Sondheim : You Gotta Get a Gimmick

Hey... it's a gimmick!

Hey… it’s a gimmick!

Are you like me?  Do you think that perfumes these days are more about gimmick than creation?  I read that perfumers in “pre-Madonna” days created perfume hoping to entice a customer throughout her lifetime… engagement parties, weddings, baptisms, bar mitzvahs, graduations, more weddings, more graduations, and still more.  THOSE DAYS ARE GONE!  Today, they put out perfumes with a minimum of research and even less quality.  I’m not talking Chanel… or Guerlain… or Hermès.  I’m talking about many of the cosmetic and fashion lines like Givenchy, Lancome and Yves Saint-Laurent who used to put out some great quality juice.  Today, they’re all putting out very mediocre fragrances… like Lancome’s La Vie est Belle or Givenchy’s Dahlia Noir.  I mean… the juice is ok… but nothing to write home about.  And I doubt they’ll have lasting power.  I’m expecting Lady Gaga’s Fame to hit the discount stores any day now.  Now there’s a gimmick!

And how about the slapstick creations of État Libre d’Orange?  Their perfumes are fine but those ridiculous backstories!  And if you are familiar with ELO’s offerings, you’ll agree with me that my top image is more than tame!!!  It could easily have been used for their “semi-modern vetiver” Fat Electrician… which isn’t a vetiver but that’s another rant.

Check out the backstory for Fat Electrician…

His beauty would have been his greatest asset. A midnight cowboy, his splendor was consumed in the service for others. Now, a fat electrician in New Jersey, he is cursed with the memory of his glory days. Because all beauty carries within itself the knowledge that it cannot last…

Believe me people, I’m not making this up!  Actually, if ever ELO and Ed Hardy collaborate on a perfume, the above picture would be perfect!

So… how do they make perfume today?  From what I can tell, they come up with an idea… a name, a face, a bottle, a gimmick… and then if they have any money left over they’ll pay a big (or unknown) perfumer a few shekels.  It doesn’t really matter what the juice smells like anyway… as long as it smells “nice”.  It’s not what people are buying anyway.   They are buying the concept.  It’s about a moment… one of many in our lives.  It’s about impulse.

So… let’s finish with the closing lyrics of Stephen Sondheim’s ultra-clever You Gotta Get a Gimmick.

You’re more than just a mimic, when you gotta gimmick
Take a look how different we are!

If you wanna make it, twinkle while you shake it.
If you wanna grind it, wait till you’ve refined it.
If you wanna bump it, bump it with a trumpet!

So get yourself a gimmick and you, too, can be a star!!!

Have a nice week everyone!

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  1. Tara

     /  March 5, 2013

    Oh my eyes, my eyes!! That was rough at 8:30 in the morning. But I agree with you, it’s all gimmick, no substance for most of the perfume lines nowadays. I prefer to stick with lines that give real value for the money and that I will want to wear for years to come.

    • Yep… it must have been a little rough before one’s morning coffee! Ouch! I agree with you… thank God for the traditional lines who still put out value.

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. FiveoaksBouquet

     /  March 5, 2013

    Sometimes it’s an advantage to have a screen too small to see the details…:D

    I think the popular gimmick today among high-end fragrances is how suddenly perfumes started being launched in whole lines from three to about twelve at a time, as opposed to a single scent. Costs the same in publicity but you kill up to a dozen birds with one stone. I do like Chanel’s Les Exclusifs line (in fact there isn’t one among them I couldn’t wear) but for the most part I find most of those lines overpriced and pretentious. So many high-end houses are on that bandwagon these days.

    • The perfume industry does seem to be searching… high-end, low-end… whole lines coming out at one time, as you note. I don’t think it’s so much about wearing perfume anymore… it’s about selling a bottle today… and hopefully another one in a couple of weeks when the customer realizes that the fragrance is meh!

      Thanks for writing!

  3. “Miss Tura! I’ll thank you not to give the boss the notion that I would ever play scenes!”
    You are so very right about the sad state of the perfume world. One wonders if it is going to go the way of Vaudeville and leave us with only grimy burlesque stinkers. Not that I think there is anything wrong with strippin’.


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