Fashion trend: Personalised perfumes

Small French companies set standard in perfume excellence by using highest quality materials to craft perfume exactly the way you want it to smell.


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Niche perfumers infuse Paris with new options

MONDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2012
PARIS

DEEP in concentration, Tina Queralt sorts through a scatter of white paper strips sprayed with scent. She has whittled the choice down to a handful in her search for The One: the perfect perfume.

One Saturday in the run-up to Christmas, the Parisian and her two daughters have come to investigate a niche perfume store called Nose, that holds more than 250 references - and the elusive promise of personalised perfumery.

Opened in June, Nose is one of a new breed of stores that prides itself on cutting the marketing out of the scent business to put the focus back on the people at either end of the chain - the creators and clients.

The concept behind Nose is an online questionnaire, where clients key in details on their tastes - perfumes they have worn before, favourite keynotes - and an algorithm generates five suggested scents.

It's a starting point, not an ending. So it enables us to understand 'Who is the customer?'" explained the store's co-founder Nicolas Cloutier.

Tina and her daughters took the questionnaire in-store, and said the results closely matched their taste.

From there a salesperson guided them through the scents of Nose's 30 niche brands. Tina settled on "Aqua Universalis" by Maison Francis Kurkdjian, declaring herself "delighted" with the experience.

A perfumer for more than 20 years, Mark Buxton is part of the team behind Nose. Two years ago he opted out of what he calls "the industry" and started his own line, which is one of those on offer in the store.

When big companies develop a new perfume they typically brief the perfumers with a general idea of the smell they want, perhaps a character to keep in mind, and a price limit that affects the quality and quantity of materials used.

By contrast, perfumers say they have more room for creativity when working for smaller, niche firms because they are less constrained by cost ceilings, freeing them to use natural oils and high-quality synthetics.

Buxton never gives himself a price limit, and to him that's one of the biggest advantages of niche products.

"They have, in general, great diffusion and long-lastingness, and that's because they're using high quality products," he told AFP

Of course that increases the price. At Nose perfumes average around 100 euros (RM404.58) and up. At a nearby beauty chain, the range falls between 30 and 90 euros, with Chanel "No. 5" midway at 54 euros.

You don't see much packaging here.

Mining a similar vein, New York-based Le Labo opened a Paris branch in July, offering its own combinations of essential oils, which are kept separate from the alcohol base used for diffusion until a customer makes a purchase.

Jovoy, another niche perfume boutique, opened its second shop in February. Owner Francois Henin says he looks for a connection with the people behind the brands he stocks.

"What we sell is full of passion," he said. "It's because the perfumers are authentic that their products are authentic, and that they will last.

You don't see much packaging here; we want you to see the promise of what's inside.

Often set up by perfumers going it alone, many but not all of them French, these niche firms will typically offer a range of six to 10 perfumes, stocked in 600 to 1,000 outlets, with an average turnover of 10 million euros.

The Nose team vets every new scent for quality and originality before putting it on sale. The store recently delivered its first bespoke perfume -- though for that level of personalisation, prices start in the thousands.

In France, the southern town of Grasse has been the centre of perfume making since the 17th century, under Louis XIV. The sun king reportedly used so much that the scent made him ill.

A man after drinking absinthe (Source: Wikipedia)

Up until the early 20th century, when perfumers began producing larger batches, they used to create for a single individual.

Today perfumes are heavily associated with fashion and celebrities, a trend started by Coco Chanel's "No. 5" in 1921. Since then perfumes have become a normal part of a designer's franchise.

But to Cloutier, perfumes hold a special place in that they are closely associated with memory -- mirroring the fact that the brain centres for smell and memory creation lie close to each other.

The link is important to perfumers as well.

Mark Buxton's fragrance "Wood and Absinthe" was inspired by an evening in Corsica, when he and a friend raided the drinks cabinet and found only the notorious spirit.

This whole ambiance, this whole feeling with the absinthe, of course we were getting a bit drunk, and with the smell of the maquis, the woody notes, and this freshness in the air because the sun was going down, gave me the idea to capture this moment," he said. -AFP

(Source: Bangkok Post, Niche perfumers infuse Paris with new options, MONDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2012, PARIS) 
 

Perfume Vocabulary

perfume - a nice smelling liquid that people put on their body to make them smell nice: "a mixture of fragrant essential oils and aroma compounds, fixatives, and solvents used to give the human body, animals, objects, and living spaces a pleasant scent" (See Wikipedia)

line of perfumes - a group of perfumes that a company offers for sale

perfumery
- 1. a place or company where perfume is made; 2. the art, science and business of making perfumes (See Wikipedia list of topics)

perfumer
- a person skilled in the art and science of making perfumes (See Wikipedia)

niche - 1. a small specialized area; 2. a small area in something ซอก,โพรง,เวิ้ง,ช่อง
niche perfumers

a niche store
a niche perfume store

boutique - a small store that specializes in items such as jewelry ro special clothing (See Wikipedia)
a niche perfume boutique

fragrance - 1. a sweet or pleasant smell กลิ่นหอม; 2. a perfume

scent
- a smell (especially a pleasant smell)
the scent business

spray
- when a liquid breaks into many small droplets after being forced through a small hole ฉีด, พ่น
sprayed with scent


delighted - very happy or satisfied about something ยินดีมาก,สุขใจ
delighted with the experience

trend - a new development in clothing, make-up, etc แนวโน้ม a gradual change or development that produces a particular result ทิศทาง  
fashion trend


personalised - design especially for the needs of a customer ทำตามที่ลูกค้าต้องการ
personalised perfumery
personalised perfumes

excellence -
do something very well; being the best at what you do; having very high standards in what you do ความยอดเยี่ยม, ความดีเยี่ยม, ความเป็นเลิศ
perfume excellence

set standard in perfume excellence

craft - to make something with great skill; to make skillfully (usually by hand)  ประดิษฐ์โดยใช้ฝีมือ
craft perfume
craft perfume exactly the way you want it to smell

infuse -
ใส่, แช่
options - choices ทางเลือก
niche perfumers infuse Paris with new options

concentration - to think about one thing only
deep in concentration

sort through - to go through a set of things and classify them (and put order to them)

strip
- a long piece of something (example: a strip of cloth)
paper strips

scatter -
many things spread over a large area (opposite: concentrate - located in one place)
a scatter of white paper strips

she sorts through a scatter of white paper strips sprayed with scent.

whittled the choice down to - when you are choosing one thing from a group of things (rejecting or throwing out the things you don't want)

handful - a small number (could fit in your hand) จำนวนน้อยมาก
search - to look somewhere carefully in order to find something ค้นหา

she has whittled the choice down to a handful in her search for The One: the perfect perfume.

run-up to
- the period of time before a big event
in the run-up to Christmas

investigate - examine, research, explore ตรวจสอบหาความจริง, ค้นหาความจริง
references - items

they have come to investigate a niche perfume store called Nose, that holds more than 250 references

elusive - difficult to find, achieve or remember ซึ่งหลบหลีก, ยากที่จะหา, ยากที่จะเข้าใจ
promise of -
some goal that could be achieved in the future (after working hard at it)

the elusive promise of
the elusive promise of personalised perfumery.

a new breed - a new kind of person or thing
one of a new breed
the store is one of a new breed of stores

prides itself on - does something very well (and is proud of it)

the store prides itself on cutting the marketing out of the scent business

focus - make one thing the most important thing (that you spend all your time with) ให้ความสำคัญ
put the focus back on

chain - a group of businesses connected in some way บริษัทต่างๆที่อยู่ในเครือเดียวกัน
clients - (formal) customer ลูกค้า

the store wants to put the focus back on the people at either end of the chain - the creators and clients

concept - a principle or idea ความคิด
the concept behind
the concept behind Nose is

online - connected to the internet
questionnaire - when people answer many questions to find out what they think or what they want
an online questionnaire

key in -
to enter data into a computer (or other device such as mobile phone)
key in details
clients
key in details on their tastes

wear a perfume
perfumes they have worn before

key - important คนสำคัญ
note - 1.  a scent; 2.a sound in music
keynote -
an important scent (that stands out above everything else)

favourite
- the thing people like the most
favourite keynotes

an online questionnaire, where clients key in details on their tastes - perfumes they have worn before, favourite keynotes

algorithm
- a computer program (a set of fixed steps that produces some information)
an algorithm generates five suggested scents

founder - a person who establishes an institution, business, or organization ผู้ก่อตั้ง
co-founder - a person who starts a business with another person
the store's co-founder Nicolas Cloutier

results - what is produced in the end by an activity or task
results of a questionairre

the results closely matched their taste
Tina and her daughters took the questionnaire in-store, and said the results closely matched their taste.

brands - products with well-established names that people remember, that create a certain image and expectations about the product
a salesperson guided them through the scents of the store's niche brands

opt - choose
opt out - choose not to be part of something

he opted out of what he calls "the industry" and started his own line of perfumes

typically - usually; normally อย่างเป็นแบบฉบับ
brief - provide with information
general idea - not exactly, the idea without details

when big companies develop a new perfume they typically brief the perfumers with a general idea of the smell they want

contrast - a noticeable difference ความแตกต่าง
... by contrast ... - ..... and something that is different is ....

have more room for... - can change, everything has not been chosen and fixed yet
have more room for creativity

By contrast, perfumers say they have more room for creativity when working for smaller, niche firms

ceiling -
the highest amount possible, the upper limit (no higher is allowed)
cost ceilings -
the limit to costs, the cost limit (cannot go over this)

constrained - limited 
they are less constrained by cost ceilings

advantages - things that make one thing better than others

one of the biggest advantages of niche products
Buxton never gives himself a price limit, and to him that's one of the biggest advantages of niche products.

diffusion - spread over a larger and larger area over time
the perfumes have great diffusion

last - continue to exist, continue to be there
last for a long time
last for a short time 
long-lastingness

the perfumes have great diffusion and long-lastingness, and that's because they're using high quality products

packaging - the container or covering for a product while it is waiting to be sold in stores
you don't see much packaging here.

in a similar vein - in a similar way
mining a similar vein, ... - trying to find something similar

branch - an office or shop representing a large organisation in a particular area สาขา
the company opened a Paris branch in July

essential oils - oils that come from plants that are used to make perfumes and herbal medicines (See Wikipedia)
essential - necessary and important ที่จำเป็น ที่สำคัญ
the store offers its own combinations of essential oils

base - the thing that everything else is built on (added on top of)
alcohol base

purchase - buying something
the essential oils are kept separate from the alcohol base used for diffusion until a customer makes a purchase

stocks - large amounts stored for future use
the salesperson looks for a connection with the people behind the brands he stocks.

passion - a strong enthusiasm or interest ความชื่นชม หลงใหล
full of passion
what we sell is full of passion

authentic - the real thing, not a fake
It's because the perfumers are authentic that their products are authentic, and that they will last.

the promise of
the promise of what's inside
You don't see much packaging here; we want you to see the promise of what's inside.

outlets - stores, places to sell products ร้านค้า
turnover - sales, sales revenue,

Often set up by perfumers going it alone, many but not all of them French, these niche firms will typically offer a range of six to 10 perfumes, stocked in 600 to 1,000 outlets, with an average turnover of 10 million euros.

The Nose team vets every new scent for quality and originality before putting it on sale. The store recently delivered its first bespoke perfume -- though for that level of personalisation, prices start in the thousands.

century - a period of one hundred years ศตวรรษ
In France, the southern town of Grasse has been the centre of perfume making since the 17th century, under Louis XIV. The sun king reportedly used so much that the scent made him ill.

batches - large amounts of something made at one time
single - one only เดี่ยว
individual - a person (considered separately from their society or community) บุคคล

Up until the early 20th century, when perfumers began producing larger batches, they used to create for a single individual.

franchise
- 1. the rights to sell goods and products; 2. a formal agreement for someone to sell a company's products or services in a particular place การขายระบบแฟรนไชนส์ คือมีสาขาของร้านค้า เช่น 7-eleven

Today perfumes are heavily associated with fashion and celebrities, a trend started by Coco Chanel's "No. 5" in 1921. Since then perfumes have become a normal part of a designer's franchise.

memory - something that you remember from the past; the ability to remember information, experiences and people ความจำ
creation - the act of making something new การสร้าง
memory creation

closely associated with memory
mirroring the fact that

But to Cloutier, perfumes hold a special place in that they are closely associated with memory -- mirroring the fact that the brain centres for smell and memory creation lie close to each other.

link - a connection เชื่อม
the link is important to perfumers as well.

absinthe -
an alcoholic drink that has a drug-like herb added to it , very popular in the 1800s (See Wikipedia)

notorious -
famous in a bad kind of way
spirit -
an alcoholic drink
the notorious
spirit

capture - to take someone as a prisoner จับกุม
moment - a very short period of time; a particular time or occasionชั่วขณะ, โอกาสสำคัญ
capture a moment

ambiance - the feeling you get from a place; the character of a place (or here: a perfume that you can smell in a place) 
the woody notes -
smells of wood in a perfume

This whole ambiance, this whole feeling with the absinthe, of course we were getting a bit drunk, and with the smell of the maquis, the woody notes, and this freshness in the air because the sun was going down, gave me the idea to capture this moment


About the author

columnist
Writer: Jon Fernquest
Position: Online Writer