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Connecting the Intangible to the Tangible

By: Valerie Jacobs
Posted: July 12, 2011, from the July 2011 issue of GCI Magazine.

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U.K. mixologist Tony Conigliaro decided to create a cocktail inspired by the iconic Chanel No. 5 using the food-grade versions of the five primary compounds that scent the perfume: ylang-ylang, May rose, sandalwood and jasmine, combined with sugar cubes and champagne. Additionally, Tom Ford’s Tobacco Vanille, Christian Lacroix’s Absynthe, Fresh’s Citron de Vigne (with champagne and Pinot Noir notes) and Demeter’s Sex on the Beach are all bottled versions of some of people’s most insidious vices.

Another avenue fragrance brands are exploring is the genetics of scent, mirroring its tendency to vary for each individual who wears it. To that end, some new products leverage bodily fluids as a source of inspiration. For example, Blood Concept launched four unisex scents that feature metallic notes that smell like blood.

Consumers can choose their fragrance—A, B, AB or O—based on their blood type, which is then dispensed using medicinal droppers. Similarly, Lady Gaga has stated that her forthcoming fragrance will “smell and feel like me,” utilizing notes of various bodily fluids.

Provocative and Powerful

The future continues to evolve for fragrance, as the power of scent remains an elusive yet fascinating concept with powerful implications in art, design, retail and product innovation. Although fine fragrance has struggled to find resonance with the post-recession consumer, new innovations will continue to drive interest. As more studies are released reaffirming the critical role scent plays in human behavior, more consumers will look to fragrance as a strategy to further differentiate themselves from others. Fragrance will also benefit from its exclusivity, and remain a largely misunderstood—yet highly provocative and powerful—art form.

Valerie Jacobs is a group director for LPK Trends and a design forecaster focusing on the development of trend analysis for LPK client brands. Jacobs is also a professor at the University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning, and is a guest lecturer for the In-Store Marketing Institute, Design Management Institute and the Industrial Designers Society of America.