Code of Conduct
Results 1 to 4 of 4
  1. #1
    Eluard's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Projective Plain

    Default Fragrance and Cultural Variability

    On another thread the issue arose as to whether Guerlain’s Vetiver could be recommended for someone of a particular age and place. The responses were varied—as could be expected. But this got me thinking about the interaction between fragrance and culture. Are there fragrances that simply do not work in particular cultures/places? I suspect that G.’s Vetiver could not work in Australia, for example. The culture is too straightforward: there are no hidden corners or shadows, the light shines on everywhere equally, and blandly. G.’s Vetiver, needs heat and darkness; a touch of staleness and death and corruption (in the best sense). Similarly I can’t see it working in somewhere like L.A., or Canada. But there are many places/cultures where it would work very well.

    Anyway, I wondered if there are other fragrances that people think do not work in particular cultures and places—because of the nature of the culture (interpreted slightly widely, to include issues of climate). Is Aqua di Gio, for example, really designed with the U.S in mind, not Europe? Are leathers misplaced outside of Europe? Or do you think that fragrance is a human universal and works everywhere equally? Just curious.

  2. #2

    narcus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Königl. Preussen

    Default Re: Fragrance and Cultural Variability

    Quote Originally Posted by Eluard
    ... G.’s Vetiver, needs heat and darkness; a touch of staleness and death and corruption (in the best sense)... there are many places/cultures where it would work very well.
    I do think that scents, well, European ones, are closely linked to our mixed weather and clearly felt seasonal changes. I always hear that Arabic and eastern scent cultures are very different, and that Japanese fragrances are best not noticed by others, etc. Your example AdG - I share your doubts, and believe it is a very fine cologne, made for Italians and northern Europe primarily. The whole Milano fashion line seems to go along better with European than, say, east coast US preferences.

    But you crack me up with your ideas about Guerlain's Vetiver. Vetiver is a sun loving grass, the sparkling bottle, to my eyes is clear as daylight. Death and corruption? I find it just a bit cool in the original sense. Unless it's warm weather, I do not like to wear it. I now put it to hibernation, and it goes down to a dark cellar room. On this one you outdo 'The Perfume' fantasies of Süskind, my friend! (No pun intended, just a different view)

    No pun intended, but European Urinal cakes do not reek of Kouros, and campus dude jokes about Kouros simply do not exist in Europe. The average European guy also does not care about scent ratings or trends. Europe is the opposite of a streamlined cultural universe. That is completely different in North America, where only a few languages are alive, and education systems vary half as much. It's almost been a shock to see a French Perfumer using English perfume names, like 'Rose Petals' and 'Black' Aoud. His Arabian connections may be at the root of this.
    Last edited by narcus; 9th October 2006 at 01:58 PM.
    'Il mondo dei profumi è un universo senza limiti: una fraganza puo rievocare sensazioni, luoghi, persone o ancora condurre in uno spazio di nuove dimensioni emozionali' L. V.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Fragrance and Cultural Variability

    Excellent question, Eluard! I believe there are indeed differences in preference that are culturally determined, just like there are regional fashions and particular trends through time. I find it very difficult to pin-point them, so I won't go into that. I would just add that those cultural preferences are not written in stone - they change constantly. But there's another interesting development going on as well.

    What we see nowadays is 1) an increase in the variation of the perfume spectrum - with unconventional fragrances such as Dior L'Homme that push the envelope in terms of tradition - and 2) that people have more choice in (and access to) perfumes than ever before, regardless of where they live. However, I have the impression that cross-cultural preferences are actually converging. In other words, there are still cultural differences between Milan and Buenos Aires and Hong Kong, but they are rapidly becoming smaller. People all over the world have access to the same magazines, the same movies, the same food. Something similar is going on in perfumery. Think of the international Sephora concept; think of the global advertisement campaigns by LVMH, the Gucci Group, and others. If a big brand launches a new perfume, they want it to be a worldwide success. They don't sit and wait for the next Shalimar to be created almost by accident, they just ask the people what they like most. And when the marketeers' target is the largest common denominator, consumers end up with more and more of the same. Despite the fact that they have actually more to choose from.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Fragrance and Cultural Variability

    Well, I know that, in fashion at least, trends tend to hit Europe at least a year before they cross the Atantic. Whatever style is big over there usually reaches New York and LA at least a year later, and the rest of the states gradually follow. I wonder if Europe went through an aquatic phase before the US caught the bug.

    I know that they have adopted orientals over there (ie the prevalance of Le Male), and now of course they are making a comeback in the US, while the fresh fad is starting to dwindle. If leathers are the new fragrance trend in Europe, perhaps our SAs in America will be hawking leathers in about 5 years, and we'll all be whining about how we're sick of leather here on BN.
    "It's not what you look like when you're doing what you're doing; it's what you're doing when you're doing what you look like you're doing."

Similar Threads

  1. How is fragrance regarded in your culture?
    By Herb_Lady in forum Male Fragrance Discussion
    Replies: 104
    Last Post: 12th August 2009, 12:22 PM
  2. Fragrance bottle exhibition in London
    By konglishbeauty in forum Female Fragrance Discussion
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 6th November 2007, 03:22 PM
  3. Fragrance suggestions for a job interview in Wales
    By the_good_life in forum Male Fragrance Discussion
    Replies: 14
    Last Post: 28th May 2007, 07:48 PM
  4. Can a fragrance truely become outdated?
    By oolong in forum Male Fragrance Discussion
    Replies: 28
    Last Post: 23rd September 2006, 08:31 PM
  5. (Clothes) Designer scents era ending soon?
    By cedriceccentric in forum Male Fragrance Discussion
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 20th February 2006, 05:08 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts

Loving perfume on the Internet since 2000