Grumbling about the good old days before IFRA (the internal watchdog organization of the fragrance industry) banned so many ingredients has become customary on perfume blogs. Partially it’s because many of us cannot understand how the same ingredients are recommended in aromatherapy and then forbidden for use in fragrance, except in micro doses more suitable to homeopathy than perfumery.
But no matter how much we grumble, the European perfume industry is changing. We seem to be heading for a fork in the road.
Given this context, it was interesting and saddening for me to see that Octavian Coifan of 1000 Fragrances was shuttering his blog. He has a new position in the world of scent development which won’t allow him to blog anymore, but before leaving, he mentioned a renaissance in perfume that has taken place in the past several years, and I was pleased by the notion, because I agree, and had been thinking along much the same lines. IFRA notwithstanding, the last ten years have been really rich in young companies and their several fresh takes on perfume.
Has the last decade been the Good Old Days? Much better than the “great years” when Edmond Roudnitska was still working? Have we been living through a golden age of perfume? It’s entirely possible. And if Octavian is correct, and there has been a perfume renaissance, which companies have contributed most towards it? Anyway, Octavian, way ahead of me as usual, had already thought this through. Here is his list:
4 L’Artisan Parfumeur
5 F. Malle Editions de Parfums
6 de Nicolai
7 Olfactive Studio
8 F. Kurkdjian
9 Le 8eme Art (Pierre Guillaume)
Now you could quibble with this list. He left out Christopher Brosius, and a number of people would howl about Serge Lutens not being on it, or Jean Claude Ellena’s exclusion, but basically, I think Octavian’s List is a good one. Every one of these companies has produced some perfumes of rare charm or originality. Olfactive Studio is maybe the youngest and I’ve only briefly smelled their scents on cards, though Lumiere Blanche got good reviews.
I love the idea of living through a renaissance of anything at all (particularly in the middle of economic doldrums), and a perfume renaissance is one of the most beguiling suggestions of recent years. I suspect the interest of the public seeps through into the world of fragrance composition and creation, and irrigates a field of new scents done by enterprising perfumers. If all this coincides with new materials, as it has, you get a potentially rich crop of creativity.
I can’t do more than speculate on the creations that Octavian thought were ground breaking, but here’s my best guess:
1 Divine L’Homme de Coeur
2 Arquiste Anima Dulcis
3 Kilian Back to Black
4 L’Artisan Parfumeur, Dzing or Vanilia
5 F. Malle Le Parfum de Therese or L’Eau d’Hiver
6 de Nicolai New York or Sacrebleu
7 Olfactive Studio Lumiere Blanche
8 F. Kurkdjian Lumiere Noir Pour Femme
9 Le 8 eme Art, Myrrhiad and since this is Pierre Guillaume, Aomassai as well.
It’s not an exhaustive list and Octavian goes on to mention perfumers who contributed to the mainstream renaissance as well. It’s worth taking a look at his blog before it closes it for good, as he will have it up for a little while longer. Do yourself a favor. Have a look.