So that people understand what they are getting, perfumes are described by using a Fragrance Wheel – much like a painter’s colour chart, but for the nose. 

There have been many variations of the Fragrance Wheel, but it started in 1983 when Michael Edwards , “the perfume experts’ expert”, developed a fragrance classification chart in the form of wheel which categorize fragrance into four groups: floral, oriental, woody, and fresh. Among those categories are subgroups which include fruity floral, aromatics, floral oriental, etc. Every year, Michael Edwards publishes a book of fragrances called, “Fragrances of the World” which categorizes every fragrance ever made. Edwards points out that men’s fragrances are mostly Woody and Aromatic, while women’s perfumes are predominantly Floral and Floral Oriental. fragrance_wheel_2016_2

“Although your sense of smell is emotional, the fragrances you most enjoy will probably belong to just one or two fragrance families. The Fragrance Wheel holds the key to your fragrance likes and dislikes. It lets you see at a glance the relationship between the 14 different families. Each family leads to the next, for example – Florals become Soft Florals when blended with sparkling aldehydes and balanced by a powdery drydown [the scent that emerges when the perfume dries on your skin]. Soft Florals are transformed into Floral Orientals by adding the scents of orange blossom and sweet spices. “ – Michael Smith, Fragrances of the World

(Download Michael Edwards’ Fragrance Wheel_2016 pdf or the .png file.)

Learn more

Explore the fragrance families by using the interactive Fragrance Wheel on Michael Edwards’ Fragrance Finder.