Skip to main content

Nose-to-Nose – Wither Niche perfumery? – February 11, 2015


Gwen:    I just read an article in Monday’s Globe and Mail about change in the perfume industry. The writer quotes one of our favourite new niche perfumers, Bruno Fazzolari:

“Niche fragrances such as his, Fazzolari says, have been catching on fast with the public because the makers of more commercial perfumes are getting it all wrong. “Scent is so deeply connected to our lives in really beautiful ways and the [mainstream] perfume industry has dumbed it down,” he sighs. “People have much more complex relationships with it.”

Kay:     Wow! That’s pretty condemning of mainstream frags.

Gwen:    So, you know how mainstream frags have reacted? The big brands like Lauder and Puig bought some of the renowned niche brands, like Frederic Malle, Le Labo, Penhaligons, L’Artisan Parfumeur.

Kay:       Ah, that’s why some blogs have been heralding the death of niche perfumery.

Gwen:    Do you think niche perfumery is dead?

Kay:        That's not the death of niche, that's just niche brands growing up, maturing....starting to wear makeup and go on dates. So a few niche brands are married now. I just hope they've married well.

Gwen:     Yeah, I tend to agree. I mean, there will be some changes for sure, but they won’t all be bad.

Kay:        I agree. We know to expect more marketing researc, and less creative control, and a firmer bottom line.

Gwen:     But it also can mean wider distribution and accessibility, access to better ingredients, and the grooming of new talent. And, besides, there a new niche perfumeries born every day, some with very creative partnerships. Like J. Crew and Carlos Huber from Arquiste.

Kay:       I absolutely agree, especially about the creative part. I mean, look at what some of the new niche brands, like Stella McCartney at 4160 Tuesdays, Josh Lobb at Imaginary Authors – how they’re using creative writing to inspire their fabulous scents so that our experience of the scents is amplified by their stories and ideas. And Bruno Fazzolari – he’s a graphic artist, so he ties his scents to his art pieces, and presents them alongside his paintings in galleries.

Gwen:    That’s right. There are plenty of people out there – plus the two of us right here - who feel the same way Bruno Fazzolari does:

“Mass-market perfumery has created a lot of expectations about how perfume should be; small perfumers operate according to different rules,” he says. “That’s a big part of what attracts me to this – the democratic nature of it, then how it changes the concept of what’s original. There’s something kind subversive about that.”

Kay:       Subversive – the perfect description for an artist. Challenges how people think, see, hear…and smell.

Gwen:     Well, we’re always up for a good challenge.

Read our post about Bruno Fazzolari’s Lampblack fragrance here, and see the painting that inspired it. And read about the frags created for J.Crew by Arquiste.