Just to put Bette Davis’ quote in context, this is what she said when interviewed in 1981 on Good Morning America.
They talk about the golden years. It was just as hard work then… and there were not many great films each year then. They talk about it now as if EVERY film we made was a gem. No… there were never more than 4 or 5 great films a year.
I think of Bette Davis when I read posts that list the “10 best of 2015”. Or worse, “the 10 best perfumes of spring 2015”. Of course, the “best of” does not preclude that only 4 or 5 of those perfumes are great in any one year but it helps to keep this fact in mind when running out to try the latest Olivier Polge or Jean-Claude Ellena or Bertrand Duchaufour.
And this brings me to the elephant in the room which I have never read much about in books about perfume or the blogs. Which perfumes would make up the canon of modern perfumery and by canon, I mean the list of perfumes considered to be permanently established as being of the highest quality. And how do we establish the canon? You have to start at a given year and then look at the trajectory of perfume development over the decades and follow trends, influences and excellence. Which perfumes influenced other perfumes. Which started offshoots. Which are so unique, they stand in a class of their own? You have to create the canon like one does in art… but looking at which painters had the most influence on the painters that followed them.
And so, keeping in mind that there were 1620 new releases in 2014, how many of those would make the canon for 2014? 4? 5? Maybe none. Maybe 10.
This is the kind of project I’d love to do when I retire. Any thoughts?
On this International Women’s Day of 2016, I vote that Frida Kahlo makes the Western art canon… absolutely beautiful and unique artist.