Sometimes a small stupid thing rubs you the wrong way, you keep thinking about it and just can’t let it go. Usually I let it steep for a while and then just drop it. But sometimes I feel like I still want to say something. This is one of those cases.
Many popular perfume blogs published recently information about the upcoming Chandler Burr’s project, which he runs under the umbrella of a “social shopping” (whatever it means) site OpenSky.com. I won’t repeat PR information but if you somehow missed all the postings about this project I refer you to the post on Olfactoria’s Travels from which I learned about it first.
For anybody whose interests are in the perfume field the idea of a blind sniffing isn’t new. Basenotes monthly blind sniff threads come to mind (e.g. March Blind Sniff Orient Express – The Red Line). Earlier this year I read about Blind Sniff Roulette: pronti, via! Ready to go! project at La gardenia nell’occhiello blog (you can read also Christos’ story Pomegranate Noir: the joy of blind sniffing revisited about his participation and re-discovery of one of his favorite perfumes). I even ran my own blind comparison projects (Déjà vu, Episode 2: huge floral vs. abstract floral and Déjà vu, Episode 3: powdery fruit vs. peony oriental vs. sandalwood jasmine). And these are just off the top of my head. Why do we all it? Because we know that we’re susceptible to external factors (brand, packaging, LT&TC’s opinion, you name it) and are curious how we’ll feel about the scent if we remove any surrounding noise.
“Definitely let me hear from you. Keep in mind, please: This isn’t about guessing what the fragrance is. The point is the experience of a work of olfactory art on your arm without a name or anything other than what the artist set, in its purest state, before you. So gives us that experience.”
Does anybody need a 50 ml bottle to experience “a work of art” on their arm? Let’s say it together: NO!
I usually complain about 50 ml of the perfumes that I know I like…Why on Earth would I want to pay $50 (+$3.75 S&H) for an unknown scent? To prove what? Chanel No 5 and Shalimar are extremely well made and beautiful perfumes – with or without the packaging and marketing hoopla. But I wouldn’t want to wear any one of them even if I got them for free – leave alone paid for an ugly decant bottle.
Just to make it even more real, would you want to pay $50 for a decant of Paris by YSL, Le De by Givenchy, Calyx by Prescriptives or Cologne by Thierry Mugler? I didn’t just come up with those perfumes – I got them from different Burr’s articles where he gave those very high ratings.
On Birgit’s blog the argument was made that Art can’t live without money. I completely agree that art requires investments! And I do not mind paying for going to a gallery or an exhibition. And I wouldn’t mind paying for a carefully curated blind sniffing art project: ten 3-5 ml unidentified sample bottles for $50-$60; plus an option to buy an actual manufacturer bottle of the perfume you liked for an offered price but still not knowing the name. I understand that a shopping site is supposed to generate an income to those who run it so actual names might not be revealed for some time (more than a month) to prevent people from going and finding them cheaper somewhere else. Something along these lines might have intrigued me enough to gamble.
“Don’t trust anybody. Trust me. “
I do not think Chandler Burr is in this project for money (we’re talking about $5,000/month revenue even if all 100 decants will be sold – it’s nothing). But it’s definitely not for the art. This probably is Art. OpenSky is commerce. And marketing. And publicity: see, we are talking about it.
So, buyers shouldn’t be influenced by brands’ ad copies, clips, packaging and names. They should doubt their own perception of a perfume because it’s distorted by “sensory noise”. But it’s OK to buy a 50 ml (sorry, I can’t get past it) bottle because Chandler Burr said that “it’s one of the few scents I know that smells like a state of grace” and that it is “almost unnervingly perfect. It has an astonishing olfactory texture, soft, cool, precise.” Because it’s not like he’s trying to sell them anything, right?