Chandler Burr sets forth the opinion in his new book, The Perfect Scent, that tastes and styles of perfume change, which is true – each decade seems to have a theme. He continues on that perfumes from earlier decades – and I am wildly characterizing this and hoping I get it more or less right – tended to have more dramatic character, were fully formed as to what/who they were (say Gloria Swanson’ish in Sunset Boulevard), so they wound up wearing the person or you would somehow take on characteristics of the perfume or project what the perfume was saying; whereas modern perfumery is moving to a less rigid character, so they smell like the person, wrapping around them, but not overtaking who they are.That may well be true, but as my old priest used to mutter, “both/and, not either/or.” I very much like that there are more realistic scents out there, more scents that seem to mold to the wearer, but if someone is going to take away my big, over-the-top Marilyn Monroe scents, I’m telling you right now, there will be trouble. It’s not enough to not just take them away, I want you brilliant perfumers to keep making them, too… and make them better, more lush, more over the top. Yeah, that’s right, I want more.
There are days when I don’t really want to be me… it is preferable to be some rich old woman done up with furs, sans the furs and money. And that’s a day for Hermes 24, Faubourg parfum, First parfum or Patou 1000 parfum. Other days I do want to blend in with who I am, gently scented, but completely me. That’s a day for Malle’s L’eau d’Hiver or Serge Lutens Encens et Lavande. If I’m all up in my Marilyn Monroe, I want my Le Labo Aldehyde 44 or Chanel No. 5 parfum. If I’m down with the sweats, Hermessence Osmanthe Yunnan or Prada Iris Infusion will trail me that day. There are a thousand facets to who I am, and every day the light hits this diamond a new way, and no one scent can express all of the people I am, was or want to become… so I’ll be needing a lot of scents to keep me happy.
My hope is that the perfume industry will read Burr’s book and not take away from it that they all need to make Kelly Caleche, but I hope they realize there is a wide world of customers that like to smell lots of different ways on about every day of the month, and if they make something beautiful and/or unusual from good materials, it will find an audience.
For consumers, my hope is that you would all stop buying crap! For the love of all that’s smelly, don’t encourage them making perfumes with no originality and smelling like cheap scented soap. If you keep buying it, they’ll keep throwing it out on our department store counters, and we all suffer for it. Yes, I said suffer, because it’s wafting out there and invading my nose and my pores, and whenver people complain about perfume in the workplace, I can assure you they are not complaining about my smooth as silk, though cantankerous, darling Diorling. They are complaining about those overamped molecules that are trying to cover up cheap rose/iris/violet/pink pepper/purple passion grapefruit.
Mostly, I need interesting perfumes to write about. If you keep sending another Chloe, Elle, Midnight Poison, or Britney No. 57 out there, all I get to write about is… bleah, another cheap fruity floral. I’d far rather explain why someone might want to smell like Barbie Doll Sex or Lavender backstroking in your Cheerios than to just throw up my hands and try to review Paris Hilton Can’tSayNo with a straight face.
Perfume is not going to solve world peace or hunger, and it is a luxury item we don’t need, but all things being sorta equal, I’d just as soon my part of the world smelled great, thanks.
Okay, I’m done. It’s open mic, y’all can insert your favorite perfume rant in comments.