On Sept, 15 an American Perfume company-a Chicago perfume company, if we want to be exact - will launch a double fragrance called "Man and Woman" Jovan will spend $2 million on TV commercials, and if you tune in "Baretta" or "Charlie's Angels" you can see for yourself what has been happening to the perfume industry in America.
For now, it is enough to know about the packaging. Packaging, as the smell people will tell you, is really half the battle. "Packaging," the Jovan people write in their deep-breather promotions, is "as explosive, as potent and as memorable as the fragrances with. Bottles as beautiful as a Brancusi."
As it happens, Jovan did not go to Brancusi for their new scent bottles. They went to a Frenchman named Pierre Dinand. And the result was that the "woman" bottle is shaped like a breast. And the "Man" to quote one licentiously poetic industry source, "is shaped like a nose."
The question for Jovan and all the smell people is: Will this new scent be as big as musk? Musk. Jovan executive vice Parry Shipp says, "is a once-in-a-lifetime deal." Most perfume people like to talk this way. They deal, after all, in essences so ephemeral, they need superlatives to give them substance.
But Barry Shipp, whose idea it was to push musk oil in '72, is simply talking business when he uses hyperbole.
It was because of musk that Jovan went from a little company to a bigger one-with $50 million last year in sales, half of which came from musk.
You are perhaps now asking yourself: What is musk? You may harbor visions perhaps of a herd of musk deer all throwing themselves into scent bottles. This not the case with Jovan musk oil.
Musk deer from India and Tibet are very, very rare, so the fragrance is made from a molecular reconstruction of old musk and a coal derivative. But that is not the point.
The point is that nowadays a lot of men and women want to go around smelling like Tibetan deer.
The point is that nowadays a lot of men and women don't want to go around smelling like men and women. Not even when they wear "Man and Woman."
Ten years ago American women bought $250 million worth of perfume a year. It took a while to get us to that stare, since in the Victorian era and for some time after, ladies who went in for anything stronger than "Florida Water" were considered hussies.
But 10 years ago, American women wore their scents, as one industry lady. "Two bottles lasted a woman a way." A little on the wrists, the neck and inside the elbow. A dab of "Arpege," "Joy" or "Chanel No. 5." just before they rushed out the door. Saturday night scents.
"Two bottles." mourns the industry lady. "Two bottles lasted a woman a whole year. Maybe she got one for her birthday and one for Christmas."
Well, you can just imagine how thrilled the smell people were with that kind of inconspicous consumption.
"The question," says the industry lady, "was how to get her to use it every day in a lavish way. To make lavish use a part of the American fragrance. In part we did this through TV advertising. Showing her splashing it all over her body.
And boy, did that work. These days American women buy $1.3 billion worth of perfume. That's the projected sales for this year from the Fragrance Foundation.
American men are buying scents to the tune of $950 million. It took quite a while to turn them on to scents, males in this country having long assumed that anything more delicate than "Canoe" was sissified: and Fanberge takes a lot of the credit for their slow conversion.
"Brut," says a company spokesperson, "was the first men's cologne to make (wearing it) the manly thing to do."
And Jovan, for its part, decided to turn them on with what it calls your famous talking package."
In fact, Jovan's package talks to men in general like a masseuse with a $100 client:
"MUSK OIL FOR MEN THE PROVOCATIVE SCENT THAT INSTINCTIVELY CALMS AND YET AROUSES YOUR BASIC ANIMAL DESIRES/AND HERS---TO TAKE YOU A LONG WAY TO WHERE ITS AT/TO THE MOST PLEASUREABLE OF CONCLUSIONS/BECAUSE IT IS POWERFUL STIMULATING, UNBELIEVABLE/AND YET LEGAL."
This sort of talk appears on all Jovan packages in one form or another Barry Shipp likes to call it "tongue in cheek."
The Fragrance Foundation, "a non-profit, educational arm of the industry." sayd that - oddly enough - the terrific surge in modern perfumes also started with incense. It all started with the hippies, says the Fragrance Foundation. "When not came, the kids covered up the smell with incense."
Gradually, parents, kids - everyone - discovered the new smells. Graduallyheads and straights started buying musk and other scents that smelled a lot like a stoned night in a college dorm. Barry Shipp was startled by a line of kids queuing up before a head shop. Questioning them, he found out they were all buying musk oil.
And that's how Jovan figured out a way to make millions.
The word perfume literally means through smoke," "which should she you a good idea about its deep historic origins.
Thousands of years ago, it was used in religions and purification rates.By the Egyptians who used cedar oil myrrh and sawdust from fragrant woods in enhalming rituals.
By the ancient Jews who poured sweet scents into their holy oils.
By the Far East where musk - the real thing - was used for medicinal purposes.
William I, Kaufman, in his book "Perfume," lcafs through the Biblical story of Judith where he discover a more contemporary use of scent. One that Jovan would be proud of.
It seems that Judith, once she had decided to seduce Holofernes in his tent, "annointed herself with precious ointments."
Kaufman also writes that Italians and Spaniards had been seeming their gloves for absolute ages. But it took Catherine de Medici whose own gloves were scented with civet, musk or ambergris by Repe the Florentine to bring the idea to France. To Grasses to be specific where they also scented tneir leather goods.
After that - well, France has always had a flair for convincing the rest of the world that France has always had a flair.
In 1971 "Chanel No.5" got itself a chilly French blonde to push its chilly French blond perfume. Her name is Catherine Deneuve and although she wasn't exactly new unlike, say, Marnaux Hemingway, who is pushing Faberge's Babe neither was "Chanel No.5 which has been with us since 1921, when it was developed by old Corp Chanel.
"If you listen carefully," says Phil Naquio of Norman,Craig and Kumme, who is in charge of the Chanel around, . "Dencuve doesn't talk about the perfume until the end of the coomercial. She seems to be telling us [WORDS ILLEGIBLE] about herself, her love life, and so on."
The operative word here is "seems." In fact, if you listen carefully, Catherine Deneuve does nothing of the sort. In fact, she murmurs very little about Marcello Mastroianni or Rezor Vadim or the French politician who is rumored to have earned her friendship.
"Chanel No.5" wants to appear, as Nequin says "refined" and therefore will probably never be marketed with a talking package with a dirty mind. It is, as Naquin says, "a beautiful fragrance with modern notes to it."
Modern notes" is an industry tipoff. Translated, it means that it doesn't smell like a jungle of gardeniss trampled down by Tibetan deer, and is therfore, acceptable to match aunt's sophisticated pubescents and assorted ladies who think-It's one of the pleasures of being a woman." as Catherine Deneuve will tell us before Christmas this year.
Pre-Christmas and pre-Mother's Day are coincidentally the very times when Deneuve will for her spent on TV Chanel pours in excess of S6 million into advertising its smells.
"But we do not promote Chanel as a Mother's Day fragrance, Naquin says meaningfully.
No, because Chanel wants it both ways.Intimate, but not sexy.Mother's Day, but not motherly.
The Fragrance Foundation believes that "Charlie" by Revion is the biggest seller in the United States and the world.
"That's the impression we got," they say.
And impressions are almost exclusively what you got from the perfume people because they're not too [WORDS ILLEGIBLE] delivering precise statistics to anybody. Revlon, For instance, is all too willing to agree that "Charlie" (named after Charles Revson) is first in sales, but adds, "We do not release sales figures."
And neither does Dior. Or Faberge.
Faberge does, however, claim that last year when "Babe," personified by Margaux Hemingway, came out, "It was the most successful perfume introduction ever with over $12 million in sales.
You will notice the semantic difference between "Perfume introduction" and "perfume sales." You will notice also that "Babe" is a direct competitor of "Charlie" - both being scents that appeal in large measure to the young, although Revlon claims to attract an older crowd as well. You will notice, finally, that it's awfully hard to get the straight dope from the perfume people.
So here are a few conclusions garnered from checking around:
There are about 25 fragrances which are doing about 80 per cent of the business in America.
Of those about 60 per cent, according to one expert, are American scents. Not French.
This is in part because American fragrances tend to be cheaper; to be cheaper still, we buy more colognes than perfumes. And also - to quote another scent person - "because our scents take themselves less seriously. Because they're lighter, fresher. Daytime scents, we call them."
And this is - finally - because American fragrances are becoming - like the women they appeal to - almost androgynous. That is not the way the perfume people put it. The perfume people talk about women "going back to work." They talk about "unmysterious, down-to-earth" smells. But the indications of the new androgyny are in the names. The names of the young scents for the young or would-be young women: "Charlie," "Maxi," (full name: "Just Call Me Maxi"), "Babe," "Smitty," "Cie," - which is being flogged by Candice Bergen.
Not all perfumes of yore were called "Amour, Amour," of course. But even names like "Chanel No. 5" or "Arpege" were neutral, rather than neuter.
Men, on the other hand, are definitely not being courted with neuter names. Instead, they are getting some very heavy-handed reassurance from the scent folks in return for buying their products. Products with names like "Macho." And "Brut." "Brut" with names like Wilt Chamberlain and Joe Namath who are obviously selling sexual permanence along with a smell."If you have any doubts about yourself, try something else," went one "Brut" slogan.
But female scents are about as complicated as the women who buy them. "Babe," a blend of 118 essences, according to Faberge, contains along with [LINES ILLEGIBLE] smell, "a hint of fresh celery seeds."
A little dab of V-8 on all the pulse points. . .
The Fragrance Foundation says that in general ambergris, which came from the sperm whale, and [WORD ILLEGIBLE] and real musk are no longer used as perfume fixatives. More and more we are relying on synthetic scents, which are not necessarily cheaper than the real thing. It's just that the real thing is growing scarce and perfume sales are evidently booming. Last year, 20 new fragrances were introduced.
PPL, which describes itself as one of the six largest perfumery companies in the world, did a study in which they discovered that "less confident women use more fragrance and are more likely to enjoy highly perfumed products than are secure, outgoing women."
They also discovered that young women are more receptive to fragrant toiletry products than middle-aged ones. And that "less affluent and less-educated women are more receptive to fragrance than wealthier, more highly educated women."
If PPL's findings are correct, then the future of smell rests in the noses of young, insecure, poor and poorly educated ladies.
On the other hand, Teri of Teri's Perfumerie Francaise in Georgetown claims that a best-seller is "Joy," now going at $100 an ounce. In January, "Joy" will go up to $150 an ounce.
"Now is the time to buy," says Teri.