Perfume is one of the brightest elements that make up the image of a person, such as the manner of speech, gestures, hairstyle, style of clothing. It is customary to say about perfume that it is tried on and worn - if this "accessory" is chosen well, it will make the image more piquant, give you self-confidence and sexuality. If the perfume is frankly bad or applied in excessive quantities, it can play a cruel joke: they will simply shy away from you, pinching their noses, which will not benefit either career or personal life. However, in many other respects, the 21st century is forcing society to change its attitude towards spirits and leave conventions behind. MIR 24 spoke with the creative director of Brocard Group, ex-evaluator of Firmenich and author of the telegram channel Evaluatrix Lyubov Berlyanskaya about why perfumery is becoming gender neutral and what perfumes are loved in Russia.
From February 18 to February 21, watch the TV series “Perfume” on the Mir TV channel - a love story that unfolds against the backdrop of a provincial perfume factory.
How did the coronavirus pandemic and isolation, in which the need for perfume for many people disappeared altogether, affected the perfume market? - The pandemic affected all markets, because people almost stopped buying non-essential goods. Perfume is not an essential commodity, so sales have dropped dramatically. I think we will “catch” these consequences for a long time. Now the following trend is observed: people have more figured out why they need perfume, since there is no longer the need to attract someone with the help of a scent, to go out into the world and smell for someone. When people are at home, they use perfume for themselves and for their own pleasure. The emotional component came to the fore, which is the main thing in perfumery. I think that everything will gradually move in this direction. What are the trends in the world of perfume in 2021? - We live in such an amazing time when trends as such do not exist. There are different target audiences. Now everything is possible: you can release absolutely any product with any smell, you just need to understand who you are releasing it for. If you hit the target audience for which you create this product, then you will sell it. There is no such thing that only flowers are in fashion, only woody or green scents. People began to concentrate more on the choice of perfumes, without referring to other people's opinions. Or, thanks to the growing information flows, there are more diverse groups consolidating according to preferences.
What you see most often in, say, Rive Gauche, L'Etoile or Sephora - Calvin Klein, Lancome, Guerlain, Givenchy, Armani, YSL - is luxury. Lux is gradually losing focus on Gen Z, because they are very difficult to get into. These people are not as interested in luxury products as the previous generation, they have completely different priorities, and often these priorities are not shifted towards perfume. The reorientation of luxury to a greater extent on the 30+ generation and many of the latest launches that we see are a kind of retrospective - a creative redesign and rethinking of all the olfactory trends that have been popular in the previous 20 years.
Is the Russian perfumery market any different from others? Does it have strong players of its own? - Of the Russian perfumery manufacturers, these are mainly mass-market products - those that are sold for less than a thousand rubles. A lot of perfumery manufacturers work within the framework of direct marketing, therefore there are certain difficulties with our retail.Perfumes produced in Russia can hardly get into some serious retail. This is a historical problem. The legacy of the Soviet Union is still alive, and in the USSR they believed that real, good perfumes should be French, at least foreign. It is believed that domestic products are not of high quality. And direct marketing, not associated with traditional retail, is successful, as an example - Faberlic, which produces mass-market perfumes and has been doing it very successfully for, probably, 20 years. And if we talk about perfumes as works of art, are there any outstanding perfumers? - In Russia, in principle, there are no perfumers. Under the USSR, there was, and there was industry in some form, but this cannot be compared with Europe. We lived in conditions of restrictions, and these spirits from the Soviet past - there are some good ones among them, but they cannot even be compared with what was done at that time outside the Iron Curtain, so they do not carry any special historical value. After the Soviet Union, this entire industry was completely killed. We have neither synthesis of raw materials, nor appropriate schools. Compared with more than a century history of serious companies - producers of raw materials and compositions, there is nothing to even talk about.
Today there are indie perfumers who buy foreign raw materials and mix something in their kitchens without having a serious education. They, of course, can be called perfumers, but they do not know how to work globally, because they are not familiar with the work of the industry in general, or with security protocols. Rather, it is cute entertainment, like playing music for friends in the living room. It's great that it exists, but you don't need to mix segments. There are no perfumers capable of working for a large international company in our country. For this you have to go to study in Europe. Do you think it would be possible to revive this production in Russia? - What for? Is there a separate Polish perfumers, Czech, Slovak, Zanzibar, Mexican, Brazilian and others? No, because it is not necessary, because the perfume industry is a global history. There are top five fragrances and fragrance companies, and the coolest perfumers in the world work for them. These are Firmenich, Givaudan, IFF, Symrise and Takasago. These companies have been on the market for over 100 years, but we cannot catch up with them, we do not have the time and resources. All of the above companies are multinational, they employ people from different countries, completely different nationalities.
In general, there are a lot of companies - manufacturers of perfume compositions. I have named the five largest ones that are dividing the global market. All small companies live on the fact that they create compositions inspired by what already exists on the market, they practically do not invent anything new, of their own. Something really new and interesting is globally created precisely in five companies, which I named because they have huge research centers, a very large resource and an extensive network of offices and factories around the world. Perfumers of various nationalities, including Russians, work there. And besides perfumers - laboratory assistants, technicians, marketers, chemists, researchers, scientists and many more valuable specialists.
But in order to professionally learn to be a perfumer, you need to go to France or get a job in one of the giant companies, each of which has its own school. No matter who of the perfumers I talk to, they all say: it takes twenty years to start making really interesting compositions. No one can do it faster. For ten years you study, for another ten years you fill up the cones, try yourself, look for something, create.
How did you get into this perfume business yourself? - I was interested, and I was looking for ways. Graduated from the Russian University of Chemical Technology named after D.I. Mendeleev, but this has nothing to do with my future activities. Yes, if I wanted to become a perfumer, it would help me when applying.But I never wanted to be a perfumer, I'm not interested in that. It was the industry that was interesting, I studied and watched how this market works in general. At the beginning of the 2000s, there were communities of people with the same interests, and I was in these communities, wrote texts about perfumes. It so happened that my first job related to perfumery happened precisely because of my lyrics - I was hired by Faberlic.
After two years at Faberlic, I was invited to the Russian office of the Swiss Firmenich for the position of a specialist in perfumery compositions. I worked there for five years, studied a lot and seriously immersed myself in all the features and structure of the perfume market. Because fragrances are not only high-end perfumery (perfume), it is generally everything that smells: washing powders, shower gels, shampoos, creams, air fresheners and cleaning products. Did you initially have a finer sense of smell than most people? - This is an illusion, there is no finer sense of smell, there is a desire to develop. In the same way as with hearing, vision, sports - if you want to understand something, you need to train it. Of course, there is some initial data, but if you do nothing with it, then nothing will happen. I was interested, and I trained: I smelled everything, tried to talk about it, watched others talk about it. When I got to the Moscow office of Firmenich, I was already taught more professionally, but nevertheless I already had a certain base. What smells does the Russian consumer like, what comes in and what doesn't? - Depends on the target audience and the segment in which you want to sell something. Globally, Russian preferences for olfactory profiles lie somewhere between the United States and Spain. We really love freshness in all its forms, even if it's sweet, it should still be fresh. And for the Russian consumer, resilience is critical. That is, the perfume should be fresh and eternal. And then there are nuances in different directions that are associated with our cultural code. For example, the Aromas of Nature line developed by our team in the company is selling very well, the Black Currant and Mint Eau de Toilette is just a hit, people love it very much, because such a profile is one of our cultural codes.
And "Tomato Leaves and Blackcurrant" in traditional retail does not sell very well, but it is bought very well online. It is exactly the same influence of different target audiences, they fall into one, but not the other. In perfumery, in this sense, it is generally very difficult, because you need not just create a fragrance that would be liked by a large number of people, you still need to launch it on time, tell about it correctly, choose the packaging so that it is pleasant. A huge number of nuances. And even the coolest scent, launched at the wrong time and misrepresented to the public, will fail. Is it true that even the color of perfume is of great importance when selling?
- Yes, it's called synesthesia. The color of perfume and packaging affects how and how you feel. There is a whole science about this. On the one hand, perfumery is a creative process, on the other hand, it is a very accurate mathematical calculation and huge amounts of data in processing.
How do you feel about perfumes that imitate some specific smells, such as the smell of a grave ("zombie"), the smell of banknotes, etc. Is this worth using or is it just fun for a costume party? - Perfume is generally entertainment for us, for our brain, it is the formation of new neural connections, because we smell them and imagine some images, our mood changes. If the "zombie" scent gives someone pleasure and makes them scroll some images in their heads, then it has the right to exist and people will use it. I have a good attitude to everything that is done in the olfactory sphere, until a person pours a whole bottle on himself and goes into a closed room or does not demand from me an unambiguously positive assessment.From a consumer's point of view, I probably won't appreciate the smell of a grave and a burning trash can, but I understand the people who want to use it. It's normal to be different, not everyone loves the smell of roses and beautiful classical perfumery. Someone needs something weirder, more unusual, and this is the norm. It is good that today the market can satisfy any request.
/ FOTODOM / Africa Studio Should perfumery become gender neutral these days? - She becomes like that. Even the companies that I have named have their own classifications, they just a couple of years ago moved away from the division into masculine and feminine. Perfumery should be gender neutral, and it is gender neutral. Give yourself permission to use what you like. Do not limit yourself - from the fact that you use masculine perfume, your beard will not grow. And a man, too, will not fall off if he uses female perfume. By the way, roses on men smell great, completely unfeminine, it's very beautiful. Moreover, in the Middle East, the rose is traditionally a male flower. People are visuals, we read signals first visually, only then olfactory. There is no universal recipe, there are no male and female ingredients, and there are no male and female foods. Is aphrodisiac perfume a marketing ploy or does it really work? - Doesn't work, nothing works at all with spirits for sure. Pheromones, in principle, do not exist in humans, science denies this. Insects have pheromones, but humans do not. An aphrodisiac is a kind of food that potentially increases libido. We do not drink perfume, there is no smell that will unambiguously affect a person: here the male sniffed the female and ran after her. We are still more complex than the male silkworm, which smells the female's scent several kilometers away; this does not work for us. Research says that all pheromones and aphrodisiacs are a marketing ploy, and not very correct.
What does perfume actually do? If a woman suddenly begins to feel more beautiful, desirable and attractive with a certain scent, it means that this scent works with her. When another person's eyes are on fire, he smiles, exudes confidence and calmness, he has much more chances of being liked than an angry bore. An evil bore can pour out all the aphrodisiacs of the world on himself, but it won't get any better. So if you are kind, sweet and confident, then the perfume you like will help you become even better. But no smell can give you something that you do not have in the first place. Are there any rules on how and in what quantity should perfume be applied? - You can apply as you like and anywhere, the main thing is the quantity. If a woman or a man poured a very intense smell on themselves in the amount of ten sprays, this is very bad for others and for the person himself. When you are heavily watered with bright perfumes, then after half an hour you will no longer feel them. Your receptors will turn off, adaptation will take place. Receptors are overloaded, the brain attaches a constant smell to noise and turns it off from attention, while others will feel it all. There are light, weightless citrus aromas that you can really apply on yourself ten times, and everything will be fine. And there are aromas that are rich, bright, woody-oriental, which you need in an amount of one time behind your back - and that's enough. It all depends on the aroma, on the season, mood, on where you are going to go in this. They say that if you can't smell the scent on your skin, then it's yours. And if not your scent, then it will haunt you all day. Is there anything similar in reality? - A very old myth. This is not true. What is the point in using perfume if you do not feel it? Perfume is actually a hedonistic pleasure, a modulator of mood, emotions.If you use perfume, everyone else gets these emotions, and you don't, then what's the point? But with proper training in your sense of smell, you can feel any perfume all day and stop feeling it at will. Because most often it all depends on the ability to shift the focus of olfactory attention.