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Article: We are Family

We are Family

We are Family

A Beginner's Guide Chapter 4: Fragrance Families

Every fragrance is part of a family - and from next of kin to distant ancestors, each relative has its place. Unravelling the lineage of the fragrant family tree can help us appreciate the evocative power of perfume on a whole new level... discovering more of the scents we like and exploring uncharted scented avenues.

Just like us, fragrances are individuals, each with their own personalities and traits. Some uplift, soothe and inspire, while others bring comfort, pleasure and joy. We're naturally drawn to particular scents - and if you have a collection, chances are that they feature similar notes.

The Fragrance Foundation - of which STORIES Parfums is a proud member - categorises every fragrance to fit within one of four families:

  • Floral
  • Chypré
  • Ambrée
  • Fougère.

Other fragrance families for specific styles of scent - such as leathery or white floral - will always fit into a larger category, such as citrusy colognes with a chypré base.

This allows you to simplify grouping a fragrance and sub-categorise each family based on its olfactive style. So whether a citrus chypré or an aldehydic floral, each fragrance should be relatively easy to fit into one of the 4 umbrella families.




Fragrance expert, Michael Edwards developed a nose ‘map’ or fragrance wheel to explain the shared characteristics and relationship between the 14 different fragrance families. This system has become a universal icon of perfume classification.  

‘People think that they can only smell three or four perfumes before their nose gets tired. so, it’s important to choose the right ones for them to smell. i thought maybe fragrance families could be the key, because if you ask people for the names of their favourite three perfumes, almost invariably at least two will fall into the same family.’
Michael Edwards


The Fragrance Wheel is widely used to classify scents into four olfactory families based on their characteristics and dominant notes: Fresh, Floral, Oriental and Woody. Different groups and facets fall within these families (cousins if you like). It can be helpful to know which family or facet you're drawn to when choosing a perfume.


  • Fresh
  • Floral
  • Oriental
  • Woody


  • Aromatic - lavender and aromatic herbs
  • Citrus - bergamot and citrus oils
  • Water - aquatic and marine notes
  • Green - green notes like galbanum
  • Fruity - fruits and berries
  • Floral - freshly cut flowers
  • Soft floral - powdery notes and aldehydes
  • Floral oriental - sweet spices and orange blossom
  • Soft oriental - amber and incense
  • Oriental - resins and oriental
  • Woody oriental - patchouli and sandalwood
  • Woods - aromatic woods and vetiver
  • Mossy woods - amber and oak moss
  • Dry woods - leather and dry woods



More complex, niche fragrances may feature multiple families and facets, just like our own...
STORIES Nº.01 - Woods/Fresh/Citrus/Fruity
Citrus notes of bergamot, grapefruit and orange blossom open STORIES Nº.01, giving way to the deep warmth of cedarwood, a delicate touch of jasmine, heliotrope and a fig-tea accord. The mystery of this perfume is revealed in its blend of amber, vibrant sandalwood and hint of vetiver.
STORIES Nº.02 - Woody/Oriental
STORIES Nº.02 opens with notes of bergamot and Bulgarian rose, spiced with ginger, cardamom and green tea. Honey tobacco tones balance cedarwood at the heart of this woody fragrance. Opoponax, tonka bean and patchouli enhance the full-bodied perfume while amber and musk leave a lasting impression.



So how do we use this research when choosing a fragrance? We have broken down the four olfactory groups to help you connect with a fragrance that tells your story .

FLORAL - The delicious aroma that throws its arms around you when you visit a top florist... soft and gentle yet deliciously sensual and rich.

The largest of the fragrance families and one of the most famous accords in perfumery: the harmony of Jasmine, Rose and Ylang Ylang, often with a touch of Violet. The range of sub-divisions ranges from Floral - redolent of a freshly cut stem and foliage to Soft Floral or Floral Oriental - celebrating a dash of sweet and spicy.

Floral notes are also used within blends that are considered ‘masculine’ to provide balance and bring a saccharine touch.   

WOODY - The earthy tones of a sunlit, moss-covered forest floor, tailored, refined and deliciously complex.

When these blends are well balanced, every note knows its place and the harmony is pitch perfect. Within the family there are four categories featuring Dry Woods that conjure rich leather aromas, Mossy Woods that include classic Oakmoss scents; the aromatic Woods and Woody Oriental that smells soft and sweet of Sandalwood and Patchouli.

ORIENTAL - Voluptuous and heady with a soft, sensual undertone that is simply irresistible.

The notes in this family sit as easily in a masculine fragrance as they do in a typically feminine one. The classic Oriental blend is resinous while notes from other families such as Woody and Floral add complexity and take the fragrance in exciting directions.

FRESH - A diverse and fruity bunch, from herbal to berry-laden.

From the Aromatic subdivision that conjures up images of lavender fields to the zesty citrus notes, clean green tones and on to fruity, berry-laden blends, these are fragrances that will brighten your day and leave you smelling good enough to eat.

While most of the world’s fragrances have been classified according to Edward’s Fragrance Wheel as an excellent guide, nothing beats your own ability to sniff a fragrance and decide instinctively if it speaks to you or not.
Do you have a favourite group that you're instinctively attracted to? 


We invite you to try samples of STORIES Parfums fragrances today (cost redeemable against a full size bottle).



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