For the past few years, the big fragrance houses have relied on celebrity perfumes to bring in the cash.
In 2013, women’s perfume sales had grown by around 5 per cent, year-on-year, but the celebrity fragrance market had grown by more than 14 per cent in the same period.Brands like Coty and Elizabeth Arden were happy to churn out scents on behalf of Beyonce, Britney Spears, Sarah Jessica Parker, One Direction and David Beckham.
In 2016, of Coty celebrity fragrances, including Beyonce’s and Lady Gaga’s, had fallen by 4 per cent for the 7th consecutive quarterly fall.
Revlon is buying Elizabeth Arden, the company that makes scents for Taylor Swift, Britney Spears and Justin Bieber, has posted losses of more than £270 million in the past two years.
Perhaps it’s not surprising when you take a look at what’s going on in department stores across the country.
Behind the usual perfume counters plastered with offerings from megabrands you’ll find another world of perfume entirely –
brands that were once stocked only in independent perfume boutiques — names such as Illuminum, Le Labo, Etat Libre d’Orange.
These artisan, or niche, perfumers aren’t driven by a commercial imperative to create a scent that has mass appeal, and instead tend to produce complex fragrances that evolve over time.
They don’t produce millions of bottles as the big conglomerates do, and while they may well be more expensive than the latest offering from Rihanna or Hugo Boss, they often contain higher concentrations of ingredients, so last longer.
They’re about as far from the world of celebrity scent as you can get – these perfumes don’t advertise, their popularity grown instead by word of mouth and online blogs.
And there’s clearly a demand for what they’re offering, which explains why department stores are starting to stock them.
Sales of fine perfumes are rising and Estee Lauder Companies acquired two of the biggest names in boutique scents — Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle and Le Labo.
So why are we all suddenly turning up our noses at the big boys?
‘Culture has changed,’ says fragrance expert Michael Donovan. ‘In the Eighties and Nineties it was about brands, but in the 21st century it’s about celebrating individuality.’
‘Mass-market fragrances can’t afford to take a risk,’ he says. ‘Millions of pounds are ploughed into their marketing and so they have to be very commercial, they can’t experiment in the way that a smaller, independent brand can.’
James Craven, of fragrance boutique Les Senteurs, adds that niche perfumers ‘tend not to work to deadlines but labour on until they have a unique perfume to offer.
‘Their packaging tends to be less showy but the end result is more interesting and engaging.’
And because the smaller fragrance companies aren’t spending on ad campaigns, it means a greater proportion of your cash goes on the actual perfume.
‘It’s about what’s in the bottle rather than on it or outside it,’ says Roullier-White.
– Daily Mail