One perfumery trend which emerged from 2009 and is garnering momentum this spring and summer 2010 is the Pure White Trend in Fragrances. It is as if the recession had helped get people in touch with basics and simplicity overall. Maybe, if you consider the recession like a minor scourge, it is also a way of purifying ourselves from our excesses and consumers' sins.
One of the effects of the recession which has been observed is that people started giving renewed value to human relationships and putting all-out materialistic pursuits on the back burner. As it turns out, the Pure White Trend in perfume is not just about cleanliness but sentimentality and refocusing on the home front. Images surrounding several of these fragrances involve family imaginings. The scent of laundry never smelled so comforting, poetic and evocative...
Byredo Blanche (2009) is the portrait of a luminous anonymous woman bathed in white light. Brand founder Ben Gorham said that "I wanted to capture her innocent and untainted side, with a fragrance almost transparent in nature." Donna Karan Pure DKNY (2010) illustrates love, affection, family values which are expressed with the white color of transparent white veil curtains blown by the breeze and the suggestively clean notes of spring renewal in New York City. Francis Kurkdjian creates an Aqua Universalis for both your skin and bed linens which sounds like a family and world peace pamphlet put in olfactory form. Serge Lutens offers a simple L'Eau which aims at creating the portable sensation of stepping fresh out of your bath all day long. This quest for transparent textures might have been pre-announced by the demure and crystalline Nuit de Cellophane. Betty Barclay also has a perfume with a program about lasting style values running deeper than the transiency of fashion called Pure Style.
White in perfumery is signing a return to fundamentals. It is also in my opinion a type of perfume that aims to be less egotistical and more oriented towards others. It is to some extent self-effacing in nature, indistinct in personality and seems to want to express better than words can do the transparency of our intentions.
Less centrally white but still fascinated by purity and the virginal color are Balenciaga Paris which ultimately smells to me of pristine white violets growing under the immense glass roof of Le Grand Palais in Paris. The upcoming Voyage d'Hermès this spring is also tempted by a fade-to-white atmosphere and purity although it mixes these up with their opposite: carnal sweat; last year the same house already released a white fragrance called Eau de Gentiane Blanche.
White also appeared early on in White Patchouli by Tom Ford, Jasmine White Moss by Estée Lauder and Essence by Narciso Rodriguez. The latter is launching in a lighter, iridescent version this spring.
If clean, transparent fragrances are no rarities - this is an understatement - especially in the US market with such franchises as the Clean perfumes - thought to be quirky and exotic in France - and Demeter Fragrance Library of squeaky clean smells, what is new this spring is the way in which luxury brands have appropriated themselves simpler tonalities usually relegated to more democratic brands.
Instead of representing the easy scents, pure white perfumes become the white pages on which more ambitious, reflective statements are written and even a moral program laid out, however minimally and simply in appearance.
Some will call it reverse snobbery, others will try to gauge the sincerity of the movement.