Wednesday, January 5, 2011

An Industry Roundtable on Fragrance Conducted Anonymously by some of the Key Figures in the Field

MODERATOR: I want to thank you all for coming.

PERFUME BLOGGER: Before we start, I'd like to tell everyone how important I am.

INDUSTRY EXPERT: I'd like to do that too.

PERFUME BLOGGER: I'd like it to be on record that I was important first.

MODERATOR: Duly noted. You're both important. Maybe we should move on. We're gathered here today because I thought that maybe one of you--maybe all of you--might have something insightful to say about the state of modern fragrance-


MODERATOR: Beg your pardon?

INDUSTRY EXPERT: The problem with the industry has to do with bottles.

MODERATOR: Perfume bottles?

INDUSTRY EXPERT: The best kind of bottles are in the shape of an object. Fruits, for example. Also vegetables.

MODERATOR: Isn't a bottle itself an object?

PERFUMER: I wonder if the problem might have something to do with lack of imagination.

INDUSTRY EXPERT: Yes. Precisely. For instance, a bottle in the shape of an apple is just sort of an average bottle. It isn't anything. It's nothing. You put perfume in a bottle shaped like an apple and a customer sees such a thing and she says, fine, an apple, big deal. So what. Blah blah blah. Now. Turn this on its head. Follow me here. A the shape apple...which is...being dreamed by a square! This. Is. The. Solution.

PERFUME BLOGGER: I disagree. The bottles aren't the problem. I meet with a lot of important people--a lot of other important people, who are not necessarily more important than I am but who are equally important--other people who recognize my importance--and these other important people, when they see me, at say a party or an industry function, they say things like, oh hello, we were wondering if anyone as important as we are would be here. And it's as if they're psychic, because of course I was thinking the same thing. We're like mirrors, me and other important people; important mirrors reflecting important things-

INDUSTRY EXPERT: Is there a point here?

PERFUME BLOGGER: Yes. Invariably we start talking about the state of the industry. Important people confide in me, and we discuss what's happening in the industry. I have to tell you, it's almost like I am the industry. We have never once discussed bottles. Never has the subject turned to apples.

AROMA CHEMICAL REP: I think Ambroxan is really the wave of the future. It's the latest thing. Perfumes should be all Ambroxan all the time. Ambroxan is to perfume what Julia Roberts is to Pretty Woman.

PERFUME BLOGGER: I've met Julia Roberts.

AROMA CHEMICAL REP: Ambroxan has star power and human interest. When someone sees a Julia Roberts movie she wants Julia Roberts to be in every second of the film. Julia Roberts leaves the frame and the viewer aches with separation anxiety. Where is Julia? When will she be back? Who are these other people littering up the screen?

PERFUME BLOGGER: They're unimportant.

INDUSTRY EXPERT: I believe we're moving away from the latest thing. The biggest craze is whatever is very Now. The latest thing has the word late in it, for one thing, which is a bad association for a lot of people. The polls show that the latest thing is considered very old fashioned. The safest thing, the most prudent thing, is now. It's all about now. Tomorrow is about now. Yesterday was now.

PERFUMER: I don't know. I still think the problem is lack of imagination.

MODERATOR: What would you say the consumer wants?

PERFUMER: The consumer wants magic.

INDUSTRY EXPERT: What could be more magic than a square disguised as an apple?

PERFUMER: The consumer wants a relationship. To be heard. To remember. To dwell.

INDUSTRY EXPERT: I disagree. The consumer does not want to dwell. The consumer wants to move on.

PERFUMER: People the consumer loved are in the past. Perfume reunites them.

PERFUME BLOGGER: I think the consumer wants to be involved with important people.

PERFUMER: Fantasy is full of important people. People the consumer remembers are important, too. Her mother and father. The woman down the street who was kind to her as a child.

AROMA CHEMICAL REP: Ambroxan is the woman down the street.

PERFUME BLOGER: The future is in a brief which captures the smell of the ink on the magazine that woman down the street had in her hand.

INDUSTRY EXPERT: The future is now.

PERFUMER: Perhaps the consumer wants the past.

PERFUME BLOGGER: We can yank them along. I can write a review of a perfume made on such a brief which will make us all happy. I will make sure the consumer knows what's important.

MODERATOR: The ink, or the magazine?

PERFUMER: I'm not sure the consumer remembers the woman's magazine.

PERFUMER BLOGGER: That's the brilliance of it. The magazine never existed. Leave that to me. I will show the consumer what she wants to remember. I will implant the memory. I will superimpose it over the image of that woman. A big blotch of ink across her face.


INDUSTRY EXPERT: Statistics show that the consumer wants sort of naked women writhing around on couches and in cars. It used to be bedrooms. That was the latest thing. Couches are now. The consumer would like to be naked. And she would like her nipples to be somewhat erect. I think we'll be seeing more erect nipples. She would also like long blonde hair, for a fruity floral. For an oriental she would like to be naked with brown hair. She can have brown skin but that gets a little tricky. It's best to stick with white skin. The people with colored skin can simply be made to identify. They will simply imagine that they too are that white woman with erect nipples. Also, the consumer likes pink pepper. And Iris. And fig. I will tell you right now that the first company to come up with a naked white lady with erect nipples writhing around on a couch upholstered with figs is sitting on a gold mine.

AROMA CHEMICALS REP: Ambroxan smells like a naked lady on a couch. It smells like fig and pink pepper, too. Our research indicates that Ambroxan tautens the nipples.

INDUSTRY EXPERT: If you look at the fifties, when the fruity floral emerged, you will see that naked women have always been very important to the fragrance consumer. Erect nipples are a fairly recent development.

PERFUME BLOGGER: You're wrong. You are wrong, totally and completely, about the fruity floral.

INDUSTRY EXPERT: Please leave the details to me. I think I know the industry. As well as the consumer.

PERFUME BLOGGER: I didn't say you were unimportant. I merely said you are wrong.

MODERATOR: I wonder if we're making headway here.

PERFUME BLOGGER: It's of no consequence. I have an important meeting soon. Can we resume this at another equally important time? I trust you will see the wisdom in waiting for me to resume.


Anonymous said...

I feel important having read it. I'll be blogging about this later. Because I'm important.
Ambroxan FTW.

Brian said...

Jen, it's very important you don't forget.

Anonymous said...

LOL! Spot. on.

Signed, a happily unimportant perfume blog reader

Katy Josephine said...

Can't help myself - I just love a smartass. Nice post.

Anonymous said...


Angela Cox said...

Strange but I love it .

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading it. Thank you.

RM said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tarleisio said...

Required reading for all hopeless addicted readers of perfume blogs - and the equally addicted bloggers who write them!

And your photo reminds me of something I can remember. To paraphrase:

"Ladies and gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!"

Signed, a nonentity twice over! Ah, but I can dream...;)

Olfacta said...

Harharharharhar (looks around suddenly) uh, never mind.

Anonymous said...

Okay, that's it, I'm NEVER DRINKING COFFEE AGAIN while reading this blog. Because there are only so many replacement keyboards in the world.

And yet, now, I am inexplicably sad. Perhaps it is because I am unimportant. Or because I dwell in the past. Or because I am neutral on Ambroxan, maybe that's it.

I think I'll go over to Andy Tauer's place and hang out for awhile. That ought to make me feel better...

Marina said...

Aw, I wish they invited a different kind of perfume blogger to the roundtable, the kind that agrees with the perfumer re: the lack of imagination. But this one should be played by Kristen Wiig as Penelope the Attention Seeker.
Thank you for the laugh!

Brian said...

Yes!!! Penelope as the blogger! Actually, I'd like to film it with Wiig playing everyone, in different costumes. Or all the women from SNL past and present.

I wish it was a different kind of blogger too, and lord knows the perfumer isn't ALWAYS the underdog in these scenarios--sometimes as much a part of the problem, I guess--sigh...--but I liked the idea of making the perfumer the one little pure, sweet voice in the cacophony of absurdity.

If I had my choice I would put not just the smartest people but the most imaginative and sweet at the table. And skinny. So I'd get more of the food when we break to eat.

Brian said...

Angela, I AM strange!! I am actually a four eyed rabbit. If you saw me you would think, oh, ok, it makes sense now. He's not really that strange as far as four eyed rabbits go.

Anonymous said...

I love those posts, you have a real talent for satire, so sad you can never make a career of it because of your geographical marginalization ;)

Brian said...

Innit, though, Olfactoria? Of course, my failure might also have to do with the fact that I am missing most of my front teeth, wear mostly gingham and overalls, and carry all my belongings wrapped up in a bandanna and tied to a long twig.

Marina said...

I like it though that you made Perfumer the good guy here. Coz He is. I MET HIM. :))))))))

Karin said...

Hysterical! OK, Brian, are you a scriptwriter??? For comedies???

Reading your post tied in with a classic movie we watched last night - The Palm Beach Story with Claudette Colbert, Joel McCrea, and Rudy Vallee. Preston Sturges wrote the script, and it's brilliant. Check it out if you like quick-witted banter. :-)

As to your roundtable - loved it.

Brian said...

Karin, I'm a filmmaker. I make dramas that people mistake for comedies.

Perfumeshrine said...

This is probably happening verbatim in some obscure place (preferably geographically marginalised!). I couldn't help laughing. Since you're in filmmaking, you'd appreciate the suggestiong that just like in Dogtooth words can take any which meaning you want them to. Preferably in all the important ways. :-)

Imagination to the people and their perfumes, that should be the motto of the day.

Michelle Krell Kydd said...

This is hilarious. I have a feeling you could really rip it up with this: