What in the world are fragrance accords?

When was the last time you read perfume descriptions and said to yourself, “What in the world am I reading?” Fragrances can be hard to describe, so writers often resort to poetic and often highfalutin jargon with hopes of evoking a sense of feeling. Words like ‘chypre’, ‘oriental’, ‘woody’, are thrown around frequently, confusing non-perfume aficionados about what they really mean.

One of the easiest ways to understand perfumes is to acquaint yourself with the fragrance accords that are used to categorize them. In the same way you hold down several notes in music to create a chord, a perfume accord is a scent made of several perfume notes. These perfume notes come together to form a distinct fragrance category.

Ralph Lauren Romance, with its notes of rose, chamomile, and yellow freesia, sports a floral accord. Calvin Klein’s popular unisex perfume, CK One, features notes of lemon, bergamot, and mandarin orange – which gives it a citrus accord. Here are more types of accords and what they mean so you can better understand how perfumes are described.

Woody accord


Perfumes with woody accords evoke the feeling of walking among woods.

Woody accords evoke the feeling of walking among redwoods or sitting around a campfire. They are often characterized by smelling like the great outdoors, so they’re great for people who enjoy hiking, camping, and various outdoor activities.

Notes often found in woody accords are sandalwood, vetiver, cedar, pine, cypress, and patchouli. Popular perfumes that have prominent woody accords include Bvlgari Man (P3,095) and Mont Blanc Explorer (P3,195).

Citrus accord

Juicy citruses

Citrus accords include tangy notes of lemon, orange, and bergamot.

Citrus accords feature crisp and clean notes like grapefruit, lemon, bergamot, and orange. They often give off a refreshing, out-of-the-shower vibe, which makes them perfect for people with active lifestyles, or for wearing during the summer. Popular fragrances with prominent citrus accords include Davidoff Champion (P2,695) and Clinique Happy for Men (P3,095).

See Related: Take Note: A Guide on Bergamot

Gourmand accord


Notes in a gourmand accord include chocolate, caramel, and vanilla. 

People are often divided when it comes to gourmand accords – while some love them, others can’t stand them. This is mostly because of their super-sweet and powdery qualities.

Gourmand fragrances have notes that are often included in desserts, such as chocolate, vanilla, caramel, or burnt sugar. Popular fragrances with prominent gourmand accords include Prada Candy Leau (P4,099) and Vera Wang Princess (P3,195).

Floral accord


Rose, jasmine, and freesia are some of the most common notes in floral accords.

Floral accords are feminine and flirty, and can range in intensity. While some can smell like a full-on botanical garden, others have more subdued floral qualities that are often balanced by fruity elements.

Common notes in floral accords include rose, violet, lily-of-the-valley, neroli, orris, jasmine, and freesia. Fragrances with prominent floral accords include Coach Floral (P3,495) and Gucci Flora (P3,895).

Fruity accord


The best perfumes with fruity accords are those that can balance sweetness without being too cloying. 

Juicy and succulent notes of pear, cherry, watermelon, apple, and raspberry are some of the most common in fruity accords. They always smell sweet, but the best fragrances never become too cloying.  Examples of fragrances with prominent fruity accords include Calvin Klein Escape Women (P2,595) and Lanvin Jeanne (2,595).

Spicy accord


Spicy accords are responsible for giving perfumes a sultry and sensual kick. 

Fragrances with spicy accords are warm, sultry, and sensual, and often come with notes like incense, cardamom, and pepper. If you want to feel mysterious, scents with spicy accords are the best bet. Popular fragrances with prominent spicy accords include Boucheron Jaipur Homme (P2,895) and Clean Black Leather Men (P2,495).

Aquatic accord


Aquatic accords give off a fresh-out-of-the-shower feeling. 

Perfumes with aquatic accords remind us of the sea, with marine notes like salt, algae, and fresh sea air. Common fragrances with prominent aquatic accords include Bvlgari Aqua Atlantique (P3,395) and Issey Miyake L’Eau D’issey Women (P3,200).

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