Übersicht Perfume Consulting Perfume Performance vs. Sillage
911 Posts
MiaTrostMiaTrost Perfume Performance vs. Sillage 10.06.2014, 13:34
Entering perfumista territory some years ago, I learned that two criteria capture a perfume's performance: longevity/tenacity and sillage. Clearly, time and distance are the two dimensions we are interested in, when evaluating performance.

Calkin and Jellinek (1994) define the following performance criteria, which have become standard in the fragrance industry:
Impact is an immediate olfactory sensation and is a measure of the intensity of a perfume in the first moments after application, e.g., when sniffing a perfume from a blotter or right after its application onto the skin.
Diffusion refers to the efficacy of a perfume at some distance from the source, representing how fast a fragrance radiates in space and permeates into the surrounding environment.
Volume is the effectiveness of a perfume over distance, sometime after application.
Tenacity is the ability of a fragranced mixture to retain its characteristic odour during the dry down stage. It is a performance index that measures the persistence of a fragrance for long times after its application but near the evaporating source, e.g., how long the perfume lasts on skin after applying it.

Calkin and Jellinek (1994), Perfumery, Practice and Principles
Teixeira et al. (2013), Perfume Engineering, Design, Performance & Classification

Sillage – an undifferentiated layman term?

Quite some fragrances feature excellent diffusion and tenacity but are moderate or even low in volume. Sillage, however, does not capture this time-dependent aspect of a perfume's presence over distance and therefore I increasingly view it as an insufficient term.

My, albeit limited, discussions of this topic with perfumers revealed that sillage, in the context of perfumery, is an unknown term which seems to be primarily used by perfume bloggers and on perfume fora. Who would have thought?
Yet, it obviously exists in perfume lingua. For example, Oxford Dictionaries define sillage as "[t]he degree to which a perfume’s fragrance lingers in the air when worn".

What are your thoughts on its usefulness as opposed to diffusion and volume?
Last edited by MiaTrost on 06.11.2017, 16:06; edited 2 times in total

484 Posts
SleuthSleuth 10.06.2014, 20:37
Nice post. I think sillage is a combination of volume and diffusion, both are important to perfume wearers. I don't mind that 'sillage' is imprecise. Where did you get those official publications?

747 Posts
TriffidTriffid 11.06.2014, 08:00
I agree with Sleuth about sillage being a combination of volume and diffusion.
My feeling is that 'sillage' requires movement by the wearer and the word speaks to a somewhat romantic notion of leaving an intriguing wake of scent as one sashays past, possibly swishing those full petticoats in passing.
Not strictly a technical definition used by perfumers it seems, but it obviously has appeal to wearers.
Thanks for the info Mia - I actually like those tighter definitions, they make sense to me.

911 Posts
MiaTrostMiaTrost 11.06.2014, 11:25
Exactly how I understand sillage as well, supposed to be a combination of diffusion and volume.
However, as Triffid rightly pointed out, its literal meaning differs, which has been discussed in this thread.
Hence, I would argue it not only captures performance aspects imprecisely but also is ambiguous.

Triffid wrote:
I actually like those tighter definitions, they make sense to me.
So do I. Smile

Sleuth wrote:
Where did you get those official publications?
I am not sure I understand your question. Do you mean where to acquire the books I mentioned above?

484 Posts
SleuthSleuth 11.06.2014, 21:46
I didn't know they were books, I thought they were papers. Cool

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