Gee, Clement and Laurent are busier than ever (new launches are showing no sign of slowing down…), and I don’t even get to speak to them these days 🙁 But don’t worry, Katie and Marina, I received messages from both perfumers yesterday, and the mods are ready. All I got to do is to move my lazy xxx and pick them up. So, dear readers of this blog, a little more patience please. As we wait, Made by Blog will offer a special scent, and I hope there will be enough for everyone. But first read the following and check out the video before you jump to the opportunity.
I liked the early ad campaigns for Sisley (the Italian casual fashion, not Sisley Paris) very much. Terry Richardson’s photos ‘smelt’, I mean very strongly. They were raw and powerful, but at the same time undeniably sexy. Among thousands of successful photographers, Terry Richardson carved out the most unique style of fashion photography of our time. Richardson’s influence on commercial photography is similar to Warhol’s influence on Art. American culture has been good at producing iconoclastic artists who walk the fine line between art and commerce. I don’t know if perfumery or the fragrance industry could simply be put into this context, but I look forward to someone like Terry Richardson appearing in the world of fragrance and changing the way American fragrances are.
In 2003, Terry Richardson and Dominique Ropion collaborated on a scent called “WET” for Visionaire. The image which inspired the perfumer was Richardson’s photo of a woman’s breasts covered with sperm. Made by Blog will offer the samples of this unique collaboration.
These are called “blotters” and used for drawing lots. They are also used to write memos or used as bookmarks. (Chandler Burr calls them “Scent Strip”s and uses each piece of paper to smell a scent… interesting.) Continue Reading
“Je reviens en trois jours, ne te laves pas!”
The name of the classic perfume by the house of Worth (Je Reviens, 1932) was based on a letter sent by Napoleon to Josephine. A great classic, but the scent apparently has nothing to do with the natural odor of the empress. Now, there’s a new project inspired by this famous note to recreate Josephine’s odor. I don’t know much about it but trying to figure out who’s going to create the scent. The perfumer has to be excellent in classic French perfumery, that’s for sure. What else? Well, this is the kind of idea that makes me (=straight, dirty minded) wild, and I would like the perfumer to have the same degree of excitement. So, if I’m allowed to select the candidates, they are Dominique Ropion (IFF), Maurice Roucel (Symrise), Alberto Morillas (Firmenich).
I will follow up with more detailed information later.
A few years ago I had dinner with Jacques Cavallier and some other people from Firmenich at my favorite Japanese restaurant in Manhattan which he had heard about from Issey Miyake and wanted to go. Jacques had been in Japan a few times to work with Issey and seemed to have liked being there except for one thing. During the dinner Jacques told me that the smell of Japanese women’s skin bothered him when testing fragrances on them, “Their skin smells like fish.” I laughed and told him that I kind of liked it.
First, I have to say I don’t know about Japanese men because I’ve never stuck my nose to a guy to smell his skin, but I knew the subtle smell of the Japanese women’s skin that Jacques spoke about that evening. However, I’m not sure if I can pick up that smell when a fragrance is sprayed over the skin. I’m talking about a genius that appears only once in many years – Jacques Cavallier can smell many of the things that we can’t. There are a few “scent experts” trying to discredit the genius, but I have to say they either are jealous or cannot understand his sharp sense of humor, and therefore dislike him.
Anyway… what am I trying to say here? Oh right, I think most fragrances smell boring on Japanese women. Generally they have faint body odor, and on top of that they cleanse their bodies too much. When they wear fragrances they only smell like the fragrances. I’m not a big fan of Paris (I’m talking about the city) but love the way women there smell. I don’t particularly enjoy the smell in the Metro or NYC subway during summer, but the mixture of a woman’s body odor and her perfume is often more exciting than any perfume.
Basically the fragrance industry is driven by Western people who don’t know much about Japan or other Asian countries. They often say “Oh, it’s so difficult to sell fragrances in Japan,” or “The Asian market is so unpredictable.” Maybe it’s not important for them to make smash-hit fragrances for Japanese market… but think about Prada or other European fashion brands. Sometimes more than half of their revenues are coming from Japan. Fragrances could do the same as well. So Fragrance Industry, bury your noses in Japanese women and think! I wouldn’t be surprised if you guys come up with a scent that smells like soy sauce.
I used to make sculptures from sugar. That’s when I started to incorporate scents made by wonderful perfumers like Jean-Pierre Bethouart and Thierry Wasser in my art.
In 1999, I used 5 tons of sugar and 50 kilograms of fragrance oil for an installation in Japan. Everyday during the exhibition, 2 kilos of scent created by Thierry Wasser was sprayed on the floor. The visitors to the exhibition left with the scent on their clothes and shoes. As a result, an old downtown neighborhood in Tokyo was scented for a several block radius during the exhibition, and the scent remained for more than a year in the former rice market which housed the installation. Surprisingly, there wasn’t even a complaint, and I was still receiving messages from people who wanted the scent a year after the exhibition.
There is a question from Sariah which I want to answer in this post. This is the same question I had when I first stumbled in the fragrance industry – why are the industry’s most talented and creative forces hidden behind the curtain?
There are mainly two different types of players in the fragrance industry: the clients (i.e. L’Oreal, Estee Lauder, Dior, Calvin Klein, and so many more) and the suppliers (i.e. Firmenich, Givaudan, IFF, and a few more).
Now, the relationship between these two is not like the one between a fashion designer and his client. If a rich woman orders an haute couture dress from Giorgio Armani Prive, the dress will be saying “I’m Armani!” to the world. Everyone would know Armani’s creativity is woven into the fabric.
Although the word “supplier” doesn’t imply a serious act of creation, these few major suppliers in the fragrance industry are the true source of creativity. Their scientists develop new molecules, and their perfumers create scents. Things become complicated since their clients are supposed to be the creator of fragrances in the eyes of the consumers. There is another factor which contributes to the complication – there is only a limited number of suppliers that can handle the demands of these clients. As a result, a perfumer will often be working simultaneously for several clients who are competitors. Imagine if the perfumer has a great formula which may set a new trend, and all his clients want it for their new fragrances…
The perfumers are very much aware of their circumstances and mission. Jacques Cavallier was once quoted as saying, “Our profession is based on the notion of secrecy. We are the temple guardians.”