'It's the perfume equivalent to taking the knee': Why it's time for fragrance to drop 'oriental'

Increasingly, fragrance houses are switching the language they use to describe warm, heady and spicy scents from ‘oriental’ to ‘amber’ in a bid for inclusivity. Cosmetics Business explores the history behind the term and the social factors encouraging this change

YSL's Opium original advert starring Jerry Hall relies on 'oriental' tropes

Soft vanilla, heady musk and warming cinnamon, clove and nutmeg spices, these opulent notes belong to the 'oriental' fragrance family.

One of the four major scent groups – along with floral, fresh and woody – oriental perfumes have been a commercial and critical success since the launch of Ambré Antique by Coty in 1905 and Shalimar by Guerlain in 1921.

Oriental scents remain incredibly popular among consumers, with modern orientals including Chanel's Coco Mademoiselle, Mugler's Angel, YSL's Black Opium and Paco Rabanne's 1 Million among the best-selling fragrances of 2021.

But there is a cultural shift happening in the fragrance world. While oriental edps may be as popular as ever, the term 'oriental' is not.

Driven by . . .

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