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A few days ago a dear friend, Anna Maria has come to visit me, and we spent a wonderful afternoon (of which I will write better in a few days). She pulled me into a discussion appeared in various news sites and blogs last summer, which I had overlooked the implications of. In these days I could stop from searching the web for more information, and now I am furious and frustrated. You all know that one of the best ways to learn how perfumes are built, relies in the study of vintage frags. Ebay the (almost) only place where you can buy vintage perfumes, French sellers are the best equipped with every kind of goodie. They just rummage their attics... And so, in a few years, thousands of people around the world participate in the auctions by eBay.fr; they win, wear vintage perfumes and then speak about them on their sites, blogs, forums. It became public knowledge that the most famous vintage perfumes (from houses like Caron, Dior, Guerlain, Patou, Ricci, Lanvin, and others) have undergone manipulations which have transfigured them completely, and today their splendor is not nothing but a pale reflection, plus a glorious name. Why do companies have dismantled the old glories? For money: some raw materials cost a lot, and companies prefer to save as much as possible on ingredients, using cheaper ones, rather than those originally designed by the creator. The new scent, of course, is very different, but the name remains the same (I call this fraud, but since there is no copyright law on fragrance, it is only my humble opinion). The transformation of fragrances was happening in silence: companies have always been very secretive about their diamonds becoming simpler Swarowski, and are still resolutely denying that their fragrances are changed. In fact anyone may test it to be true, you don’t need to be a professional perfumer: just spray and smell. Moreover, who has been wearing perfume for several years cannot fail to notice the difference...
At some point, forums blew up with hundreds of posts all on the same topic all over the world (the blog by Luca Turin was one of the first to talk about it), causing controversy. A serious drop in image, and certainly some (small) financial fail. Well, LVMH, a French powerful economic colossus (champagne, perfume, leather goods) which also owns Guerlain, Dior, Givenchy, Kenzo and others, counterattacked, and obtained from the French court that on eBay France is no longer possible to sell any product from LVMH, and that French sellers can not do it even on foreign sites (!). That is, if you purchase or someone gives you one of their products (handbags, perfumes, etc..), you are obliged to kep it forever. Among other things, it sounds as a limitation of the property right! LVMH has justified its action against eBay as an attempt to stop the sale of counterfeit goods, causing losses in earnings. It’s true, on Ebay, you can cheat and the team of Ebay is not particularly careful to what passes on their platform. Buying is a risk and we know that very well, but at least for the perfume the real thing is different. To be able to sniff perfumes that carry the same name but with different fragrances raises questions, concerns and embarrassment. In particular, it leads people to ask: "But what happened? Why the perfume I bought at Sephora is not as good as the one in my mother’s drawer? I’d like this more, and I won’t buy what Sephora sells under the same name". LVMH was in the need to find a way to inhibit comparisons, exchanges, evaluations, and in fact part of this measure aims just at stopping fragrance comparisons. It says (my translation): "As for the marks Perfumes Kenzo, Guerlain, Dior and Givenchy, it is also prohibited the sale of legitimate perfumes (i.e. not fake) on ANY SITE WORLDWIDE which may be accessible from France, because the sale of these goods must be made exclusively from licensees in the LVMH chain (perfume shops and department stores such as Sephora, which is owned by them, and this is my addition)”. Perfume addicted like us, who have the misfortune to live in France, can no longer access the auction of perfumes, nowhere in the world, either as sellers or as buyers. By this measure LVMH has secured two things:
- 1 worldwide protectionism of their products;
- 2 the impossibility for consumers, to verify when and how fragrances change, and then ask LVMH account for their decisions.
It seems that L'Oreal (which owns Lancome, YSL, Victor & Rolf, Ralph Lauren, Vanderbilt, Cacharel, Armani, Guy Laroche, Helena Rubinstein), has already initiated proceedings against Ebay for the same reason. Clearly, they saw that the trick works.
I will speak again about this, because there was not enough space to discuss the role of IFRA in all this matter ...