Since I have been using perfumes, which is 30 years by now, I was wondering how other people decide which scent, brand to use. Basically, because – in my younger ages – those that smelled good on women I was admiring, did not fit me at all, and when I was to try something new, I had no idea where to start, and how each would fit my personality, character, etc. As I read in the magazines…
Anyway, you have no idea in your teens about your personality and character, at all. Later on, I was hooked on the newest releases of the designer brands, though fell out of love very easily then. Nowadays, using the same scent since my early thirties, it is less of a hassle for me. I am still trying new ideas, but somehow stay. This scent is growing, developing and aging with me, somehow…
I sometimes feel that we, customers are driven by ideologies, new expressions, some artificially created impressions, when it comes to the luxury industry. Of course, this is the area of the marketing kingdom, as experience, appearance, associations, exclusivity, etc. are at least as important as the product itself, if not more. What makes me smile is that being exclusive and being accessible is mentioned side-by-side in commercials, although it may seem to be a contradiction. At least in the usual, the “mainstream” world… We all would like to be different, but somehow, in the same way. This is how it is in our modern society…
Nevertheless, there is a term to live with: niche perfumes. In the meaning of being rare, more difficult to access, not necessarily found where the “mainstream+ products are sold. You have to make efforts to get to the circle. To the circle where these products are accessible. It is the part of the marketing. To feel unique. The be one of them. Once you are in, you find a different world there. Long stories behind the scents, the ingredients used, the technology, the producers, the holders, the philosophy. By choosing a scent, you also choose a community, a group of – mostly unknown – people, who associate themselves with it.
Niche perfume brands have grown in number and in the past few years, there was a significant increase in the number of stores that sell these luxury fragrances. Industry analysts reported that slowly, small niche perfume brands are stealing their market share from the £17 billion fragrance industry. As the trend continues, perfume affectionates must take time to familiarize their selves with niche perfumes, as well as the little-known facts about them.
Start with the term itself. ‘Niche’ is the term coined to describe rare types of perfumes. Niche houses would like to be, and to an extent possible, very diverse. Thus, categorizing them or defining their groups are usually difficult. Nevertheless, niche houses adhere to several basic principles in order to preserve their distinctive image – which is fundamental for them to keep distance from the designer brands (which they label, in an intentionally degrading way, as mass perfumery).
The number 1 principle of them is to have their own perfumer in charge of the fragrances of the house, just like it was in former days. The number 2 is to have a selective approach to the distribution of their products. The number 3 and last is not recognize advertising, apart from, perhaps, magazine articles and interviews in prominent media. For them, a good reputation is the best way to promote their perfumes. Well. Interesting points, although, I feel like explaining that the water is flowing and the sun is shining. Anyway, let us leaving it there for now.
Translating the aforementioned principles into simple facts: be unique, both in technology and distribution, and difficult to access, both due to the sales channels and the high price tag.
Nevertheless, the difficulty to access is only difficult for a while. Once you found a source, it will most probably be there, for some time. Not to mention the online stores, which you simply have to bookmark, and it is done. Anytime you are to replace your empty holder, buy a present or just browsing driven by your hunting instinct to acquire something new, you go there, and done. Yes, they usually come with a high price tag, but as was mentioned before, that is part of the marketing magic.
Before entering into a virtual discussion on to switch or not to switch to niche perfumes, see some interesting facts that might not be so well-known to all of you. A bit of a history.
Niche perfumes, though without the aforementioned marketing magic, were available even before designer fragrances became popular. They were used by royal families and noble people with the likes of Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth I.
Shiseido maverick art director, photographer and former Dior makeup director, Serge Lutens was instrumental in launching niche perfumes when he inaugurated his personal fragrance line in the early 1990s at Le Palais Royal, in Paris.
The year 2000 is another defining moment for niche perfumes, when Frederic Malle, a Frenchman and the grandson of Dior perfumes founder recognizes the efforts of those who work behind the limelight of niche perfume houses.
Secretion Magnifiques, launched in 2006, brings a real novelty into the niche perfumes market. It smells like blood, sweat, sperm and saliva to promote sensual pleasure, most probably with its extravagancy and op-art attitude.
Another interesting shot is Paper Passion, a typical choice for bookworms with its scent that reminds you of paper, books, and even a library.
Elizabeth I used to douse herself in perfume to mask the scent of sweat that is released whenever she had her chronic panic attacks. In 2009, an eau de toilette with a delicate scent was released. Elizabeth I comes in a bottle bearing the Queen’s signature.
The Royal Arms Diamond Edition consists of a regal bouquet of rose, jasmine and sweet violet was created to honor Queen Elizabeth II’s jubilee. It is an updated version of the fragrance created in 1926 to celebrate her birth. Six vintage crystal and diamond bottles have been made for this niche perfume and was offered for a very royal price…
The royal sweethearts, Princess Diana and Duchess Catherine have their personal favorites too. Princess Diana wore Quelques Fleurs on her wedding day, a floral creation of tuberose, jasmine and rose. Duchess Catherine, on the other hand, chose White Gardenia Petals for her wedding, which is a floral bouquet of lily, jasmine and gardenia.
Last, but not least, some “most” notes: Amouage, an ultra-exclusive niche perfume house founded by the Sultan of Oman is the most expensive fragrance line in the world in 2018; and Boudoir by Vivienne Westwood is one of the most controversial niche perfumes as it specifically has a note that resembles the scent of a woman’s private parts.
Today, the selection of niche perfumes is greater than ever covering every genre from all naturals lines, cult projects, luxurious offerings and avantgarde brands. Is it worth taking a tour there? Definitely is. Why not? It is always an experience to discover something new, even though. you know in advance that you might be lead by the circumstances, the environment, the experience, which are all the part of the marketing magic. Almost everything around us, is. If you are convinced that your identity, personality, your distinctive character or extravagancy needs an expression underlined by your scent, or you simply like unique smells, go for it. And enjoy.
I myself would add one thing though: assuming that we all are different creatures and thus have out own natural human scent, applying the same fragrances will result in a different outcome. Like having different canvases. You can paint the same color on each, you will receive a different outcome. As long as you use nice scents, such like nice colors, meaning whatever ‘nice’ means to you, you can be sure that the outcome will be unique. That is not because of the scientific background, the special ingredients, the in-house perfumers, the unique distribution channels or the artificial scarcity. It is because of you. You are the one who really makes the difference. And you always will.