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A World of Fragrances - A History of the Classification of Scent with Micheal Edwards

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On this very special one year anniversary episode of the Perfume Making Podcast, Karen is joined by Micheal Edwards, author and founder of Fragrances of the World and author of "Fragrance Legends" and his latest book "American Legends"

Micheal, who has worked in the fragrance industry for over 4 decades is the creator of one of the first classification systems for commercial fragrances, which is still widely used today. Having classified more than 55,000 fragrances he is a walking, talking encyclopaedia of all things perfume. In this fascinating interview with Karen, Michael shares his life story, his philosophy to his work and an incredibly insightful history on the evolution of scent. 


  • Historically, perfume brands described their scents differently, without a common language. Noticing this, Micheal set about creating a system that all brands could use. He outlines this process. 
  • Michael's classification system began as a labour of love. However, concerned that the amount of work he was doing was not creating an income, he approached department stores with a copy of his guide. He tells the story of how this was the beginning of his incredible journey. 
  • Due to the birth of the artisan & niche perfume industry the amount of scents released each year has risen from 300 to over 25,000. Micheal talks about the challenges his team has faced in continuing to classify these scents as the numbers rise.
  • Michael's in-depth knowledge of scent places him as an historian also. He gives an overview of scents from the 1800’s and how consumer trends today are being influenced by early creations. 


“The problem with perfume is that it was fascinating, but frustrating until we created a universal language.”

“Women’s fragrances are described as romantic, men’s fragrances are described as macho. It’s total nonsense, but that is the way the industry likes it.” 

“The problem with old classifications was that they were linear, there was no link between different notes. That needed to change.”




Getting Started Guide

Artisan Perfumery Mastermind  


Fragrance expert, author, teacher and speaker; Karen Gilbert runs courses in the UK and online which demystify the secretive world of perfumery in a fun and interactive way. 

Karen has inspired thousands of students to explore their olfactory sense and create their own personalised fragrances.

With extensive product development experience in both the commercial perfumery and the organic skincare industry, Karen is able to offer a unique insight into creating natural and mixed media fragrances for fine fragrance, room scents and skincare/bodycare products using commercial perfumery techniques.

Karen is also a certified meditation teacher and has a passion for helping people to create daily rituals that integrate scent with other modalities to shift state and increase your sense of wellbeing.







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