A Sniffapalooza Magazine Exclusive
Burning Down The House Series
The Influencers Speak

Burning Down the House: The Influencers Speak- Part 1

Why did the sales of niche fragrances double within the last year and a half, while
the commercial fragrance industry is losing ground?  With nearly a thousand new
launches  a year, millions spent in advertising, flanker after flanker, what is happening
to our fragrant world? I posed this question to a group of industry ‘influencers’ (les nez,
the retailers, the niche and artisnal perfumers, the critics, the bloggers, and the
owners of fine fragrance companies), who are leaving their thumbprints, as unique
as their words, on the match that is burning down ‘the house of mediocrity’.

In this series, some of the greatest innovators in the Fragrance industry answer a question; their words are uncut, unplugged, unedited.   

These renowned men and women all answered the same two part question:

“What are your feelings about the state of contemporary fragrance and how do you think the industry must evolve in order to stay relevant to an oversaturated market?”

Name: Jean Claude Ellena – The Firestarter
Title: In-House Perfumer of the House of Hermès
Signature Scent: Terre d’Hermès

“When I read the advertising images of most of the perfumes, the
portraits of these women or these men puzzle me. What are they
talking about? What smell has this perfume? These two questions
cancel themselves out naturally. Very often these same models
are the icon of a watch, a pair of glasses or clothes. In fact,
I learn nothing; I do not dream... these images are meaningless;
they do not speak to the emotions and quality of perfumes. There
is nothing there, no innovation; only an impression of "déjà vu".
It annoys me but I keep hoping. And because I’m still hoping,
the future is possible, the future is present. I find it mostly in
the perfumery said "de niche", in the author's perfumery. Perfumery
as any art needs meaning, have to make sense, perfumes
have to tell stories. Stories make us hope, make us dream.”

-Monsieur Jean Claude Ellena


Name:  Michel Roudnitska – The Multi-Sensorialist
Title: Perfumer, Owner of Art et parfum,  Multi Sensorial Artist
Signature Scents include : Frederic Malle Noir Epices, Parfums DelRae Bois De Paradis, Hors la Monde Shiloh,  Ellie D  Ellie Nuit

“The contemporary fragrance market is characterized by 3 excesses:

There are too many similar consensual perfumes bringing a lot of confusion
to the public. Even the niche fragrances are now adding confusion with
the multiplication of new brands.  Too many products (detergents, household,
functional…) are now fragrant, not by necessity but just to make them more
attractive. Consequences: a trivialization of the perfume smelled anytime
everywhere leading to a saturation of our senses, with a lot of chemicals
rejected in Nature. An ever increasing complexity of the necessary safety
regulations for such a huge use of these olfactive ingredients. Consequences:
many genuine natural products will be no longer available and the
creativity of the composers will be seriously compromised.

So, in the economic and ecologic world crisis we are living now,
the fragrance industry is facing a real challenge for the future.

There will be a complete change of paradigm in the Society values.
Sustainable development and fair trade are being progressively
introduced in our business, but it will be necessary to go further.
More and more people become conscious that we are living on a
planet with limited resources (we are probably already in the peak oil!)
and that it will be impossible within the next 30 years to maintain the same production growth.

As the costs of energy and raw materials (natural and synthetics) used in perfumery
will increase exponentially, we will have to choose our priority: more quality and less quantity. Our life style and the notion of luxury will have to change drastically:  more social links and fewer goods, more spiritual and less materialist needs.

The fragrance creation will have to go to the essential: an artistic expression of beauty and authenticity to nurture our soul.
In such a context will only survive the brands which have a true ethical attitude towards their providers, creators and clients, but most of all the legitimacy to defend this approach.  The concepts of fashion and advertising will also have to change: thanks to Internet the consumer can get a genuine appreciation of fragrances from other passionate consumers instead of conventional marketing briefs.

I believe websites and blogs dedicated to perfumes will have an increasing role to play in this evolution toward the education of a mature and responsible consumer, able to choose which values he or she wants to privilege.” ---- Michel Roudnitska


Name:  Mandy Aftel – The Queen of Green
Title:  Natural Perfumer, Owner of Aftelier, Author
Signature Scent: Tango

“I think that it would be good if the industry evolved
further in the direction of art and beauty--- more risk
taking in perfumery with more focus on honesty,
aesthetics and quality.    I would love to see more
of an emphasis on perfumery as an art and less
on commercial and financial concerns.”
–Mandy Aftel


Burning Down the House:
The Influencers Speak-
Part 2
A Sniffapalooza Exclusive

Kilian Hennessy, Chandler Burr and George Wuchsa share their
unique perspectives and provocative answers to the question:

What are your feelings about the state of contemporary fragrance
and how do you think the industry must evolve in order to stay
relevant to an oversaturated market?”

Their words are uncut, unplugged, unedited.  In this series, a
Sniffapalooza exclusive we bring to you, word for word, the inner
most thoughts and passions of some of the greatest innovators in
the Fragrance industry.

Name:  Kilian  Hennessy – The Poet-Philosopher
Title: Owner and Founder of by Kilian Fragrances
Signature Scents: Love –don’t be shy! Liaisons Dangerouses - Tempt me!

Michelyn, you know what I think about the 1st part of your question....that's why
I left my job (Writer’s note: Kilian was a former marketing executive at L’
Oreal  before starting his eponymous brand) .....if the industry was going well,
I would have probably never left !  I think that the market has lost its bearings...
customers don't know anymore who to trust....and therefore go from one scent
to another with no loyalty.

I will organize my answer in 3 parts..like the ancient Grecques:

Our capacity to create "Beauty" - Perfume HAS and IS part of people's
well being. Did you know that at the time of Ramses III there was a big strike?
Guess what these workers requested? 1: bread. 2: perfume. The NEED for perfume
comes from a very long time and is part of people well-being and happiness.

As Plato said "there must be beauty in the city".

I think WE (as producers/creators of beauty) should not consider perfume as a minor
Art... should not be afraid to consider perfume as Art. And if we did consider perfume
as Art (again, when I say WE, I mean WE collectively), then we would not create the
same perfumes. We would give ourselves higher expectations and therefore give our
perfumes more value. The creation would come 1st. The commercial aspect would
come 2nd. Because when you are creating Art, you cannot think if it is going to be
successful. The only thing that matters is that you are proud of your creation and
can defend it against the world if necessary!

We should create perfumes with a political (the way the Ancient Grecques meant it) ending!

Our capacity to do "Good" - A great perfume is NOT just a beautiful olfactive harmony!  A great perfume is a great story long before the olfactive part comes into action!!! With a name like Opium or Poison or Obsession or L'eau d'issey or L'heure bleue, etc....you cannot put any scent in a bottle which would carry such a name.

In an industry that has chosen that now a name should appeal to everyone on this planet from the woman leaving in Osaka to the woman leaving in Dallas, names have
become meaningless.  That's why I decided to go the opposite way and have long poetic names that mean something, that create a story.  A woman wearing "don't be shy" cannot wear an innocent scent!

We should create perfumes that "smell" AND "think". Our capacity to tell the "Truth" And here comes the tricky one....Are we all (creators / managers / journalists / retailers) telling the truth to their customer or readers? Think about it!

Creators that have never worked in the perfume industry but suddenly come with a niche brand where they invest $0 on the bottle and box (what is visible) arguing that the money was spent on the juice (what is not visible...lucky them)!

Are they telling the truth to their potential customers?

Name:   Chandler Burr – The Critic
Title:  Perfume Critic for the New York Times, Author and Playwright
Signature Scent:  I didn’t think it was appropriate to ask!!!! 

So my answer is this: The industry has to do three things, two of which it
doesn't want to do, one of which it has to figure out how to do. It's simply
got to reduce the number of launches. Everyone is fully aware that the
current policy is a war of attrition and immiseration in which all ultimately
lose. Self-restraint is only going to help equally. Second, it has to put more
money into the juices. I just smelled a perfume by a luxury brand whose
licensee is in the process of completely destroying its name and reputation
by putting out a seemingly unlimited number of cheap, crappy juices
that smell like hot fruit salad swimming in a chemical bath.

The profit margins are great in the short term, but the licensee, the brand,
and the consumer all lose in the long run, and when the consumer loses in
the long run, the consumer stops buying the crap she is offered.

Last, innovation. Masculines have always been and remain the biggest disaster area, but even feminines are in need of creativity. This is the most difficult, of course. A few weeks ago I smelled an upcoming launch that is brilliantly constructed, insanely innovative, and totally unwearable. And not everything has to be a Comme des Garcons. (Not even the Comme des Garcons really need to be Comme des Garcons...) "Innovation" doesn't mean "whacky." Innovation is also beauty.

Name: George Wuchsa-The Global E-tailer
Title: Owner and Founder of www.first-in-fragrance.com, fine jewelry retailer and aficionado
Signature Scents: Hard to find and/or exclusive international  fragances such as Parfums d’Imperfiction, Parfums d'Armando Martinez and the uber niche line by  Masaki Matsushima .

It’s an interesting question and one not easily answered. With so
many new fragrances landing on the market each year their fate is
irrevocably left in the hands of the Advertising Gurus. The advertising
companies analyze consumption values, classifying potential
consumers into various social and economic groups e.g. the
practical consumer, the utopian consumer etc. According to the
advertising industry each of these consumer groups follows a
distinctive sociological and psychological pattern that is then
relevant to marketing strategies.

Perfume has always been labelled as a luxury product and
therefore transcends the tangible purpose of the product itself.
The consumer when buying a luxury product is also buying an
image or an ideal of what the product represents. Whether a
mass-produced fragrance is good or not is of secondary
importance, the prime concern is the success of the marketing campaign.

I personally advocate a quality over quantity principle where the
quality of the perfume has precedence over the flacon and
packaging design. It is all too often the case that a mass-produced
and mass-marketed fragrance possesses the depth and character
of a toilet detergent. On the other hand as a retailer it makes my
job a lot easier when explaining to someone the difference between
niche and mass-produced fragrances!

Unfortunately the oversaturated market will not change so long as consumers sacrifice their individuality and character to remain under the influence of the advertising companies

Burning Down the House: The Influencers Speak- Part 3
A Sniffapalooza Magazine Exclusive

Change…it doesn’t happen overnight. Influencers Ron Robinson, Andy Tauer, Yosh Han, Franco Wright and
Adam Eastwood, Vero Kern and Sarah Horowitz-Thran having been working, (often in anonymity) and following
their fragrant dreams for years.

In Part Three of “Burning Down the House” share their unique perspectives and provocative answers to the question:

“What are your feelings about the state of contemporary fragrance and how do you think the industry
must evolve in order to stay relevant to an oversaturated market?”

Their words are uncut, unplugged, unedited.

Name:  Ron Robinson- ‘The Retailer’
Title: Owner and Founder of Apothia at Fred Segal, ‘an experiential emporium’.
Signature Scent:  Apothia Velvet Rope and exclusive US Retailer for Nouveau Paris Perfumes

“I am energized.  A new voice has come to town and its modern and interesting, it is the evolution that will become the future. I am very aware of the many entries of product, as a retailer we are delivered dozens each week. But, I feel that if our company deals in highest of quality ingredients and components, if we have great design we will not only endure, but we flourish and rise above the noise.  It has worked for me in a highly competitive fashion business and it is a formula that has proven correct again at this time.  With the smaller independents and entrepreneurs they bring a new excitement and creativity to the market, but we have an equal obligation to inform and engage our customer.  I love going to the stores that APOTHIA product is presented in and speaking to and teaching the staff about APOTHIA particularly and about fragrance in general.  Fragrance does not have to be the secretive mysterious unknown that it has in the past.  We as the “new industry” can evolve and involve our customer more with our product and show them how to enjoy and experience the pleasure of it in a new way; we must take the moment and look at it as an opportunity.” -- Ron Robinson


Name:  Andy Tauer- ‘The ‘Artist’
Title:   Perfumer, Owner and Founder of Tauer Perfumes
Signature Scent: L’Air du Desert Marocain

“I do not consider myself a part of the fragrance industry; being too small and too artistic, I enjoy the privilege of watching the scene from the outside, with some inside knowledge maybe. 

Being an outsider has advantages, though. You see things clearer from a distance, from the far end of the "tail".

To be honest, I have lost most interest in what happens within the industry lately and what the fragrance industry produces: Except maybe when the big ones sits together with policy makers and come up with weird regulations.

From time to time, however, I cannot avoid a close encounter with the big industry's effluents. For instance when walking into scented clouds, released by innocent sales women in my preferred shopping center, spritzing the latest take on fruity boredom joined with floral innocence. These close encounters are usually disappointing and make me understand why industry is so scared these days of loosing their communication monopoly.

The big game of our days is on: who tells what story. When major brands start launching fragrances using blogs that are even less creative than their scents, hoping the happy consumer will not realize the difference, you get an idea how desperate they must be.

But I am utterly optimistic. We will see more creative and challenging fragrances in the future. But it will not be the large industry that is producing these. The commercial niche houses might one day outgrow the big ones. The commercial tail, empowered by the Internet, will provide variety and challenge. A challenge that will ultimately change industry, too.

(When talking "tail" I am referring to: Chris Anderson's uses of the term, for more, see:


-- Andy Tauer   

www.tauerperfumes.com and http://tauerperfumes.com/blog
Name:  Yosh Han-The ‘Zen-sualist’
Title: Perfumer, Founder of Yosh Olfactory Sense, Inc. and Aspiring Novelist
Signature Scent: Ginger Ciao

“Contemporary fragrance needs to be more innovative and drive the business rather than create fragrances and concepts based on trends in other consumer products. It would be wonderful, for example to see more kinds of truly artistic creations that move away from fragrance as a commodity. How do we embrace olfaction as a larger concept?

Could we be more innovative in terms of delivery and application? Can we go beyond experiencing perfumes as atomizers, lotions, candles or fragrance sticks? It would be great to get fragrance out and away from the cosmetic counter in a department store and have consumers interact more experientially. I recently worked with an artist to deliver fragrance in a pop-up theater where the audience experienced the scent in an aromatic space. At a different event, I worked with the catering staff to pass my fragrances around as an interactive dessert.

I think it's important to break out of the more traditional modes of how we view the fragrance business. This includes moving away from needing to label fragrances into categories as well as sales techniques. When a person tries on a fragrance for the first time, they should use all their senses to experience it. The way the fragrances are marketed now, the consumer might read the marketing copy and decide on the spot whether they want to try it (or not) based on the ingredients. Consumers certainly don't want to be attacked at the fragrance counter by over zealous sales associates or just be given the fragrance type they usually buy because they want the sale.

We've got to create ways to hold the customers attention for more than one minute. Can we also offer a more intimate realm so the consumer can be romanced and seduced? Once we have their attention, we've also got to deliver on that experience with original creations rather than a blend that's been tried and tested in focus groups. Executives tend to be driven by sales goals so there's a rush to create new, new, new. But when Executives nurture and foster talent and art, the sales & loyalty will be there. For a brand to have stronger ability to swim through the madness of new launches every year, consumers want to be delighted by the unexpected and mysterious. Isn't that the allure of fragrance? “

-- Yosh Han


Name: Franco Wright and Adam Eastwood-
“The Niche Navigators”
Title: Co-owners and co-founders of www.luckyscent.com and The Scent Bar
Signature Scents:
Hard To Find Niche Fragrances  and Exclusives including:  Sinfonia di Note, Farmacia SS.  Annunziata da 1561, Luna Caprese, Indult Reve en Cuir and L’Artisan Maquis des Anges.

We consider fragrance as an art form and a business, in that order.  Contemporary fragrance is no different. Relevance comes from the creation of works of art that are true expressions of a brand and not the prevailing trends of the day as identified through focus groups. We believe that art drives fragrance in its purest form. Relevance comes through honesty of expression; through the exploration of new materials and methods which transcend the accepted boundaries; through the creation of fragrances that are intellectual and unusual; through the creation of fragrances that tell vivid stories.

These are the things we talk about in our industry, and these are the things we see as relevant. Actual sales figures mean much less. Of course, we cater to lovers of niche fragrances who come to behold a curated selection of brands that we find relevant and interesting. They come because they are unusual and they are relevant because they are unusual. The best way to stay relevant is to pursue truthful innovation without concern for maintaining relevance”

--Franco and Adam


Name:    Vero Kern – “The Neo-Classicist”
Title: Perfumer, Owner and Founder of Vero Profumo Fragrances and Mentor
Signature Scent:  Kiki

“I’m standing and watching the masses of perfume releases almost constantly coming and going. I gave up to count them or even to try them out. I find it somehow absolutely ridiculous and kind of surrealistic to think who is going to wear all that stuff.

For me a good perfume is a piece of art.  Industries don’t create ‘art’, they produce for the masses. And therefore there can’t be any evolution in this industrial mass production. The only thing that could stop this whole craziness would be if emancipated and completely annoyed customers would refuse to by this ‘stuff’ anymore.”


Name:  Sarah Horowitz- Thran–“The Original Indie Queen”
Title:  Perfumer, Owner and Founder of Creative Scentualization and loving mother 
Signature Scents:   Perfect Veil, Beauty Comes From Within

My first thought is that you have my answer to the first question in the second!  I feel that the contemporary fragrance market is currently over saturated, and there seems to be new launches every week.  Many of these new launches are basically twists on pre-existing successes - how many twists of Angel or Beautiful have we experienced in recent years?   As always, I come back to my core belief - every customer is unique, and should search for the fragrance, whether a mass market, a niche brand (which I obviously favor, the artisan approach) or a custom fragrance that captures who they are and what they love - a fragrance that makes them feel most like themselves when they apply it, in whatever incarnation they find themselves that day!  I  believe that the industry should heed the call of the fragrance aficionados who are longing for creativity, but also want to see a fragrance they fall in love with stick around instead of being discontinued in favor of the newest launch, as happens so often.  Today's customers are extremely savvy, and although they love something new, many become discouraged when they purchase the "new" and realize it is a facsimile of something else they own.” –Sarah Horowitz Thran


A Sniffapalooza Magazine Exclusive
Burning Down The House Series
The Influencers Speak - PART FOUR

The ‘Power’ Influencers of Niche---men and women whose names are the ‘Mount Rushmore’ of the revolution. Serge Lutens, Frederic Malle, Thierry Wasser, Bertrand Duchaufour, Laurice Rahmé, Neil Morris, Karen Dubin and Karen Adams.

In this extraordinary edition of “Burning Down the House”, an unprecedented panel of fragrance game-changers share their personal perspectives and thought-provoking answers to the question:

What are your feelings about the state of contemporary fragrance and how do you think the industry must evolve in order to stay relevant to an oversaturated market?”

Their words are uncut, unplugged, unedited.

Name: Serge Lutens - ‘The Legend’
Title: Perfumer
Signature Scents: Ambre Sultan, Daim Blond, Sa Majeste La Rose

“Those in the industry should stop watching, copying, and trying to
resemble each other. Those who love fragrance are getting sick of seeing
monotonous amalgams and mixtures. And I don’t blame them!

As far as I am concerned, this sense of distaste has given me a taste for perfume.
In answer to the second part of your question: if they asked me I would tell them!
The secret is in each element: give people a taste for perfume rather than
arouse distaste” --- Serge Lutens




Name: Laurice Rahmé –‘The  Entrepreneur’

Title:  Creator & CEO, Bond No. 9 New York
Signature Scents:  Chinatown, Andy Warhol Silver Factory, Fire Island

The contemporary fragrance market sees a lot of cosmetics giants
trying very hard to market “niche”; and, it will be interesting to see how
successful these attempts prove to be.

The goal in fragrance is of
course to always appeal to
the consumer in the most
personalized, intimate way. 
But in today’s economic climate,
where every business is fighting
to maintain its ground and
produce big numbers,
authenticity of the niche
approach is rare, I think. 

All fragrances produced by
the big cosmetics houses do
such large volume that they
simply have to incorporate
elements of mass appeal,
no matter how the scents
might be marketed. 

Because Bond is truly a small
fragrance house, we have to
do the opposite—incorporate
unexpected notes, launch atypical
scents—in order to not only stay relevant,
but to succeed; and, I appreciate that this is both a necessity and a luxury of mine. 

It also happens to be the approach that I very much believe in—this is perfume, this is scent.  To me, nothing is better than having a Bond fragrance evoke strong emotions in people, both good and bad.  It’s indifference to a fragrance that I will always work to avoid.  And the truth is that the real niche market is not oversaturated; so, we are fortunate in that we can focus our energy and resources not on numbers and marketing, but rather on creating truly beautiful fragrances for men and women.”

--- Laurice Rahmé




Name: Thierry Wasser – ‘The Torch Bearer’
Title:  In House Perfumer for Guerlain
Signature Scent : Guerlain Homme  

"Fragrances today are often linked with fashion or celebrities and for
this reason, try to be trendy.

To stay relevant in a global market a brand should be aware of its own
identity and values. For the past 180 years Guerlain has been the foremost
innovative brand in make up, cosmetics and fragrances. Mr. Jean-Paul Guerlain
brought his family name to a real international brand. Now it is time to become global.

I hope that GUERLAIN HOMME will be the first step in this direction.
I designed it as a modern men's fragrance with the high standard of Guerlain
high quality of raw materials and the classicism and elegance needed to suit our image.
As an example, the woody background is very modern using cedarwood as a lot of
men fragrances do today but this was not enough, I did use vetiver oil
( the same that Mr. Guerlain used for his first men's fragrance VETIVER )
for more elegance.

Moreover, our history shows the passion of the creators for sciences, arts and lifestyle;
Jacques Guerlain did numerous personal fragrances for socialites or celebrities.
Pierre-François-Pascal did create fragrances for Balzac or Empress Eugenie etc.
Today we still do ‘parfums sur mesure’ and we do offer a great selection of vintage or
new niche fragrances for connoisseurs. That's how I plan to stay relevant in this
industry for the XXI st century”. ---Thierry Wasser



Name: Frederic Malle – ‘The Maestro’
Title:  Perfumer, Owner and Founder of Editions de Parfums
Signature Scents: Musc Ravageur by Marcel Roucel, Carnal Flower by Dominique Ropion, Noir Epices by Michel Roudnitska

"Contemporary fragrances are an exact match of contemporary life, one can
find the best and the worst in it and there are still great opportunities
for independent minds.

Perfume, as usual, is a mirror image of the rest of the world. My view
is that there are very interesting things coming out in every product
category: design, cinema, art, food etc... and that most of the mass
products are very mediocre because they try to please too many people.
In other words, the world today is divided between mass and more
interesting products that can be as good as the classics of the past.

One can find very good perfumes if he is curious and independent
thinking. Also, one should not be too systematic in his search, there
is a handful of good creative products in the mass world as there
are monuments of mediocrity amongst the so called niche products “--- Frederic Malle



Name:  Bertrand Duchaufour – ‘The Arsonist’
Title:  Perfumer, Perfumer in Residence for Atelier at L’Artisan Parfumeur, Artist, Photographer
Signature Scent: Timbuktu for L’Artisan Parfumeur, Rose Paestum for Eau d’Italie, Avignon for Comme des Garcons

For me, it's obvious that the perfume market is saturated. Too much launches in
less and less time. Manufacturers overwhelm consumers   with   too many new products and of course we are all (especially among us the perfumers) completely lost regarding the last year’s evolution of the market. Impossible now to recognize or distinguish a new product worn by any passer-by.

I think personally, there is only one way to get out from the impasse. A lot
of niche products are created today and they aren't as original and creative as
expected. Very often, those products are pale copies of old classical perfumes
existing for a long time but forgotten.

Consumers think to buy something original, yet they are only "fake contraptions". As long as the public will accept all of niche to be credible, some will profit by their naivety. Problem is many consumers need to be better uneducated,   less naive; because without this everything is possible. Only some rare products (niche products as well as commercial ones) will have the chance once to be a very great success because it will be something very unique and with a great personality. It will the fruit of several circumstances, like   art, genius, and time action.”

SO, Solution is "educate the masses!” ---Bertrand Duchaufour




Name: Neil Morris – ‘The Perfumistos’ Perfumer’
Title:  Perfumer, Co-Owner and Founder of Neil Morris Fragrances LLC
Signature Scent: Afire, Zephyr, Neil Morris for Takashimaya Perfume, The Vault Fragrances

I look at the industry as two separate and distinct parts. There's mass merchandise and then there are the niche and premium fragrance markets.  Unfortunately, the larger segment of the market, the mass merchandisers, is run by huge companies whose goal is to make money for their shareholders.  It's not about the art form; it's about what will appeal to the largest segment of the marketplace.  In the niche and premium markets you see more artistry and more adventurous fragrances that appeal to a certain segment of the market, typically those who lead rather than follow the crowd.

I think the best way for the industry to evolve and thrive is to become more approachable and to educate more people about fragrance.  By doing so people will be willing to try more and varied fragrances and that will open up a wider audience to the idea of creating a fragrance wardrobe. I think the work that you do, Michelyn, is a very important part of this process. You, along with the various fragrance blogs, are doing a great deal to help the industry move in new directions.  We need even more of that. 

If you look back to the wine industry in the U.S. in the early 1970's, you basically had three choices - Chablis, Rose, and Burgundy.  Then all these great little vineyards sprouted up in Sonoma and Napa California and revolutionized the wine industry by educating people about wine and making it more approachable.  The result was more wine purchases, a greater variety of wines produced, and a population that was better versed in wines and more adventurous in their choices. That's what we are starting to see in the fragrance industry and I think that's our future.” ---Neil Morris




Next issue wraps up the ‘Burning Down the House’ series with ‘Les Christophs’, Linda Pilkerton, Alessandro Gualtieri,
Christopher Brosius, Rob and Karl of Aedes de Venustas, Marie-Helene Rogeon, Nobi Shiyoa and Robin K.

Burning Down the House: The Influencers Speak
A  Sniffapalooza Magazine Exclusive
Part Five –The Finale

Niche fragrance at its best is cutting edge, thought provoking and controversial. We wrap up this series with those influencers who zig, not zag and those who take the ‘road less traveled’; these are our anti-heroes and heroines of scent. Some are outspoken, some stay hidden in the shadows.  All are unique.

Part Five features Christopher Brosius of CB.I Hate Perfume, Linda Pilkington of Ormonde Jayne Fragrances, Christophe Laudamiel and Christoph Hornetz ‘Les Christophs’, Nobi Shioyo of S Perfumes, Karl Bradl and Robert Gerstner; Co-Owners of Aedes de Venustas Boutique, Alessandro Gualtieri of Nasomatto, Marie-Helene Rogeon ‘La Reine de le Rose’ of Les Parfums de Rosine Fragrances.

The Question:
“What are your feelings about the state of contemporary fragrance and how do you think the industry must evolve in order to stay relevant to an oversaturated market?”

Name:  Linda Pilkington- ‘The Alchemist’
Title: Perfumer, Owner and Founder of Ormonde Jayne Fragrances
Signature Scents:  Ormonde Woman, Champaca, Isfarkand

"The spirit of this question is more about the last 20 years and the whole movement of how we now define luxury today. In the last two decades we wanted to attach our personalities to big brand names, we wanted to show off our labels...but now we want to be individuals with our own tailored tastes.

It is a natural progress of society. The other aspect is all about choice. When I was a young maiden, we were introduced to olive oil, but just the one type. Now there are numerous types available, at different qualities and prices sold from outside markets to big supermarkets.

On the subject of niche perfumes, clients of Ormonde Jayne don't want to enter a restaurant or party wearing the same scent as every one else, nor do they want another version of grapefruit with a herbal twist. They also don't want a perfume dreamt up by a marketing team and by the way, most of these perfumes will not be around in ten years time.

To find a perfume that you love, from a small independent perfume house that spends 90% of the budget on the ingredients is what the discerning perfume lover wants today and that is why our sales are so positive. My ambition is for Ormonde Jayne to stand the test of time, I want the perfume to be loved today and in 20 years and that is why we spend so much time and effort in creating our collection"                                         

Coming Soon- A NEW website just for those of us who live ‘across the pond

Name:  Christopher Brosius- ‘The Dissenter’
Title: Perfumer, Owner and Founder of CB.I Hate Perfume, Author
Signature Scents: Burning Leaves, At the Beach 1966, I Am A Dandelion

"I am afraid I have never really been interested in the state of contemporary
fragrance or in the fragrance industry as a whole.  While there are those wihin
it whose work I greatly admire and very much respect, en masse it bores
me just as much now as it did when I began independently 16 years ago. 
I started making perfume in the first place because the scents I wanted
to wear did not exist.  Today I pay the industry in general little attention. 
I rarely smell new perfumes by other companies and I hardly ever attend
industry events – it’s all just too predictable and I have my own work & clients
to attend to.

For myself, I have always found “the fragrance industry” to be too big, too
impersonal and too much conventional.  I also find it generally lacking in
innovation, creativity and a sense of humor.  For the past 20 years, I’ve
watched it largely reinvent the same wheel, follow the same worn paths
leading nowhere & I’ve watched it glut the market with pointless soulless
products.  I’ve watched the industry drift further and further away from its
customers who are now treated as global consumers not as individual people. 

And more and more I see companies reacting to the present problems within
the industry and its market with a sense of blind panic.

(As a side note, I’ve observed similar problems in a number of other arts &
industries as well.  I think many of these problems are simply a reflection of
the cultural climate of the moment. We live in the Age of the Amateur where mediocrity is celebrated – not innovation, style or individuality.)

So personally I think that if the “fragrance industry” maintains its present course, it will not evolve.  It will implode.  It may not happen tomorrow but it will happen.  Historically, throughout the millennia civilizations, empires, cultures and corporations have grown huge, lost touch, lost control, and have then collapsed.  This is totally fine with me. It is the natural order of things and I have other things to think about.  But change will happen and those who observe, respect and reflect that change are those who will survive.

But more to the point, I know full well that there will always be a place for true innovators, visionaries and creators.  We may be large, we may be small but we are the people who will continue to find new ideas, new ways and new markets.  We are those who will truly inspire.  And these are talents that cannot be copied or artificially induced.  So, when the dust finally settles, we are the people who will have quietly reinvented what is currently known as “perfume”…


Names:  Christophe Laudamiel  and Christoph Hornetz - ‘Les Christophs’
Title: Perfumers Extraordinaire
Signature Scents: Thierry Mugler Parfums' 'Le Coffret' (olfactive interpretation of the book Perfume: The Story of a Murderer)

"We think that Perfumery is at an exciting turning point, at the very beginning of a curve which is going to grow faster and faster in terms of reshuffling the cards and bringing truly new things to the market, to the galleries, museums and to more unusual places.
In the past 15 years we have seen, good or bad, the swamping of the market with me-too products, a decrease in fragrance quality and in fragrance marketing, the revival of retro scents and retro ingredients, the increase power of over-regulating bodies, the development of niche fragrances and the use of celebrities to boost up perfume sales.
There has been a few truly new characters brought to the market, and some key advances of science have taken place (those are always a hint that something important is going to happen in art and design).  Furthermore education is now on the radar screen of the fragrance industry (I can develop this further at another time) which is key to develop a discipline and an industry, and the internet is bringing a wind of truth and openness about certain issues and certain absolute fascinations.  We have been seeing in the past 2 years truly new initiatives from niche brands and from commercial
brands, however still at an early and timid stage, but things are moving indeed.

The industry will eventually undergo a revolution, which might happen smoothly, or less smoothly,
too early to tell.  As in any revolution, a few heads at all levels and a few brands will fall, resulting
from internal considerations but also thanks to the advent of new comers which will be suddenly
emerging without warning signs.  True olfactory and perfumistic education will spread to the public,
making people more savvy, more critical but also bringing to perfumery the focus it deserves among
the public, the authorities and the academia at the same level as music, architecture or painting.

So we do have a few more battles to win, we do have to participate or to lead a few more crusades,
but we feel optimistic about the future of perfumery because it is a truly exciting art."

Name:  Nobi Shioyo- ‘The Individualist’
Title:  Owner and Founder of S Perfumes
Signature Scent: 100% Love by Sophia Grojsman for S-Perfumes

"The fragrance industry is only becoming similar to the film industry, and I don't think the market is over saturated. Both the industry and the consumers need to be a little bit wiser. If we look at the film industry, there are homemade films (which are booming because of YouTube and others), indie films, B-movies, Art films, Blockbusters, and so on... Blockbusters in fragrance are, of course, anything from Estee, L'Oreal, Coty, LVMH, P&G. I think many niche fragrances today fall into categories equivalent to the B-movies and homemade films. My point is, the industry needs to diversify the market, and consumers need to know their own likings better."


BREAKING NEWS: Sophia Grojsman will be making a personal appearance on behalf of S Perfumes and 100% Love, at Barneys NY Madison Avenue Flagship Store, Nov. 14th at 11:00 AM -5:00 PM

Names:   Karl Bradl and Robert Gerstner-
‘The Scent Editors’
Title: Co-Owners of Aedes de Venustas Boutique and www.aedes.com
Signature Scents: Aedes de Venustas Eau de Parfum, Escentric 01 by Escentric Molecules (Karl’s personal fave)

"Every season the market is getting flooded with hundreds of new fragrance releases and there
is absolutely no doubt that there is too much of it out there. However it is a widespread fragrance
market with no limits and there is room for pretty much anything.  Fragrance speaks to all different
kind of personalities, age groups, etc that's why we have such a variety of offerings from mass-market fragrances,
luxury fragrances, celebrity fragrances and even cheaper copies of already cheap mass market fragrances that
are sold on the streets.  At the end of the day it comes down to the consumer who influences what will stay and
what will disappear.  For the educated fragrance aficionado it is easy to differentiate the good from the bad but there are also plenty of consumers that buy into the hype of the latest fashion house or celebrity scent where the actual fragrance plays second fiddle (most of the time). 

As far as the beauty giants are concerned I can see that the mass market is trying to jump on to the "niche" bandwagon.  It will be interesting to watch how this contradicting tactic develops; for beauty giants it comes down to numbers after all and "niche" means "small".   Our personal opinion is "less is more", but we believe this is something we won't be seeing anytime soon.  To stay relevant the industry needs to come up with new and innovative creations rather than bringing out the "same old same old" in hundreds of different versions."

Thank you Michelyn for including us!

Name:  Alessandro Gualtieri -
‘The Non Conformist’
Title: Perfumer, Owner and Founder of Nasomatto
Signature Scents: China White, Hindu Grass, Duro

"I see two directions. One is the multinationals and medium-size companies: they have become victims of their size following the obligation to constantly sell more; therefore they have to please more and more customers. As a result most of the perfumes become less creative and often refer directly to previous successes (copies). To please their shareholders sometimes top management use all kinds of dubious strategies or just are simply corrupted.

Second there is the niche market where more individual perfumes can exist. As this market offers the interesting stories for the big ones, it's easy for the small companies to be seduced by the business possibilities, but often their product quickly loses quality, because for big business the margins have to be heightened and distribution wider, this is always on the cost of the product.

I personally feel there is a lot of possibilities for creative perfume and a booming request for smaller more precious and exclusive products, therefore I started Nasomatto. I have no answers for the big companies. I don't care."



Name : Marie-Helene Rogeon- ‘La Reine de le Rose’
Title: Co-Owner of Les Parfums de Rosine Fragrances and Les Parfums de Rosine Boutique, Paris
Signature Scents: Parfum de Rosine - La Rose de Rosine, Rose Diabolo

"My feeling is that today, there is an evolution of the market towards a multiplication of said Niche brands.

I think that only those with a real concept, a real story and real products will stay. This means authenticity and quality of the creations, and consistency between concept – story- products.

Some brands which are no longer in the trend, which have not been able to adapt themselves to the market will disappear, (or have already disappeared), some brands which were primarily niche brands, become traditional, and new brands appear…This is a natural evolution.

My deep feeling is that, even on an overcrowded market, there is always space for quality and creativity. My philosophy is to respect the consumer, who is clever and who, at the end, will choose the best, at the best price, and what suits her best. This means, for the industry, to be able to work with a certain level of honesty. A consumer is able to make the difference between a real and a fake essence, whatsoever…"




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