One of the 20th Century’s greatest perfumes, Trésor, was created by Sophia Grojsman, whose name is forever associated with an accord. The Grojsman accord, based on only four ingredients: two parts iso e super or sylvamber, two parts hedione, one part methyl ionone, and two parts galaxolide or romandolide. 

Iso e super has a woody scent but also a particular radiant volatility. Hedione contributes its magical ability to enhance perfumes and make them more persistent and less figurative. Galaxolide has the necessary musky sweetness. Methyl ionone smells of violets and iris (orris).

The accord by itself is no great shakes; it’s what it does to other things that impresses. 

I made a mixture of two parts rose absolute and one part jasmine enfleurage. Needless to say, this mixture smelled glorious, but is it a perfume? Perfumes have projection and persistence. Modern perfumes have a particular abstract quality that distinguishes them from simple mixtures of good-smelling ingredients. 

I took two parts of my rose mixture and added one part of the Grojsman accord. I expected them to be different, but it turned out they were very different. The rose mixture, of course, is a very pleasant scent, but the mixture containing the Grojsman accord has an airiness that the other lacks. It’s as though it is infused with light. It’s not as obviously floral, but is far more like something one would contemplate wearing (which is the point to all this, after all). While, because of the accord’s ubiquity, I have to be careful not to make something that smells like all the others, I’m eager to try it with some of my blends, blends that may be gorgeous, but that don’t project. I’ll first try it with my favorite accords—rose, violet, orris (iris), tuberose. I want to try it with ambergris and civet and a seemingly infinite collection of naturals and synthetics.