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Tammy Violet Frazer
27 Nov 2014 13:59
In the fragrance industry, perfumers are champing at the bit to offer distinct personalised fragrances, writes perfumer Tammy Violet Frazer. (Flickr)
A few days ago I discovered something new about smell — something that is helping to inform the way I compose bespoke and signature
fragrances. I realised that a scent is not something that can ever stand alone.
There are three attributes to a scent.
First, the scent’s
Recognising these three attributes foregrounds the ongoing
interplay between who we perceive ourselves to be and how observers perceive us
to be. A concept I’ve been passionately researching in the realm of scent is
individuation. The principle of individuation “describes the manner in which a
thing is identified as distinguished from other things”.
The concept has been applied in philosophy (Nietzsche),
psychology (Freud and Jung) and, increasingly, even in modern marketing. Think
of Coca-Cola’s “share” campaign in which we see Dan have his very own printed
bottle, or Chloe, or Lerato. I have a friend who owns an advertising agency and
used his wife’s name: Tab! In modern medicine, when couples marry, they are encouraged
to meet with a genetic counsellor to get the lay of their DNA land as it
The closest we’ve come to the world of fashion and
individuation colliding is in the bygone era of bespoke Savile Row tailors.
Your suit perfectly stitched to accommodate long arms or broad shoulders, and
your pockets seamed to fit your lifestyle. In the beauty industry — and
fragrance within that — perfumers are champing at the bit to offer distinct
personalised fragrances. A way to solve the scentmaker’s creative puzzle of another
person’s skin — using individual answers, rather than marketing statistics, or
focus group decisions.
A scent for the individual Imagine a world where the “X-factor” we want to express need
not be muted by the powdery sweetness of needing to be so many things to so
many people. The introduction of technology is ushering in mass
customisation, but somehow the algorithms and the research parameters must also
take account of real individuation — because we are human.
There has to be something in the personalised that is more
than just “mass customisation” that satisfies us. So I can advise a private bespoke client who definitively
wants to find their perfectly matched scent for their skin type, personality,
wardrobe and lifestyle.
One of my clients, however, was far more interested in an
off-the-shelf perfume product because she knows herself so well that she would
never commit to one single scent. I found her an interesting case study and
mused on how I would tackle such a
client, should she embark on the signature fragrance journey with me.
I think the crux of it is that we are all searching for
meaning, in everyday things. We want to live more consciously, no matter our
age, with more thought that goes into what we receive, who we are, and what we
emit. And by feeling that we are being spoken to in a personal
way, by having something customised for us and being able to express ourselves,
it makes us heard, and we feel that we are understood.
Read more from Tammy Violet Frazer
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