What is the Perfume Project?

This blog is a constantly evolving forum for thoughts on perfume, perfume-making, plants (especially orchids and flora of the Pacific Northwest) and life in general. It started out chronicling the adventures of Olympic Orchids Perfumes, established in July 2010, and has expanded in other directions. A big part of the blog is thinking about the ongoing process of learning and experimentation that leads to new perfumes, the exploration of perfumery materials, the theory and practice of perfume making, and the challenges of marketing perfumes and other fragrance products. To counter my inherent grumpy tendencies, I try to write about something I appreciate at least once a week. Once in a while I get up on my soapbox and write about things that aren't at all related to perfumery. I am grateful to all of you, the readers, who contribute to the blog by commenting and making this a truly interactive perfume project.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

THE CULT OF BIG


This morning there was a discussion on Fragrantica about what size perfume bottles people like to buy. I was fascinated to see that most of those who posted said that they like to buy the largest size possible. Reasons given mostly had to do with the fact that they perceive it as being the “best bargain” or they are “afraid of running out”. Maybe I’m an old fogey who is out of touch with contemporary culture, but I just don’t get it.

First of all, why would anyone buy a perfume simply because it’s cheap or because the price per ml is less if bought in bulk? Do I really want to buy over 100 ml of a mediocre perfume just because it’s on sale at Walgreen’s or TJ Maxx? What am I going to do with it? Surely not wear it all. Sell it? Swap it? It’s not really marketable because anyone can go out and buy it at their local store for next to nothing. Do I really want to buy a 100 ml bottle of a very expensive perfume just because it costs $3.50 per ml in that packaging as opposed to $5.00 per ml if I buy a 10 ml decant that I might have some hope of using up in my lifetime? With a 3-figure investment in a fancy bottle, it would be hard for me to justify wearing anything else, and that would get boring fast, to say nothing of developing an elevated threshold to the scent from wearing it every day. Come to think of it, maybe this is one reason why people overdose so much on perfume. They have invested in a large bottle and feel compelled to wear it so regularly that they can’t smell it any more.

Another reason given was that people like the look of big bottles sitting on their dresser. Huh? I had to ponder this one for a while. I suppose it plays into the whole cult of “bigger is better”: My perfume bottle is bigger than your perfume bottle. My SUV is higher off the ground than your SUV, so I can see over your head. Wait! My neighbor has an even taller SUV. Gotta go out and find one even taller. Forget about how much it costs to fuel it and how hard it is to find a parking space.

If I go to a restaurant and order what should be a good meal, all too often it comes in such a large portion that it takes my appetite away because I feel like I’m eating out of a trough. If I can eat only a fourth of the meal, does that make it a good bargain? Do I really want to take the leftovers home and eat them for three more meals? Competition for the most consumption and the biggest of everything seems to have resulted not only in oversized portions of food and drink, but oversized people who need oversized vehicles, oversized houses, oversized TVs, oversized furniture, and oversized containers of everything.

Whatever happened to the concept of quality rather than sheer quantity? Oh, silly me. That would cut down on consumption and the economy might stop growing. Who cares if most of the excess production gets thrown away as long as someone pays for it?

[Obscene vehicle photo from Wikimedia; Marc Jacobs ad one of many posted all over the internet and apparently in the public domain since it could be construed as free advertising as well as simply blatantly obvious commentary on the theme of this post.]

1 comment:

  1. I am with you on this. For one thing, a perfume bottle needs to be in a dark place, not on display in the bathroom or sleeping room. I am surprised it is still not common practice.
    Oversize is obscene now. I shouts a big hole in the soul that needs to be filled, only to fall in the abyss of fear and anxiety. Perfume needs to soothe this ill....natural perfume.

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