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MOONB

Intellectual Dishonesty and Creed - What's it Like to be Royal?

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The house of Creed isnít fooling anyone. Thatís the word on the street.

However, thereís a strain of logic that overshadows the Creed skepticsí core argument that is deeply and irrevocably flawed. The logic in question is as follows:

[B]Since Creed refuses to provide evidence in the form of vintage bottles, sales receipts, and royal warrants explicitly commissioning perfumes since the days of King George III and onward, one can safely conclude that theyíre fabricating most of their perfumery history from 1760, up until the late 20th century. [/B]

Iím going to present some information that I took from a Forbes magazine article dating back to 1999 (which you can read for yourself here: [URL="http://www.forbes.com/forbes/1999/1011/6409434a.html"]http://www.forbes.com/forbes/1999/1011/6409434a.html[/URL] )
I have to illustrate why this particular article is so important. Itís one of several relatively rare pieces on Creed that magnifies the nature of Anglo-French royal exclusivity. As the article states, ďAll but two of Creedís 32 over-the-counter perfumes started as exclusives, including the Royal English Leather scent it made for King George III.Ē

The article goes on to discuss the multiple-month appointment waiting period to meet with Olivier Creed, among other things. In other words, even within Creedís tightly-knit VIP club of custom fragrance clients, thereís a solid line that the fragrance house wonít let you cross.

In 1992 I was in Hyde Park in London, taking a casual stroll, when I happened across a part of the park that seemed a bit more developed than the rest Ė there was a brick building, some walkways, a place for cars, all comfortably adjacent to the green fields and trees. The strange thing was that I couldnít approach the building Ė there were horse-mounted men and women in traditional English civilian riding uniforms, barring pedestrians from coming within a few hundred feet of it. My curiosity now piqued, I waited near a pair of the riders, who were conversing in very hushed tones, with the female rider periodically touching her ear as though listening to something. After about thirty minutes, a procession of polished vehicles rolled up to the building, which had an odd velvet cloth covering a swath of brickwork by the front door, and stopped. Seconds later, a large entourage of police officers and suited men exited the building and lined up to face the motorcade. Seconds after that, from the vehicle at the heart of the procession, stepped Queen Elizabeth II. From a considerable distance, but still able to hear quite clearly what was said, I watched and listened as she greeted the people in the line, and noted that none of them spoke until spoken to. After all hands had been taken, she permitted one of the officers (presumably the chief Ė I canít quite remember how he introduced himself) to announce that this was an opening of a new police station. With that, the Queen pulled a little tassel, which opened the velvet to reveal a bronze placard memorializing the opening date. In under thirty seconds, she had exchanged departing words with the constable, and was whisked back into her car and off towards Buckingham.

You might think, given the importance of relocating the Hyde Park police station to Londoners, that the event would have been publicized beforehand. But this wasnít about the people of London. It was about the Queen taking an hour out of her day to grant royal approval to the opening of a public service within a local municipality. She was granting the establishment the royal approval to operate as a police station, and judging by the profuse thanks the people in the greeting queue gave her, this was all that was needed. There were no more than thirty civilian onlookers behind the invisible barricade put in place by the undercover officers on horseback Ė in fact, on that rainy and gray summer day, there were probably no more than a hundred people in the entire park.

I contrast that experience with the time that I met Mary Robinson one year later. She was, at that time, the President of Ireland. I happened to attend a speech she gave at Saint Patrickís Cathedral in Dublin. Afterward she mingled briefly with a few civilians, and I was lucky enough to shake her hand and exchange a few words. She was very cordial, extremely friendly, and I was struck by how easy it was to get within three feet of her. Of course the requisite security team was in place, and no one was allowed to linger beyond a few seconds, but the meeting struck me as the polar opposite of my long-distance proximity encounter with the Queen of England. People were notified of the speech date, invited to attend, and encouraged to be there when she was finished speaking. Ireland, as it turns out, isnít interested in royalty and class systems.

These two stories converge on one point: royalty, and those who serve it, doesnít share stuff. They operate on a level that prevents them from announcing when the Queen herself will be granting permission of operation to a public service.

Do you really think theyíre going to share what perfume they wear? And if their perfumer goes into detail about which perfumes they provide, do you think theyíd be allowed to keep doing business with these extremely wealthy and private clients?


Couple the hyper-private nature of the British Royalty Family with the fact that, as Forbes clearly shows, the house of Creed is currently well positioned to serve them and devoted to client confidentiality, and you have something that is operating beyond the realm of commercial enterprise ala Guerlain, Chanel, Prada, and Yves Saint Laurent. Extrapolate the divide between British Royalty and its people to the rest of European royalty (fairly easy to do), and you see how this narrative holds.

Some basenoters are under the impression that searching the royal archives in London should unearth evidence of Creedís operation in the 18th and 19th centuries, if they indeed operated in those times. Itís a fair assumption, but itís not likely to yield much, if anything. When my family purchased land and built their home in County Sligo, Ireland, the municipal government required us to conform and document everything, from the size and type of wall dividing our half acre from the road (required), to the number of trees we had (legally predetermined), to the type of siding our house had (subject to documented disclosure by both the architect, builder, and us), and how well weíve tended the landscape (for the purpose of looking like our property fit into the local surroundings). These had to be publically filed in the county archives by our architect and eventually by ourselves. Imagine the millions of files out there Ė and these are just for [I]private[/I] residents. Private businesses are very likely, when considering taxes and tax conformities, a veritable maze in the archives.

Iím not purporting to know whether or not Creed created perfumes as far back as 1760 for King George III, or even for Queen Victoria. But Iím going to be intellectually honest here. Iím going to state that, in this matter, I canít say one way or the other whether or not they created perfumes back then. Iím also unsure if they existed as a coherent business entity back in the 18th century (although Iím entirely confident that they did). I know from personal experience that the world immediately surrounding British royalty is one that is closed to the public, and the odds of seeing a bottle of perfume made for Queen Victoria or the Empress Eugenie are unsurprisingly slim to none, about the same as seeing a tube of either womanís toothpaste. Itís clear to me that privately commissioned fragrances are made for their clientele, sold to their clientele, and the notion of keeping bottles for historical verification Ė which arenít mass produced, and therefore likely to be unlabeled Ė is a pipe dream. Creed doesnít release the names of its perfumers Ė why should we expect it to turn over 200 year old bottles of its perfume? Itís been a fairly consistent house Ė with its own stumbling, no different from all companies Ė that has provided more evidence in the form of its warrants than most royally-commissioned companies bother to. Anyone see a string of Penhaligonís warrants and royal invitations lately?

I enjoin my fellow basenoters to avoid falling into the same habit as our network news pundits and politicos by just saying anything that wells up from their guts like itís fact. These days itís fairly obvious that standards for facts have been lowered, and when people say something and stick to it, it becomes accepted as fact. No one knows the whole story behind the house of Creed. Griping about their supposed inability to provide evidence (as opposed to a deliberate choice not to) doesnít mean youíve hit the nail on the head with the history of the company. They might be lying about their age, they might be lying about their involvement with perfumery, and then again, they might not be. The only thing we can say with total certainty is that, barring some groundbreaking development that puts the Creeds in a completely different place at a completely different time in the archives, much of Creed is controversy, and conjecture Ė very little is known fact. I wrote this blog post not because Iím a shameless Creed lover (read my mixed reviews), but because Iím tired of the intellectual dishonesty Ė the kneejerk statements and assumptions with no merit in factual foundation Ė the armchair historians who do some bookwork and wield credentials, but havenít personally approached Creed with respectful concerns. The standard of honesty that we apply to Creed is the standard we should apply to all perfume houses. But letís make sure itís honesty, not hyperbole.





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Comments

  1. JaimeB's Avatar
    Interesting post. The royal family do allow companies from whom they buy to display "By Appointment to..." on their packaging, advertising, etc.

    The funny thing about Creed is that they display the three ostrich feathers (which is the heraldic badge of the Prince of Wales) on their perfume boxes and bottles, but, apparently, not the the royal warrant words "By Appointment to... ."

    In looking up their claims about royal warrants, I saw that the copy of Victoria's royal warrant is for them as tailors, not perfumers. The royal warrant they have from MarŪa Cristina of Spain also says "sastre" which is Spanish for "tailor."

    Can anybody show a Creed perfume item with the "By Appointment to.. " on it, or produce a copy of a royal warrant to them as perfumers?

    I wonder...
  2. MOONB's Avatar
    It's a fair question. I tend to think another question comes before it, though, in dealing with the issue of royal warrants for perfumery, which is, [I]did royal warrants for perfumery exist prior to the late 1800s?[/I] If so, which houses have them?

    The Welsh symbol is interesting, but it's tied directly to Royal Scottish Lavender, as per this publication in Sniffiapalooza Magazine: [URL="http://www.sniffapaloozamagazine.com/creedROBERTO.html"]http://www.sniffapaloozamagazine.com/creedROBERTO.html[/URL]

    As you can see in the second article down, it was commissioned by the Prince of Wales. It's true that Wales is a different country (I've been there), but in all honesty it's integrated into British and English culture as though it's the same place. There isn't much of a stretch there.
  3. Ekove's Avatar
    You can't compare royalties not letting creed show pictures or evidence of their perfume purchases to Queen Elizabeth not letting everyone know about her presence in said police station. And it is not like Creed doesn't brag about the whole Royalty thing. Not that I care...

    The issue with creed to me seems to be the dates on some of their creations that smell like other cheaper designer alternatives. While the dates on them suggest their older (green irish tweed vs cool water, Orange Spice vs Kouros), there's no evidence those perfumes were actually produced before. If they were exclusive to royalties, then how did they get copied?

    Also I would like to specify, it is one thing to be a tailoring house that happened to create perfumes casually, and an actual perfume house. My Great Grandfather was a tailor for royalties was well, and he occasionally gifted them with his personal blends, as he had access to rare oils at the time through those he imported his tailoring supplies from. But you've got to keep in mind as well that many of those tailoring materials come from local farmers, or from asia or what have you....the same places that might also produce perfume oils. So those perfume gifts might have been oils from a producer rather than a personal mix. You can never know, it's all speculations, until solid evidence is provided..

    Now, if I decide to establish a perfume house, do I have the right to claim that it's a 100 years old house? And mass produce a few perfumes, claiming that they were created by my great grandfather a 100 years ago for the member of the royal family in Kuwait, when I have no evidence to support that these perfumes are actual representation of the 100 years old blend, if that blend existed to begin with.

    It is also worth mentioning that I know a person who dealt with Olivier Creed at a personal level in the 70s/80s, and he was his distributor in a country that shall be unnamed. According to him, Olivier offered only one perfume when they began distributing for him. So again, we go back to the fact that these perfumes created prior to 1960s were not mass produced, to be copied by perfumers such as Pierre Bourdon.

    I just do find it dishonest to take credit for 250 years of tailoring, plus a few ammature perfumes on the side. That's not how honest marketing works. Going back to my grandfather example, he also used to fixed watches, even though he's first and foremost a tailor. So, do I have the right to claim my grandfather was a tailor, a perfumer and a watchmaker for royalities, and establish a watchmaking or perfume company under the claim it has a history of 100 years? I mean there are still a few small tailoring stores under the name of my great grandfather.

    Also, the second dishonest thing, and perhaps the more important aspect to look at is evidence for the specific blend age. Fine, the Creed family might have made perfumes for royalties, and some might go as far as to call them a perfume house. And let's say vintage tabarome existed in 1875. Where's the evidence that the vintage Tabarome released 2 years ago is the same blend as the one in 1875? Sure it was created by someone from the same family, but there's no evidence Mr Olivier Creed has access to the recipe.

    I still like some of creeds creations, and almost all perfume houses have a lot of bullshit in their marketing (%100 natural ingredients, the use of real Mysore Sandalwood, Ambergris, Oud...etc). Creed just takes it a little too far with their marketing and pricing, for fragrances that are mediocre at best save for 2 or 3 exceptions.

    And remember, if creed had any actual evidence to back up their many claims, they wouldn't thinking twice about shoving it up your face.
  4. MOONB's Avatar
    Yikes . . . where have I heard all of the above arguments before???
    The account of the police station suggests that royals don't make people privy to relatively important things. Therefore, the assumption that they'll make people privy to minor things, like privately commissioned fragrances, doesn't hold.
  5. the_good_life's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by MOONB
    It's a fair question. I tend to think another question comes before it, though, in dealing with the issue of royal warrants for perfumery, which is, did royal warrants for perfumery exist prior to the late 1800s? If so, which houses have them?

    The Welsh symbol is interesting, but it's tied directly to Royal Scottish Lavender, as per this publication in Sniffiapalooza Magazine: http://www.sniffapaloozamagazine.com/creedROBERTO.html

    As you can see in the second article down, it was commissioned by the Prince of Wales. It's true that Wales is a different country (I've been there), but in all honesty it's integrated into British and English culture as though it's the same place. There isn't much of a stretch there.
    Yes, there were warrants for perfume in the 18th and early 19th century held by various Eau de Cologne producers.
    The three ostrich plumes are part of the coat of arms of the heir to the British throne who holds the symbolic title of Prince of Wales. It is wielded by companies who hold a royal warrant by the Prince of Wales. Creed never did, but evidently thinks it can fool some naive Americans into believing it does. The plumes appear not just on RSL, as we all know. Just more tacky marketing, which is a shame in light of how great a fragrance RSL is.
  6. Primrose's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by the_good_life
    Yes, there were warrants for perfume in the 18th and early 19th century held by various Eau de Cologne producers.
    The three ostrich plumes are part of the coat of arms of the heir to the British throne who holds the symbolic title of Prince of Wales. It is wielded by companies who hold a royal warrant by the Prince of Wales. Creed never did, but evidently thinks it can fool some naive Americans into believing it does. The plumes appear not just on RSL, as we all know. Just more tacky marketing, which is a shame in light of how great a fragrance RSL is.
    Great post, MOONB.

    The Creed "coat of arms," with its three plumes, is a parody of the arms of the Prince of Wales.

    Companies out to put forth a pedigree desperately want to shore up their legitimacy. This is clearly not a Royal Warrant. (Truefitt & Hill and D.R. Harris, on the other hand, do display the Royal Warrant of Prince Philip/the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales.) The Parfums D'Orsay company also uses a "coat of arms" for their company, but it is not the arms of the Counts of Orsay. In fact, the company recently changed the coronet on this coat of arms. You can't just *change* a coronet (nobleman's crown), as it's an official form of heraldry. You can, however, easily change a company logo, just as Pepsi did recently.

    I am reminded of the "coats of arms" on Ralph Lauren's Safari (with rampant lions) and those on Juicy Couture (with rampant Scottie dogs!)

    As an aside, I understand that Guerlain's Mouchoir de Monsieur (after its initial release) was made only for King Juan Carlos of Spain, and then re-released. This was in Turin and Sanchez' "The Guide." Turin stated that Guerlain makes bespoke fragrances for an elite stratum of clients.
    Updated 1st April 2011 at 05:59 AM by Primrose
  7. MOONB's Avatar
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    Updated 1st April 2011 at 12:14 PM by MOONB
  8. the_good_life's Avatar
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    Updated 1st April 2011 at 12:13 PM by MOONB
  9. MOONB's Avatar
    [QUOTE=Primrose;bt4493]Great post, [B]MOONB[/B].

    Companies out to put forth a pedigree desperately want to shore up their legitimacy. This is clearly not a Royal Warrant. (Truefitt & Hill and D.R. Harris, on the other hand, do display the Royal Warrant of Prince Philip/the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales.)

    Turin stated that Guerlain makes bespoke fragrances for an elite stratum of clients.[/QUOTE]

    It's true, those companies do post royal warrants, as does Creed.

    The Welsh insignia is a case of good graphic design - perhaps someone should ask Olivia Creed about it. However, I never said it was a royal warrant, nor have I seen Creed specifically indicate this, either.

    I really have no further comment in regards to Turin in this debate.