Upmarket/Downmarket Perfume

"What do you smell?" Sherlock and friend from The Telegraph

“What do you smell?”
Sherlock and friend from The Telegraph

This issue used to strike me as very important long ago.Choice of brand was crucial.  Or so I thought at seventeen. Now this matters far less to me.  I smell all sorts of things and know that many releases are merely rehashes of earlier perfumes, and so  wear whatever strikes me as genuinely interesting pretty much wherever it came from.  But I am naive on this point because the truth is that brands and branding matter a lot.  During the Great Depression of the 1930’s the fatal error among perfume companies was to move downmarket.  You might think that this is counter-intuitive, but in fact it was vitally important.  If your image was exclusive you stood a good chance of surviving the economic wreck, if by contrast you decided to sell your scents in cheap retail outlets like discounters or drugstores, your chances of market share loss were pretty good.  It was Saks Fifth Avenue or bust for perfume companies then. Continue reading

Through a Looking Glass Darkly

alice-entering-the-looking-glass-world-by-sir-john-tennielThe perfume house of Mugler has become one of the most innovative ones in the world.  Forget niche perfumery (most of the niche companies, anyway). If you want something totally new and different, half the time that something will come from Mugler.

The company didn’t focus test Angel back in the day because they knew the scent would be too polarizing. It didn’t matter; the stuff swept off the market triumphantly with a huge hit.  Proving, I suppose, that to be a true entrepreneur takes true grit no matter whether you are selling smart phones, Bitcoins, or …perfume.  And although I may never have taken to the blue Angel, millions of other people have, and by now Angel’s structure has inspired dozens of similar perfumes, everything from Flowerbomb to Magical Moon. Continue reading

Saffronicity

Iran_saffron_threadsOf all the threads in the tapestry you sense on spring winds, one strand keeps catching my attention: saffron.

It’s one of the world’s favorite spices and has been for so many centuries that it’s hardly worth counting them, but it is worth noting that the ancient Greeks are recorded as having a preference for saffron perfumes and for the scent of irises. Perhaps Aristophanes and Pericles would be Amouage customers if they were alive today. At the very least, I like to think that Aspasia would have worn Chanel, 28 La Pausa for preference. Continue reading

2012 Pulls its Scaly Tail Out the Door

This was not a good year if you lived in New Jersey.  Mind you, those of us who live mid state have nothing to complain about.  Those who lived on the Shore far more, but – it was not a good year. No, indeed.

Neither was it a stellar year in perfume.  Everyone else in the blogosphere likes to compile best and worst of lists at this time of year, but alas, and woe is me,  I can’t find even five perfumes that moved me by their originality and wonderfulness this year. Continue reading

The Year of the Dragon Lady Perfume

How do you interpret the phrase Dragon Lady? Is it the vamp of the 40’s B movies in her skin tight re-interpretation of the cheongsam, or is it the lady simply born in the Year of the Dragon?

If  the latter, you’re probably not really looking for the sexy perfume, you’re probably looking for the perfume that smells the way that dragons would smell.

But now that we’re on the subject, how do dragons smell?  J.R.R. Tolkien in The Hobbit suggests that the smell was anything but nice; that is, if the phrase “vast reek” is anything to go by.

Continue reading