There’s only a handful of them

It’s not like there are other fragrances houses to go to. Whether you’re working in mass or working in prestige, you still have to go to the same perfumers, and there’s only a handful of them. A perfumer that works on a high-level prestige fragrance can also work on a mass fragrance. It’s the same noses: you’re getting the same person and the same level of understanding of the world of fragrance.

—  Elizabeth Musmanno of the Fragrance Foundation, from Trickle-Down Fragrances: Mass-Market Perfumes Developed by High-Priced Noses at The New York Times.

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14 Comments

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  1. galbanumgal says:

    Saw this article last night–had no idea Sonia Kashuk had fragrances at Target–huge bottles for $19.99 (probably too dryer sheet for many of us)!
    In other fragrance news, I got an email from Barneys advertising very expensive “vintage” books…and one of them is called Serge Lutens.

    • Robin says:

      Ah, interesting…(about the books, I mean. I have no comment on the Sonia Kashuk)

  2. tejas says:

    If Target provided Testers of the Sonia Kashuk line, it would help sell these products. I tried to smell them.

  3. nozknoz says:

    “You don’t have to talk down to your audience,” Mr. Slatkin said. “Once, maybe everyone thought they had to do it at a certain level because that customer was used to it, but now, everyone’s exposed to everything. The customer, no matter what level, has become so much more sophisticated, so it doesn’t matter where your customer is. It’s no longer a closed world to the sophistication.”

    What a ridiculous article. Notice that the comment mechanism is not enabled. The NYT is the newspaper that I usually read, but too many of their articles are based on PR material – basically unlabeled advertising. That includes not only articles about products, such as this one, but also profiles of individuals and organizations, which seems more seriously misleading.

    • Robin says:

      A lot of the beauty section reads like unlabeled advertising, it’s true…in this case, as in many, I don’t think the author was all that familiar with the general idea that there are a small number of fragrance & flavor companies making everything. Yeah, they probably got a press release from Sonia Kashuk & turned it into this article.

  4. Merlin says:

    I’m accustomed to the idea that the same nose may be formulating niche and mass market products but what I found interesting is that this article also includes mention of some of the ingredients – supposedly of the same quality as that used in the more expensive products. Except that there is no mention of the quantity used, etc.

    • Robin says:

      Well, gosh. I mean, we know from smelling that different brands put different budgets on the materials, and perfumers hint obliquely towards this all the time. It’s absolutely true that the cost of the materials is not always obvious by the item price, though.

    • nozknoz says:

      Merlin, there was a very interesting and though-provoking post on Grain de Musc in February entitled, “The vicious cycle of ‘noble naturals,’ about an article by Jean-Claude Ellena. He observed, and Denyse further explained, that so many press releases these days boast of using fine, rare natural ingredients, usually, as you would suspect, in undetectable quantities. The “pernicious side effect” of this is that the supply of these natural materials is generally not increasing. Furthermore, even at minuscule percentages, the amount used in mass-produced perfumes can stress or dry up the source. Then the smaller-scale perfume companies that actually rely on natural ingredients as essential notes can no longer obtain them.

      • Merlin says:

        Yes, main point being that it is in ‘undetectable quantities’!

        I haven’t actually noticed mass market perfumes boasting of fine ingredients – often of fine notes, but we all know that that is pretty much meaningless. Perhaps I need to pay more attention!

  5. aimiliona says:

    “Prestige-esque”?

    • sayitisntso says:

      I think it’s called “mass-tige”. Yes, the cosmetics industry actually came of with a terms to describe the converging of mass and prestige.

  6. sayitisntso says:

    *term (singular).

  7. plume says:

    “It’s not like there are other fragrances houses to go to. Whether you’re working in mass or working in prestige, you still have to go to the same perfumers, and there’s only a handful of them.”

    Wow, what a narrow minded and antiquated view of the perfume industry. It’s unsurprising this quote came from someone associated with the Fragrance Foundation, a dinosaur of a foundation with an equally antiquated view of perfume.

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