How Are Fragrances Categorised? My Favourite in each of the 7 Categories

How would you categorise all of these?

While having the opportunity to do a perfumer’s workshop with Alchemist Atelier, a fragrance house based in Paris, I learned a lot about how fragrance is constructed.

Did you know that fragrances belong to categories called ‘families’? According to a perfumer (a creator of fragrance), there are 7 main families to consider:

1. Citrus

Photo by Jessica Lewis on Unsplash

These are your ‘top note’ heavy fragrances that focus a lot on freshness and brightness in a fragrance, a lot of summer scents will focus mainly on their citrus notes.

My favourite at this point in time would have to be Atelier Cologne’s Orange Sanguine, the most natural citrus scent you will smell, it doesn’t last a long time but it smells like literal orange juice being sprayed out of the bottle and on to your skin.

2. Floral

Photo by Jacalyn Beales on Unsplash

One of perfumery’s original feats was to recreate the beauty of nature’s flower blooms. Although generally considered a more ‘feminine’ scent group, I’m personally partial to florals being used in ‘masculine’ fragrances also.

My current favourite floral scent is Moschino’s Toy Boy, a silly looking bottle that cleverly uses rose accords with pepper and musk in men’s perfumery, it smells different yet mass-appealing, I highly recommend it.

3. Woody

Photo by Liam Pozz on Unsplash

Considered generally a more ‘masculine’ fragrance note, although, like citruses, most fragrances contain a wood of some sort to give structure in the base to a perfume.

My current favourite ‘woody’ scent would have to be Creed’s Royal Oud, although overall I think it is overpriced and not long lasting enough, something about the high quality sandalwood here definitely smells regal as the name would suggest.

4. Aromatic

Photo by Romain MATHON on Unsplash

In fragrance speak, ‘aromatic’ usually refers to a scent that has a certain freshness of a herbaceous nature, one of the most commonly used notes to achieve this, and one of my favourite notes, is lavender.

Not enough people appreciate Tom Ford’s Beau de Jour, which is a Lavender bomb, that pays respect to the old school style of men’s ‘barbershop’ colognes (think Brut), and modernises it in a clever way (with amber).

5. Chypre

This is a slightly old school style, but Chypre refers to the French Word for Cyprus, as the ingredients for this style composition traditionally came from Mediterranean regions. These perfumes usually contain Patchouli (a dark, earthy leaf) and Oakmoss (a dry, ‘nature-smelling’ lichen).

I recommend you smell Chanel’s Antaeus, an homage to how masculine colognes used to be, this is a style from the 80s that smells dark, alluring and animalic.

6. Oriental

Photo by Prachi Palwe on Unsplash

Simply put, Oriental generally means fragrances of a spicy nature, with ingredients usually originating from the Orient region.

A great example is Tom Ford’s Noir Extreme, I highly recommend you try this so you can appreciate the use of nutmeg, cardamom, saffron and kulfi (an Indian dairy dessert) are used to create one of the most delicious and seductive scents you will ever smell.

7. Leather

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

There’s no other fragrance family that gives you that sexy edge that a top quality leather fragrance does.

I’m going to keep my recommendation simple, Tom Ford Ombre Leather (can you tell how I feel about this house?) It’s a simple and high quality leather fragrance that is linear throughout (the scent doesn’t change much on your skin), supported beautifully by white florals and the Chypre notes we mentioned above!


I hope you guys learned something interesting about fragrances on this post, for anyone who is even mildly in to scent, I highly recommend a perfumery workshop, they are eye-opening.

This is my first time putting up a blog post on Medium, but we have been posting weekly on to our blog on which I highly recommend you check out.

Until next time,





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Omar Mansour

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