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An Experience Consumers Want to Make Their Own

By: Abby Penning
Posted: July 13, 2011, from the July 2011 issue of GCI Magazine.

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Expanding on the origins of some of the currently popular fragrances, Como notes, “For women, there seems to be more femininity coming back. It’s going back to the ultra feminine fragrances of the ’30s and ’40s, but making them more modern and sleek, and incorporating natural elements.” For men, Como notes a softer edge, as well. “What has happened recently with men’s fragrances is that they’ve started to take a little bit more of a move toward floralcy,” she says. “We’ve come out of the hard woody notes, the darkness notes. Now it’s a kind of fresh darkness, with leather always being a popular note, as well as fougere. The scents are still big, but they’re just a bit softer.”

Fragrances with a softer edge aren’t the only driving force of note, though. “We’re also seeing more fragrances that are fresh and playful and have a sense of fun,” Patel says, and Firmenich vice president of creative marketing Debra Butler adds, “The notes of freshness and escapism are in both men’s and women’s fragrances.”

Finding Inspiration

Of the softer fine fragrances the beauty industry has seen of late, Como explains, “Given what we’ve gone through with the economy, fragrance consumers may want something that’s easy and comforting. We’ve seen lots of fragrances that are a little more disruptive in signature, and it is moving toward soft simplicity, however you want to describe that—it can be called a light oriental or round floralcy approach. There’s less heaviness and more of a natural feeling, using nature-inspired ingredients.”

Butler agrees, noting, “People are reverting to scents that are comforting, almost nostalgic but with a modern structure, and that’s part of where the woody trend comes from, I think; a sense of stability and rootedness, both literally and metaphorically.”

Como also notes that mass market fragrances are developed to appeal to a large audience. “Most times, a fragrance sold in a department store needs to be developed to sell well, so the scents need to be a little more broad in appeal than what you could develop for a niche specialty market,” she explains. However, Como says this doesn’t mean more largely marketed fine fragrances don’t take cues from the specialty side. “Many commercial fragrances are a nod to the niche fragrances and taking steps to move back to this more traditional, pure fragrance direction again,” she says. Patel notes that inspiration for a new fragrance can be drawn from nearly anywhere, including restaurant cocktails and light bulbs. “It could even be something as abstract as a quote, with the perfumer trying to translate the eloquence of how something was said into fragrance,” she says.