What does sillage of a fragrance mean?
Sillage (pronounced: [see-yazh]) is originally a French word and literally means wake, or in English (sounds a bit more poetic) trail or trace. The word is used to indicate the wake of a boat or the trail of an airplane in the blue sky. Perfumistas and perfume connoisseurs use the word to indicate the scent trail you leave behind when you wear a particular perfume.
How does a minimal and a big sillage smell?
If a scent has minimal sillage, that means the scent stays close to the skin and is not easily noticeable to the passer-by. It is a more intimate scent and is only noticed by others when they come very close… Parfum Satori by Satori has a discreet and delicate sillage.
If a fragrance has a strong sillage, you can still smell the wearer long after it’s gone. For example, think of situations in an elevator or in the theater. Affectionately, these scents are also referred to as ‘walmer’. Baccarat Rouge 540 (both the eau de parfum and the extrait de parfum) by Maison Francis Kurkdjian is one that has a big sillage.
Sillage, however, has nothing to do with the amount you apply or the richness of the scent. Sillage is more determined by the perfume ingredients used and how well it envelops the wearer (‘the diffusive power’).
It’s often the case that the scents you get the most compliments (and attention) on are those with a strong sillage. However, in situations and occasions where this mindfulness is less desirable (in the office, in restaurants, in a hospital), perfumes with a modest sillage are a more appropriate choice!