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Did contemporary mainstream Perfumery lose its artistry?

Did contemporary mainstream Perfumery lose its artistry? 10 years ago
Do you notice that today's mainstream perfumery only uses 4-8 notes in a fragrance? Where is the artistry? Back in the 80's early 90s the note pyramids were multi-layered containing 8 notes on top, 6 on the middle and 5 or 6 on the bottom. Now we've got only 4 to 6 notes or so.

Take here for example 80's Poison
www.fragrantica.com/perfume/Dior/Poison-218.ht ml

2012
www.fragrantica.com/perfume/Yves-Saint-Laurent /Manifesto-15540.html
And another
www.fragrantica.com/perfume/Cristobal-Balencia ga/Florabotanica-15512.html

What is your take on this? Your honest opinion would be appreciated.
10 years ago
I find some of the old perfumes too complex, especially mens' colognes.

If you put every herb and spice you find in your kitchen into your tomato sauce, then the outcome will not be very satisfying - and I think this also applies to perfumery.

But it is the result that counts. A perfumer should try to create something unique that goes beyond the enumeration of scent notes. In the end, it doesn't matter if this is achieved with 10 or 100 fragrance ingredients. It he hits that spot, then we have nothing to complain about, but if he misses it, we might accuse the result of being poor for using only few ingredients, or for being an over-complex mishmash.
10 years ago
I find this topic to be a conversation of quality verses quantity. As Apicius pointed out, the "everything but the kitchen sink" approach to doesn't make the end product more interesting. If the most interesting combination of notes turns out to be 4-8 components then so be it.

It would be helpful for this conversation to define "mainstream perfumery".
10 years ago
Apicius:
I find some of the old perfumes too complex, especially mens' colognes.

If you put every herb and spice you find in your kitchen into your tomato sauce, then the outcome will not be very satisfying - and I think this also applies to perfumery.

But it is the result that counts. A perfumer should try to create something unique that goes beyond the enumeration of scent notes. In the end, it doesn't matter if this is achieved with 10 or 100 fragrance ingredients. It he hits that spot, then we have nothing to complain about, but if he misses it, we might accuse the result of being poor for using only few ingredients, or for being an over-complex mishmash.

I have to agree. What I do notice from quite a few classics is the "depth" of notes utilized....regardless of whether or not I liked that particular scent.

In the end, we either like something or not, regardless of its age.
10 years ago
I see your point, Lola. A comparison can be drawn with modern visual art, I think. A canvas of one color does not require much skill, does it? Even a non-painter could produce it (as one always hears people grumbling about at such art exhibits in museums).

But there is a question about whether the use of a pared-down note list (or a single color) can be an artistic choice rather than simply evincing a lack of skill. Take Jean-Claude Elléna's early versus his later, minimalist works. The guy created Van Cleef & Arpels "First" and Balenciaga "Rumba", for heaven's sake! So clearly he is capable of piling up the notes, but he no longer chooses to do so.

In the case of someone like that, then, yes, I'd agree with what the guys above have said: it's not really the number of notes, but how and why they are combined.
Cool
10 years ago
Maybe it' s because the IFRA banned many of the notes used back then, or a lot of them are now synthetic.
10 years ago
Sherapop:
Take Jean-Claude Elléna's early versus his later, minimalist works. The guy created Van Cleef & Arpels "First" and Balenciaga "Rumba", for heaven's sake! So clearly he is capable of piling up the notes, but he no longer chooses to do so.

Elléna writes in his book that he limits himself to about 200+ fragrant ingredients now, and I got the impression his criteria are the grade of how well an ingredient fits in with others, the usability for his artistic plans but maybe also simple likes/dislikes. He gave me the impression that he would like his minimalism to be regarded as a kind of Altersweisheit (wisdom that comes with old age).
10 years ago
I think the falling standards have more to do with the proliferation of cheap aromachemicals than fewer notes in general. Back when perfume was the result of painstaking extraction of natural essences and new releases were relatively uncommon, it was more about art and less about commerce. Now that everyone and their mother makes a perfume (Pizza Hut, anyone?) and Coty is buying synthetics by the vat, it almost makes more sense to think of mainstream perfume as just another toiletry. Sad
10 years ago
That is Why i Love about Niche or the Better Author's
Because They Don't Relay on Quick Commerce Smile
10 years ago
I've noticed that some recent releases, both mainstream and niche, have a certain sameness to them. I think it might be because so many houses purchase their synthetics from the same handful of aromachemical companies. Not that long ago, perfumes contained more natural essences that were sourced from different locations and grown under varying conditions. As a result, perfumes seemed more variable and interesting, at least to me. The downside was the dreaded batch variation, but personally I'm willing to put up with a little inconsistency in exchange for a good natural note.
10 years ago
Cryptic:
I think the falling standards have more to do with the proliferation of cheap aromachemicals than fewer notes in general. Back when perfume was the result of painstaking extraction of natural essences and new releases were relatively uncommon, it was more about art and less about commerce. Now that everyone and their mother makes a perfume (Pizza Hut, anyone?) and Coty is buying synthetics by the vat, it almost makes more sense to think of mainstream perfume as just another toiletry. Sad

Exactly. I've always figured this ubiquitous sameness had nothing more than a commercial bottom line. The super mainstream perfumers just go with their own version of whatever the other perfumers have success with, like any other mass produced toiletry.

And in my experience, some of the "niche" houses do exactly the same, resulting in expensive versions of Fancy Love, or whatever. I feel such disappointment when I sample one of those, because I was looking to niche to provide the artistry missing in much of mainstream perfumery these days.

It's amusing (sort of) when people analyze various mainstream new releases and compare and contrast them like they're unique works of art, meanwhile I'm thinking, "are you kidding me? That crap smells exactly like 10 others!" Laughing
10 years ago
Oooooooooooooh i love all of your Replies Keep'em Comming
10 years ago
One of the biggest problems is the human factor. the noses are removed. Algorithyms are being used to predict success based on sales. It being done everywhere from Wall Street, Hollywood to your favorite restaurant menu. Where is the latest Sophia Grojsman or Jacques Cavallier? They are expensive and obsolete by todays mechanical standards.
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