Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Why Crusading Against Perfumery Restictions is an Exercise in Omphaloscepis

In regards to my previous post Perfume Restrictions and Why Everything We Say in Public Matters, Tania Sanchez, the co-author of Perfumes the Guide and a logical mind to be reckoned with, had the good manners and grace to honour me with a direct response. She brought many interesting points to the discussion and although I replied to her in the comments section I do feel that some of my points deserve some air-time for the benefit of those who do not customarily read the comments section. So, bear with me and we might disentangle some finer points.

Tania told me:

"The *future* of perfumery is not the issue. Perfumers have a massive palette and their creativity is proven every time we sit down with new perfumes full of ideas we've never smelled before. It's the obliteration of the past that is the wretched shame. As someone who has suffered all my life from a lot of allergic contact dermatitis (oddly, not to fragrance but mostly to skincare and cosmetics) I understand from my own study and experience that it is impossible to create a product that causes no allergies. The word "hypoallergenic" has no regulated meaning and something that causes rash in one person of "sensitive skin" will be the perfect product for another such self-confessed. We understand, when it comes to all other cosmetics, that when we try something and it gives us a rash, the sensible thing is to abandon it. Not ban it. The question is why these grand works of perfumery art, about which some of us care very deeply and which give us such happiness, must be vandalized solely to prevent some people's rashes, when those people can simply avoid the product by choice. Toxins, carcinogens, and other things that cause irreversible injury absolutely should be eliminated from the perfumer's palette, no question. But skin allergens? Why, when there is a very simple alternative: (1) a full list of ingredients and (2) advising a 24-hour patch test?"
Certainly this is the level-headed approach it is a pleasure conducting dialogue with. So let's take the points one by one, so my ~perhaps nebulous before~ stance becomes clearer.

Since perfumery as an art form has been proclaimed dead, there is of course the rush of panic in an average person's mind of "Hell, what now?? Shall I abandon my pefume hobby? And will everything produced from now on be soul-less?" The focus of my article therefore was to dispel a little of that panic. I think it managed it in some degree, if I say so myself. Then, there is the greater issue of the massacre of classics. There is no dispute on that as I am as much a collector of classics myself, several of them vintage or rare. I collect them, dust them, look at them with dreamy eyes and wear them with a nostalgic pang of someone who was born long after the Summer of Love. A nostalgic pang which is unexplicably shared by many. It is the nature of man (and woman!) to "gloss over" the past and idolise it as better times. Ah, the Golden Age of Cronus...and the continuous decline of man... subject of mythological themes in as far back as 1000BC. Nothing new. We idolise that which we have not experienced first hand. But even if we have, psychology tells us we like to forget the bad, hold on to the good and reminiscence life in idyllic terms. The more we age, the more we do that and it is a sign of our vanity and coming to terms with mortality. We want to be able to say "I had it good, I saw the beauty, reaped its core!". It's understandable.

So what does all this have to do with perfume? It does, in relation to our collecting classics and insisting on their unaltered state of eternal beauty, their own immortality being a small indication of the belief that we, too, can be immortal if only in a small, miniscule piece: that of the beauty ideal we hold. But here is the catch: When wearing a vintage classic I do not claim to re-live an experience of a woman who wore the same juice in the 1930s. It doesn't matter if my juice is authentic, if it is well-preserved, if I am in the right frame of mind or even if I am holding a bakelite cigarette case and wearing a Lelong gown! In essence (no pun intended) I cannot replicate the experience of wearing a classic of that time the way the people who wore it in that age did. Like we discussed with Jean Claude Ellena in our interview, it's not possible to make this "true" to either the maker's intention or the spitit of the era, as numerous factors conspire to make the experience different. How's that? One cannot have read Satre or Genet and go back to seeing things the way people saw them before WWII. The bleak and the existentialist gloom has changed our souls, even if though the memory of written, not lived, word. One cannot have lived through women's movement or reaped the benefits of it in their personal and professional lives and graft themselves back to the time of La Belle Epoque when women didn't always think for themselves. One cannot see the vintage classics (and for our purposes here I mean the ones which are bought in this almost contraband business of ebaying and antiques scouring) as anything else as a glimpse of history. Are they accurate? They are only in the degree which we allow them to be; which we are able to allow them to be. Seeing (even carefully touching, if you're on the inside frame of the business) the Cloisters Apocalypse manuscript at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC is not the same as being a monk fixing the gold-leaf in a musty, wooden bank-seat at Cloisters wearing the monk's cloak. The experience is vastly different! Imagine therefore how much more different the experience is when a classic pefume's formula has been already adjusted numerous times through its history ~sometimes even right after its official launch!~ and not only in the last 10-15 years!! Those reformulations, which ALL the classics have endured at some point or another, are due to other factors than the latest IFRA regulations: lack of "bases" for the perfumers ("bases" are ready-made and commercially available "accords" that give a specific "note" or effect, so that the perfumer doesn't have to sit down and start from scratch each and every time); loss of materials due to suppliers' changes; arid or wet seasons influencing the naturals' quality, yield or vibance, much like in wines; adjustments that have to do with economizing or tastes when the brand changes hands.... The hunt for the perfect photocopy of a 1919 Mitsouko (or any such) is therefore impossible! Unless we were transpoted back to 1919 à la H.G Wells ~while being at an age with our full capacities intact~ sniffed some, taken a little with us and then being transported back to the present to analyse, see how to replicate 100% and manage to actually do it, everything else is basically an exercise in futility. We can regard the classics not as the classics that were, but as the classics we loved. The one version which we have liked, which we have come to love ~whatever that might be and however time-specific it might be. (You all realize that it is getting more and more difficult, now I broke this down in those terms, huh?) Man and woman loves what they are familiar with. They love that which has first touched their heartstrings and even if it was not perfect it will always hold a dear place in their memories. It's almost impossible to pin down what version each of us loves however, so perfume companies adjust to the widest denominator. And plus, not even L'Osmotheque has the 1921 Ernest Beaux Chanel No.5 and that's a fact!

So, what do I propose? Eradicate the classics? Of course not! But insisting on our part, our perfume enthusiasts' part, our perfume connoisseurs' part (call it whatever you like) that we want the real Joy, the real No.5 etc is a populist stance that reminds me of a kind of "free fragrance!" activism. Is this viable and what's more is it effective? I think on the whole pefume companies want to please the consumers, if only because they rely on them for sales -yes, even the discerning ones sometimes!- and if they see an interest they will adjust to the best of their margins from a business point of view (I realize miracles cannot happen). Therefore it's good to provide some actual means of voicing that concern, which is what I did by providing some data on how to reach some people. I'm sure more people will chime in and offer theirs as well.

I don't know if the authors of the Guide are already lobbying in a "free fragrance" campaign and therefore are preparing us for something on which they will need our support in whatever form. I only recall the now defunct blog of Luca in which he had said something along the lines of there being an hierarchy of worries: First you worry about the really big things: war, death, famine, etc. Once those are out-of-mind, we start to worry about smaller things: cars, safety seats, allergens. In a turmoiled world in which the economic crisis is having several people sacked and jobless with families to raise and when earthquakes destroy whole blocks of flats collapsing in L'Aquila, Italy while the Baths of Carakalla in Rome suffer damages, the matter of IFRA and reformulating is becoming small potatoes. But even if there is a crusade going on concerning the irrationality of the spirit of the restrictions, the latest Spring Supplement to the Guide which is full of mentions of reformulations is proof positive that the previous pleas by the authors, in the first edition of Pefumes the Guide and before, have met with deaf ears.

Concerning allergens there is some confusion among the public. Let me straighten it out to the best of my non-medically trained ability. Allergen is something that causes an allergy. Allergy is according to Medicine Net:"A misguided reaction to foreign substances by the immune system, the body system of defense against foreign invaders, particularly pathogens (the agents of infection). The allergic reaction is misguided in that these foreign substances are usually harmless. The substances that trigger allergy are called allergen. Examples include pollens, dust mite, molds, danders, and certain foods. People prone to allergies are said to be allergic or atopic". Allergies are largely hereditary and usually manifest themselves fairly early on in life. Sensitizers on the other hand is a completely different issue and this is what IFRA is trying to regulate. Let's see the definition according to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration: "A sensitizer is defined by OSHA as "a chemical that causes a substantial proportion of exposed people or animals to develop an allergic reaction in normal tissue after repeated exposure to the chemical." The condition of being sensitized to a chemical is also called chemical hypersensitivity. Therefore here is the interesting part which a perfumer highlighted in the comments yesterday: "Sensitization is the term used to describe a sudden allergenic reaction to something that you previously tolerated well. The chemical substance builds up in your system, and then, on day 563 of use, perhaps 10 years in (days and years chosen randomly, of course) you get a bad response. It may even occur with a new perfume that you've never worn before, but it contains the lavender oil that you've been using for 10 years, and bingo - now you're sensitized to lavender. You're not allergic to it, you're sensitized."

Potential allergens therefore do not perform in the either/or way suggested. One thing could be perfectly all right for yeas and through repeated exposure it can escalate into becoming a sensitiser. So a patch-test is not enough. Even in hair-dyes where a patch-test is de rigeur, one can accumulate a sensitivity and it might burst at any second (this is why they advise doing a patch test EACH AND EVERY TIME! Even for products which you have been using all the time) Can you imagine that for perfume use? I can imagine the labels "Spray the product on a dot on your elbow or behind the ear each time you want to wear the perfume and if you feel no redness, prickling or burning sensation within the next 24 hours, you can wear your perfume ~THIS TIME!" Yeah, great bunch of help that would be!! So, although theoretically I am agreeing that labelling is allowing an informed choice (and I'm all for informed choices!), the matter is more complex than that. Simplistic "easing it up" along the terms of "just slap on a label, for Pete's sake!" is not very helpful.

Listing the full ingredients list isn't very helpful either. First because of the obvious, as explained above: one can be perfectly fine with something and yet get a reaction out of the blue. Life is scary and then we die. We all take our risks and I don't advocate not to. But perfume companies already list the most common allergens and therefore if one knows about something specific not agreeing with them, they can avoid it. The rest they have to risk. Yet the full ingredients list is not something companies want to do for another two reasons: Even in food-stuff (which is scarier to use compared with perfume) you cannot find out the exact formula down to percentages or origin of any ingredient. And sometimes there are cryptic labellings such as "natural aroma of fruit" (what exactly? how was it derived? how much?) or even misleading "no added salt" (yeah, but the sodium percentage is huge anyway!). Fragrances are not going to list everything because the mystique is a great part of the whole business. And also because the consumer is not at ease or has sufficient knowledge to know what anisaldehyde or Iso-E Super is etc. Several people ~on perfume boards even~ protest "I don't want my pretties converted into a chemistry lesson!". And just think what the listing of a full list of ingredients would do to consumers and a few perfume critics as well: No more smart-ass stuff!!

Basically the outcry for the latest regulations is justified because they stand to close some of the little guys (always a bad thing in a democracy), and they are threatening to have several raw materials suppliers out of business ~and therefore even if the little guys want to construct a perfume that bypasses the regulations they will not have the materials to do so!

But it also opens up two interesting arenae, which to me sound full of job potential for specific people: legislative consultants (people who will deal with all the paperwork necessary for the implementations in big companies and with prior experience in law, insurance, that sort of thing) and an ultimate atbitrer of taste who is equipped in chemistry, has a connoisseurship of perfume and a couple of publications on the subject under their belt.

We will continue with posts on the oakmoss and other ingredients problem and offer some clarification and altenatives.


  1. Well, I guess my navel-gazing got to be too much and that's why I decided to stop blogging and working on issues re: IFRA and the EU. No matter what I wrote - and I did have some successes, such as getting Tony Burfield/Cropwatch a foot in the door to have a meeting in Brussels because of the Guild joining up with him in an effort to boycott the 40th amendment (according to a thankful Tony) it became very clear over the past two years that the tidal wave of legislation and bad science and hidden agendas were just too much to keep railing against. After giving up 10 weeks of my lifem as did Robert Tisserand, writing the FAQ and Primer on the 40th Amendment, and REACH, SCCP, etc, I kept it up. A dozen or more blogs that maybe educated a few, but really, as you noted, in the scheme of things that mean something on the scare/survival scale, mean rather little.

    Pissing in the wind, indeed.

    About all the new jobs for those adept with legislative matters et al - feh on all that. I guess I'm just an outlaw at heart. Lush, dangerous perfumes from now on if I wish - warning labels and let the chips fall where they may. I'm back to formulating instead of writing about the Brussels boors and life goes on, and I only stepped in here and on POL out of respect for those whose fora and opinions I care about.

  2. The issue that keeps not being addressed here as mentioned by other commenters in your previous post, is that sensitization can occur at any point, not just with perfume ingredients but countless things we consume (let alone put on our skin) daily. Sulfites KILL, but still they are regularly added to food, served in restaurants where noone can read any labels or be forwarned. They are there in wine. Yes, wine can kill. Eating out in restaurants is not banned. Neither is wine.
    Fruit is not banned, yet several people in my circle have developed sensitization to certain fruit.

    The point a lot of people are trying to make (as Gaia for example very eloquently did on her blog) is that we don't want to be "nannied" (to use Olfacta's expression). Let us make our own choices. Bring on the warning labels. Then again, there are no warning labels on tomatos, strawberries etc. And even though these are nutricious, they are not *necessary* either. It is this lack of freedom that is the most grating thing here, especially when so many other things that endanger our health are left unregulated or just have a warning slapped on them. As Gaia mentioned, the perfume user cannot apparently be trusted neither to read or to make his/her own choices.

    It is not about preserving the classics (however much I care about that), and I most definitely agree with you that not only perfumery will survive but that we will also find new perfumes to fall in love head over heels with. But this is about a lack of choice in the matter.

  3. A,

    I know how hard you have fought about that and I know Tony did too. We have to thank you for whatever results those brought. I know if some things are predecided, there is little that can be done. Yet, that little is nice when effective, isn't it.

    If the little guys are left free to do as they please with the appropriate warnings in place, it's just as well.

  4. D,

    hi, how are you?
    Thanks for chimming in and with what is a good point.

    I agree with you on several levels: 1)that eveything is a risk and if we banned everything we might as well not live at all,
    2)that fragrance is too much regulated a field whereas food, wine, cigarettes even, are not as much. (they leave us the choice with their labelling).
    3) that it is yet another incident of the greater powers that be to regulate our lives and yes, "nanny us". I don't disagree with any of that! If asked and if my word had any validity with the ones who take decisions, I'd like to be offered the choice too!

    Let me point out something: it is not the EU that is to blame, nor IFRA itself as an organisation. This is big money, big companies (who have become members of IFRA) who impose their will so as to get the independents out of business. Anything that can't be patented (naturals can't be patented!) is lost revenue for them. Usually the first motive for most decisions is money, alas. :-(

    However (and this will be visible about a year or so from now, mark my words!) there is something greater in all this brusting now, which is serving not the community and our choices, but very specific people. Perhaps we might be asked to contribute to that...project.
    And what is more, I feel this is like a recommendation & CV, like I hinted at. Anyway, can't go beyond that...

  5. From my understanding, less than 1% of the population gets a skin rash from oakmoss, it's not like millions of people died from Mitsouko since 1919.
    Reality check: studies estimate about two to three percent of the population may be “electrosensitive” and it's nothing compared to new studies announcing a massive wave of cancers within the next 20 to 30 years due to cell phone towers and wifi transmitters.
    Also,how can we compare allergens to unregulated toxic carcinogenic molecules in everyday products or second-hand smoke that's been proven to kill hundreds of innocent non-smokers every year?

    If greatness can be pink fruity gourmand and 100% synthetic, yes great perfumery will survive!...LOL

  6. GR,

    it's definitely certain that no one died from Mitsouko! LOL.
    The mention of electronic radiation "pollution" is of course VERY important and actually I am much more concerned with that, as I live in a metropolis with lots of that kind of electo-pollution (and we have 3 cells per person! LOL)

    You know, I think pink fruity florals ae just a phase. It's on the way out. I feel that people will snap out of it any minute now. Never before was there more choice available and more a desire to go the unbeaten path. And all this due to the Internet! People get lots of info and thus they can decide what to do.
    I foresee great things in the future. They might not be Mitsouko, but they might be what they might be.
    I just hope they will allow people to be able to do them.
    And remember: historically after Puritanism, comes Libertarian lifestyle ;-)

  7. E, I agree: it's all about the money.

  8. Sad really, isn't it... :-(
    (I have mailed you, look in your folder)


  9. Hi, Helg.

    Thank you for another thoughtful and informative post.

    I think your point about the common tendency to glorify a mythical golden age is a good one. It makes me think of the Burt Lancaster line in the Louis Malle movie "Atlantic City", reminiscing to a much younger man, "You should of seen the ocean then," he says. "The Atlantic Ocean was really somethin' in them days."

    One of the ironies is that the Atlantic Ocean actually *has* changed, with pollution increasing and fisheries crashing. Even if it had not, as you pointed out, our experience of it would not be the same in any case. However, even with these unfortunate changes I am optimistic that enough will remain, as with vintage perfumes, to remind us of our legacies.

    Passionate reminders of what has and will be lost are necessary steps in moving us forward to effective preservation of the essential elements of what matters to us. For me the essential is more than chemistry, and I look forward to your continued posts about the cultural context of perfume.

  10. This has definitely been one interesting debate and I'd like to chime in and say
    1) it's wonderful to see that many different opinions here can be discussed in a rational manner (I really miss that in my life)
    2)it frustrates me terribly to see how the opinion of "little" people as opposed to big companies is given no importance and I for one would prefer to be given a warning that a perfume contains potential allergens than that they are banned completely. Here I agree with Divina and Gaia.
    I just wish the world wasn't run by big money... :(

  11. If you've ever colored your hair at home, you'd notice that contained in the package is an insert which says that one should do a 24-hour patch test every single time one colors. Even if the same exact product has been used for years. It says that "allergies can develop at any point".

    Do people follow that recommendation? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. (I know I don't.) But it's not like L'oreal or P&G is not producing hair color any more because some people have had allergic reactions to it.

    It's left up to the consumer to assume the risk. I think that most of us do, willingly. Put that same label on perfume and then let us decide how much risk we're willing to take.

  12. Thanks Kathryn for your comment which is quite enjoyable. I love Malle movies and I have fond memories of Atlantic City in particular (the lemons stood out more for me!).
    I have some hope that the concept of the Osmotheque might be expanded and some form of rotation for history lovers such as us will be kept intact. Not for everyday maybe but to hold on to the best of the past.

  13. Ines,

    thanks for chimming in!

    Well, if anything the University taught me is how to conduct a logical and civilized argument. All sides are welcome to be heard in level-headed tones and with solid arguments. We don't have to always agree on everything, but I think it's good to be able to have a platform on which to expose all the different views. I cherish my readers for that.
    And in the end, we don't disagree. We're all in agreement how the big guys are doing whatever they want and it's so uncool...I just think that whatever "protest" we're set on to take will only benefit one and only one person. Not perfumery.

  14. Moon Girl,

    thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    That's exactly what I have actually said on the article, if you read it closely (and in my comment yesterday to Tania, which is where I first phrased it in the "hair dye terms"). Sensitising can come at any moment.
    But this is EXACTLY why a warning label won't solve the problem. Because it means that you can be sensitized at something which was perfectly fine before! Therefore the label argument is basically...unconvincing.

    Of course the issue is not that. The issue is big money for the firms and promotion for certain products and for certain people. Basically we're called to arms to protest against something that has been predecided (I will elaborate on why on a following article) so as to give credence to someone who wants a job someplace. If that isn't clear, I don't know what can convince people.
    And if I were really wicked I'd venture that someone has a LOT of stuff to unload on Ebay with the irresistible claim of "vintage". ;-)

  15. It is difficult not to notice that most naturals are grown/harvested by small farmers in third world conditions in countries that are often plagued by war and other troubles while most synthetics are manufactured and sold by large, first world companies.

    There is a complex story here. One that goes far beyond perfume.

  16. Alyssa,

    I couldn't have said it better. Thank you!! Very true and the core of the thing.

    BTW, I have found out one more clue to the whole puzzle which is amazing enough to merit the next post.

  17. Helg, you're really not making much sense here. It is true that allergic contact dermatitis often arises with exposure to something that has caused no problem in the past. This is true for all cosmetics and fragrances and has been since people first starting scenting and oiling themselves up centuries ago. So perhaps what the label should say is "if irritation occurs, discontinue use." I'm not really sure why you think this approach is terribly unreasonable. Labeling doesn't "solve the problem" in that it doesn't stop sensitization from happening. But so what? Stop using the damn thing if it makes you itch. And many cosmetics on the market that don't fall under the umbrella of fragrance regulation use known sensitizers like tea tree oil, so long as they list the ingredient and advise you to stop using the product if it causes problems. What is the problem here? Caveat emptor.

    You write rather mockingly: '"Spray the product on a dot on your elbow or behind the ear each time you want to wear the perfume and if you feel no redness, prickling or burning sensation within the next 24 hours, you can wear your perfume ~THIS TIME!" Yeah, great bunch of help that would be!!'

    Not to be glib, but is this peculiar behavior you describe not what is generally known as wearing perfume? Unless you are an adherent of the Axe school of application (a huge X of fragrance from shoulder to hip, suffocating everyone in a mile radius), this spraying a dot on the arm or behind the ear is called "wearing the fragrance." If it starts to make you itch, you know what? You wash it off. You give the bottle to a friend. You maybe buy another fragrance. Tough life, isn't it.

    Anyway, the real point is that IFRA allows fragrance companies to sell their scents to face cream makers, shampoo makers, etc., clients who might be worried about customers abandoning the product due to concerns about allergies. No regulatory distinction is made between fine and functional fragrance. Diorissimo and the scent of Dove follow the same rules. And yes, it so happens that the EU has decided allergies are a major health concern (we live in blessed times). And yes it so happens that the fragrance industry is happy to eliminate natural materials from their palette and sell more aromachemicals under patent. And yes IFRA allows them to keep their ingredient lists secret as always. Everybody is happy. Except us. We want our Mitsouko. And we don't want it because we want to recreate a night on the town of some strange imaginary 1930s woman. We want to smell Mitsouko. Your argument that we can't is nonsense. Not everyone composed like Germaine Cellier, cheerfully putting in mostly bases.

    The job of a perfumer is not merely to invent. It is also, at firms intent on maintaining a serious perfume legacy, to conduct quality control on batches of product, comparing them to previous batches and to memory. Consistency is a goal, and not an insane one. Note also that there are honest reformulations, which preserve the essential form of the original, and there are botches. We deplore the botches.

    What can be done? Plenty. IFRA has a website. Contact them. Contact the firms. Make a stink (pardon the phrasing) in articles, on the Web. Be a nuisance. The industry reads these blogs. Don't go gentle into that good night.

    And P.S. you were wrong about Luca. He did offer a solution. He meant it when he said they should label these things "do not spray on skin." Some people secretly wear room sprays that smell really good. (See: the John Galliano room spray.) Why not, if it lets us have Diorissimo back?

    P.P.S. I hope you're not implying that Luca is the one angling for a job. He has one. At MIT. On a defense project. Which is why I'm unpacking boxes endlessly in Boston. And there is NO WAY on earth I am letting a single bottle of vintage perfume out of this house. Dream on, perfumistas.

  18. Tania,

    if you devoted so much energy into a comment, then by all means I must have touched chords and I thank you for your time in responding.

    Concerning labels, yes: [quote]what the label should say is "if irritation occurs, discontinue use." [unquote] See, now THIS makes a lot more sense than what was mentioned before. To that I agree! But just labelling ingredients or allergens, as you previously said, doesn't help much for all the reasons stated in my reply-post and you know that from your board days (ie.precious few stoop to checking everything on the label and most are intimidated by all the science behind it). And before you jump into imaginary conclusions, I bring the boards as proof that you and I live in the real world (I consider this a virtue) and have come to know how people operate and how they think in those issues.

    The sarcastic tone in my quote on the imaginary label requiring a patch-test (which was in response to the patch-test suggestion you brought) was not concerning perfume application though ~ you must have misundestood me or I wasn't too clear (if so, accept my apologies)~ but rather the necessary time elapsing in order to judge irritation. I mean, every single time is a calculated risk, so a patch test is not foolproof. And I'm personally perfectly all right with that! However several people do spray with abandon as you again well know from the boards.

    I agree however that the furore of the "allergies" people is exagerrated (bordering on irational) and I will again bring the discussions of the boards as evidence: how many times have we both read people advising other people who detest something to just say they have allergies to the offending perfume-wearer so they can escape the detestable fumes? This is why I said everything we say in public matters...It does, in more ways than one.

    On to IFRA.
    The scandal to me is two-fold: First that Big Boys are allowed to become members of IFRA in the first place. Talk about conflict of interest! Then I detest the practice of wanting to close the suppliers who so often are in third-world countries or they are independents who are struggling. And seeing as the Grasse producers of raw materials have been ALREADY bought by the Big Boys, well, doesn't that strike you as borderline scandalous in line of the upcoming restrictions? I think it's pretty obvious! And this is what bugs me most, deep down, ~apart from the somewhat egotistical desire to preserve what I like. That everything is engulfed in some monster Orwellian big corporation scheme. Which tells me that most of those things are predecided and predigested for us. It's not the houses, it's the manufacturing companies who are pursuing a specific end of a "sterilised" pefumery because it suits.

    I love Mitsouko just as much as the next gal, but please...even if Flechier worked on the reformulation, it just isn't the same any more for various reasons. As a historian I am all for conserving the past, but it isn't feasible always and what's more it often results in museum pieces. "We want our Mitsouko" is a phrase that creates beautiful impressions and would look great on a placard I bet (whose Louboutins would be messed up with parading it, I don't know!), but I doubt if it will bring actual results. It pains me to say so, do believe me.

    {BTW, I am indeed a wearer of the John Galliano room spray because, well, it's fabulous.}

    When talking about offering a solution I mean offering something tangible, something that can be pursued in some form of direct contact with those who take the decisions. You say: "What can be done? Plenty. IFRA has a website. Contact them. Contact the firms. Make a stink (pardon the phrasing) in articles, on the Web. Be a nuisance." If those things had been said (with emails or contacts accessible) I would never dream of saying that there's nothing offered as a suggestion. You want people to do their own homeword; but you know, people have worries, they have economic troubles, they can't go on searching for days on the Net on what can be done. They leave that to experts. And this is where it becomes a little questionable. Because who decides who is best equiped for something that requires not just expertise on the subject but also an impartiality of taste and a being-in-touch-with-reality sense.
    But anyway, I have many thoughts on perfumery art, its perceived greatness and its semiotics and how some notions are working in a pre-conceived, pre-approved way and I will devote time and space to it next week. You're welcome to comment as always, and do note that it won't be about Luca in case he thinks it might. (Copernicus called and confirmed the universe doesn't revolve around him)

    About your P.P.S: "I hope you're not implying that Luca is the one angling for a job. He has one. At MIT. On a defense project. Which is why I'm unpacking boxes endlessly in Boston. And there is NO WAY on earth I am letting a single bottle of vintage perfume out of this house. Dream on, perfumistas." >>>Might I quote: συ είπας (=you said so!)

    First, I know well enough about MIT, these things are easy to know and more info that you'd think about anyone is floating on the ether. Reconstructing/reformulating classics would be a dream project though, wouldn't it. And you know, I would have no problem whatsoever with that (in fact it'd be nice), as long as it's in the open.

    As to refusing to letting any bottle of vintage perfume from your house, denying an innuendo is almost always a bad policy, as it suggests that there was the suspicion that it might be considered truthful by some.
    And for the record, no, I didn't mean you specifically or Luca. There are a LOT of people who profit from the discontinuation/reformulation etc of fragrances to raise their prices on Ebay. It's all the law of offer and demand. ;-)

  19. Gosh! I didn't know this was such a controversial topic! Seems to be getting a bit heated around here, which is great - all that passion will surely get us somewhere.

    I'm a novice in terms of perfume history and appreciation, so I won't add to the furore. I don't like Mitsuoko so feel no loss there. I do have a bottle of L'Air du Temps and read somewhere that it bears no resemblance to the original. This has been attributed to both restrictions in the industry and cost cutting. And that is a shame, I would have loved to have a bottle of the fragrance that stopped men in their tracks!

  20. AD,

    thanks for chimming in and by all means, passion is good! (glad you see it like that and I hope it does get is somewhere).

    L'air du temps is indeed altered irrevocably. I last bought a bottle in 2002 and it was already vey much changed from my 80s juice (which had more of a carnation/eugenol and peach accord and a smidge of tuberose too). I vowed to never again buy the new...It's a shame, as it's such a symbolic fragrance for the 20th century, historically and visually speaking as well (the end of WWII, the doves of peace and love etc).
    Mitsouko is already quite altered and to me it's just not as great.
    But even if I didn't care for it personally I would have wished that its pneuma would survive, if only because that too is sumbolic of an era and so emblematic in fragrance history.
    But I doubt fume-making companies care or would really listen.

  21. I see what you mean about Mitsouko. Yes, we should be able to have access to the fragrance as the perfumer intended.

    I wonder if I can get the original L d T on eBay... ?


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