Prestige via limitation

I won’t die because there’s a bottle there or here. And more and more I find it very stupid to create prestige via limitation. It’s a little jerkish. It’s as if prestige were to be found nowhere. What is exclusive, is us. It’s you. It’s you who are as a person, who chooses. If something is difficult or hard to find, it’s not that which confers value for me...

 — Serge Lutens, on why he decided to make all of his fragrances available at his US web store (previously, many of the fragrances were only available in his Paris boutique). Read more at An Interview With Serge Lutens at Grey Magazine.

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  1. Rappleyea says:

    I didn’t read the article, but I have to applaud the common sense he displayed in his comment.

    • Robin says:

      Yeah. Kind of wish he’d decided before all the prices went up.

      • songeuse says:

        I had the same thought. I really like what he is saying here too, but even if the bell jar fragrances are distributed to the States now, $300 a bottle is still a limitation for most of us. Then again, I am probably not his target demographic…

  2. TheSnailsPajamas says:

    Niche and prestige don’t mean what they used to when the market is flooded with new scents, mass releases and everyone who isn’t under the big mainstream names behind mass-market releases charging 2 arms, a leg and your firstborn for a bottle that half the time isn’t even 100ml. Or double that for a keg of perfume you couldn’t use up in 2 lifetimes.

    • Robin says:


    • jovejove says:

      The prices go up and the sizes go down; this is a result of the consumer’s demand. People are so obsessed with bargaining for extra pieces and gifts, that the vendors are creating more 75ml, 80ml, 90ml fragrances with new labels under each house to combat with the extra chachkas that they have to output. The only line that’s exempt from the chachkas is Chanel, that holds it’s name and quality. People will buy the fragrance for the name and not blink an eye. When it comes to other lines, customers bargain and walk away with the full body line in deluxe samples, two bags and a bunch of fragrance samples…and they’ll still be demanding more. This is my reasoning for the smaller and pricier bottles. What is customary in the fragrance world is that with a set, you get nothing and with an individual bottle, you get one deluxe and two other samples. If the customer buys a body product, they get a deluxe size of something that they haven’t tried or two more samples of something else. In the end, my point to all this is that the customers are driving the prices higher and higher. It’s not the demand of the fragrance itself, but of the extra pieces that need to be produced to make someone content and loyal.

      The 200ml/300ml bottles are a gimmick to create habit in an individual. They use the fragrance more than those that will buy a smaller bottle. It’s economical to the individual and therefore they apply a heavy hand, when normally they would use a prestige fragrance sparingly and only for special occasions. In a sense, the larger bottles are a marketing trap to create habit of using that one scent as a signature and get out of the mindset of getting bored with it. It’s like a relationship; at the one year point, you question it, but when you’ve been in that relationship for too long and it’s not working out, you grow a fear of parting with it and stick to it.

      • Thalia says:

        I think Chanel is extraordinarily gimmicky — when they raised the prices on the Exclusifs by $50 across the board, it was purely an attempt to cash in on the perception that more expensive = more desirable. The very name “exclusifs” suggests that this is better because most people can’t afford it.

        I also don’t think that the company producing Bleu de Chanel and Coco Noir can be applauded for “holding on to quality.”

  3. solanace says:

    How lovely is uncle Serge?! The ‘verbal perfume’ story is really touching. No wonder he is so widely perceived as a genius.

    • nozknoz says:

      That was amazing!

  4. APassionateJourney says:

    Love that quote. Wish all designers thought that way

  5. Thalia says:

    I think that is a lovely quote, although yeah a $300 price tag is inherently exclusive! I do harbor a tiny hope that making the bell jars more widely available means they’ll eventually drift into the discount market the way the exports have. I would love love love to own Encens et Lavande …

  6. Merlin says:

    It all sounds very muddled. First comes the point that he had to export the exclusives for commercial reasons:

    ‘But the commerce—the business—it’s obligatory.’

    Though he clearly would prefer them to have stayed in the Palais:

    ‘The bottles at the Palais Royal shop were designed uniquely for the Palais Royal in Paris. I didn’t want them to move.’

    How does one design a perfume to only be sold from one place? But ok…

    Then this is just petulant:

    ‘But anyway from the moment they move, they no longer interest me.’

    In what way did they interest him before they moved?

    This new egalitarian stance just seems contrary to everything he says, is and does:

    ‘What is exclusive, is us. It’s you. It’s you who are as a person, who chooses. If something is difficult or hard to find, it’s not that which confers value for me… ‘

    The only statement I find credible is this one!

    ‘Oh, I say so many things. Sometimes I say anything…’

    • Oakland Fresca says:

      Sigh. Merlin, not for the first time you and I are on the same page… :)

      • Merlin says:

        I adore several Lutens’ perfumes, but I have to say that a lot of what he says sounds incoherent and pseudo- profound: then again plenty continental philosophy and psychoanalytical material strikes me the same way…

        And asking if anyone has ever thought of suicide, during a random pause in a conversation seems like a juvenile attempt at shocking people.

        Okay, I’m officially grumpy. I’ll go put on some Chergui to cheer myself up, lol!

    • annemarie says:

      Merlin, you’ve given the man way more time of day than I would have, but you made me smile, so many thanks!

      • Merlin says:

        How can I avoid doing what I am meant to be doing hmmmm…
        I know, how about a close analysis of a Lutens interview! Lol!

    • Daisy says:

      I think it all boils down to good ole Uncle Serge being full of bull….hockey.

  7. Oakland Fresca says:

    Confession? I am woefully uneducated about Serge Lutens fragrances. I have some samples that I’ve sniffed here and there, but haven’t given them the attention they deserve… But I have to say that while I admire a turn of phrase and good marketing, I found the Grey interview totally annoying. Goodness, the man is a master story teller! He’s a designer, he creates pictures, fantasies, myths… but Sheldrake and others are the perfumers… and while I am glad he won’t die if his bottles wind up on both sides of the pond… and while Mr. Lutens professes that he “stoops to conquer,” one must assume that the decision to expand sales was done for profit reasons.

    Now who is grumpy?

    • Oakland Fresca says:

      Oops. Meant that as a reply to my grumpy twin Merlin!

      • Merlin says:

        Hi grumpy twin! Yes, he does say it is for commercial reasons – and then plays out the drama of the difficulty of them being sold elsewhere, lol! Then he goes on to make some egalitarian statement about human worth, that just doesn’t seem a very good fit with everything else about him – like the ultra snooty (though no doubt beautiful) Palais Royale.

        But his interviews always intrigue me to a point, but ultimately end up annoying me!

        • kindcrow says:

          I haven’t read the interview, but it sounds like your bullsh*t detector is stuck in the “on” position. Good for you! :-)

          • Merlin says:

            Lol! :)

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