Thursday 11 August 2016

Smell The Quality

It's back, and unfortunately it's one of those terrible phrases that you hear come out of the mouths of beauty consultants all over the wold, "you can smell the quality". It seemed to have disappeared but recently it's made a return with a vengeance. Maybe it's bad training or perhaps it's a calculated approach to selling more perfumes than the neighbouring counter? Either way it's simply not true. Whether it costs £5 or £500, you cannot "smell quality". Fragrances are designed in different styles for different customers, so what is the "quality" that you actually perceive when your spray that little card in the perfume department?

The word "quality" is a difficult term to describe when it comes to fragrance. Often it seems to be confused with "quantity" as we are fed with a list of twenty ingredients that even a bloodhound would have difficulty sniffing out. An exhaustive list of ingredients does not equal "quality", merely that the company has access to lots of materials. The world "quality" is also often used as the antithesis to those "terrible synthetics". The best perfumes don't contain synthetics ... of course they don't. I've said before that synthetics are the gateway to originality, and to dismiss them out of hand is to deprive yourself of exciting new possibilities.

The word "quality" also can't be used to describe the complexity of a perfume. Some of the most simple colognes are outstanding creations and, even though they only last about sixty minutes, are an experience on the skin. A fragrance that lasts one hour or two days can be equally beautifully, so don't let time be your decider. The dreaded word "reformulation" also isn't a marker of "quality". Some fragrances are altered because of changes in ingredient regulation, some are altered to replace more expensive essences, and some are reorchestrated because of changing fashion. Whichever one of these it may be, the true decider of "quality" can deal with all three.

"Quality" in the world of fragrance sits squarely with the perfumer. It is this person that can create scents capable of exciting, relaxing, stimulating, the list goes on. When allowed to create freely the results can be astounding, but when asked to conform to "market trends" the finished fragrance can sometimes leave you feeling empty. Liz Moores, of Papillion Perfumery, said of her Tobacco Rose, "I wanted to challenge and hopefully change people's perception of rose fragrances, which sadly are associated with hand soap or old ladies." She certainly did, and that showed true "quality".

So, the next time that someone says to you to "smell the quality", remember that it's the expertise of the blending and creation that is important, not just what has gone inside the bottle.

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