THE NATURAL PERFUMERY TREND (third part)

Luca Turin may very well have started the whole process of recognition for Natural Perfumery when in 2006, in his iconic duffnotes on NZ Folio, he declared to the perfumistas community with an amazing foresight: “There are now officially four kinds of perfumery: normal, niche, vintage and natural.”

His statement was not a recognition of the value of natural perfumes, not yet. It was only the recognition of natural perfumers stubbornness. He understood that they were starting a trend and that they were not going to renounce to their idea of making 100% natural perfumes whatever happens and whatever Luca Turin said.

On smelling samples from the “natural perfumers” most of whom were beginners at that time, he immediately admitted the value of some of their fragrances, the potential of natural perfumery and he openly pointed out the shortcomings in blending and materials quality.

Two years later, by bestowing 4 stars on several 100% natural perfumes in his milestone book “The Guide”, he and Tania Sanchez affirmed that natural perfumes could compete with commercial perfumes on their own aesthetic and technical grounds.

This was the beginning of the evolution in the perfumistas mind. Until then it had been universally admitted that no perfume could be great without a dose of natural, but that a modern perfume required synthetic in its structure.

Natural perfumers had been asking: “if no perfume can be great without a dose of natural, why can’t a fully natural perfume be great”?
Short of greatness (and of Luca having to chew his panama), 4 stars in “The Guide” were good enough for a start and a definite signal to all natural perfumers of the world.
I believe that no one has had such a role in the recognition of natural perfumery as Luca Turin had.

One day I came back from Timbuktu and realized that natural perfumers were all over the most popular blogs and the web perfume magazines. The trend had started on the web.
The Arab revolutions were also started on the web, and we cannot underestimate the potential of effect that the web can have on the “real world”.

Natural perfumery has been answering the need of a radical change in a perfume production system where “change” has been meaning 1500 new frags every year, most of which are remakes and most of which are unanimously recognized as “crap”.
Natural perfumery is now for perfumistas what democracy is for the Arabs who have been raised under dictators; the hope of a new and better life without oppression, injustice and corruption.
Natural perfumers are seen as idealistic persons, they are friendly and incorruptible. The contrary of a dictator.
What has been seen in them as fanaticism and unfit ideologism until lately, becomes now the reason for hoping that they can come with something different and better than the perfume industry.

It is a little bit as if citizens fed up with mainstream politicians turned their votes to the ecologist and extremist parties. In a context of oppression, injustice and corruption, extremism is seen as incorruptness and ecology as a way for a better quality of living.
There is much parallelism between politics and perfumery, new politicians who are independent of parties, who are ecological and idealistic soon become corrupt when they enter into the political system, and this is the greater threat for consumers, when natural perfumers enter into the perfume industry.

This is inevitably what the future has in store, the absorption of natural independent perfumers into the industrial system of perfumery.
Already, the Fragrance Foundation of the famous FIFI awards has set up a “Indie Committee” on which board is present the most famous of  natural perfumer. The FF is defined as the “non-profit, educational arm of the international fragrance industry”.

From now on, the possibility that a natural perfumer will be awarded with the maximum official recognition is very concrete.
This can certainly be the mean to control natural perfumers, bestowing recognition and awards to those who are least disturbing to the industry., and boycotting other undisciplined ones.

A boycott against perfumers of the Natural perfumers Guild has indeed already been publicly announced by a members of this board on her blog and it is obvious that her political position will heavily influence her decision for the awards.

It was already known that the FIFI were not awarded by merit but by political convenience and with the setting up of  this “Indie Committee”, natural perfumery is drawn by force into the politics of the industry.

Future is always very much predictable to whom studies the past and observes the present, but this is for next time…

THE TREND OF NATURAL PERFUMERY (part two)

Not many years ago there were just 3 official types of perfumery, Vintage, mainstream and Niche perfumery, such as Creed or Lutens .

The last 20 years have witnessed not only the  birth and growth of independent natural perfumers but also the of “New Niche” perfumers,  like Ormonde Jane, Andy Tauer,  Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, ecc… ,  who steadily won recognition and reached a level of success superior to that of natural perfumers by proposing a return to the origins of modern perfumery, where the artistry of fragrance resided into the clash or complementarity of synthetics with naturals.
Their success in the niche market has been due to the fact that they were offering  what had totally disappeared from mainstream perfumery and was disappearing from “Old Niche”, creativity, experimentation, new ideas…

All this was happening while mainstream and Old Niche perfumery were  eliminating naturals not only from their new products but also from their famous classics, reformulating them.

Originally, the public of “New Niche” perfumers was  a small market of demanding consumers who had been already educated to artistic perfumery by the Old Niche products, the perfumistas:  fans of perfume. Their market  is now rapidly extending to usual consumers of mainstream fragrances for 2 reasons, disappointment from mainstream products  and new ethical consumerism.

The relationship of the “New Niche”  perfumers with their customers  became lately very similar to that  of performers with their fans. The physical scene contact that performers have with their public is substituted by the web contact on a web-scene consisting of personal blogs and personal FB pages.
The “New  Niche” perfumers interact personally with the public and unveil their personal life, emotions and even business in a sometimes embarrassing  manner for a non-American person.

The “New Niche”  perfumers have opened the door of recognition to natural perfumers, it is the “New Niche” trend that came first and it carried the Natural Perfumery trend.

– First of all by reintroducing naturals in a much more consistent manner than “Old niche” perfumery did,  therefore educating  the nose of “perfumistas”  to  a higher standard of quality with which they could appreciate perfumes fully Natural and also re-evaluate Old Niche and mainstream products.

-Secondly by demonstrating that a person without any previous experience or link in the perfume industry could pop up , set up a small one man business, succeed into producing real good products and obtain international recognition through the web. This is a revolution in the mind of the public; real perfumes are not necessarily produced by famous brand fragrances.
This was also a strong encouragement for striving natural perfumers who were lagging behind stuck in the very small “alternative ecological” market .

-Thirdly, some of them like DSH and andy Tauer, by participating into fragrance projects with natural perfumers and bloggers promoted natural perfumery in a big way. New Niche perfumers allowed natural perfumers to share their own fame and recognition among perfumistas.

These are the other 3 protagonists that have contributed into the making of the trend of natural perfumes started by mandy Aftel , Anya McCoy and the bloggers: Old niche perfumers, “New Niche” perfumers and the perfumistas.

They participated in making natural perfumers become recognized protagonists of modern perfumery.

However, the birth of the trend has been possible only because of 2 external factor, the particular situation of mainstream perfumery at this point of its evolution and the new consumer trends towards ethical and ecological consumerism.

This is for next time…

THE NATURAL PERFUMERY TREND (part one)

Only 3 years ago natural perfumers were a striving bunch of stubborn idealists who had been brought together by Anya McCoy in the natural perfumers guild.
Those who accepted her views stayed in the guild, others left and went ahead on their own, stubbornly.

Stubbornness is an obvious quality of natural perfumers. They started making perfumes that nobody wanted to buy, that critics criticized,  with ingredients that are very expensive and often difficult to find. The cost of their materials are medially 20 times superior to medium price synthetics, this makes their fragrances more expensive and therefore more difficult to sell, and with a lower profit margin. Moreover, consumers have known only synthetic mass mainstream perfumes, and their first encounters with natural essences are most of the time something of a shock.

Natural perfumers just went ahead not heeding to reason or to anyone, carried by passion for the natural smells. Trygve writes:
“We (natural perfume enthusiasts), don’t care if those poor little sad synthetic liquids are cheaper, or that every batch is an exact replica of the one before, even though consistency is very important to large commercial productions. It doesn’t matter to me if those synthetics are partly natural, or entirely unnatural, even if they smell good, as some of them undeniably do……they are just not that interesting to play with”.

That was the situation only 3 years ago. In these years, the steady PR work started by  Mandy Aftel (the queen of green) and furthered by Anya McCoy has become potentiated by the open support of the most influencial perfume bloggers (Michelyn, Nathan, Raphaelle, Elena, ecc..)

Natural perfumery is becoming a trend in which even the industry is interested to enter, but independent perfumers are also seeing the opportunity to conquer the new growing market of consumers who chose naturals as health, philosophical and ethical options.

Making natural perfumes is for all a very good way to “acquire image” of quality, ecology and ethicality.

The challenge for natural perfumers until now has been to build 100% natural fragrances that could compete with “mainstream/niche”  fragrances on the very “mainstream/niche” market, especially the perfumistas.

This challenge has not been commercial, Natural perfumers do not constitute an economic reality worthy of even talking about.

The challenge has been mediatic  and happened almost entirely on the web medias.

The dynamics of natural perfumers MKG until now has been to conquer recognition in the existing “mainstream/niche” market, and it has been incredibly successful.

Behind this success are 2 persons, Mandy Aftel and Anya McCoy. Mandy was able to produce luxury perfumes for an high end market and a “Theory of naturals” with her books. She provided both image and ideology.

Anya McCoy provided a very effective long term marketing campaign over the web, and the organization of the “associative infrastructure” that Mandy had failed to realize with the guild.
Together they convinced the bloggers and online magazine to give coverage to natural perfumery and the support of these last ones is the ultimate factor that actually brought the trend into being.

The Natural perfumery trend that is just starting is owed to the synergy of three, Mandy/Anya/bloggers.

To be continued…