I have tired of saying it: we're experiencing the end of niche. Niche was a marketing tool to grow companies and then sell them to the highest bidder. The sale of Editions de Frederic Malle and Le Labo last autumn to the Lauder Group is followed by the sale of British traditional house Penhaligon's (established in 1870 as they boast) and of French artsie proto-niche (well, at least when it was founded by Jean Laporte in the late 1970s) L'Artisan Parfumeur to the Spanish group of Puig.
|Jenner Studio photo via archdaily|
Puig is at least no LVMH....They do nevertheless cater to a more mainstream perfume portfolio: Carolina Herrera, Prada, Paco Rabanne, Valentino....but also Comme des Garcons, which is anything but conventional in their fragrances.
Two years ago I was complaining on L'Artisan Parfumeur losing the grip on niche. In fact actively seeking to distance itself from the Jean Laporte, Olivia Giacobetti, Anne Flipo and Jean Ellena past. They were commissioning hundreds (or so it seemed, at least) new fragrances on Bertrand Duchaufour and seemed to branch out. Now it's evident even to the most well-meaning why that was.
Penhaligon's (funnily enough employing the same indie perfumeur, the Mitsotakis of niche apparently) was following a similar trajectory, a markedly different business model than its small shop cutesy of its long past.
All the same it's another tombstone on niche perfumery. How much longer will Serge Lutens withhold after having bought his rights for handling his name from the Japanese giant Shiseido?