Confessions of a brand slave 3

November 15, 2008 at 2:00 am Leave a comment

dsc_0067ThinkingShift reader, Elaine B, has reminded me (quite rightly!) that I have not posted an update on how I’m going with The Brands. I declared myself to be anti-brand back in March. Go here and here if you missed my confessions. So….how have I been going avoiding the siren call of The Brands?

Actually, pretty well I’m pleased to say. I was spotted in the Apple Mac superstore in Sydney but that was to get something for the husband. I have scrupulously avoided entering emporiums that house The Brands like David Jones and Myers (two department stores in Sydney). And I have discovered how to make things. Yes, dear reader, I can tell you that I am pretty good at whipping up a batch of lime flavoured or chocolate flavoured lip balm. I have conquered the mysteries of how to make soap and can produce silky, creamy vanilla scented bars of soap. I have discovered that avocado makes THE best face mask ever. And you can do amazing things with bicarb soda and vinegar (for cleaning) and oil of cloves (to knock off nasty mould). I have become a domestic goddess – if there weren’t so many “tips on cleaning” books out there telling you how to use natural products in the home, I’d write it!

Given that we are in financial tough times, you can save a LOT of money making your own stuff and it’s quite fun. I have not conquered the ultimate goal yet – how to make the perfect lipgloss that is as shiny as glistening water. But the moment I figure that one out, I’m going to create my own cosmetics company :-)

But on a more serious note (the following is probably a girl’s only zone but guys feel free to read on) – I told you recently how classic perfumes have been sacrificed to The Brands. This post sparked off a flurry of comments and emails to me about a classic perfume I mentioned, Coriandre. I managed to help a chap in New Zealand get hold of this very hard to get classic scent for his wife and I have just recently found Venezia by Laura Biagiotti for another man who needs it for his wife’s Christmas present- it’s a beautiful, woody Italian scent created in 1988 that is just so darn hard to get hold of.  Do I sniff a new career here for me? Perfume hunter?

I contacted the one perfume shop left in Sydney that I know of that deals in classic perfumes to see if they had Parfum Sacre by Caron (if you have never smelt this, you don’t know what you’re missing out on). Quell horror! My email to them bounced back…because….they have shut down. Gulp, gasp!  The owners of the shop then emailed me from L.A where they are on holidays and told me I can go to their storeroom of perfumes in late November to buy what I like before they go out of business. Whatever classics are in their storeroom I plan to spirit off with!

When I heard this news, I went a whiter shade of pale. How on earth will I get my hands on the unusual, classic scents? I am currently researching on how old-time perfume shops used perfume houses and traders to obtain the classics. I plan to do the same thing. If you know anything that would help: leave a comment! I also reminded some readers who contacted me that buying perfumes online can be dodgy, so be careful.

Meanwhile, I have discovered the exotic smells of Arabian perfume oils. I picked up a couple in Dubai last year and a few more in Abu Dhabi. These oils (known as Oudh) use natural ingredients like sandalwood and myrrh or the purest essential oils like rose or tangerine. The perfume oils are usually presented in the most stunning bejewelled bottles that are worth collecting. They can be very strong though and I’m just beginning to understand how very different they are from classic perfumes. The colours of the perfume oils are striking: rich ambers and golden tangerines.

And just to get me further riled up – I was reading the other day about Celeb and Designer Scents. Some of the newest ones are:

  • Unscripted by Patrick Dempsey. Now, this guy is a pretty suave looking dude. But I’m sorry, he’s not a nose with a long history of expertise in the art of fragrances. This art belongs to very few people these days like Luca Turin for example.
  • Fairy Dust by Paris Hilton. I will refrain from commenting on what I think about this – I’d be up for defamation!
  • McGraw by Tim McGraw, the country music megastar. It’s said to be a spicy, woodsy cologne. Well, if you want to smell country…
  • Blue Seduction by Antonio Banderas – another easy on the eye dude but last time I checked Banderas was no emperor of scent (I’m stealing Chandler Burr’s title of his great book on Luca Turin, The Emperor of Scent).
  • Donald Trump by the coiffed-one, Donald Trump. The press release from 2004 says that this cologne is aimed at “….men of all ages (who) want to experience some part of Mr. Trump’s passion and taste for luxury. People want to know him on every level.” Eeeeewww!!

Call me cynical but these “celeb perfumes” are just cashing in on contemporary society’s stupidity in worshipping celebrities. And before you email me to say you love one or two of these celeb scents, yes, I have tried them. Across most of the celeb scents I’ve sniffed, I detect strong notes of laboratory created vanilla and that smell best left in the 1970s, patchouli. A bit of gardenia thrown in or a bit of basil or blackcurrant to fool us into thinking we’re buying “green”.

Apparently, the top 3 selling perfumes in the UK are:

  • Stunning by Katie Price (who?). Apparently, she’s a buxom English glamour model who was called Jordan and is best known for…well, I’m not sure really!
  • Kate by Kate Moss – this perfume is said to have a vintage English feel about it. What the?? Does the perfume have a couple of old English ladies dressed in tweed stuffed into it for that “vintage feel”?
  • Christina Aguilera by Christina Aguilera.  This fragrance apparently reminds Christina of her honeymoon. Not sure I want to be reminded of it though!
  • even Sir Cliff Richard is wading into the fray with his scent, Devil Woman. Sigh.

The celeb perfume industry sees an annual income in the UK of around 255 million and sales comprise over a third of the 638 million income per year of the entire UK perfume industry. And the culprits who are buying these “perfumes”? One in five Brits between the ages of 16 and 24 years own a celebrity endorsed perfume. These are people who want to smell like Britney Spears or Paris Hilton. In a way, you can’t blame them. They have never experienced or heard of some of the classics like Coriandre or Fracas or L’Air du Temps. They are surrounded by swirls of manufactured patchouli, strawberry, blackcurrant and basil and think these are classic scents. Everyone smells alike these days. In days gone by, a woman (and man) was after the signature scent, the one perfume they would be loyal too because it evoked a feeling within them not because they wanted to be like Britney Spears or Paris Hilton. It is a rare occasion for me these days to stop as I’m walking along because I’ve sniffed a perfume that is elegant, unusual or lingering. Usually, I’m stuck walking behind a woman who wears that awful perfume that reeks of gardenias! (If you know your perfumes, you’d instantly recognise the designer-created gardenia soaked drudge I’m referring to).

Well, I’m dabbling with essential oils these days. Might just see if I can create a scent of my own. I’d call it Paranoia (in honour of my obsession over privacy because, darn it, Obsession has been taken by Calvin Klein!).

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