Today’s picture shows you a pretty much unmodified take of a bathroom interior, seen in Paris the other day, but it could be anywhere these days. All of us who have read the book “Le miasme et la Jonquille” by Alain Gorbet (The foul and the fragrant: Odor and the French Social Imagination, 1988) know what a large step this was, from nothingness to water toilette and from the foul to the privileged deodorization of our air.
Proudly smelling there where no man has sniffed before, we enjoy the pleasures of peach and ocean, for the price of nothing, almost, and bath in an intensity of fruits and waves that is unheard of. And, believe it or not, the scent quality is actually not much worse than the scent of a couple of things I have smelt in the same city, but for a price tag that was about 100 fold bigger. One issue there: Trickling down, of scented molecules, from the Olympic heights of lacquered treasures in Printemps, onto the Phlegraean fields of public toilette space. Trickling down is a big problem. Sooner or later, many beautiful molecules formerly used in high end perfumery end up in cheap areas, such as scent sprays. Or worse.
Another trouble, on a side note, is the use of aroma chemicals (and naturals) in food, like methyl antranilate, used to aromatise for instance grape soda: Methy lantranilate is also a key, naturally occurring, molecule, found in high concentration, in the flowers of -for instance- tuberose or orange. The flower, by the way, was there before the soda. But as the soda is so “over”aromatised, especially in the US, with methyl antranilate, modern US noses have a hard time appreciating the antranilate aspect of the real thing.
So there we go. One of the remedies for these and other troubles, when placing a new scent or line on the markets: Price. By offering products in a price range that says “luxury, rare, precious” most fragrant doubts vanish. To be honest: I am the longer the more convinced that a price tag controls the appreciation of products. In perfumery, where prices are defined mostly by distribution and by fantasy factors anyhow, and where the product is a fleeting impression, this might be even more true than in other sectors where fact based comparison is easier. The perversion of it all: Products that are affordable are often considered to be of lower quality, and of little interest to many.
So… what do you do if you want to get in there, in the profitable perfume market? Get a heavy flacon, a heavy cap, a decent box, and charge 300$ extra for these roses.