Jean-Paul Guerlain, the patriarch and former nose of the legendary Guerlain family, is allegedly the victim of elder abuse at the hands of his son and guardian, Stéphane Guerlain. An article yesterday, January 15th, detailed a host of allegations against Stéphane who will be appearing in court. Charges include terribly dilapidated living conditions, bare financial support, loss of income, and both violence and death threats against Jean-Paul’s girlfriend who he’s wanted to marry for years. (Stéphane Guerlain put a stop to that, allegedly. He’s also brought counter-accusations against her which several courts have dismissed.)
The outpouring of support after yesterday’s post on Leonard Payne’s admitted theft of 190 pages of my work has meant more than I can properly express. I don’t think I can thank you all enough or properly. Whether you commented here, on FB, on Twitter, or by email, your words felt like a soothing balm or a hug. I was particularly touched by an email from Belgium where the person found me because of Tom Ford (and his Bitter Peach) but stayed for Apollo and my writing. Thank you — to each and every one of you.
Many of you have suggested I sue the not-so-good Reverend. I wanted to address that point tonight in an update that also includes new things that I’ve learned about Mr. Payne.
As many of you are undoubtedly aware by now, major changes are sweeping over Serge Lutens. They extend beyond changes to the mere look of bottles or their pricing and entail a whole reshuffling and revamping of the many lines or collections within the brand, thereby signifying a new marketing and business approach by Shiseido which took over the full management of the Serge Lutens brand a year ago. Many of you have already read the news of the specific changes elsewhere, but not everyone follows the same perfume sites or groups, so I thought it was worth a post here on Kafkaesque so that everyone had the chance to buy any old favourites whilst they could before the higher prices kick in.
At the end of this article, I’ll share some thoughts about the possible larger meaning of all this, why I think Shiseido differs from other companies (like L’Oreal or LVHM) that have taken control of perfume houses, why the nature of Shiseido’s relationship with Lutens might be cause for cautious optimism, and, finally, which Lutens fragrances have, in my opinion, have already undergone reformulation prior to the new bottling.
I read a fascinating article the other day on China and fragrances which set off my curiosity on a few issues, got me digging into others, and made me ponder a few impenetrable questions that only time will tell. The article is called, “Sweet smell of success: Foreign fragrances dominate China’s perfume market,” and it’s written by David Dodwell for the South China Morning Post. Mr. Dodwell is the Executive Director of the Hong Kong-APEC Trade Policy Group and appears to write extensively on China. This time, he turned his attention to perfume after spending a day in Heathrow’s Duty Free section in Terminal 5 and seeing “a flock of fashionable mainland Chinese women scenting their way through the Jo Malone part of the fragrance section.”
That led him to the following question: given China’s global manufacturing process and the emergence of so many Chinese brands, why couldn’t he think of a single Chinese-made perfume? I have my own personal theories on that issue, but what interested me more were other points he made in passing, like Mao‘s Cultural Revolution or the role of oud (chen xiang (沉香)). I’ll be talking about all of that today, in addition to China’s fragrance history, fragrance culture, and its changing attitudes to scent over time.