There’s a very odd thing going on out there in the world of perfume: niche fragrance prices are rising. This year the cost of a 50ml. bottle is well over a hundred dollars US. In fact, and in the interest of consumers, it’s worth pointing out that this hike comes at a time when many commodity prices are falling, natural gas, metals, pork, corn, etc, and when inflation in the US is running at or below 1.7% (the Federal Reserve’s target is 2%). So, why are perfume prices up so much? Is it demand, is it production costs, is it the dollar/euro exchange rate*, is it something that someone outside of the business can’t calculate, or are we…just being suckered for the sake of fashion? Continue reading
It can happen. For preference, you need a hit to avoid that catastrophe. It doesn’t have to be a mainstream hit. You don’t have to come up with the next J’Adore, but you do have to come up with something that makes the perfume world buzz just a little- like a disturbed hive.
Certain perfumers have a knack for this. Andy Tauer certainly does. His L’Air du Desert Marrocain still comes up on lists of things that the perfume-obsessed wear, and write about, and rhapsodize over. Pierre Guillaume is good at it too, he only has to stare hypnotically at a camera to sell perfume bottles, although the heck of it is, his stuff is surprisingly good, and if he resembled a cross eyed nanny goat I’d still think so.
Ever notice that some perfume firms simply are better at certain kinds of fragrance? I’m thinking of the fact that if you want a wonderful oriental, Guerlain still is pretty hard to beat (Shalimar, L’Heure Bleue), or that gourmand scents are the strong point of Parfumerie Generale (Aomassai, Cadjmere), or that even though Dior makes periodic sorties into enemy held territories, like the oriental, they are usually only partially successful, e.g. Dioressence, or that… but I expect by now you’ve got the picture.
For all the complaining that perfume consumers do about the industry these days, one thing is inescapably true: there’s more variety. Once upon a distant time, Perfumer’s Workshop produced Tea Rose and Houbigant sold A Rose is a Rose.
That was about it in 1976. Now you have entire lines devoted to the flower in all its variations. Les Parfums de Rosine is one such house, and besides its twenty or so perfumes, there’s a slew of mainstream releases popular with the public such as Stella, or Valentino’s Rockin’ Rose.
Is certainly blood, in whatever form, followed by certain flowers. While living in Vermont, I once grew a hybrid tea called Precious Platinum that, despite the name, was anything but silver. Platinum was a saturated scarlet, so intensely red that a local boy stopped by the garden one day and successfully petitioned for a rose to take to his girl with whom he’d had a fight.
I never heard if they made it up, but he couldn’t have found a redder rose if he’d trekked from one end of the state to the other. That rose, that particular rose, was the epitome of redness.
It has not escaped the attention of certain perfumers that a lot of the public likes the smell of dirt. We tend to like it instinctively, e.g. my daughter and her friends and our cellar, and often gravitate to “something earthy in perfumes”. You might as well add to this observation that earthy smelling scents can and have been great sellers for decades. Consider my mother’s old favorite Tabu.
Sometimes, however, perfumers take a direct route to the unconscious via the smell of the actual dirt, or the closest approximation of it that you can bottle. They know we love it. We read it – or Rupert Murdoch would have gone out of business a long time ago- and cultivate it – or ditto Scotts– and so why shouldn’t we smell of it?