Just finished The Perfect Scent: A year in the perfume industry in the Paris and New York by Chandler Burr, and it was completely fascinating. I somehow, inexplicably got into perfumes this year (smelling them, learning about them, certainly not buying them because I’m broke). The perfume industry is a wacky, wacky business. For example:
Millions are fascinated by the process by which designers like Todd Oldham cut, sew, design, and agonize their fall collections into existence, but the great creative minds at Yves Saint Laurent and Jean Paul Gaultier and Dior, with the collective brilliance of a single mollusk at low tide, have intuited that with perfume – No. Here is an industry suffocating itself on the most immense pile of public relations shit human civilization has ever produced, a literal mountain of verbiage about “the noble materials, symbol of eternal feminine beauty, addictive notes of Cocoa Puffs, she can’t wait to taste him like a Hershey’s kiss, Cleopatra wore this, it has notes of distilled wild all-natural Martian fungus harvested by French virgins on the third moon of Pluto”. The lies pile up on other lies, they generate a poisoned river of vapid crap the marketers try to pass off as ‘information’ and the brands have no clear that their public relations approach is about fifty years out of date. Reading anything they put out on their perfumes is like reading a combination of Kafka, only less creative, and Pravda circa 1985. Zero interest. There is almost no recognition that the enforced lack of knowledge – this gaping void of nothingness about what their products actually are, who makes them, and what’s in the things – is creating boredom and disinterest. The perfume industry is choking itself to death on its vacuum.
Anyway, a fascinating read on an absolutely bizarre word.