Monday 12 October 2020

Credit Where Credit Is Due

The feeling of pride that we all experience when we do, or create, something special is instilled in us from childhood. However, we’re also taught the flip side of this, and that is that taking the credit for someone else’s work is wrong. The perfume industry’s history is littered with misappropriations, and we’ll never know the perfumers who created some of the world’s most famous fragrances, but it surely can’t still be happening? The short answer is yes, it does, and that was unfortunately highlighted in Too Good To Go’s latest campaign. So, let’s take a look at why the old-fashioned “credit where credit is due” is being ignored.

In 2016 Christophe Laudamiel published his Fragrance Manifesto entitled “Liberté, Egalité, Fragrancité.” Interestingly, Jo Fairley of The Perfume Society talks about it in this month’s Scented Letter, the society’s magazine, and perfectly sums it up by saying “it strives for greater inclusivity, transparency, and opportunity.” One of the recommendations that Christophe has included is “We shall publicly recognise scent heroes: scientists, botanists and authors who contribute to the development of perfumes, general olfactory knowledge and expansion.” There has never been a more important time for individuals to be praised, and I would encourage you to read the full manifesto for yourself.

Too Good To Go is also an advocate of transparency, but within the food industry. Its mission is to highlight the appalling quantities that are wasted on a daily basis, and enable its redistribution. This is an incredibly important issue, and one that I am 100% behind, so let me make it clear from the outset that my concern was with the marketing and not the company. The company's idea was to create “scratch and sniff” labels that could be attached to various foods and would demonstrate the smell to look out for if that particular product had gone bad. This meant that “best before” dates, which are often considerably conservative, could literally be taken with a pinch of salt.

The perfumer tasked with researching and creating the scents was Harry Sherwood, the founder of Artifiscent. His social media shows that he wasn’t on an anonymity contract, which is where your identity is kept secret and the company can say whatever they wish, and so this type of worldwide exposure would clearly be incredible for his career. However, the campaign video implied that attribution rested with front man, and well known perfume writer, Dariush Alavi, who said in it, “I’ve been using my lockdown downtime in my laboratory to research some of the unique notes and properties of our favourite ‘best before’ foods, and from this extensive research...”

I reached out to Too Good To Go with my concerns and, in their defence, they have edited the video to remove the contentious line of dialogue. However, at the moment, there’s still no on-screen credit for Harry Sherwood. Surely they would want to celebrate “fresh” contributors rather than fall back on a “stale” piece to camera? Two time Fragrance Foundation Award winner
Marina Barcenilla said to me, “Plagiarism is not tolerated in academia and it shouldn’t be tolerated in other environments either. As an Independent Perfumer and Educator, I find the fact that the fragrance industry allows this unethical practice distasteful and shameful.”

It was interesting that many people I contacted about the subject of correctly crediting perfumers were reticent about speaking out, fearing how they would be perceived, and definitely didn’t want to be published. However, never one to shy away from a debate, Luca Turin had very definite opinions on it. “It has taken us forty years to find out that Anne Marie Saget was behind many great Guerlain fragrances. This injustice must never happen again. Perfumers are no longer obscure, some are famous. The perfume industry is both secretive and desperate for publicity: honesty is the best cure for both.”

Photograph of Harry Sherwood © Artifiscent / All remaining photographs © Too Good To Go


  1. Very well said as always Stephan.

    1. Hello Barry, thank you for your support as always. I think that it was an article that needed to be written. Best, Stephan

  2. I asked a about Diorama in Selfridges once, and a snootily cheekboned young man told me that all these masterpieces were created by Monsieur Dior himself. He would probably have gone on to explain that they were all 100% natural, but let's save that for another day.

    1. Hello Sarah, the joys of navigating the training material. Best, Stephan