Clothes, handbags, jewellery - they all dominate the world of fashion and adorn models strutting down catwalks all over the world. You flick through a glossy magazine and see the latest designer creations from fashion week, some have mass appeal and some are off the wall but they all have an artist behind them.
Central Saint Martins year after year shows off its plethora of creative genius - whether or not you like what they make, there has to be respect given to anyone who takes an idea all the way through to creation with even more respect for the bravery to put your ideas out there for criticism. Every one of these creatives has a vision and something to say about themselves or the world around them and they do this through the garments they create.
As a perfumer, I feel exactly the same. I have an idea, something to say, and I do this through scent. As the world shifts my influences shift. I have a taste, a style, a signature to my scents which all together, in my opinion, make fragrance as much a part of the fashion world as a pair of avant-garde trousers. So why don't we have our place in fashion weeks? Why do the glossies only have a section for hair and make-up and not perfume? Ok - so the obvious answer is in the absence of scratch and sniff - the viewer has to imagine the fragrance - but would that be so bad? Why can't we tell the reader what scent the model was wearing for the shoot and allow that to be a trigger for them to go out there and discover the scent?
The technology exists to scent spaces. Theatres are using it increasingly as a way to immerse audience members further in to the performance. Let's start scenting runways and giving our perfumers a stage for their creations. The traditional perfumery schools seem to create perfumers with phenomenal technical knowhow who often end up working for the likes of Unilever to scent the latest baby moisturiser. What we don't seem to see are enough new perfumers surfacing with their own individual take on fragrance. We don't have enough representation in the world of "master perfumers" with most of the well respected names, perhaps, just perhaps, not being representative of enough of the customer. I believe that this is part of the reason the world of fragrance has become stifled with "me-too" scents and a lack of bravery and originality. The kind of bravery and originality we see in the world of fashion needs to be transposed to the world of fragrance or the only scents that will see the light of day are the ones with the biggest marketing budgets behind them.
How can we bring the world of niche fragrance forward? Well, hopefully an executive from London Fashion Week is reading this. If not, I would encourage you to seek out the small, niche brands wherever you are in the world. Champion the brave independent perfumers who don't have Johnny Depp available to their marketing efforts, and start to see fragrance as not just a cosmetic, but an art.