A Perfume Blog Ought to be Cross-Cultural {Scented Thoughts}

Ruud_Van_Empel_Generation_3.jpgGeneration 3 by Ruud Van Empel, 2010

I was thinking how a perfume blog has the unique privilege of bringing to the attention of perfume lovers worldwide, perfumes that are meant for a single market or just a few. Not all fragrance launches are global. With the recent trend of Middle-East exclusives, which is better documented than the East-Asia ones - also for the reason that perfumery is more part and parcel of the culture in the middle Orient - this point becomes even more salient.

Traditional media on the other hand are much more bound to their national markets. As a blogger, I welcome the opportunity to track down the maximum of interesting scents that exist around the world...

It is not always easy, as brands think in terms of defined markets. Their offices are national or regional. For a perfume blogger, there is a lot of DIY and can-do attitude involved as normally, if you were a beauty journalist, you would be invited to launches taking place in your own country to inform your national readership. You are more linked to national ceremonies, like prize givings. There exists an institutional framework which favors local and national thinking and interests.

These refflections are triggered by the latest Guerlain annoucement about Les Déserts d'Orient. We, perfume lovers, see Guerlain as a house. In a simple-minded manner, we expect to be able to "follow" all of their perfumes. But from a marketing point of view, customs barriers make economic sense. Regional launches are tailored to regional tastes which translates as lower risk factor there, and as a higher risk factor elsewhere. Often, national markets experience an international "roll-out" calendar which allow marketers to calculate their risks, test the waters there before going further over there.

This is where I see a great difference with a classic beauty journalist outlook who by profession will have to concentrate on, say, fragrance launches in the UK or Japan. A blogger can benefit from more fluidity and travel across markets to try to sketch out an international, world culture of perfume. Bloggers who behave otherwise, in fact I would argue, behave like classic beauty journalists and are not taking the opportunity of the greater freedom provided by the internet to renew the old model.

While being aware of national tastes and trends, ultimately, a perfume blogger thinks in terms of self-cultivation of taste, of individual connoisseurship. She or he believes that readers are never to be condescended to. Taste knows no frontier. In fact, taste on the unimpeded path to enlightenment hopes to overcome frontiers in the search for experience, richer sensations and informed connoisseurship. National market frontiers are therefore oddities, artifices, a cultural framework of reference at best, but should never stop the perfume lover from seeking out exotic objects which are outside of her or his immediate purview. A perfume blogger, in my view, is first and foremost motivated by intense intellectual and sensual curiosity.

Wouldn't you feel strange if you were stuck with reading only French literature?

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