I’ll always remember when CK One first came out.
Oh boy. We weren’t super familiar with the brand in France but the ads were so amazing with all those intriguing yet rebellious New Yorkers. It was so far from the classic “sexy woman making love to a bottle of perfume” cliché that I was struck by a lightning of coolitude.
On top of that, it was a unisex scent, a totally new concept which for a tomboy teen on a quest to find her true fashion identity, it couldn’t have been more perfect. This scent was me!
All that to say that for what it’s worth, CK One could have smelled like gasoline I’d still would’ve bought it and worn it. What I wanted was just to be part of the CK One world.
It also happened that it worked way better with my teenage budget (=0 dollars) than a trip from Ajaccio to New York, and on top of that it was sold in every perfume shop right near my house at a time when in Corsica, my island, if you wanted to wear a pair of Converse, you had to import them yourself back from “the continent”.
So like, boom. Instant gratification.
The same romantic story lines happened with other perfumes at other times of my teenage life (ok, and beyond).
There was Jean-Paul Gaultier (I am fashion. I am different.), L’eau d’Issey Miyake (I am pure. I am evanescent), Obsession (I’m a woman. I like to hang out nude on an old couch)(also, I’m Kate Moss), Acqua di Gio (I love rolling around in the sand? I don’t really know)…
But after I while, it started getting old.
The first thing that bothered me were the scents.
More and more, I realized many of these fragrances all pretty much smelled the same. They all had a very particular and inexplicable note in them.
Which is actually true.
Most of these fragrances start with a base of calone or white musk, two synthetic scents used all the time in the perfume world.
I started incriminating any fragrance using synthetic ingredients – but the truth is that it’s a stupid reaction. Almost every fragrance out there – even the most classic, like Chanel N°5 contains synthetic scents. And if used well, synthetic ingredients can be the base of some marvelous perfumes.
The thing that bothered me though was the lack of originality – or better yet, the way perfumers all followed the same trends in order to avoid taking risks.
And then I became more and more irritated by all the “big launches.” Instead of continuing and deepening the story and relationship with existing perfumes, dozens of new fragrances were created each season (I’ve heard that four new perfumes come out each day), each with it’s own celebrity for good press coverage – you know the story : “[Insert the name of celebrity here], what perfume are you wearing?” “I’ve got on [Insert name of perfume] morning and night! It really speaks to me as a free, modern, and [Insert whatever adjective you want: active / passionate / sexy / artistic / adventurous] woman. I love it!”
The more I saw, the less interested I became.
Same thing with bottles, I got a little tired. I’m such a packaging junkie but a bad bottle can turn me off from a good perfume. And there are a lot of terrible bottles out there (Well ok, maybe I should add that my type of bottle is the super classic, Chanel N°5 type of bottle, so it doesn’t leave a lot of room for crazy bottles).
Of course, there are still a lot of big brand perfumes that are absolutely sublime.
But me, I was a little tired of it.
That’s when one of my life’s true loves came onto the scene, the fragrance from Comme des Garçons. It’s fantastic from every point of view: scent, bottle, and storytelling. It was also the first of the Comme des Garçons parfums which are a true revolution in the world of perfume.
Then a few years passed and I felt like a change. That’s when I discovered another one of my favorites… Acqua di Cuba by Santa Maria Novella, in Florence. I love the perfume, of course, but I was also into the whole world of the brand and “only for the initiated” (yeah, you’re right… snob) thing it had going for it.
This is the same time that I started trying out new brands of perfumes, alternatives to the giants of beauty. I looked for ones that understood that perfume is an intimate and sensual affair.
Take Byredo for example… I was in their boutique in Stockholm on Saturday. Their brand has such an inspiring identity, simple and beautiful packaging, and beautiful, sophisticated fragrances.
What’s funny though is that even though I’m a huge fan of their brand and the biggest packaging junkie you’ll find, I’ve never succeeded in making one of their perfumes my own, despite all my efforts (because really, who wouldn’t want to wear a Byredo scent? They’re so über chic (just like us, right?)! They’re created by a super cool guy too (cool like us, right?), and the perfumes have names like Gypsy Water (just like us, full of gypsitude cool, right?).
But I guess that even with my completely superficial approach to perfume, I can’t be satisfied just buying from a brand as awesome as Byredo. Byredo, can’t wait for you to come up with my ideal perfume.
And then the other day at Catbird, totally randomly, I fell all over myself for my latest scent, Poppy Rouge by D.S. & Durga.
I love the smell and that’s after buying it that I realized that I didn’t know a thing about the brand – and that the bottle, even though pretty cute (it’s the one in photo) didn’t really give my a packaging orgasm. Not even the name either. Poppy Rouge is no Gypsy Water. And that actually, the only thing I was interested in was the scent itself.
No need for a story around it, or celebrity or even initiated only story around it.
So, I asked myself :
1/ Did I finally find my personality ?
2/ Have we actually all been through the same thing?
After hours of advanced research (5mn on Google) it seems like I’m not the only one looking for something more authentic (shit, I just thought I had found my personality!)…
We’re all getting a little exhausted by perfume marketing and have stopped paying attention to it (wait, did you know that Paris Hilton has launched 14 perfumes since 2004?)(How could be miss that!!!?) and go back to classics or smaller brands. We don’t want to smell the same thing as our neighbor or anything super recognizable (Angel from Thierry Mugler anyone?) but prefer something that feels really intimate and personal.
Did you feel that shift? Did you change perfumes? Did you find your personality ^^? Or are you still excited by big perfume launches?
* What I didn’t know at the time was how inspired they’d been by Andy Warhol’s Factory photos , ooooh even cooolllleer!!!
** After looking, it seems that all Durga scents are created in house, in small batches with premium sourced raw materials, and made in Brooklyn. Woooaaaa, natural AND hipstery without even thinking of it!! (All right, easy if you go to Catbird – they know what they’re doing).