5 ottobre 2009

IFRA and its influence on today's fragrances 2/3

this post originates here
It was therefore necessary to find a convincing, acceptable way to avoid their usage: moving the question to an alleged risk to the consumer is always the best and most convincing justification af all. A genuine concern for the health of customers is more than legitimate and honours those who spend money to assure safety to their products, but you must consider that the quantities of ingredients used in fragrances are really infinitesimal. The risk is not to die poisoned by a drop of fatal elixir but, in allergic individuals, to notice a slight redness on the wrist, possibly a itching or, in extremely rare cases, an allergic reaction. When peeling an orange, the amount of limonene dropping on our hands is dozens, hundreds of times higher than a bottle of perfume may ever contain, as well as the content of linalool in lavender flowers we carelessly handle in the garden! Despite the recommendations don't include vintage fragrances (which could then remain as they used to be) but only those created today, IFRA's recommendations still offered a good excuse to remove or restrict the most valuable raw materials even from great classics. Some of the prohibited ones have no synthetic counterpart to be used in their place, risulting in fragrances markedly different than the originals. Formulas originally built for natural notes must be heavily revised in order not to lose their charm, simply replacing the jasmine absolute with a synthetic molecule or base smelling "almost like" is not enough, because this new molecule or base will interact with very other element, differently from how the removed jasmine used to do. The formula should be radically re-thought, with high costs and often unpredictable results. If we think that sometimes in the same scent 3, 4, 5 key raw materials have been replaced, it's easy to understand how today, the historical names are associated with completely different formulas. Few great classics maintained expensive formulas: until recently among them there were No.5 and No.19 by Chanel, whose formulas used to cost several hundred dollars per kilo because they included particularly precious naturals like jasmine and rose, grown in southern France specifically for Chanel. Since Chanel decided to shorten investments in the expensive jasmine from Grasse, this has been reported as toxic by IFRA and its usage, limited. Historical formulas are likely to disappear under our nose, and they who loved Chanel No.5 are likely to remain bound to memory only, because there is no natural substitute that can match. T
here is an illuminating Reuters article here (thanks to Octavian who posted it in his blog 1000Fragrances).
Smells, for their ability to impress in the memory of individuals are like keys that open doors, behind which are the emotions. If you get the right smell, the door opens and the memory, emotion, pops up. The problem is that in the presence of a composition even slightly different, the mental "click" doesn't come, the scent will not be recognized by the nervous system as "the one" and all the expectations, memories and experiences of pleasure connected with it ale left suspended, generating frustration and a sense of loss. And when I spend tens and tens of euros to buy a bottle, the feeling that I'm being deceived is intense.
As Luca Turin has pointed out in his blog years ago, it could possible to act otherwise: for example togehter with the modernized version in line with IFRA recommendations, companies could produce a few thousand bottles of the original formula, labelled "contains essential oil of bergamot" to be sold to nostalgic lovers and students of perfumery. Or it would be possible to change the EDT and EDP, vastly higher market demand, keeping the extrait in its original formula. We could enjoy both the classics and the moderns. But, unfortunately it was decided to remove what was there and the Louvre of fragrances today presents sad polaroid shots instead of the grandiose Raphael and Leonardo of some decades ago.

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