There has been a revival at the house of Gucci. For the first time in a long time (since Tom Ford was at the helm, in fact) the olfactory style of the house is in tune its visual aesthetic. Of course, the fashion has evolved tremendously since then and the bohemian, vintage chic that Creative Director Alesandro Michele has brought to the house has made Gucci THE fashion brand everybody wants. Michele clearly gets perfume, having worked with Master Perfumer Alberto Morillas to create intriguing, on-brand creations such as Gucci Bloom, Gucci Guilty Absolute and now, Memoire d’une Odeur, completely overhauling the way Gucci presents perfume. I for one, am here for it.
Memoire d’une Odeur explores the intrinsic link between memory and scent. For Michele, the scent memory he wished to recreate was that of Roman Chamomile, which takes centre stage in what Gucci are positioning as a “mineral aromatic”. This fragrance, they say, is universal – it’s for everyone regardless of gender or age – and that, my friends, is exactly how every fragrance should be. Memoire d’une Odeur is an unusual, unfamiliar fragrance that conjurs a specific memory for Michele and creates a new one for those who experience it.
The perfume community is very protective. All you need to do is search the subjects of European regulations, IFRA and reformulations on any fragrance forum to get an idea of just how protective perfume lovers are, and I’m right there with them. Heritage should be looked after, but at the same time, I think we all have to appreciate the fact that the world, and the industry for that matter, are ever-evolving. Things change, whether that’s because certain materials stop being available, regulations restrict their use, or because brands change hands. Change is inevitable but does that mean we have to accept it?
One of the topics that receives constant criticism is the fact that independent niche houses are being snapped up at rapid pace by big houses. So far we’ve seen Estée Lauder acquire By Kilian, Le Labo and Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle, whilst Puig have acquired Penhaligon’s and L’Artisan Parfumeur. Most recently LVMH bought Maison Francis Kurkdjian and this certainly set the tongues of the perfume community wagging, and rightly so, because it’s a big deal (although MFK has always been positioned as more ‘luxe’ than niche). More often that not, people view these acquisitions as brands selling out or a pre-cursor to their spirit, and beloved fragrances being crushed by corporate greed. But are they really a bad thing? Or are they just a reminder that, first and foremost, perfume is a business?