Wednesday, January 19, 2022 Jan 19, 2022
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the perfume industry’s sweet smell of success


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For centuries, men and women have been intrigued by the mystery and romance of fragrance. The Old Testament contains several references to perfume, which in those days usually was in the form of incense. Ancient religious ceremonies were marked by the burning of aromatic gums and woods as sacrificial offerings to the gods. The word “perfume” is derived from the Latin “perfumum,” which means “through smoke.”

Egyptian history reveals the use of fragrant ointments and oils in and after the bath. The Persians discovered how to extract oils from flowers, and the Arabs made a cult of perfumery. The first modern perfume was made at the command of Queen Elizabeth of Hungary in the 14th century.

“People associate fragrance with something they like-an experience or a place. It’s not a tangible thing,” says Missy Lukert, cosmetics manager at Bloomingdale’s. “Fragrance is a very personal experience.”

Susan Taylor, a territory manager for Parfums Stern Inc., says, “We appeal to the emotions. Fragrance is uplifting to your spirit. The trend today is toward a lighter, more subtle scent; the heavy, exotic scents have fallen by the wayside.”

Americans spend more than $3 billion a year on fraqrance, in pursuit of the manufacturer’s promise of anything from romance to success. It may be the only industry in which an increase in price boosts demand. Joy, priced at $175 an ounce, has been a leading perfume since the Forties. “Cosmetics is a billion-dollar business in the hands of only a few people. It can be very political,” says Taylor.

Although she says that the NBC television show, Bare Essence, was an overdramatization, the competition between designers and those who produce “knock-off” fragrances

is stiff. “Of course, the other designers would love to know what our ingredients are and how it smells. That’s only natural,” she said.

At Bloomingdale’s, fragrance comprises more than half of all cosmetics sales. “We practice a unique method of promotion; boutiquing,” Lukert says. “Each fragrance is highlighted in its own space at the fragrance bar. It’s aesthetically pleasing and doesn’t overwhelm the customer.”

The men’s fragrance bar, the Boardroom, is located in Bloomingdale’s men’s department, “which makes for a very strategic selling location,” says Lukert. Salesperson Mario Bowen says, “Women used to be the predominant buyers of men’s cologne, but now that men are becoming more educated in fragrance, they are the ones doing the buying.”

The exclusivity of a perfume is alluring. Giorgio, the perfume phenomenon of the Eighties, has become increasingly successful due to its marketing campaign. Scent strips in virtually every fashion magazine have created recognition and demand. Originally available only on Beverly Hills’ Rodeo Drive, Giorgio is now sold in 180 outlets throughout the United States and Europe. In Dallas, Giorgio is available only at Bloom-ingdale’s.

But exclusively carried fragrances such as Giorgio can sometimes be sold without authorization into moderately priced department stores. Fred Hayman, president of Giorgio Inc., says, “We have the diversion problem almost contained. We no longer engage in corporate purchases. Buyers were misrepresenting themselves and turning around and selling the fragrance to unauthorized outlets.” Although the stores cannot be held legally responsible, the original buyer can. “Some people will go as far as buying the fragrance at retail and then selling it in their own boutiques,” says Hayman. “There’s nothing we can do about that.”

ONE OF THE first designers to introduce a fragrance was Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, who believed that no elegance is possible without perfume. In creating Chanel No. 5, expert perfumer Ernest Beaux created a series of experimental fragrances. Chanel selected the bottle numbered “5.” When it came to naming the fragrance, Chanel said, “My collection is being presented on the fifth day of the fifth month, and the number five has always been lucky for me, so why not Chanel No. 5?” Thus the famous fragrance was born.

Chanel Inc.’s latest creation is “Coco.” The perfume, which is currently the rage in Paris, will be introduced in Dallas in September. Jacques Polge, Chanel’s perfume laboratory director, says, “Coco is contemporary luxury-something beyond fashion.”

Fragrance is a highly competitive field. Anne Klein, Ralph Lauren, Halston, Albert Nipon and Perry Ellis are among a host of other designers who have added fragrance to their already successful lines.

Perry Ellis will introduce his fragrance line for men and women this month. The fragrance line is “based on the American spirit” and is distilled directly from flowers that are grown in the United States. “I don’t believe in the advertising hyperbole that implies that the use of a certain fragrance is somehow going to change your life,” says Ellis. “Fragrance is a purely personal experience; it should give the wearer a sense of well-being, comfort and Tightness for the occasion.”

A novel approach to fragrance has been introduced by Dadi Balsara, president of Perfumes of Singapore, who has based his new line on astrological signs. “Astrology is an exact science, but it has been abused by so much commercialism that it’s treated like roadside fortune-telling,” says Balsara. His fragrance line will be available in Dallas this month, and it has been insured by Lloyd’s of London for more than $70 million.

Another new trend in the industry is the “character” perfume. Forever Krystle, by Carrington Parfums Inc., a division of Charles of the Ritz, is the first fragrance to be based on a television character. “It was introduced in November 1984, and by Christmas we had 100 percent sellout,” says Susan Hart for Charles of the Ritz. “20th-century Fox licensed Charles of the Ritz to create the Dynasty fragrances. With a viewing audience of more than 27 million, that makes for quite a target market,” says Hart. In November, “Carrington,” a men’s cologne, will be introduced, named after you-know-who.

FRAGRANCE COMES IN a variety of forms. According to the Fragrance Foundation in New York City, the amount of alcohol added to the original blend of the fragrance determines its strength.

Perfume, the most powerful of the scents, is most effective when applied with an atomizer. The atomizer diffuses the alcohol to let the true fragrance cling to your skin.

Toilet water (eau de toilette) is lighter and more subtle than perfume. It can be used to add fragrance in many ways. Add a few drops to the rinse water when you wash your lingerie. Spray some on the ironing board when you press your blouses. Saturate a large piece of cotton with toilet water, and keep it in your linen closet.

Cologne is usually the lightest form of fragrance. Cologne will keep your hands cool and dry, because the alcohol content helps to evaporate perspiration. At your next dinner party, add a few drops of cologne to each finger bowl, or spray it on silk flowers.

Whatever form of fragrance you choose to wear, it falls into one of seven categories:

Single florals. These fragrances, such as Tea Rose, capture the scent of a single flower.

Flora] bouquet. These scents blend a variety of blossoms to create a perfume like Giorgio or Chloé.

Spicy. These fragrances (such as Cinnabar or Coriandre) are pungent with spices such as cinnamon, clove and ginger, which are often combined with floral aromas.

Woodsy-mossy. Sandalwood, cedar and rosewood are combined with earthy oak moss and fern to create a fragrance like Aliage or Chanel No. 19.

Oriental blend. The exotic and legendary essence of patchouli and musk are blended to create a perfume like Opium and Bal à Versailles.

Fruity. A clean, fresh citrus quality of oranges and lemons are blended to create a fragrance like Ombre Rose and Missoni.

Modern blend. These fragrances are created in the laboratory. Metal and Caleche blend synthetically produced scents to produce their aromas.

And the next time you spray on your favorite scent, think about what you’re wearing. Recent studies have shown that impressions of scents change according to the colors around them. Dark shades intensify odor. Even odorless liquids seem to be fragrant if they are tinted, according to a study at Brown University. Color can actually make a fragrance sweeter, sharper or more sensual.

To make your fragrance last longer, Susan Taylor recommends layering. Use bath gel first, then scented lotion. Add talc and then the fragrance (eau de toilette and perfume at the pulse points). “The fragrance will actually be lighter than if you just sprayed the scent on,” says Taylor. “People will approach and ask you what you’re wearing.”

Pulse points are behind the ears, inside thewrists and elbows, at the temples, at the baseof the throat and even behind the knees. Theheat of your body will help to accentuate thefragrance, so save your exotic scents forcooler weather.

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