What do we think exactly when we are talking about Niche Perfumery? It is a definition that is more and more used nowadays and is often interpreted and defined also as Artistic and Selective Perfumery. These expressions highlight both the creative and unique kind of the production and the attention given to the distribution channels. Anyway the true essence of Niche Perfumery is far more complex than that. I will try to pay my contribution to the understanding of this aspect as I have more than 30 years of experience in this production sector. And, by the way, I am following in my father’s footsteps as I have inherited from him, who was a perfume maker in Rome since 1948, all my knowledge of artisan perfumery.
First of all let’s try to point out which is the difference among niche perfumery and others kind of perfume manufacturing and which characteristics niche perfumery must have in order to be defined in this way. I quote Silvio Levi, who is one of the first creator and sponsor of niche perfumery, as well as founder of Calé Fragranze d’Autore. In one of his essays he explains:
"Keywords that distinguish niche perfumery from conventional perfumery are continuity, coherence and uniqueness"
- CONTINUITY is about the creation of fragrances that have a lasting nature and are are in spite of trends and fashion;
- COHERENCE is about the creation of fragrances that reflect the style and philosophy of the company and also about their distribution through professional and passionate partners;
- UNIQUENESS because the creation of fragrances comes from an interpretative impulse which is independent both of the general approval of the largest number of consumers and of marketing analysis to establish their success.
These are the basic principles that guide the niche perfumery and that presupposes a fragrance making technique based on the exclusive use of high level raw materials.
These fundamentals mark out the master perfumer’s work in modern age, which gained its maximum creativity from the 20’s on. I can mention Coty’s or Guerlain’s Eau de Parfums as examples of fragrances that correspond to the criteria of independence, quality and uniqueness of the niche perfumery. Other haute couture fashion houses have commissioned fragrances to famous perfumers as Ernest Beaux (Chanel nr. 5), Henri Almeras, (Joy by Jean Patou), Edmond Roudnitska (Eau Savage by Dior). In the past the artistic perfumery worked only like that, even if the fragrances were commissioned.
In the 80’s a new conventional method of manufacturing was born: a production made to satisfy the market demand and to obtain the approval of more and more consumers. I was a witness of this change towards a new conception in the production of fragrances. Eau de parfums lost their uniqueness to become only one of the tools to increase the income and the popularity of big companies.
The natural consequences of this switchover were the transformation of family-run companies into multinational companies which had great influence on master perfumers, and that these latter were and are complied to the market’s rules and cannot work independently anymore. Many new fragrances had impulse not from personal creativity and interpretation of a style but from marketing researches in order to become successful among the public.
"Officina delle Essenze was born from my personal history and passion and it is specialized in creating entirely made in Italy fragrances"
It is true, however, that not all the companies were involved in this switchover and that some extraordinary fragrances have been created. Nevertheless there has been a great change as regards quality and quantity in the perfume business. That’s the reason why it was necessary to elaborate the concept of Niche Perfumery to diversify the companies that are complied to the market’s rules from the companies that pursuit the principles of independence and uniqueness that are traditional characteristics of this sector. Officina delle Essenze was born from my personal history and passion and it is specialized in creating entirely made in Italy fragrances. The uniqueness and high quality that have always distinguished the work of master perfumers who nowadays keep their distance from a more commercial production.