Sunday, February 10, 2013

Trouble with the Curve - PART TWO

If you haven't read part one yet, click HERE, before reading part two.

"Just as curveballs, perfumes create illusions. Perfumers combine chemical or natural ingredients to create olfactory representations, and this is what it makes them so special".

Obs.: Understanding here the term illusion as something that contains an olfactory awareness, it contains a sensorial abstract quality (effluvia), but no tangible or visual quality. Also understand the term illusion as a distortion of reality - as an example - a rose perfume does not represent an actual rose, but a illusion of a rose, an interpretation.

If perfumers are like baseball pitchers, what seems to be the Trouble with the Curve?

I have been hearing in the blogosphere, perfume forums, perfume groups or even outside the internet universe, things like "I am going to develop my perfume line", or "I bought a kit of scents and I am making perfumes", " I just finished a perfume making workshop and I will send you my perfume", or even things like "I know that if I would have the ingredients, I am sure that I could make better perfumes than the ones they sell today"...etc, etc...Perfume bloggers, perfume enthusiasts, perfume critics started to be adventurous and are developing fragrances. 

Fact is, that with a developed sensibility and some knowledge of scents everyone could end up with nice, let's say "vetiver, incense or rose perfume".  And they can eventually end up selling well, and the brand become the next hip indie. No doubt about it,  I have reviewed a few here. But the bitter truth is that their perfumes will enter only to the little league category, and with time and some luck (or with the help of good reviews) get even to the Minor League. That means that these so called "self-tought" perfumers will learn how to pitch fastballs and off- speeds, but they won't have what it takes to pitch a curveball. They will not have the ability to create a classic, or an iconic fragrance. They will not be able to create illusions, but only perfumes that smell nice.
The Trouble with the Curve is that it needs trainning. Proper professional training. One does not pitch a curveball simply because it has a "good hand for baseball".
It takes time to learn the perfumer's profession. A couple of years of technical education (as in a degree in chemistry and a post graduation in perfumery - such as Isipca maybe); years of training ( of actually working in a lab to become a master perfumer);and a sensorial inner journey called experience of learning how to translate emotions, sensations and imaginary hedonic values into fragrances.

It takes a lot of training in the baseball field to get to the professional league and become, per say, a pitcher of the NY Yankees, or Dodger's (you name your favorite team)! 

So don't get me wrong here. I am not saying that these perfumistas should leave the perfume making business because they are not good enough. I am saying something else: You have already the interest and the money to actually make a difference in the perfume industry, so go get your master in perfumery. Go learn how to pitch a curveball! We want to see you in the field pitching for the Yankees! 

The second Trouble with the Curve is that, in perfumery, training is not the only necessary condition to create great fragrances. If the market is a baseball field, we haven't been seeing a lot of creative players these days.
Perfumes classics or hits have been slightly changed and named differently. Perfumes became very ephemeral, like fashion trends. As an example, lets take one of the latest trends in perfumery: oud. 1000s of brands ran to their perfumers to create the newest OUD fragrance.  Oud this, Oud many Oud fragrances were really creative compositions that could enter to the "Baseball Hall of Fame"? Name one fragrance where OUD was the essential component to translate or represent an outstanding illusion?
I leave you to answer that until the next game...


Unknown said...

I love your post and your point: as most artists already know a great talent is the kiss of death of every aspiring artist. Less talented artists who know that practice and research are the prize you have to pay for creation will eventually go a lot farther than the super talented artist who doesn't have to try.

My only concern is that the market does not need classics any more. If Guerlain is throwing flankers like a training machine and perfumes like Idylle and Pour Homme (not bad but definitely destined for oblivion) is there really a need for classics? Just asking :)

+ Q Perfume Blog said...

But what about "Classic" as a term for a "once in a life time fragrance"? Not a fragrance that comes with 100s of flankers. One that will stand out for marking a new trend, a new way to compose, a new way to express oneself?
I don't know if we need classics or if a roll of nice fragrances will do the trick. But I was always a "less is more" kind of I would prefer to see less launches and more quality...

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