The Luxury of Smelling Yourself

Perfumes are an intimate expression of you. it's like a second skin. Then why do people still run behind the 'brand'? There are ways to get your own unique smell...

By: Véronique Polès, Luxury and Fashion Consultant

Posted on: February 10, 2011

Perfumes are an intimate expression of you. It’s like a second skin. Then why do people still run behind the ‘brand’. There are ways to get your own unique smell…

Out of all the five senses, the sense of smell is probably the most magical. If you organize a blind test for a new born baby, he will instantly recognize his mother out of a group of women, because of her unique smell – a smell he has memorized… In fact some of our old relationships are still inked in our memory because of a certain smell we associate it with.

The novel ‘Perfume’ by Patrick Suskind is the perfect example of what the power of scent, or the lack of it, can drive you to do! In the book, the protagonist Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, born with a superior olfactory sense, is obsessed by the smell of some women, and based on those smells he wants to create the world’s finest perfume…

In a world, where we are always surrounded by globalization and commercialism, and when more than 600 perfumes are launched per year, we are losing the control of being ourselves. We don’t realize and respect the fact that we are unique, and we have the right to express individuality and not ‘goat trends’ - not follow the dictate of some marketers.

Why, when a perfume is launched with an aggressive advertisement campaign, we suddenly find that all the women smell the same at the same time? Why not have a perfume which ensures your personality and lifestyle?

Slowly, nowadays some people are getting tired of marketers’ decisions influencing their choices and tastes. They want more distinctive products and are willing to pay a little bit more to experience something unique by choosing their own perfume among niche perfumes.

Just hearing the word ‘niche perfume’ is magical… Serge Lutens pioneered this concept and art with his fragrances which smell of real things and evoke true emotions in you… He is a visionary who inspired so many, even international luxury companies, when he started his niche house, making perfumes for a small segment. In earlier days, he worked with brands like Dior and Chanel and created make-up for them. It’s only when he started working for Shiseido that he started making perfumes, which later evolved into his own boutique business as well.

Niche perfumes, also named alternative brand perfumes, are perfect for those who want a fragrance or perfume that no one else has…It’s the ideal way to have an intimate scent out of the norm - an exclusive, a rare perfume, a signature scent.

Niche perfume houses don’t have the stress of figures. They don’t have the goal of selling as much as possible. They are not concerned by advertisements. Niche perfumes are like ‘haute couture’ perfume and they are a little secret you can hide on your skin…

Niche perfumes are actually true luxury. Not only for those who wear the unique fragrance, but also for those who create it. Perfume-making is ancestral know-how and craft activity using special formulas…almost like wine-making, but probably more complex and more special for the maker and wearer.

When we enter the world of niche houses, we are entering the world of art, creation, passion…where the starting point, will not be a marketing brief but an intensive work of  research… where the core will be ‘le jus’ as we say in French!

Usually, the Artist Perfumer goes on an obsessional search around the world for the best ingredients - some rare and forgotten. The passion with which the perfumers search, select and create the fragrances has no limits - which can explain the price of niche perfumes, sometimes 50 per cent more than the price of a mass produced perfume.

The magical formula of creating these niche fragrances is very often complicated and from ancestral secrets sometimes. It includes hours and hours of combining the ingredients in such a way that the result will be uncommon and surprising. Such fragrances usually end up inspiring other ‘noses’ in the market as well!

For example, Serge Lutens perfume ‘Ambre Sultan’, which gave rebirth to amber in the perfumery business, became a part of the formula of several fragrances in the mass production market as well.

Niche perfumeries only sell to a limited clientele, and their reputation is made by word of mouth. They have a limited range, a selective, or even an ultra-selective distribution, sometimes in their own exclusive stores, with a specific design and highly trained people.

Nowadays, several types of alternative brand perfumes are available, with different offers and different channels of distribution. Even brands like Hermès with Hermessence, (170€, 100ml), Chanel with ‘Les Exclusifs de Chanel’ (200€, 200ml), and Armani with ‘Armani Privé’ (185€ 50ml), are in the arena offering hyper-luxe perfumes.

Creating niche perfumes is a successful concept and is growing every year as a new trend. In Europe, niche perfumery represents 1.32 per cent of the global beauty business which is estimated to be 6,700,000 millions of Euros. Prospective figures speak then about a market of almost 89,000 millions of Euros…

Every year new niche perfumes are launched. Some niches houses worth their nose are Annick Goutal, L’ Artisan Parfumeur, Acqua Di Parma, Serge Lutens, Diptyque, Creed and so on....

Each niche house has its own story… Today, discover one of them – Sahlini, as created by Céline Martin. Read her exclusive interview for LuxuryFacts in the Sensory Indulgence section.

Learning the art of perfumes is a journey, which never ends. As you go through life, you discover more scents and sensations. Capturing them in that one tiny bottle is not easy, but is certainly rewarding when you see someone rejoicing in their ‘own’ smell… And for us, the consumers, getting that one fragrance tailor-made is the ultimate in indulgence…It gives you back control over YOU!

Veronique Poles is a freelance fashion and luxury consultant based inMumbai, with more than 15 years of extensive experience with luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Givenchy and Waterman/Gillete Pen Company just to mention a few. Bespoke creations, however, are her first love. For LuxuryFacts, she unveils some of the best kept secrets in the sphere of ‘word of mouth landmarks’ for connoisseurs of products with substance. They are greatest creations made by artisans of excellence and guardians of tradition, who work with passion for detail and quality to make your dreams come true.

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