It appears that the "perfume is art" crowd are being given a run for their money by an opposing force no doubt championed much more vigorously by the corporatized fragrance industry. Perfume in some circles has now become make-up!
I recently happened upon an advertisement for a new and unexpected product while flipping through one of the many worthless magazines littering my apartment. I receive a lot of magazines in part because Fragrancenet offers a free subscription with every purchase. So that's how I ended up with lengthy, multiyear subscriptions to such publications as Cosmopolitan, Martha Stewart Living, Every Day with Rachel Ray, Better Homes & Gardens, and the magazine in which this advertisement appeared: Allure, which is devoted above all to make-up. The only magazine perhaps even more ridiculous and yet frighteningly a sign of the post-post-modern, SSRI, Twitter-twenty-first-century times may be Lucky, which is dedicated to ... drum roll ... shopping!
This is a perfect example of why I do find myself leafing rapidly through an issue of this sort of magazine before dropping it into the vertical. Who knows what one may learn about contemporary culture, society, and mores? In this case, I learned that, unbelievably enough, there is now a perfumed nail polish being made by Revlon, in its special Parfumerie line.
I was initially thinking about simply approaching this topic from a purely philosophical perspective: Is perfume make-up, after all? Is it perhaps not entirely coincidental that Chandler Burr's disappearance from the Museum of Arts and Design was approximately concomitant with the appearance of perfumed nail polish on the market? To be honest, I'm not sure when Revlon's Parfumerie collection was launched, but I do believe that Chandler Burr's fifteen minutes of fame as a "perfume is art" theorist have now elapsed.
Does this mean that the powerful "perfume is a toiletry" lobby which exerts enormous influence on the industry--and indeed perhaps is identical with the mainstream fragrance industry--has won out? This development may be hailed or scorned, but in all likelihood that will depend upon one's prior beliefs about "perfume as art" and "perfume as toiletry".
If you already believe that all perfume is directly connected to all cologne, which began as a way for stinky people without access to frequent baths to cover up their own bodily stench, and therefore is obviously a toiletry (being a bath surrogate), then the sight of the above Revlon Parfumerie advertisement is probably not going to bother you in the least.
If, on the other hand, you prefer to think of perfume as something loftier, something higher, something transcendent, perhaps something that someone like Jackson Pollock might create, then the sight of this little splotch of Revlon Parfumerie Beachy, which may in fact resemble some artist's work of art somewhere, may be a bit disconcerting:
Perfume is perfume!
As a toiletry, the Revlon Parfumerie project is an epic fail. Why? Because the dried perfume-enamel amalgamate, which I painted onto the back of an envelope--I figured that there was no need to risk the test on my own nails, especially with bedtime on the horizon--smells just like nail polish!
Anyone who has ever used nail polish is aware--or was at one time--of its dangerously potent fumes, so volatile and intense that it's difficult to suppress the suspicion that it may very well be causing brain cell damage each and every time that it is used. Hopefully not, but let's face it, the scent differs from that of glue (as in glue sniffing) in degree, not in kind.
I find, in fact, that this Revlon Parfumerie Beachy, which I selected thinking that it might possibly smell like Lilly Pulitzer Beachy, or perhaps even Bond no 9 Fire Island, occupies an olfactory coordinate not terribly far from the opening of Lanvin Rumeur. But that's only because that perfume opens just like the scent of a chemical industry waste factory.
Yes, I am afraid that the Revlon experiment in product multitasking has failed in this case. No worries, though, because it will only be a matter of time before the experiment is undertaken again, by day laborers working under the yoke of some driven triple-A personality CEO, and eventually some synthetic organic chemist somewhere will devise a way to insert a scent more powerful than the scent of nail polish into the nail polish so that one can buy a single product under the guise of either perfume or nail polish (what's your pleasure?) rather than buying both.
Wait a minute! How, then, could it be that the cosmetic industry is producing such a thing, working to decrease the amount of wallet share which they can siphon off the readers of Allure magazine? This case reminds me in some ways of the Starbucks Via project. Why is Starbucks trying to sell to its very own customers products which obviate the need for them to stop off in the stores to buy $6 cups of coffee?
The answer, my fragrant friends, in both cases, is that these companies are after total global hegemonic control. Whatever beverage you may choose to drink, and in whatever format, Starbucks will be there for you. (Lest you forget, they acquired both Tazo and Teavana!) And whichever make-up or fragrance product you choose to spend the discretionary share of your paltry Friday take-home pay on, Revlon wants to be in on it!