RESCU: What is the history of modern Perfumery?
Michael Edwards: It was a reaction against the war. Coty invented modern perfumery in 1904 followed by Guerlain and Chanel.
RESCU: When did designer fragrances gather momentum?
Michael Edwards: After World War II, it was an era of great creativity. It was the start of designer fragrances but the perfumers were king.
RESCU: Who were the big players of the 1950s and 1960s?
Michael Edwards: Rochas, Parfums Christian Dior, Aldo Gucci, Puig and Estee Lauder all made their mark. It was however Charles Revson of Revlon that created Charlie, a fragrance that changed everything! Suddenly, gone were the serious ‘signature fragrances’ that were received as gifts in favor of the concept of buying something for yourself.
RESCU: What about now? Who are the main creators of fragrances?
Michael Edwards: LVMH, Proctor and Gamble, Prestige and L’oreal are the giants.
RESCU: What is the evolution of fragrance?
Michael Edwards: Fragrance is a sociological phenomenon. Don’t forget that designers became important only in the 1970s. Until then, people went to the ‘dressmaker’ rather than shopping designer. When Americans came on board, the designer concept exploded, think Halston, Oscar De La Renta, Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein. In the 1980s labels were important as a signature, Charlie by Revlon and Opium by Yves Saint Laurent led to potent fragrances and potent designers. This was the time where flashy and recongnisable was fashionable. In the 1990s we went pure, think Leau D’Issey by Issey Miyake and the popularity of water notes. From 2000 it was all about celebrities, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, Kylie Minogue, Jennifer Lopez and any celebrity who was anybody suddenly had a fragrance.
RESCU: When did niche fragrances become important and what are the big milestones in niche fragrance launches?
Michael Edwards: None believed niche would have a future but they never counted on the power of the Internet. The Internet started a conversation amongst passionate, knowledgeable aficionados who talked, shopped and created a community around the love of fragrances. Niche speaks to a discerning audience, they have tried a lot and people’s tastes are more adventurous than the brand’s taste. People want to try something interesting, they want less of the sameness and are willing to be more experimental.
The milestone fragrances in the niche category were:
1966 CREED fragrances went from bespoke perfumers to retail
1969 Diptyque L’Eau Ambre (a fragrance that smelt like ‘Christmas’)
1978 L’Artisan Parfumer launched a suite of fragrances
1981 Anick Goutal launched with Eau d’Hadrien
1992 Feminite Du Bois from Serge Lutens for Shiseido
2000 Serge Lutens launched his own fragrances
RESCU: How would you describe the difference between niche and other fragrance categories?
Michael Edwards: Niche is a passionate encounter between creativity and art; it is the birthplace of the great brands of tomorrow. Like countries, great brands rise and fall.
About Michael Edwards
For three decades, fragrance expert, author and industry ambassador, Michael Edwards has made many significant contributions to the fragrance industry. Awarded the prestigious FiFi award twice for his expert knowledge and dedication to the fragrance industry, Edwards has shared his knowledge through his Fragrances of the World guidebook, often referred to as “The Fragrance Bible” as well as keeping the world up to date with his encyclopedic online database Fragrancesoftheworld.info.