Here’s a summary of perfume musings on trends and themes from 2015, mostly referring to the niche perfume world, rather than the mainstream market.
This was the year of acquisitions (and yes that word still makes me think of Patrick Bateman and American Psycho). L’Artisan Parfumeur and Penhaglions were bought by Puig. Frédéric Malle and Le Labo by Estee Lauder, and let’s not forget Serge Lutens to Shiseido. Time will tell how the brands are managed and let’s hope favourites are not deleted and that quality and creativity are maintained and nurtured.
One thing that we can say with some surety is that this trend will continue and one can only anticipate who will be snapped up next. I imagine a brand like Arquiste would be a great buy with a little more time on the market. This is a house that was new to me this year and Carlos Huber is a fabulous creative director and has the panache, style, and story telling ability that should prove a driver to success. I liked all of the perfumes I tried from his line too and Nanban is a beautiful creation that immediately seduced me. Atelier Cologne is another brand that seems already to be a major success with distribution in key department stores in France and Sephora. They are quickly building up a large presence and releasing fragrances at a somewhat frenetic pace.
The uber exclusive Section D’Or range has extended very quickly, a new store has opened in Moscow and print advertising has been spotted in French magazines. The brand is very dear to my heart, due to Chergui – the first niche perfume I became acquainted with and I’m interested to see what else they have up their sleeve. I haven’t tried all of the Section d’Or range, however La Religieuse from the regular line was not quite what I was expecting. It didn’t intrigue me as many Lutens of old do. I was expecting more from the promise of jasmine and incense.
There are already rumblings on the blogsphere about developments in the Lutens world. Some allude to the decline of creativity within the range and that the heyday has passed. I have some affinity with this line of thinking, although I’m still hoping for a great perfume launch in the regular collection. I may be holding my breath for some time though, as I see the next release is in the Eaux range that I’m not overly fond of.
Exclusive Brand Extensions
The Serge Lutens Section D’Or brand extension highlights another trend for 2015 – the addition of exclusive lines. While this is nothing new as brands like Chanel and Dior have been doing this for a while now, it definitely seems to have spread to the other premium lines too. Witness the addition of more exclusive lines at Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent and Prada. It is undoubtedly a smart money making exercise and drills even further into that rich vein of luxury marketing. I imagine that more brands will be itching to get into this territory. Smaller houses are also releasing special editions to tempt the perfume lover or general consumer.
And The Counter Trend
There are always multiple trends existing within a category and bizarrely Andy Tauer bucked the exclusive brand extension business, and instead decided to develop a range of perfumes at a lower price point under the Tauerville moniker. I believe these perfumes have been very popular so it will be interesting to see if other brands follow suit. I’m a huge fan of Rose Flash. Tauerville really keeps things simple.
They Hyperbole Of Perfume Storytelling / Marketing
Where’s the line between a clever story surrounding a perfume and one that strays too far into the realms of the ridiculous? This often occurs when brands talk about the inspiration for the perfume, or the product story. I connect with some story telling / marketing, when there is a semblance of that ever elusive personal touch or an interesting premise. For instance I liked Arquiste‘s historical story for Nanban. Plus the perfume worked. What I often find however is the hyperbole or call it what you will (some may find it pure BS) that surrounds a perfume’s inspiration fails to match the scent itself. At times it can actually be rather amusing, which I’m sure was not the desired intention. Anyhow it won’t be stopping anytime soon!
The Rise Of Women In Perfumery
Women are striking the right notes in perfumery. Many of the perfumes I’m drawn to are either made or creatively directed by women. I’m thinking of perfumes by Vero Kern, Liz Moores, Shelley Waddington, Cécile Zarokian, Sonia Constant, Stéphanie Bakouche and many more besides. Christine Nagel has also scored one of the top perfume gigs at Hermes and it will be very interesting to see what she brings to the house, as Jean-Claude Ellena winds things down.
I tried two brands for the first time this year that were all natural and smelled great. Natural perfume is not universally loved by fragrance freaks as they can be quite linear and lack texture and volume. Two houses that are turning these perceptions around are Hiram Green and Richard Lüscher Britos (RLB). 44° N 03°E from Andy Tauer for the RLB line is exceptional. Expect a Moroccan tea styled fragrance from RLB this year.
Old School Perfumery vs Celebration of Synthetics
There’s a return to perfumes that one could describe as a little stinky. Salome is a perfume that harks back to vintage skank and is a favourite of many perfumistas. While perfumes such as these are proving popular with hardcore niche lovers, there’s also a counter trend that celebrates synthetics and favours a modern, sleek vibe. Brands such as newcomers Nomenclature are leading this approach that Geza Schoen made popular with his Escentric Molecules creations.
Well the oud releases show no sign of abating. I have no problem with this trend, although I do get sick of the overly nasty smelling synthetic woody bases that often go hand in hand with these perfumes. Diptyque (Oud Palao) and Annick Goutal (1001 Ouds) even got in on the deal. You know it’s gone all out mainstream when Yves Rocher is releasing their own ubiquitous Rose Oud. What I do know is that it’s highly unlikely that there is any oud in the perfumes that reference this in their perfumes. When you do smell the real stuff, the difference is incredible. I tried the real deal at the Fragrance du Bois stand at Esxence and it was gorgeous. Some brands have taken a humorous line with this – Baruti has called one of their perfumes NOOUD and Juliette Has A Gun has gone for Another Oud.
Leather is having quite a moment too. You can choose from the more hardcore versions like Fetisch from the resurrected German perfume house J.F. Schwarzlose or the suede like leathers such as I Miss Violet from The Different Company. Then there are those that fall in the middle of these two extremes like Cuir Impertinent from Thierry Mugler and Cuir Sacré from Atelier Des Ors. Pierre Guillaume also intrigued with his experimental releases at Pitti Fragranze and one of these was the lovely Leathermore.
A new wave of aquatics also rolled in. Often these aquatics were calone free, such as Acquasala from Gabriella Chieffo and the talented perfumer Luca Maffei. Pierre Guillaume introduced a range of sea / tropical inspired fragrances in his Croisière Collection, while French jewellery brand Reminiscence launched a strange little concoction – REM EDP, the quirky sister to the popular REM EDT.
Bottles are becoming the focus of the product. While design elements have always been important, some concentrate all their efforts here and the perfume seems to be almost an after thought. Personally I prefer simple bottles à la Serge Lutens and Comme des Garcons and am not a fan of the bling look studded with gems galore. Some manage to pull off bling in a slightly more subtle manner like Viktoria Minya but most overegg it.
And that’s a wrap. Were there any trends that you noticed? Or trends that you loved or hated?