The very perceptive Pat from Olfactarama sent me this most eye-opening comment:
“I poked around a little and came up with the RIFM's [Research Institute for Fragrance Materials] annual report. You may already have seen this document, but if not, there is a lot of interesting info here. I'm wondering if this organization isn't one of the ways the labs are funneling research funding into these studies, which may then be used to strongarm the fragrance industry. Since annual reports must be available to the public, it's possible to bypass the "members only" logjam at the site's opening -- I believe some of the publications papers are also available for reading. The list near the back gives RIFM's "partners," and most of the big fragrance manufacturers (Chanel, Estee Lauder, et. al.) are on it. Here is the link: RIFM.OrgI urge you to click the link (it's NOT the well known IFRA amendement, it's a different organisation) and read the participating members on the last page; blink a little and read again!
Chanel….The one company who profited by the downfall of Guerlain to the eyes of many perfume enthusiasts. The one company who salvaged their reputation through the hardships of having to appeal to mainsteam tastes and all with easy elegance. Now, there is proof that they do not oppose the restrictions which are set to harm them most: the jasmine restrictions (as well as the coumarin, ylang ylang, eugenol, oakmoss et al). Octavian had succintcly put it:
“Remember that not only the perfume extract contains a great amount of French jasmine but also this is at the heart of all marketing stories of Chanel. Chanel always insisted on the quality of its jasmine, being one of the very few to use the French type, also cultivated by Chanel” and from a marketing point of view, how can you communicate about jasmine now? Can you show the fields, the extraction and write articles about No5 history and quality when IFRA tells that "jasminum grandiflorum" is "poison"?It’s a problem. The continuation of the myth will necessarily have to be a covert lie.
However Chanel in either an attempt to salvage what they can (how? I’d advise the Wertheimer brothers to make a statement to that) or to retain their market share without increasing prices are condoning the reformulations. I do know that they are rigorous in preserving quality and just as there are different grades of foodstuff so there are in perfumery ingredients, so they will use the best available. But still the question is: what will there be available?
And Lauder is also a member of RIFM. This makes the futile hope of people in the US that American made perfumes might retain their formula unchanged just that…futile. It was plainly to see before, since Lauder fragrances are made by IFF (who belongs to IFRA), but since not all people know that tidbit, it’s worth mentioning now.
On what concerns citrus restrictions, the kerfuffle is too much for no special reason in most cases. Many people exclaim –justifiably-: “Ridiculous! I get more orange essence on my hands by peeling an orange or on my mouth by eating it than by using perfume!”. True, but there’s a catch: Most citruses in perfumes are synthetic already! Yes, yes, even those you think are naturals. Yes, yes, even some very respected brands (Shalimar anyone? Mitsouko?) . And you know, the difference isn't that perceptible to the majority of even discerning noses and bergamot in particular has been substituted for years due to its photosensitizing begaptene. Which is why I witnessed the groves in Sicily and Calabria being a waning craft...
Yet some citrus essences can be realistically replicated. Want proof? Go smell In Love Again by Yves Saint Laurent. Great realistic grapefruit note, huh? 100% synthetic. But that doesn't diminish the artistry of it, nor should it deter you from using it.
Of course there are several niche and small perfumers (notably the all-naturals field) who continue to use natural extracts and they'e taking a hard blow with the latest; this might make them outlaw indeed! Anya McCoy said:
"There are few willing to take a stance on this. I will. I will continue to use all of the aromatics I wish, with a warning label. If, as it seems it will, the regulations come to the USA, and the FDA enforces them, I will protest and am willing to become a legal case, if necessary. I dare others to join me. That is my solution to the oakmoss, orange, rose, ylang ylang (ad infinitum materials) problem."Of course that means solely Internet sales... No brand which hopes to have their scents in brick and mortar stores can afford this, since they are subject to import laws (from either the EU or the US).
Brands which use a high degree of natural extracts, citrus and otherwise, such as Annick Goutal, Miller Harris, and Ormonde Jayne are facing a very real problem, hitting them like a ton of bricks. Their buying of raw materials will be seriously challenged thanks to the tale-over of the Grasse companies of raw materials (as discussed here) and due to their drastic change in the formula they will have a hard time adjusting to the changes. You might stock up on those as well. In fact a MUA poster, Alabasterkitten, has noticed a bunch of them at Loehmann's last night, $50 for 1.7 oz - Songes (jasmine, ylang ylang), Mandragore (bergamot), Eau de Hadrien (lemon and citruses, oakmoss), Petite Cherie (pear synth), Gardenia Passion (oakmoss, jasmine) and Nuits d'Hadrien (citrus)!
As to other ingredients, there are many but there are ways around them without much compromise. Verbena has been singled out in online discussions, because it's a common aromatherapeutic infusion and oil and it created the question how it could be regarded as a "bad" thing. Well, litsea cubeba has a bracing lemony note that could sufficiently substitute it and in fact it extends the effect nicely into the middle notes, a trick often used by pefumers to extend tangy aspects. So, no problem there.
Hydroxycitronellal (lily of the valley) is on the chopping block, as is majantol. Obviously lily of the valley will suffer as a note, not mentioning Lilial (by Givaudan) and Lyral (by IFF), which have also been examined regarding their sensitizing properties. Lily of the valley is a more common note than one would suspect, because it both opens up the bouquet of classic perfumes and it imparts a collateral “clean” note to modern ones (perhaps due to its mega presence in functional cleaning products). Diorissimo has already changed it packaging to denote the change that has been implemented to the levels of hydroxycitronnelal: the newer white packaging with pink “oval” bearing the name states hydroxycitronellal further behind other ingredients instead of the slightly older batch of pink packaging with white oval. The change is subtle and very cunning: while right now the packaging can be an indicator of batches, the introduction of a different colour schema is an optical blurring, ready for further –and final- chopping off! The consumer will never be able to realise without minutely examining the allergens list, which -let’s face it- is not what most people do.
Ylang Ylang is that rare thing: a comparatively inexpensive natural. Which poses a question over its impending restrictions. Baffled there.
The most serious aspect however and I don't know how it can be bypassed is jasmine....
Jasmine grandiflorum will be limited to 0.7% and jasmine sambac to 4%, under the latest 43rd amendement of IFRA. They are potent, so even a little helps, but 0.7% is getting pretty low...Jasmine is the emblem of quality French perfumery, a whole mythos behind many famous classics (No.5, Joy etc.) as stated so passionately on Grain de Musc and sadly both the grandiflorum and the sambac variety come under the latest restictions. And since Grasse jasmine was used in only the extrait of those classics, if you absolutely love those, you might stock up. Although don't be fooled, they have already been altered numerous times. No.5 has been stated to have changed its musks (eradicating the nitromusks so maligned by environmental studies) but smelling olde batches confirms that it’s not only them that changed. Since P&G (who belong to the RIFM oganisation, as stated in the above PDF) are the licence owners for parfums Patou, Joy is also to be changed irrevocably, probably to the great chagrin of resident perfumer Jean Michel Duriez.
The matter is terribly complicated, but....Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose!
Pic of Dr.Jekyl and Mr.Hyde cover via sbfmedia.relationalhost.com. Diorissimo through photobucket search. Jasmine by Perfumeshrine, all rights reserved.