There is no definitive, universally accepted perfume classification. Various charts, tables, and diagrams have been circulating among fragrance manufacturers since the 1970s, and you're probably familiar with Michael Edwards' Fragrance Wheel, introduced back in 1992. The French, of course, have a classification of their own: it's described at length in the bilingual booklet Classification des Parfums et Terminologie, published by the Comité Français du Parfum in 2001.
The French project started in 1983, when six members of the Société Technique des Parfumeurs de France (now Société Française des Parfumeurs) got together to create a fragrance classification for the perfume industry. Raymond Chaillan, Yuri Gutsatz, Jean Kerléo, Raymond Pouliquen, Guy Robert, and Henri Sebag came up with five fragrance families: Floral, Chypre, Fougere, Amber, and Leather. They divided each family into subcategories (except for the Fougeres and the Leathers), and created an appendix with famous fragrances, categorized according to this new system. The first edition of Classification des Parfums was published in 1984, and was limited to feminine fragrances.
With a new breed of masculine eaux de toilette invading the market in the years to follow, the Technical Committee was soon forced to go back to the drawing boards. Instead of creating a systematic gender division in their classifcation, they decided to expand it with two new families (Citrus and Woody, each with their own subcategories), and to introduce subdivisions in the Fougere and Leather categories. The appendix of the 1990 edition now featured masculine fragrances as well; further developments in perfumery lead to new updates in 1998 and in 2001, the latter version including three extra subcategories. (Which, incidentally, were never implemented in the online SFP-classification.)
Besides the latest classification system, the 2001 edition contains two additional perfume lists, sorted in alphabetical and in chronological order for easy reference. It also features an elaborate perfume lexicon, a section dedicated to the Osmothèque, a commemorative page in honor of past perfumers, and a short list of relevant addresses. Most interesting, in my opinion, is the excellent overview of discoveries in organic chemistry since 1833: I've never seen it presented in such clear and concise manner as in this little handbook. The quality of the English translation leaves room for improvement, but it will come as a blessing to those who don't read French at all. The spiral binding hinders quick browsing through the pages, but the booklet is decently priced: I found my copy at www.museesdegrasse.com for under 19 euro, tax included.
The authors of this booklet are not explicitly credited. Several of its original members are still active in the SFP Technical Committee, while in recent years, perfumers like Jean-Michel Duriez, Patricia de Nicolaï, Dominique Ropion, and Maurice Roucel have joined the team.
Classification des Parfums et Terminologie
Société Française des Parfumeurs
Paris: Comité Français du Parfum (2001)
Cardboard cover, spiral binding