So many mainstream fragrances are released each year- as a matter of fact the last estimate that I heard was over two hundred a year- that it’s amazing that anyone keeps up. It’s such a large number that it’s somewhat numbing. How can the public ever absorb or even register such a profusion of product?
In the past, perfumes were the high margin high sales item that helped many fashion houses maintain a position of cash positivity even in years when the resident designer(s) might have been off their game. Certainly it worked that way for Chanel. Year in, year out, No 5 would sell and offset whatever were the fashion foibles of the clothes themselves.
These days however, handbags do as well at generating fast profits. At some unspecified point in time, the handbag became the handbag du jour, something to be swapped out once or twice a season. Everyone had several, or at any rate so the rag mags hinted. You were supposed to have a number of bags just as you were supposed to have a number of scents.
This went along with everything else that was serial at the turn of the century: serial careers, serial marriages, serial perfumes. You could match your mood or your caprice to them, not the other way around, and you did not commit yourself fully to any one style of bag or scent.
I guess this is one definition of luxury. Never to have to stay with the same scent twice. Actually though, I am rather fond of familiarity. No doubt this explains the one husband in twenty four years. I don’t tire easily, or bore easily, and it seems to me that the interest in anything or anyone or any smell is largely a matter of perspective. If there’s good quality to the original, it can last you a lifetime. It’s quite nice to actually bond with a perfume and I fear that everyone has been so much in the habit of changing fumic partners, that we are in danger of forgetting that fabulous old collaboration between the woman and the scent.
This means your great aunt and Nuit de Noel, or my mother-in-law and White Linen, or the sister-in-law, who always wears Diorissimo in summer, or the best friend who is never without Light Blue. It’s comforting and it’s sort of charming. The smell announces the woman, and the woman is that scent – at least, to you.
Unfortunately, not much reaches that level of quality anymore. If we’re going to wear it every day, it had better be well made, and I’d venture to guess that just as we don’t wear signature scents anymore, neither do the perfumers make them. Do many perfumers even consider the possibility any more? Do any of them actually compose signature scents? If they did, what would they smell like? Are they Frederic Malle scents, or Le Labo scents, or are they more like something Ayala Moriel would make?
If you could pick a signature scent, what would it be?