In the current issue of our magazine, The Scented Letter, we take a look at what lies in store for the future of fragrance, and what we’re likely to be spritzing in the years to come.
Of course such crystal-ball-gazing is backed up by experts whose job it is to predict which ingredients – and relies on innovative ways of growing, harvesting, distilling and filtering fragrant natural crops, or even the creation of brand new synthetic aroma molecules… smells that cannot be captured or, perhaps, do not even exist in nature. Can you imagine the excitement if we created a new musical note previously unheard by musicians, or added a new, never before seen colour to the artist’s palette?!
We honestly could have written two volumes of a book with the amount of fascinating information we discovered, so wanted to share with you in a series of scented snapshots, the thoughts of three people we talked to with experise in varying fields of fragrance. What, we asked them, can we expect the future to smell like?
Pia Long is a perfumer and co-founder of Olfiction – a UK-based fragrance consultancy that work with suppliers, contract manufacturers, brands, retailers and fragrance industry organisations. So they can be involved with a brand right from the start, helping them create fragrances and scented products; or aiding existing fragrance houses to shape and better define themselves in the marketplace. And for Pia, education, accessibility and honesty are key factors…
‘Fragrance is currently experiencing a similar breaking down of barriers to access as we’ve seen in other trades – film and television; music. The differences are, though, that we don’t necessarily have the platforms and systems in place to democratise perfumery (though organisations such as The Perfume Society and the Institute for Art and Olfaction are heading the way in acting as a bridge between the trade and general public).
What the public currently understands as perfumery has typically been communicated by brands and marketers, rather than by perfumers and the trade, and therefore the concept of what perfumery even is, remains a little bit unclear in the public’s perception. This, combined with a general greater demand for transparency from consumers, creates an interesting scenario: if perfumers and businesses become fully transparent about how perfumes are made, are consumers ready? Would they understand? Or would the information that lands on a bed of misconceptions, in fact do harm to our trade?
I think for the fragrance trade to continue to thrive, we need to do far more education and allow far more access. This will help everybody. We are already seeing an increase in queries that involve full ingredient traceability, sustainability, and other considerations that touch on the growing, harvesting, supply chain or manufacturing processes.
Specific material predictions are hard to make, but the popularity of naturals as a marketing message, and for their aesthetic beauty is an ever-growing part of the trade, and all major fragrance houses have some systems in place to obtain and supply complete natural materials, as well as their own specialities. Natural materials have always had variation due to location and extraction methods, but I see the strategy of larger manufacturers ensuring ingredient loyalty as being one of creating specialist materials that are unique to that supplier.
In general, with synthetic materials, we’re likely to see more efforts to go back to some of the classic feedstocks like wood (turpentine), versus petrochemicals, and we’ll also see novel ways to replace raw materials that have fallen foul of regulators (if not 1:1 replacements, then certainly ones that can go towards creating similar accords).’
So it seems the future is smelling distinctly woody… and with perfumers looking for ways that we can still enjoy those ingredients that end up on the ‘naughty’ list (due to concerns about allergens and skin irritants), while manufacturers further explore how to make naturals smell unique. And at The Perfume Society we share Pia’s hope that more organisations and fragrance houses will open their doors and let the light in on what continues to be a subject that excites us every day.
There’s absolutely no doubt that fragrance lovers want (and deserve) more information about how their perfumes are made; how and where the materials are being sourced and hearing directly from the perfumer’s themselves. Just ask anyone who’s attended one of our many exciting events – visiting the archives of heritage houses, seeing ingredients distilled in front of them, smelling raw materials, hearing perfumers talk about their scientific and creative process and founders discuss why they bravely – some may say madly – wanted to launch their own fragrance house in the first place.
Or, indeed, from authors who’ve written about their enduring love-affair with perfume – such as the launch of Neil Chapman’s book, Perfume – In Search of Your Signature Scent. So why not join us on Thursday 28th March 2019 to find out more?
We think there’s a buzz about perfumery, alongside the developments in technologies and public hunger for reliable information, that’s perhaps where the food industry or wine business was twenty years ago. A widening of the world of ingredients we have access to, and want to know more about – and ultimately, a hunger to smell and wear even more exciting things. Better make room on that scent shelf, then, because we’ve sniffed the future, and it’s shaping up to be fabulous…
Written by Suzy Nightingale, with many thanks to Pia Long of Olfiction for her insights.