Though this whole ordeal happened long before I started collecting perfumes, it is a subject that is still brought up, with much contempt I might add, by the veteran perfumistas on a very regular basis. I am a relative ‘newbie’ to the game, and that really plays a large part in my opinion, but I guess I don’t really care as much. I realize that the more things change, the more things stay the same. Except ingredients and materials when regulated by the IFRA, but we’ll get to that soon enough.
Guerlain is one of the oldest perfume houses around. They were real trailblazers in the perfume industry and created many iconic fragrances, some of which are still around to this day, like Shalimar and Mitsouko. They’ve been known as leaders in the industry for many years, but to many, LPRB, Insolence, and all the flankers, plus several other “new” creations, represent Guerlain selling out their originality, quality, and innovation, to jump on the bandwagon of cheap, sweet, super synthetic sugar bombs for mass market appeal and profit. And they blame LVMH and hate Guerlain for it.
I believe that, since we as consumers enjoy a very free market, the demand dictates the supply and if Guerlain wants to stay in business they must be competitive in the industry. LVMH has proven itself again and again, that they know what they’re doing and have many successful luxury brands under their belt to show for it.
I feel somewhat in the middle here though. While I do understand and empathize with what they are doing from a business standpoint, I love the old classics and cringe at the thought of their demise. But if people aren’t buying enough of the classics, they’ll go under. And people obviously are not, so they MUST offer something affordable, with mass appeal in order to survive. Add to that the ever growing restrictions the IFRA places on their table, and that complicates matters even further.
I know, I know: there are many niche companies out there that aren’t considered sell outs because they do not participate in mass marketing and they survive just fine. But they are relatively new companies and small in comparison. Guerlain was a huge company before being bought out. And these new niche brands do not have to follow IFRA guidelines if they aren’t producing in mass quantities, or so I was told first hand by a well known Italian nose in the Niche industry.
If the niche companies grow to that size and take on that much overhead, but then, in 100 years people stop buying their ‘old classics’, they will go out of business too if they don’t produce the kind of fragrances that are in demand. Period. That’s how markets work. It’s business and ‘the invisible hand’. Get over it.
Just because something is amazing art, that doesn’t mean it going to sell. And if it does sell, the price will be whatever people are willing to pay for it. If it’s too expensive, it’s unattainable. If it’s too inexpensive, people won’t trust the quality, will think of it as ‘cheap’, or dislike it’s lack of exclusivity. It’s the whole concept of a price point.
Personally, I think creating these new perfumes are a great way to introduce the classics to the younger crowd. For example, I didn’t like Shalimar when I first tried it but loved the Soufflé. After a few years it actually primed my nose and now I love classic Shalimar! If it had not been for that flanker I probably wouldn’t have persued the original.
There is also some disgust over the Les Parisiennes line as well, claiming that they are watered down versions of classic or vaulted fragrances. For example, L’ Huere de Nuit is watered down L’ Huere Bleue in a bee bottle with its color changed. Ok maybe it’s true to a certain degree, but if people are willing to buy it, I guess there’s a sucker born every minute lol. I know my Mon Precieux Nectar is parfum strength and well worth the price. But as of now, it’s the only bottle from the collection I own. But I do know that many perfumes were diluted in order to comply with the IFRA regulations. If you are a veteran in the game, I can feel your eyes rolling from here 😛.
Romans used to add lead to their wine to sweeten it. People during the 18th and 19th centuries dyed their curtains and dress fabrics with Paris Green, and even though it’s been banned in certain industries, cadmium, to this day, is still found in childrens toys and jewelry, especially products coming from China. People in the past weren’t aware of how dangerous and poisonious these chemicals were because they don’t affect you immediately. But over time they can kill you. If the IFRA is making perfumes safer, then I am all for it.
I use perfumes all day everyday. I spray them directly on my skin as well as clothes. I do not want them to make me sick. Just because it’s “always been done that way” doesn’t make it the best way. I’d much rather have a safe product that’s lighter than something that will eventually give me cancer or kidney failure. And if Guerlain has to prostitute itself to survive, then I’d still rather support the strumpet than to watch her shrivel up and die.
Bottom line: if people didn’t want what LVMH has to sell, they wouldn’t still be in business and the companies they’ve taken over would have all shriveled up and died away instead of massively growing like they have. So if they have to reformulate to make their products safer and create new products to maintain a competitive edge, then more power to them I say.