I noticed that I haven’t posted about perfume for a while. I spent most of the time thinking about a new project related to perfumers and perfumery this week and felt comfortable posting something related.
Last weekend my two sons had an annual play date with Les Christophs (Christophe Laudamiel and Christoph Hornetz) at home, and I had an opportunity to speak with perfumer Christophe Laudamiel on various subjects including art and design. Laudamiel is one of the few perfumers (if not only) who is trying to think perfumery outside the realm of commercial perfumery or a mere scent making. The most interesting discussion with him was on the possibility for the perfumery to be recognized as art.
Perfumery is not art in today’s context. For example, we cannot speak about perfumery as we speak about contemporary art. Perfumery is still like 18th or 19th century art. As Laudamiel pointed out to me, I too believe that finding the answer to this issue will ultimately take the commercial perfumery to the next level.
The new campaign by Belvedere Vodka (originally from Poland) owned by LVMH is called “Luxury Reborn.” The celebrities in the campaign are Terry Richardson, Vincent Gallo and RZA. As you can see from the casts in the commercial, this is a niche campaign, and people who don’t get it are unlikely to recognize the campaign.
If you can relate to the short commercial, it’s worth checking out the interview of Vincent Gallo at the Belvedere Vodka’s website. Unfortunately the entire site is Flash, and the navigations is not so good. The interview can be found where it says DISCOVER LUXURY REBORN/THE CAMPAIGN BEHIND THE SCENE after the splash page.
And for those who love perfumes – Sabina Belli, the woman who is interviewing Vincent Gallo, was Dior’s International Marketing Director for Fragrance, Cosmetics and Skincare a few years ago. According to perfumer Thierry Wasser, he was able to complete the scent of Dior Addict in just two and a half months because of Sabina Belli’s inspiring description of what she wanted for the fragrance.
“Perfumers have signatures,” Mrs. Grojsman said. “You can pick up a fragrance and know who the perfumer is by the way certain ingredients are put together. I’m known for floral accords, bottoms and cleavage.” Noses talk that way. Translation: the bottom note is the scent on the skin several hours after application. There is, however, no bottom without a top — a note that lasts a couple of minutes after perfume is put on — and a middle. Without this layering, heaven forbid, a scent could turn out to be what Mrs. Grojsman called “a bottomless pit of infinity or nondescript.” Cleavage is the “sensual” part of the fragrance.
I haven’t been to Colette for a while, and a recent post in 1000fragrances certainly made me want to check out the store. It’s not surprising to hear that this hip store in Paris has done a good job of building its olfactive identity. After all this is the store in Paris run by an innovative trendsetter ‘sarah’.
Olfactive branding is a relatively new area in the fragrance business… but I see two problems here.
The first issue is whether to scent a space or to launch an olfactive campaign, it doesn’t require tons of fragrance oil to achieve these goals. This is not really a good business for the suppliers. To profit from this new trend the suppliers will need to change their old-fashioned billing system which has been spoiling their clients for many years and be prepared for a new business form. Not an easy thing to do.
Solving the second issue could be even more difficult. Today’s big companies are like young people. They want to be cool. However both fragrance business and its market are uncool, and worst of all, this is contagious – an example: Tom Ford used to be cool, and Estee Lauder wanted to borrow some of his leftover aura. In the beginning of Lauder-Ford alliance, some people in the industry made fun of one of the big bosses at Lauder who was trying to dress like Tom Ford. How does the relationship look today? I think Tom blended in with Estee Lauder so nicely that it’s hard to remember that he had been undeniably cool in the ’90s… will it be possible to change this uncool environment into a cool one, and how? That I don’t know yet.
In brief, this short film is so Tokyo – it’s almost too good for an ad. I haven’t smelled the fragrance but am pretty sure that it isn’t anywhere near this level.
Oh, and ladies (and some gents), if you encounter a young caucasian male in a trendy part of Tokyo, he will likely be as handsome as the “gaijin” in this film. If he is driving a car, it could be a sporty Mercedes or a red Ferrari.
There’s one thing I have been thinking about for a while to make perfumers’ identities more visible. The idea came up as I began to hear some perfumers being unhappy only to find their names in a motley list of perfumers in the web. I think it’s not a bad idea to have a reliable source to find information on perfumers, I mean an orgnized list of perfumers at recognized houses with their bios and photos.
– sort the list by house (Givaudan, IFF, Firmenich…), by category (fine fragrance, beauty care, household…), and by location (New York, Paris…)
– have a photo (nice ones) and a bio (less corporate, more personal) of each perfumer
– update information every year (wins, transfers…)
– include perfumers from Beauty Care and Toiletries (they are equally important assets for each house)
– list only the notable wins of each perfumer or list only what each perfumer is proud of
The information is obtainable… but who is going to put the time and money for it? This is clearly not my job. So, I suggested Perfumer & Flavorist to think about making a directory website of perfumers. The editor seemed keen on the idea, and I hope something will come out from them.
There is something striking about the image below…
It reminds me of a fragrance that perfumer Loc Dong was working on for S-Perfume® more than a year ago. You may not have heard about Loc Dong yet, but his recent achievement is compared to that of Jacques Cavallier when L’Eau d’Issey was created. Naturally, other suppliers are now waiting for a chance to lure Loc from IFF.
I have a sweet spot for Loc Dong for many reasons, but the biggest reason is simply because he’s a god damn Asian. Loc often said to me, “I want women to feel beautiful when they wear my fragrance.” His simple statement is very powerful, just like this stunning beauty in a white ao dai.
So, why didn’t we finish the fragrance? Well, I thought his great mods should fall into the hands of L’Oreal or P&G one day, and not in mine. Loc Dong’s fragrances should be appreciated by as many women as possible, and they are simply not meant for niche markets.
An article in the May issue of Perfumer & Flavorist discusses what it means to be a perfumer today. The article is loaded with revealing quotes from respected figures in the industry like Carlos Benaim, Jean Guichard, Frederic Malle and more. The full article is available for purchase here. Highly recommended for beauty writers and avid consumers of perfumes.