The news came on February 13th: the European Commission is announcing a three-month period of consultation on fragrance allergens prior to amending its Cosmetics regulation.
This would entail banning three substances, two of which are molecules contained in oak and tree moss, as well as a lily-of-the-valley molecule known as Lyral. Another 12 chemicals and 8 naturals are slotted for restrictions and labelling (bearing in mind that the 12 molecules can occur in several naturals, the list of restrictions would concern way over 20 raw materials).
An estimated 90% of currently available fragrances would be reformulated if the recommendations of the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety ('SCCS') were applied as is.
I intend to post a Q/A shortly to clarify the issue – Euro-speak is mind-numbingly obscure – but meanwhile, here is the letter of Luc Gabriel, CEO of The Different Company, which was circulated to French journalists and bloggers over the weekend via the Fragrance Foundation France.
Perfumes De Profundis
The latest European regulatory provisions of February 13th concerning raw materials used in fine fragrance, if they are adopted, will sound the death knell of high perfumery within five years.
Essential natural ingredients such as rose, citral, tonka bean, ylang-ylang, will be banished or accepted in ridiculously weak proportions. Only chemical equivalents will be authorized.
And a chemical compound, however efficient it is, does not replace the olfactive vibration of a beautiful natural.
This is a futile issue, you say? Useless?
Beyond the complications it will entail for our brand and the entire sector, imagine a world without these notes. Imagine losing the memory of these emotions, these mementos, and most of all, imagine depriving future generation of this bit of humanity that cohorts of perfumers, creators, artisans, have allowed us to develop, to experience, to discover. A world without this sum of passions in the service of pure creations and of dreams, of conceiving a beautiful sillage, an exceptional juice; without an art that defines a share of our humanity just like music, gastronomy and laughter.
And if laughter increased the risk of having a stroke, would comedians also be banned?
Must the precautionary principle negate free will?
Some populations can’t access the true taste of certain foods under the pretext of the precautionary principle. We are laying the groundwork that will make us go from a civilized world, with its share of animality and dreams, to a sterilized world in which humanity will become a mechanism, a lovely synthetic molecule like those we will be authorized to manipulate to create soulless fragrances.
And why will they be suppressed? Because of a public health issue or in the interest of those who produce synthetic molecules?
Are there any statistics demonstrating the mortal danger of using Chanel N°5 over the years?
I am more than outraged, and this goes far beyond my personal interest for my company’s continued existence, it is a warning call that must carry, an infinite sadness that must turn into revolt.
Europe will be killing part of its memory and contribution to the beauty of the world.
There is still time, the matter will be under consultation for three months by the European Commission Directorate General Health and Consumers, but it urgent to communicate, to act, to lobby.
Through your activities and your social circle, you may have access to opinion leaders, intellectuals, physicians, researchers, politicians, designers, company directors.
So get the message across, even once, even in thirty seconds. I am willing to meet them, to explain, to discuss it.
At the Esxence fair in Milan in March, I will try to federate the voices of perfumers and brands like The Different Company. But the profession is often secretive, withdrawn, shy.
One brand took on the slogan “Perfume is dead, long live perfume”. No, perfume will just be dead, taking part of us with it.