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Perfume Design – An Art Form

Fragrant Thoughts

The first mistake of art is to assume that it's serious. 
- Lester Bangs

As a perfumer, I think about this a fair amount, probably more than I should; is making perfume Art? After 30 years, I have concluded that perfume design is an art form.  A great perfumer manipulates materials to tell a story; some are shorter stories than others, but the dry down of a great, classic, complex fragrance is an unrushed, unfolding story.  I have no doubt such a design is art, not merely craft. 

But I have never quite been able to figure out why it can't be simple and art.  When it comes to fragrance, however, it seems everyone wants to make high art; complex fragrances with distinctive dry downs and changes. To me, art comes in all kinds of forms.  Today we study the functional arts of a civilization or culture; their clothing and fashion, flatware, architecture, all for insight into the soul of how people live everyday.

So is it art if I design a fragrance that just makes you smile, or reminds you of the birthday cake at your 8th birthday party?  I guess I would rather let more serious people decide that, and just keep making fragrances that make people smile.

Simple. Subtle. Singular Scents. Each Day.  Everywhere.

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