Saturday, 16 July 2005

A la mode at all costs

I’m in the wrong mood today… for this blog. It’s sunny and I’m all mellow.

Oh, hang on: I am still upset about something: perfume reformulations! A few weeks ago, the whole of the fragrance board I belong to was up in arms because Luca Turin had announced Guerlain were reformulating all their scents, even though they weren’t being forced to by some regulation. We’re right to be angry about it: perfume may not be essential to our lives (although it is to a lot of us), but it’s like art, and, just like works of art, fragrances can acquire the status of “classics” and shouldn’t be tampered with.

I never mind it when some modern theatre director decides to set a Shakespeare play, say, in another period or another location; it doesn’t matter; it does no harm to Shakespeare – he’s “bigger” than that. The original play is still there to be made a hash of by the next avant-garde director.

But those Guerlain classics will soon disappear for ever: perfume has a limited lifespan. It is a scandal and an outrage. And the same goes for all the other perfumes that have already been tweaked beyond recognition. There are too many to mention. Nearly every perfume house has one or more on its conscience. So I’ll just slapped Guerlain for now.

What about “reformulating” some of those works of classical music that are not so popular these days with the younger generation? I’m sure some of Mozart's pieces could do with a bit of a revamp. There are still “too many notes”, aren’t there?

9 comments:

  1. oh, I was all frightened there for a second when I saw "mellow." xoxoxo

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  2. I would have liked to have been in the meeting where the topic of reformulating the perfumes was brought up for discussion. In my wildest dreams I cannot imagine how that idea was sold.

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  3. No worries, M, it was just the heat.

    Yes, you can see it, can't you? This person stands up in the middle of a meeting and goes, "Hey, tell you what? Why don't we reformulate our classic fragrances? We could upset hundreds of thousands of women all over the world and lose their loyalty, and probably not gain any new customers in the process." The others, "Yeah, let's!"

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  4. So glad you recovered quickly from your bout of mellow, J!

    i think the problem may be that there are too many choices in today's market, and women aren't loyal to one scent anymore. Back in the days when a woman had her signature scent, it seemed like an investment in one's image to purchase the pure parfum, the fancy bottles, the dusting powder, lotion, etc. Nowadays, with so many choices, most women have at least a few different scents - so they tend to want to spend less on each bottle. There are probably relatively few people who will spend $$$ on many bottles - most of them MUA frag hags, no doubt!

    At any rate, i share your grief and rage at the molestation of classics.

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  5. But the revamped scents won't cost less, will they? I thought the aim was to make them more "modern", lighter perhaps, and thereby more attractive to a younger clientele.

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  6. An SA at the Caron boutique here in NYC and I had a conversation that belonged on some sort of X-Files knockoff show, as, in the quiet shadowy nook where Caron keeps their urns of extrait de parfum, we confessed in knowing tones that we believed Guerlain was using IFRA's guidelines on allergens as an excuse to cheapen their formulations and pad their profit margins, at the expense of their reputation as purveyors of quality stuff. My guess is that they will not by any means lower the retail cost of fragrances; they will lower their own costs of raw materials. Guerlain seems to have been taken with a spasm of reformulation madness: L'Instant for Men and Shalimar Light were recent releases, and both seem to have been already reformulated.

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  7. It really makes me very sad.

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  8. "we confessed in knowing tones that we believed Guerlain was using IFRA's guidelines on allergens as an excuse to cheapen their formulations and pad their profit margins, at the expense of their reputation as purveyors of quality stuff"

    This is a conversation I have had in the vicinity of Caron urns with a notably well-informed French SA. While we cannot at this point know for sure, it makes perfect sense in terms of a quasi-human profit-first mindset - and it makes me wild with anger.

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  9. I'm sure we're right about all this. We will never be told the truth, though.

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