Animal notes in perfumery:
Although quite popular in perfumery, Animal notes are not part of the 6 original families (Floral, Citrus, Woody, Oriental, Fougère, Chypre) according to the SFP (French Society of Perfumers).
Animal notes have been around for a very, very long time! Like Musks, animal notes in perfumery were originally natural.
And yes, we killed poor animals in order to extract their glands. These produced really very characteristic odors for a very specific use: to cover up bad body odor.
Castoreum (little Beaver), Civet (little musk cat), Ambergris (from the Sperm Whale) and Chevrotin Musk were in vogue for many centuries.
How to describe their smells? ... the Civet, for example, smells of excrement. Really, really not glam.
And yet, Civet was an excellent fixative in perfumes, a base note, it gave character (no kidding), depth and hold to a perfume. Moreover, in all the "old" Guerlain perfumes, the Civette was present, it was in a way their olfactory signature (Guerlinade).
Today banned by the IFRA (International Fragrance Association), almost all animal notes are banned from our perfumes.
We now find synthetic animal notes, this protects our animals while continuing to be able to exploit the new facets of animal notes: woody, smoky, leathery, spicy, "pony"...
Fun facts? Jasmine, this beautiful white flower which is often embodied in perfumery by a sunny, monoï, summery smell, contains in its components Indole (a really special synthetic animal note), crazy for such a refined flower!
These are usually base notes. Here are some raw materials, the natural ones are followed by a * :
Paracresyl acetate: anise.leather.floral
Civet Absolute* (prohibited by IFRA): fecal.leather.gras
Castoreum Resinoid*: olive.fecal.leather
Some emblematic perfumes:
"Panther" - Cartier 1986 - Alberto Morillas / Oriental Floral
"Vapeurs Diablotines" - SLM 2016 - Nathalie Feisthauer / Spicy Oriental
"Beast skin" - Liquides Imaginaires 2016 / Oriental Boisé
"Tuberose Manifesto" - Evody 2017 - Cécile Zarokian / Floral Animal
"Nudiflorum" - Nasomatto 2018 - Alessandro Gualtieri / Floral Animal
The old Guerlains who used Civet in the background of their perfumes before it was banned.
This list is not exhaustive because there are a lot of beautiful launches: some emblematic, some more commercial.