An article in WWD this morning reminded me I had purchased the new book by Harvard Business School professor Geoffrey Jones entitled Beauty Imagined: A History of the Global Beauty Industry some time ago.
Interestingly for a book devoted to the beauty industry in general, it starts with a chapter on the sub-domain of the fragrance industry entitled "Scent and Paris." This is no mere chance as Geoffrey Jones turns conventional wisdom on its head and proposes the hypothesis that it is in fact perfume and the scenting of beauty products that have shaped the beauty industry as we know it today and been a motor in its development...
The problem for me was to go beyond the first few pages as the research of this inaugural chapter was so broad-brush and based on a digest of the original research done by other people. The result? The impression of getting a synthetic perspective on all the most mainstream nuggets of wisdom and fragrance erudition you can think of. I was therefore not able to go beyond a certain point out of lack of interest and want to point out to potential readers who would want to purchase the book for its promising look at the fragrance industry that there is nothing in it that you won't be able to remember from your previous readings elsewhere.
The chapter "Scent and Paris" unfortunately appears more as a brand-name placement than as a consistent theory on the defining role of perfume and Paris in shaping our categories of beauty. To wit, the chapter attempts to cover all of the major players in fragrance from ancient times to the 21st century in 23 pages. This includes the ancient Egyptians, the Islamic civilization, Paris, Versailles, Grasse, London, Cologne.
If I go beyond this stumbling block, I will report. Looking briefly at chapter 2 "How do I Look?" I realize the book is probably meant to be used as a textbook for a business class and therefore aims a public who needs a practical mainstream digest and some surface knowledge in the field.