On May 21st 2015, we published an article establishing a link between the new Alaïa Paris perfume - a debut signature scent for the couturier - and a quartet of fragrances issued in 2013 under the name Alaïa Paris as well (shown in that post), apparently destined to the Russian market. Today, perfumer Olivier Cresp of Firmenich told us on the phone that the story behind those four scents rests on a "total usurpation of my identity,"...
We feel it's best to show the materials you might encounter on the web showing the (erroneous) connection rather than just unpublishing the article. The information appeared on V Kontakte, "the largest Russian social network in Europe," dating back to 2013 while the perfumes continue to be sold on several e-commerce sites.
To explain why I thought the piece of information I saw was a bit surprising but plausible I invoke the example of Duchaufour who did a couple of perfumes "for the Uzbeks," which were not publicized very much. Unless you read it in the regional media, it was not widely circulated. Yes, replies Cresp, but he really did make those while himself did nothing of the sort and certainly not to have a regional Russian launch of separate Alaïa perfumes to the BPI ones.
BPI, the licensee of Alaïa Paris, are to say the least, not happy about the situation. What remains of the quiproquo which will need to be further clarified as the perfumes exist after all, is that it seems to all amount to a story of conterfeiting of sorts, the virtual use of one of the best-known signatures of today's perfumery. Olivier Cresp is the author of Angel by Thierry Mugler, Light Blue by Dolce & Gabbana, Noa by Cacharel, Nina by Nina Ricci & many others.
As the perfumer stressed it is as gratuitous an action as if someone launched a "Shalimar Bleu" flanker somewhere and then put his name on it, or say, that of "Jacques Cavallier". For him, the false claim was made in order to serve as a commercial argument. The nose adds with a certain amount of indignation and savvy at the same time, that this would translate into selling "10 000 more bottles," right off the bat. This tells you how much a famous perfumer's name is worth today as they have become more and more a secondary signature to the brands' while being the principal creators of the fragrances.
In an interesting twist, Cresp makes reference to the "Grassois" identity and reputation wishing to underline the fact that he is not one of those Grassois who dabble in more parallel activities to the mainstream perfume industry. In French, he says "Il y a grassois et grassois." The comment is made in passing but with deep conviction as a way to express how embarrassing the situation has turned out to be for him personally.
Working side by side with perfumer Marie Salamagne at the same house of Firmenich - she is the author of Alaïa Paris edp, the one and only official jus (so far)- and apparently very much near the same desks, he says that this kind of manufacturing of false information is doubly embarrassing because there can always remain a doubt that something amiss took place, in such close proximity. This tells you how subtle the atmosphere in a perfume lab can be. It tells us how intrinsically perfume is a language of the invisible and of the unsaid.
I rejoin and comment with some amount of surprise that, Oh, yes, I see, you mean with all those stories of perfumers who steal perfumery accords from their colleagues. An eloquent silence ensues.
To this fragrance industry observer - and I make the comment to Cresp who doe not deny it - the very confidentiality of the trade of perfumery, its traditional reliance on secrecy and discretion means that one can always suspect that something took place, behind the scenes - and that not all was told. Secrecy is a protection but it can also become a trap.
As it is, Olivier Cresp is opposing a fervent and public denial to the news that he is the creator of the four Alaïa Paris sold on Russian e-commerce sites. He says he hopes that there will be trickle down effect "for the other blogs who read you" and that the updated information will be publicized.
As a perfume critic sometimes you have to be skeptical of official fragrance industry discourses, at other times, you have to make sure that all opinions were voiced and public denials, published. And by the way I tell Cresp at the end of our conversation as the enormity of the transgression is once more stressed - someone stealing your professional identity and reputation - I do empathize with his situation because it happened to me once to have my identity usurped [by a weirdo] who called a perfume house insulting them while pretending to be me. Fortunately, an exec gave me an opportunity to clarify the situation by reporting it to me. I am doing the same today here. Also, Cresp's lawyers are on it.