A few weeks ago I ran a very simple poll on Instagram Stories, composed on a neutral grey background and with no actual question asked. Two options were simply presented:
With a significant number of my followers voting, a resounding 77% chose FANTASY.
To be entirely honest, this result did not surprise me. In fact I expected it. Much of the world feels like garbage right now, and many of us want some time of escape from it.
I polled my audience because as an artist I feel responsible for creating catalysts for fantasy inasmuch as I also feel determined to present a chronology of honesty about what I do.
Furthermore, I should say, I desire to present honesty as an output that artists and perfumers can capably do. This desire encompasses elements of uniqueness, authenticity, and originality, too, all of which circle one magnitude around honesty but nevertheless start to grey the finite center of black-or-white logical truth.
The irony of a large group of people selecting FANTASY over REALITY in a period of time when the political realm has been warmongers superimposing ideological fantasy onto scientific reality is not lost on me, though: What many of us want is a fantasy that doesn’t endanger our collective reality, one that we enter and leave at our choosing, and one that nevertheless feels truthful because it stimulates and revitalizes our senses, unlike gaslighting which aims to blunt our faculties and harm us.
This is why perfumery is perhaps a perfect tool for modulation of fantasy and reality through sensory elevation of our selves.
As a working perfumer under pandemic-economy constraint and inside a real framework of legal commerce, my recent reality of fragrance has been quite bizarre. On one hand, I’ve witnessed perfumers publicly and privately admit to exposure to COVID and resultant loss of smell, only to see them then go on making and releasing volumes of new work, presumably through some form of alchemical, parosmic chance. On the other hand, I’ve received private communications from collectors in a similar bind, but who have regrettably walked away from perfume, hopefully just for now. A few of my ardent collectors have died in this time. And finally, the worldwide supply chain feels like it’s stuck in an economic hospice-cum-halfway-house, where big corporations seem to be raking in megaprofits despite the fact that I and my peers spend increasing amounts of time on the phone yelling at suppliers or banks.
It’s been a lot to hold onto, to be frank, as a manufacturer of objects that cross a divide between commodity and art. And every new week seems to just have ... more heavy things.
Throughout this period, inquiries regarding out-of-stock favorites like 33 and Bluer Skies (Whenever You're Around) have ramped up. It is a gratifying phenomenon, to have people desire your work, especially as their own hope for something of comfort to return into our present. Synchronously, it's been one item on the list of many things that keep me up at night, a knowing that I need to deliver or disappoint, and not keep hope hanging on if it feels unlikely those perfumes will ever be remade as they once were.
And truthfully, friends, given the past twenty months of IFRA changes, supply chain chaos, and basic exhaustion, it's time for me to let go of my own fantasy that they are re-creatable. This is especially so with the recent history of indie and mass-market reformulations trending toward the negative, a result I strive to avoid.
So while I promise you that I have earnestly tried to reacquire some of the necessary materials to recreate my earliest work and have experimented to redo certain accords which are now hampered by chemical shortages, the reality is 33, Bluer Skies (Whenever You're Around), and Quasi una absurdia are now retired.
This is ultimately the future of perfumery, because it has really always been an artform not of inertia, rather one of endless change. Many marketing efforts, however, strive to suggest otherwise.
Letting go of these legacy works allows me to return to fantasy and restore some sleep at night. There is plenty of new work ahead — Studio Series 13 is hopefully on your radar — much of which will be announced in the coming weeks, some of which many of you already know about. And it frees up internal creative expectations, facilitating revisionary works-on-a-theme derived from those three hits, an endeavor on which I've already embarked, and which I look forward to sharing in the year ahead.