Fashion is the fastest game of all. Nothing sassy or glam’ stays current or on trend for more than a minute.
Yet, people want perfume to be the same eternally. Same fragrance, same price, same packaging. There are so many factors that determine the path of change in a fragrance. Ingredients come and go. Companies come and go. License agreements too. Regulations, profit margins, good and terrible ideas drive the changes. And people mourn the changes.
Admittedly, some reformulations bully a fragrance into a mere shadow of its former self. Others are so artfully composed that the differences are minimal. Some fragrances even benefit from the change. Many civet cats and musk deer and beavers have breathed a large sigh of relief. (Whales don’t give a shit). A friend of my son recently burst out laughing as we were discussing the evolution of perfume (as you do). ‘Why put animal excretions in perfume?’ he asked, and it’s a very good question. The answer is, as always.. you guessed it… sex. Flowers are fertility flags, beckoning those winsome pollinators (the bees) with pollen for honey. Beavers and deer and civet cats exude their own fecund, feral, fertility pheromones and humans are just so greedy. We want everybody’s sex chemicals to be working for us. Aren’t we sexy enough?
There are many rules and conventions in perfumery. Most of them I ignore. I never wear a lab coat. For me, perfumery is art, not science. I definitely don’t work for the accounts department, the marketing division, the Board of Directors, stockholders, the customer, Solomon Lew or Rupert Murdoch. I only work to the whims of my nose. It calls ‘MORE’ and I comply. It says ‘STOP’ and maceration begins. My nose is sovereign. I trust it completely. It decides, detects, analyses, evaluates, accepts or rejects and I like to keep her happy. I’m not in this job for the money. I’m in it for the perfume.