Have You Read Any Good Perfumes Lately?

Bookshelf from nextimpact.com

Bookshelf from nextimpact.com

Perfumers don’t compose perfumes, instead they “write” them.  It’s an interesting choice of verb.  If you are one of those people who regard perfume as rather like cooking, then this idea will probably not appeal to you, but it is part of the industry, especially in France where fairly or unfairly, the metaphor for “cooking” in perfumery also exists but in a pejorative sense.  A chemical brew is known as a “soup” and these comprise the majority of releases on the  mass market.  Something may be cooking or stewing at the big oil production houses , but  isn’t being conceptualized, most product has no discernible plot beyond, “Make the sale!”

However perfumers themselves who are concerned with more than the fiendish difficulties of scenting detergent or soap, have a little more leeway, and for them the idea of ideas becomes feasible, even defensible. You get Frederic Malle’s “Editions” de Parfums, for all the world like Hachette or Gallimard. Continue reading

Pricey Niche

peacockThere’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

Melancholy Baby

Florals tend to have something inherently optimistic about them;  as Catherine Donzel writes in her book Le Parfum, “Floral bouquets (composed of several floral essences) have in common a certain idea of happiness.”

For the most part this is true, but sometimes you come across one or other of them which breaks ranks and has an air of melancholy about it.

You must be something of a romantic to wear them. They do not work on the hale, or the hearty, or the talkative.  You cannot pull off a pallid pose under a weeping willow if you are constantly fidgeting, or asking if someone has taken that damn picture yet? You have to be the embodiment of patience and placidity and pallor, and having long delicate fingers helps as well.  Then you can wear the melancholy floral without feeling an utter fraud.  Continue reading