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  1. #1

    Default Pattern Recognition

    Was reading a book recently by one of my more favorite science fiction writers, William Gibson. He coined the term Cyberspace and really has been hugely influential in modern computer based science fiction. But anyway, in one of his books, Pattern Recognition, he has the following quote which I think really has something to say to the fragrance industry:

    My God, don't they know? This stuff is simulacra of simulacra of
    simulacra. A diluted tincture of Ralph Lauren, who had himself diluted
    the glory days of Brooks Brothers, who themselves had stepped on the
    product of Jermyn Street and Savile Row, flavoring their ready-to-wear
    with liberal lashings of polo knit and regimental stripes. But Tommy
    surely is the null point, the black hole. There must be some Tommy
    Hil-figer event horizon, beyond which it is impossible to be more
    derivative, more removed from the source, more devoid of soul. Or so she
    hopes, and doesn't know, but suspects in her heart that this in fact is
    what accounts for his long ubiquity.


    While the quote was specifically about clothing I could not help but see strong parallels with fragrance. And while the quote railed specifically against Tommy Hilfiger I really have to say that it really needs to be taken in a much more generalized sense. I would like to hear people's thoughts on how, if at all, this quote relates to the fragrance industry.
    In all matters of opinion, our adversaries are insane - Oscar Wilde

  2. #2
    _R$_'s Avatar
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    Aug 2006
    Overland Park, KS

    Default Re: Pattern Recognition

    He obviously doesn't like fashion. It seems that he's "figured it out", I believe the saying is. The reason he doesn't like fashion is that it has all been derived from the preceding presiding fashion companies. Apparently, he'd still have us running around in frills and top hats. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but fashion is a constantly evolving industry, and where else would they get their ideas for this year's shows? Perhaps ancient Martian clothing? He seems to think that remaining dynamic is a bad thing, and maintaining style as a constant would be his way of doing it.

    No offense to your favorite writer, but that's not my belief. I think that as a culture and a race, humans have to constantly evolve to better position themselves on the food chain. Your author would be a big fan of teaching "Non-Changist Static History" (I just saw Pleasantville last night, and that cracked me up). In fact, he would love to live in Pleasantville it seems.

    All that aside, fragrance has to constantly change, and if we didn't derive our fragrances from perfumers past, where would we derive them from? (Of course, CdG has taken the non-derivative idea of creation, BUT as a line, CdG only has a few good scents, and those could all be seen as derivative. The ones that aren't derivative (Oduer 53, Synthetic Line, Sherbert) are mostly not-so-good, with one or two good ones in there.)
    If we were still wearing the fragrances from way back when, we'd be stuck with those, and not have some of the wonderful creations that have arisen today. You could definitely say that Rose 31 is derivative, if just for the fact that its a damn rose, but does that make the quality of it any less? Maybe for you, but definitely not for me. I also think that derivatives can be better than the original, and in many cases are. If you consider Black Aoud, Chanel PMC, or Eau Sauvage to be derivative, then I would consider them to be superior derivatives. The fragrances nuts like you and me will always find what we want, and if we have an opportunity to smell the classics, we will know when a derivative is inferior, and would rather have the original than the copy. Yes, there are crappier scents surfacing every day (Escada Sunset Heat, Lacoste Orange (Maybe Hot Play), and Burberry Summer, yet another damn aquatic), but that shouldn't blind you to the wonderful creations of other artists that put real effort and time into making a fragrance what it should be: A piece of art worthy of standing alone, and capable of comparison to other fragrances. Burberry Summer on it's own smells nice, but when compared to other fragrances, you notice that it is not original nor is it groundbreaking. When you compare Garage by CdG, it is original, and completely off the charts, but when analyzed alone, it usually isn't something you want to smell like. So, he has taken into account only the second part to this method, comparing exhibit A to the ghosts of fashion past.
    - Rich
    Last edited by _R$_; 1st June 2007 at 04:33 PM.
    As always, disregard most of what I say. It's not worth your heart health to actually worry about what a 23 year old guy from Kansas thinks. Even if he is really ridiculously good looking.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Pattern Recognition

    I don't get the sense that he is objecting to fashion or that styles should stay static or that he feels that "he'd still have us running around in frills and top hats". Exactly the opposite in fact. To me he is complaining about the lack of originality and to be perfectly frank the laziness in fashion where it is easier to copy then create. Really, how many fragrances on the market bring something special and unique? How many fragrances, if they completely disappeared from the market tomorrow would really be a loss if for no other reason that there are many nearly identical? Without question there are a few but not that many.
    In all matters of opinion, our adversaries are insane - Oscar Wilde

  4. #4

    Default Re: Pattern Recognition

    I love this book as well. The quote isn't necessarily the author's opinion, rather it's that of the main character who is a very minimalist, post-modern type.
    As the quote applies to fragrance, it doesn't have to be an absolute condemnation of derivative products, more like an observation about the endless stream of attempts to cash in on originality without updating or bettering the object of inspiration
    Last edited by madvillain; 1st June 2007 at 11:59 PM.

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