Monday Question – What Would You Do Differently In The Perfume Industry?

Imagine you get to be creative director of a perfume brand of your choice – which one would it be?

How would you overhaul this brand?

What would you do differently?

In which direction would you go?

What are your plans for the next two years?

My Answer:

I would want to be creative director of Guerlain. And – this is fantasy, remember – I would have total creative freedom from LVMH and their corporate pressure.

I would want to try to take Guerlain back to its days of glory. I would stop catering to the mall folks and concentrate on pleasing my main audience, the perfume connoisseurs, the lovers of classic perfumery, the niche loving people. I would hire an in-house perfumer to take things in hand, to give Guerlain a unified stable of perfumes based on the great treasures they already have in their archives and build on that. There would be one or two releases a year at most, but those would be big affairs. Must-attend high-class events at Versailles or the Parisian Opera House.

Who would be a great Guerlain perfumer? I could imagine Maurice Roucel working for Guerlain. He has that sense of opulence and the grand sweep. He could create masterpieces in a style that suits him, at least in my humble opinion.

I can’t wait to read your answers. There is so much creative potential among the lovers of perfume, let us harness that today and put our ideas in writing!

About Olfactoria

I'm on a journey through the world of fragrance - come with me!
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47 Responses to Monday Question – What Would You Do Differently In The Perfume Industry?

  1. Liam J Moore says:

    Gosh that’s an almost too hard to answer kind of question! I’m not sure which brand/house I could choose… Maybe at a push I’d say Byredo or ELdO. Both are fascinating houses enough as they are. Both are kind of odd-balls from the traditional main-stream affair. And both are quirky enough and brave enough to push new boundaries. If I were CD of either, I’d explore this territory more and open up the possibilities of a 99% perfumer creative freedom atmosphere.

    Within two years I’d hope to still remain leftfield, not mainstream and perhaps add a few more concept stores here and there.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Thanks for answering it anyway!
      In my mind you are a perfect fit for Byredo, which is kind of underrated/underappreciated in the blogging world. You would certainly do interesting things with it. Would you like to work in the industry or are you glad to be on the consumer side only? (That is what I ask myself all the time. 😉 )

  2. lady jane grey says:

    I take the question on the easy side : my choice is Ormond Jayne (I also considered Aftelier as well…) – and wouldn’t change anything 🙂
    I’d definitely would try to avoid parfum inflation : O.J. is a small company, so there would be only one new sent every year, or every second one. But that one would be very special. It’s clear, everybody wants to make more turnover – but I’d keep the limited avalability, in order to make the line precious and interesting (people are strange : they crave most what they can’t get easily…).
    I’d keep close contact with my fans : via blog, plus a representative meeting once a year on a high educational level (nothing popular & mainstream).

  3. Gisela says:

    May I join you at Guerlain? There is so much to do, you definitely would need help… 😉

    • Olfactoria says:

      Sure, Gisela! Lots to do… 🙂

      • vanessa says:

        Count me in! I will be the brand manager charged with reviving the recently axed Plus Que Jamais, and for mischief may rename it Pas Plus Jamais! : – ) In fairness, the last time I was a brand manager it was of coleslaw and potato salad, but I am a fast learner, and as Gisela and Angela say, you’ll need help. Plus we will regularly get to slide down the banister of that gorgeous golden staircase…

        • Olfactoria says:

          You crack me up, V! The image of the four of us sliding whooping down the banister in the hallowed halls of the Maison Guerlain… 😀
          Pas plus Jamais will be a bestseller if we have anything to do with it!

        • Marie says:

          Nothing wrong with coleslaw and potato salad – au contraire! 🙂

  4. angie Cox says:

    Gosh Birgit you just posted my answer. It seems many of us see Guerlain as it is now as a tragedy.

  5. Marla says:

    I’d like to see Patou reclaimed from Proctor and Gamble! I don’t think that was a good corporate marriage at all. Does Patou even exist today??

  6. Tara says:

    Great answer to your own queston, B! I second every word.

    I’d give Dior a major shake-up by commissioning the restoration of their classics – Diorella, Miss Dior, Diorama and Diorling. The resurrection of the last two was so badly done and the reformulation of the first two makes them increasingly unrecognisable. I know perfume houses are businesses and all they care about is making money, but surely lowering the quality of your greatest products/assets does not make good business sense in the long-run? They are sure to lose sales and reputation over the long-term, even it’s just among us perfume junkies initially, it’s sure to have a knock-on affect. We may make up a small percentage of their buyers but we sure spend more than most! I just can’t help thinking they’re being short-sighted, even if they don’t see perfume as art the way we do.

    Having complained about the oldies I will say that I have recently fallen for Bois D’Argent, Ambre Nuit and Eau Noire in a big way so I’d order 50ml sizes as well as parfum versions of those immediately!

    • Marie says:

      I’d love to assist you in restoring Dior – that would be my choice as well and I couldn’t have put it better than you do!

    • Olfactoria says:

      Dior needs you, Tara! 🙂
      What you say about business vs. art is so true, I think we have seen that only having money as the sole focus is not the way to long-term success.
      And please think about parfum versions of Mitzah and Milly-la-Foret. 😉

    • Tarleisio says:

      And if you do restore Dior, please, Tara, bring back the glory that was Dioressence, my all-time, favorite, favorite Dior! That lovely drrty girl has been gentrified and cleaned up and made over – not in a good way! I’ll happily take one of everything, please! 🙂

  7. deeHowe says:

    Wow, you all are brave! When I read this weeks question, I thought, “There’s a job I DON’T want!” I would love to work as a perfumer, but creative direction? Nope, no thank you 😉

    I’ve loved reading all of your responses though!!

  8. Cerise says:

    I completely agree with everything you said. And the first Guerlain masterpiece I would bring back would be Parure.

  9. malsnano86 says:

    Ooh, ooh, ooh!!! I want to work at Parfums de Nicolai.

    I’d axe about a third of the lineup (mostly the riffs on cologne that seem to smell very much the same to me), find a reliable bottle source that can replicate the curved-shoulder shape of the small 30ml bottles they’re currently using, in a larger/taller size (because I love the shape of the small bottles, so different from those silly ball-topped things), use better-quality labels, upgrade the website, and do some serious courting of perfumistas, via the fragrance forums and blogs.

    It would be fun to do the tweaks that I think would bring PdN from underrated niche company to Serious Player on the Fragrance Field. It wouldn’t be quite the job that CD for Guerlain would be… but it would be a respectful update of a brand that I appreciate very much and would like to see make more headway in the industry.

    This would like

  10. Tarleisio says:

    There was once a saying in Paris…One is either a Caron duchess or a Guerlain courtesan…well, I’m a …duchess-with-questionable-past…LOL!

    I truly applaud all everyone is doing for Etat Libre, Dior and especially Guerlain, who are, in my view, going to hell in a hand cart…

    But of all the great houses, I’d like to revamp Caron, I think. It’s high time for a little renewal for Caron, because they have been resting rather too well on the laurels of their distinguished past, and they’re getting rather…dusty/rusty/fuddy-duddy. Better branding and better distribution, free delivery worldwide on urn edition extraits, restoring Bellodgia, Pois de Senteurs, Narcisse Noir, Blanc and N’Aimez Que Moi with better advertising and no woman UNDER thirty allowed as the face of any perfume campaign…which would be as classy as Caron has always been, but with a little less…gravitas, maybe? A touch of irreverence? A little…’epater des bourgeoises!’, a little French ooh-la-la…I’d start by redesigning those EdP and EdT bottles, whose sprayers break all too easily…and then…

    Heritage is a glorious thing. Caron gave this world so many glorious perfumes. But that was then and this is now, and how many have even heard of Caron any more?

    That’s where I come in, I think…;) Or so I can dream!

  11. JoanElaine says:

    Imagine you get to be creative director of a perfume brand of your choice – which one would it be?

    I would put a stop to Coty’s celeb frag bad habit and invest the cash into creating “new classics”. I don’t think the “old” classics could be properly re-released because of IFRA guidelines (re: oakmoss etc..). Sigh…

  12. Holy hell, lady, you come up with the toughest questions sometimes! Your brain must work in overdrive 24 hours a day.

    My choice isn’t an obvious one, it’s Comme des Garcons. I would pick them because they already have such a great design aesthetic and have a ton of great perfumes in the arsenal, but if I could be queen for a day (or forever), I’d push them. They were prolific not so long ago, and I’d like to see them put a couple of perfumes out a year, at least. There hasn’t been anything since Wonderwood, and honestly, that feels like awhile ago. They need concepts sharpened, envelopes pushed, and greater inspiration. In my opinion, they are one of the greatest modern perfume houses, and I want them to stay great. I look at Le Labo, so tight conceptually, and think that CdG can get there (or, go back there, as the case may be). The first thing I would have them do is create a line of perfumes built around the idea of different wild animals. 🙂

    • deeHowe says:

      Sitting here, thinking to myself, “which wild animal do I want to smell like?”, the line from the Birthday song enters my brain: “you look like a monkey, and you smell like one too!”


    • Olfactoria says:

      Nah, it is not so bad with my brain, I only use it a few hours a day… 😉
      Comme des Garcons, perfect!!! I like the line in principle, but somehow I am always deterred to get really into it. With you at the helm it would flourish in the right direction for sure!
      Wild animals, wow, hopefully someone sees that idea and takes it up, hopefully they also ask for your help in realizing it. 🙂

    • Marie says:

      I like you idea about wild animals. I’ve been thinking about the writer Karen Blixen (also know as Isak Dinesen outside Denmark; Out of Africa) who was, I believe, likened to a lioness. And there are probably other grand ladies of the past and the present who would make excellent sources of inspiration for your new line of fragrances named after wild animals. Those would be bold and beautiful perfumes!

  13. I would like to see Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier market some new fragrances. It’s been ages since Bois de Turquie….
    I believe the style of Marc Antoine Cortichiato could work very well with the quirky classic profile of the house.
    I would like to see new fragrances based on notes that I believe go very well with the old world style, like immortelle, gardenia, jasmin and I would raid the cellars of the house to find a bottle of the mythical oud based Soir d’ Orient.
    But most of all I would reinstate Route du Vetiver to its pre-reformulation dark, suave glory.

    • Olfactoria says:

      You are right, it is very quiet at MPG. It is a great idea to gently restore it to its former glory.
      And your beloved Route du Vetiver – I loved your review of it.

  14. Undina says:

    I’m too late to the poll, all good (?) companies are taken already… Can I overhaul IFRA then? Pleeease… I will be very reasonable! There will be a choice – not to include those ingredients that are considered “bad” AND clearly state it on the label which were excluded because of my, IFRA’s, recommendations OR to include whatever perfumers want (well, within the reason, we won’t consider rat poison and such) AND clearly state on the label potential allergens. Also, I would lobby for including production date on each bottle. And a mandatory disclosure of the fact of re-formulation (for any reason) – I do not want to be guessing why the next bottle of the perfume I liked doesn’t smell the same. And I do not want people to automatically assume it is my, IFRA’s, fault.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Perfect! Our woman in the IFRA!
      It would be wonderful to have a perfumista leading that organization, someone who loves perfume would know what to do.

  15. Pingback: Perfume – Making Sense of Scents – new BBC Four Series « Random Musings in Cyberspace

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