Tuesday, September 2, 2003

When it comes to perfume, 'the Nose' knows something

Real style

By Joy Kraft
The Cincinnati Enquirer

He has one of the most discerning schnozzes in the business, so Raymond Mattes of New York doesn't mind when folks refer to him as "the Nose" behind Clinique's wildly popular Happy perfume and its more flowery cousin, Happy Heart.

In town last week at Lazarus to launch his newest creation, Simply, Mattes and his very normal-looking nose sat down to talk about the art of perfuming, or what he calls "liquid emotion."

The father of two young sons doesn't spend time with his nose in a bed of flowers to find inspiration as vice president of corporate fragrance development worldwide for Clinique. He finds it in the shops of New York.

And fancy talk about the top, middle and bottom of scents? Forget it.

He explains perfume in musical terms. "A fragrance is like music, different chords working together," he says. Ingredients are based on families of notes that evaporate at different times - floral, woody and Oriental.

Simply is an Oriental scent, which is typically characterized by vanilla, amber, spices and citrus. Its creation began four years ago with his firstborn, prompting him to take a very different approach.

"I was holding him and I realized there's a wonderful odor every mother loves, milk coming through the pores of the skin. And I thought, 'What if there was a fragrance not based on vanilla, used typically for sweetness, but instead on something connected with milk's sweetness?' I looked at 2 percent milk, skim milk, yogurt, evaporated milk and Silk, which is soy milk. Some were too sweet. But Silk was interesting, not sweet.

"The next part came when I was walking through a health food store and picked up some soy nuts. There was something about the residue, a toasted scent that I thought would be a good background" instead of Chyrpe, the woody part of most scents.

The result is a scent he describes as "exuding cozy comfort, bright and with a mysterious intimacy."

Naming the scent came next.

"We were talking about how the simplest things in life often mean the most ... a child's laughter, a simple 'thank-you.' And when it was presented properly, it worked."


Clinique Simply is $39.50 for 1.7 milliliters and $53.50 for 3.4 ml.

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