I once occupied a lab next to a US oceanographer colleague, a praeternaturally handsome and fit man in his sixties who was an insane wine buff and thought nothing of having $300 of reds (2 bottles) on the table to wash down a salade niçoise. His wife hated booze, so we had to lend a hand, no hardship at all. He was of the opinion that, contrary to popular wisdom, one could in fact tell a wine by its label, a skill which he tried to pass on to us heathens, with mixed success. With Bordeaux it was relatively easy, because the Chateau labels are essentially real estate thumbnails. With Burgundy it got more difficult, but he was still good at it. With German whites his skill bordered on the miraculous, since the labels all look like hastily made-up business cards.
I was reminded of his talents recently when smelling a series of samples from assorted niche firms, and can confidently assert the following law: perfumes that come in all-white dress are crap. I know of no exception to this rule. The latest examples were two firms that manage to combine pretentious patter with the most disappointingly banal, chemical, aggressive, pointless dreck inside the bottle. They are composed by relatively famous names in the big firms, the sorts of people who allegedly chafe at the bit to be allowed artistic freedom. If this is what they do when free, then take them back to their dungeon and halve their rations.
There are at least four possible explanations for these total failures: 1- The mainstream perfumers have by now become totally incapable of doing something interesting, and asking them to do a niche fragrance is like asking a North Korean poster artist to do Monet’s Lilies. 2- Their bosses do not allow a decent natural materials formula cost and force them to use the latest and greatest aromachemicals, which means the stuff smells brutal and awful. 3- They figured out the client was a total dope and just reached on the shelf behind them for something Burberrys had rejected a week earlier or 4-The client asked for that exact grade of pestilence.
Update: People send me emails with counterexamples. To all: in jest!
Categories: off topic