I subscribe to "Perfume News" from the New York Times, which seldom arrives, and on the rare occasion when it does, usually turns out to be a press release about a new mass market fragrance or line which somehow made it past the gatekeepers who presumably determine what does and does not constitute news. It's not that surprising, really, given that the perfume industry is an intrinsically hype-ridden zone. The "critics" (I mean the ones who earn money for writing about perfume...) are shills; the perfumers are often hacks. Big corporations--above all, LVMH, Procter & Gamble, Estée Lauder, and Coty Prestige--continue to gobble up small houses and are, needless to say, profit driven. What's new in any of that?
Yesterday's NYT Perfume News, "Trickle Down Fragrances: Mass-Market Perfumes Developed by High-Price Noses," was remarkable in that it not only shilled for a new perfume line, the Sonia Kashuk Collection for Target, but also directly attacked the niche perfumery enterprise, claiming that comparable perfumes can be had for a fraction of the cost:
Perfume lovers can now buy a deeply scented bottle of a new eau de toilette, blended with natural oils of sandalwood and jasmine absolute sambac, both imported from India, formulated by the French-trained perfumer who has worked on scents from luxurious niche brands like Atelier Cologne, which last year introduced a pair of fragrances in sleek glass bottles infused with either gold or silver, retailing at $195.
That earthy scent, called Red Promisia, costs $19.99 and is sold only at Target.Am I the only person to question, first, whether this is news and, second, whether any of it is true? Let's consider four more specific questions, since comments were not allowed on this "news feature" at the New York Times:
- Isn't Indian sandalwood in short supply? Isn't that part of the reason why Guerlain Samsara was reformulated?
- Isn't jasmine absolute restricted by the IFRA? Isn't that another part of the reason why Guerlain Samsara was reformulated?
- I am admittedly not the biggest fan of Atelier Cologne, but don't their $195 bottles hold a full 200ml?
- Finally, who is Rachel Helder, and for whom does she really work?