10 maggio 2012

Perfume ads and sad reflections

Today I happened to find a copy of a women's magazine dating 1989. Judging from pictures, commercial ads and fashion shoots it doesn't seem 23 years have passed, but a whole century! Among the first things I noticed, advertising and pictures in general were rather chaste, and also the articles reflected a certain modesty, a forgotten bon ton that raised a little nostalgia. But what struck me most were perfume ads. In the mag I counted 17, plus three advertorials, for a total of 20 perfume advertisements. And it's not a Christmas number (perfumes ads increase at Christmas time). 

 I'd say about a quarter of the pages devoted to advertising, was speaking of perfumes. 
Of these 20 pages, 14 -70%- offered Italian fragrances: Arrogantissima (Pikenz The First), Luciano Soprani, Echo (Mario Valentino), Krizia, Genny (also shown in the advertorial), Giorgio Armani, Iceberg, Rome (Laura Biagiotti),  Sharra Pagano, Trussardi Action (also in the advertorial), Valentino, V''E (Versace).  Of the remaining six, five were French, Opium (YSL), Poison (Dior), Pour Elise (Perlier), Samsara (Guerlain, launched that year), Senso (Ungaro), and one of unknown nationality (Gabriela Sabatini's scent).

I was amazed and somewhat euphoric, so I reached for a magazine I bought a couple of weeks ago, to understand where this sense of wonder came from, and I counted only one perfume ad (Crazy Rem, just launched). Possible? So I went to the bathroom and search the newspaper basket for other magazines, finding two, of different periods:
only 5 perfume advertisement in all: Omnia (Bulgari), Candy (Prada), Alien (Mugler), Coco Mademoiselle (Chanel), and an advertorial on Acqua di Gioia (Armani). Three Italian and three French perfumes.

I understood the euphoric state arose from two observations:
1: perfume ads were a lot
2: they were primarily of Italian brands.

If the situation is nowadays radically different it means that, at some point, something must have happened. But what?
1 – Maybe in Italy, there's a lack of taste and creativity? I would say no. There are a lot of Italian amazing artisans who compose fragrance much-appreciated especially abroad: Bruno Acampora Maria Candida Gentile, Lorenzo Villoresi, Nasomatto, Profumi del Forte, Nobile 1942, Carthusia, Ortigia. 
Without forgetting Acqua di Parma, Armani (with Acqua di Gio), D&G (with Light Blue) and Prada (with Infusions), which are among best sellers in the worldwide market of industrial perfumery. 
Hmm ... no, it doesn't seem we miss taste or creativity.

2 - Perhaps there's a lack of money? Okay, the financial crisis is huge and promotional investments go down, but browse any women's magazine and you'll realize that advertising and advertorials up half foliation. Mainly, cosmetics, shoes and clothing. Maybe in the perfume market crisis is deeper and brand invest less in visibility? In fact, even in TV the scent is less and less present, and in any case only multinational brands still adverstise.

3 - Some of the perfume brands advertised in 1989 are now extinct, perhaps they haven't been replaced by others? It seems that every year dozens of new small and large brands are launched, and I won't make a list otherwise my friend Adjiumi will say I'm forgetting someone important. 

I don't know how many of these new Maison de couture invest in perfumery. I don't think many. Maybe scent is too risky an investment for a new brand? Maybe designers no longer feel the cultural need to complement their couture with perfumes?  
But I have a lot more questions: If advertising reflects the market segmentation, I would say that in the 80's Italian perfumery was huge, the benchmark for everything else. How did we get to three scents a magazine, and half of them of foreign brands? 
It is not an idle question, or parochial as it sounds: in every Country, best selling fragrances have always been the ones launched by brands of the same Country (Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren in the US, Guerlain, Chanel, etc. in France, Armani and D&G here, etc.) because in some way they represent the values, tastes and trends in the country of origin. Let's say they represent the average taste of a population.
Perhaps in these 20 years the average taste of the Italians has tuned in with the average taste of all the world? Maybe so. 
Globalization shrank the world and today Nations have become smaller provinces of the larger global market.  Even in Italy, groups and corporations have come from all over the world, and with their huge investments have gained visibility and market share, forcing small and local brands to close or remain relegated to the word of mouth. An thus occupying with their products the "perfume area" of our desires. What remains of the Italian taste for chypre fragrances? What remains of Italian touch for refinement, of our search for chiaroscuro, for vibrato in fragrances, we used to like a lot -since it described perfectly what we are? It's not a matter of changing tastes or moving forward, this situation has led us to conform to the general taste for contemporary, nondescript, fruity-floral scents of no interest. Fragrances which don't carry the blueprint of a Nation's taste and culture, but are the Companies' attempts to obtain financial returns on investments. Sad, isn't it?

2 commenti:

ale ch ha detto...

Hi, is sad and True, I had the chance to smell the Glory of the 80 Perfumes, this old exquisite Fragances are each one of them unique and a real piece of Art, Arrogantissima, Senso, are discontinued, they were my favorite, the house brands had economic issues, and i understand that to create this fragances is very costly, in older times an Eu de Perfum, use to last all day, but nowadays, hardly the last a coupple of hours since the essential oil is diminish in all bottles, Some perfumes that still exist they where reformulated so They do not smell exactly like before, like Cabotine, Zoa, Desirade, etc; I understand as well that some essential oil components are rare and too expensive to use for a massive market that we have today, so nowadays most perfumes smell kind of citric, orange.-
Maybe this masterpieces from the past will never exist again due to the rarity of components, that would make them too expensive, and is not a too Green medio ambiental friendly industry since they must use tons of flowers to create an small quantity of essential oil, the times has change too so maybe this industry was sentenced to die after all because that era was too charged of animal fur coats, pearls, jewelry, perfumes, and today everyone is happy with jeans and a T-shirt to wear.- The sophistication is out.-

Marika Vecchiattini ha detto...

Ale, thanks for this examination, I agree, and especially when you say "too expensive to use for a massive market that we have today, so nowadays most perfumes smell kind of citric, orange.-". This leaves all the sophistication, the excitement, the personality out of this business. And it's sad, indeed! Also because today some of us would prefer a t-shirt and jeans AND a marvelous perfume!