"A Frank Look at the State of the Fragrance Industry"
September Perfumer & Flavorist features a remarkable article by the Drom CEO, Ferdinand Storp. Dr. Storp talks about the danger tests pose to creativity, laments the continuing loss of raw materials and urges the industry to take risks. I was especially fascinated by the part of the article that deals with the industry's secretiveness. Dr. Storp admits that saying that a fragrance contains an ingredient like "blue Himalayan hyacinth" is "utter nonsense", when behind the nonexistent exotic hyacinth is hidden "phenyl acetaldehyde". Would "phenyl acetaldehyde" sell as well a a "Himalayan hyacinth"? The answer has always seemed to be, no. And yet, points out Dr. Storp, in "a related trade, namely that of a cook", TV chefs let the viewers in on their professional tricks. "Does openness kill the magic?", ponders Dr. Storp. "I don't think that a broader knowledge of raw materials and their application will destroy the magic of perfumery. On the contrary, it opens a new and much wider basis for discussion. The trade will enthrall more people and it will open channels to better understand our consumers".
"Where is the television show about a perfumer?" Storp aks the question that has been bothering me for ages (and I have a show all planned, Bravo TV, are you listening?). "Why has no one written a book called "Confessions of a Perfumer?" The stars of our trade are usually called the "quiet stars". I don't think this is good in the age of information."
In conclusion, Dr Storp half-jokingly dares his colleagues to undertake five of "the most risky actions for the perfumery business of the future:
1. Market your new fragrance prominently touting a new chemical (including a structural formula and a terrible-sounding chemical name) [Something that Escentric Molecules and, to a degree, Le Labo have already done.]
2. Throw your test winner of the men's fragrances on the market as a women's fragrance [And really, imagine if scents like Terre d'Hermes or Dior Homme have been released as perfumes targeted for women. Would we have even questioned their femininity, and would they have not been just as successful?]
3. Take care that your fragrance can only be bought illegally [Or only Dallas. Again, Le Labo comes to mind, and this is one risky action I would rather the brands did not undertake.]
4. Don't sign a contract with a hip-hopper; instead, hire Mr. Nobody off the street to be your new spokesperson [Can't think of an example and would gladly volunteer to be such a Ms. Nobody]
5. Fire your panel of experts and toss a coin."
And to that one could only say, amen!
The article, State of the Art- the Good, the Bad and the Truth, can be found in the September issue of Perfumer and Flavorist, page 18-22. It can also be purchased online, from perfumerflavorist.com. Highly recommended.
Image source, thegoodscentscompany.com.