sexy too if it's not too sweet. And amber don't get me started, swoon!


Love Jason Wu. Can't wait to sniff his new fragrance! He is such an amazing designer and a lovely person, too. I had a chance to meet him in NY earlier this year and he was so kind and has impeccable manners.



I'd *love* to try Willam Belli's "Scented." He was one of my faves during Season Four of RuPaul's Drag Race...He was takin' no schizz from anyone -- and not bothering to take names, either was Willam's style...

What has piqued my curiosity is that schweaty cumin note...In the words of the late, great Rick James: Give it to me, Baby!


Jason Wu was born in Taiwan and now has dual Taiwanese/Canadian citizenship. He resides in New York.

American? I guess Parlux is an American company (Ft. Lauderdale, FL), so maybe that's what they mean.

Smells are not aphrodisiacs to me.


I don't mind them disclosing their fragrant ingredients, but I don't think most people would care or understand, especially if they use popular brands that ALREADY have harmful chemicals right on the label lol.

I really liked Xyrena's popcorn one, and this one sounds good too. If you're unfamiliar with the gay culture, the descriptions had a play with words--"carnal sweaty top" (purposely leaving out the word 'notes') & "sexy animalistic bottom" (you don't normally say 'bottom notes')!

About the workshop.. Yeah it was sold out as soon as I saw the first article :'( Someone please share some knowledge she passed down!
Some tuberose fragrances have surprisingly aphrodisiac quality on a masculine man!

The new trend in men's fragrances is a touch of gourmand (notably tonka). With all the Noir (black), Nuit (night), and Intense versions popping out everywhere, they all have something in common, which is added sweetness, whether they call it leather or woods.


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