The Leffingwell Fragrance Genealogie Charts

This post is just an aside to my readers. Many of you may wonder where I get my fragrance classifications from, when I refer to things as chypres, orientals, etc. I use the Leffingwell Fragrance Genealogie Charts, of which there is a "Masculin" and "Feminin" version, both extensively charting the timeline and fragrance grouping of all bestselling designer and mass-market fragrances. There are no modern niche fragrances in the charts. However, classical French houses like Caron and Guerlain are represented, and as those companies exclusively create high-end perfume, I suppose they could be considered niche.

Leffingwell charts have been published in The H&R Genealogy, a limited edition set of books that were the industry standard for fragrance classification. They are no longer in print. It is worth noting that in the original editions, fragrance types such as "Aquatic" and "Ozonic" were acknowledged not by these names, but as "Fantasy" fragrances, and were categorized as such.


  1. I'm kind of surprised that nobody has tried to create a wiki based on this... At least as a means of arriving at a fleshed out version. Even aside from the challenge of addressing new categories (aquatic or gourmand, for instance), just filling in a few historical gaps and making some obvious updates could be fun; there is also the question of fragrances whose current reformulations have shifted their relative position to consider. The graphic design challenge of integrating the existing categories with an expanded range of families could be a lot of fun in its own right...

    1. My (admittedly vague) sense is that Michael Edwards - and only Michael Edwards - has overtaken the classification system in the industry with his "wheels," which frankly suck. "Fantasy fragrances" . . . . ????? . . . I struggle with this on a profound level.

      The H&R chart was never updated, to my knowledge, but fortunately most of the important fragrances were made prior to 2001 anyway. Sure, there would be a few additions, like Rive Gauche PH, Aventus, Bleu de Chanel, Sauvage, etc. Generally though I think all but one (RG) would wind up in the chypre category, and if we're being honest, precious few would really be true chypres. As for feminines, I'm not as well versed in the overall trend, but would remind readers that there has not been a single feminine in the last fifteen years that anyone could claim was "iconic." Women have suffered even more than men. One sweet watery Angel/aquatic nightmare after another. And the big boys like Guerlain and Chanel just retool the same formulas for their exclusive lines.


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