Tuesday, March 27, 2012
THE THIN LINE BETWEEN MYSTIQUE AND BS
A corollary of this question, I suppose, is whether the abundance of relatively accessible technical information, the revelation of scent-making secrets, and transparency in perfume formulation has led to an increased level of marketing hype and general BS to counteract the perception that perfume is just another ordinary product like car air fresheners, printer cartridges and ball-point pens, made in factories by machines tended by anonymous button pushers to briefly serve a function and then be disposed of so that the consumer can buy more, near-identical, items to replace them.
Taking this analogy a little further, I suppose I could put food in a cheap plastic bowl, wear a pair of tacky plastic earrings, wear a cheaply made, ugly but warm, synthetic cloth jacket, pick at a cheap particleboard guitar that’s constantly going out of tune, and spray on a cheap fragrance oil diluted in alcohol until I get sick of all of these things, but why? Just so I can go out and buy more inferior items that I’ll also get sick of before long and do my part to keep the economy growing?
In fact, if we indie perfumers are honest and forthcoming about how our perfume is made, it should give the user a heightened appreciation for the quality of the materials used, the huge amount of knowledge, skill, time, and experimentation that goes into designing a perfume, and the love and labor that goes into producing what is a work of olfactory art.
The factories can keep the BS and hyperbole. Ultimately, it’s up to the consumer to distinguish between real craftsmanship and fictional craftsmanship, and it’s up to the consumer to decide whether they want to experience their own authentic version of pleasure or a ready-made, spoon-fed, fictional version of pleasure.
[Pics of handmade objects (ancient Egyptian perfume bottle, Mayan bowl, and vintage kilim rug) all from Wikimedia]