jeudi 7 avril 2011

Art in Perfumery, a Matter of Intention

In the discussion that followed last week’s post on whether it was relevant to shoehorn perfumes into artistic movements, a few comments raised the issue of intention.
 First of all, to be an artist you’ve got to claim to be one. You can be a bad artist, an irrelevant one, a plodder, a follower, a smooth PR machine or a trailblazer, but whatever your contribution you’re staking a claim. And since the advent of the avant-gardes in the late 19th century, you’re staking a claim on new territories.
Though a certain number of crafts movements, essentially in the Anglo-Saxon world – notably in ceramics – have consistently blurred the boundaries between arts and crafts, the distinction could be summed up in the following terms: artisans can be content with repeating the techniques and forms of their forebears; the critical self-awareness of artists leads them to question their own practice and the history of their art: how they re-read it, what they reject, what they revive, what they use as a springboard to go forward. Artistic movements express this critical self-awareness through discussions, emulation, declarations of intent and manifestos.
            There are very few such declarations of intent in the history of perfumery, essentially because of the way it developed industrially: perfumers did not sign their work unless the house was theirs and even so, none achieved the fame of the pioneers of couture – Worth, Poiret, and most spectacularly Chanel who set out quite deliberately to forge the narrative that sustained her house. 

            That there are aesthetic schools in perfumery is, on the other hand, a plain fact. The method conceived by Jean Carles for Roure-Bertrand (now owned by Givaudan) spawned an approach which has been handed down from one “generation” of perfumer to another, both through the still-extant school and through apprenticeship – though the latter mode of transmission is less and less applied as senior perfumers race to meet deadlines and can’t properly take on apprentices. But it worked for decades and several perfumers now in their 40s, 50s and 60s are the product of it. Apprenticeship is, of course, more characteristic of craft or of fields such as couture, where the lore and know-how are transmitted verbally and through example, than of today’s art world.
            As for declarations of intent, up to recent years, Edmond Roudnitska was perhaps the sole perfumer to have claimed to be an artist. And perfumers are shy of making that claim, both because they are painfully aware of the restrictions placed on their practice by client briefs and budget, and because they is very little critical discourse to bolster it – in effect, it’s a matter of who’ll be the first to jump naked in the pool.
            Perfumery is also an intensely technical practice, and in that sense it is closer to a craft such as ceramics than to contemporary art, where technical know-how has been all but scrapped and is barely taught in schools. Like a ceramicist, if a perfumer commits a technical mistake he must throw out his work, revise his formula and weigh it from scratch. 

            Critical self-awareness, however, is a constant feature in the discourse of the perfumers who are allowed a measure of creative freedom. Their approach, from what I’ve gathered from my discussions with them, is usually formal and practical: deriving new forms either from earlier products – their own when, over the course of a development, they’ve glimpsed an interesting avenue which they’ve had to discard. Or the work of other perfumers: very often, within a composition company, there is a certain manner of treating specific accords which is passed on. The great Edmond Roudnitska himself, who claimed his creative independence in the late 40s, possibly glimpsed the structure of Femme in André Fraysse’s 1934 Rumeur, which is often mentioned in his writings; his own approach to composition has of course been tremendously influential. There may be no self-proclaimed movements, but there are filiations.

            Today, this formal approach is often materials-driven: many new ideas are found by studying a material to shed light on it in novel manner – in big labs such as IFF, this study is often fuelled by scientific research, though it is the perfumer who decides which of the forms within the material he’ll tease out by associating it with other materials. Their observation of real things is also essentially formalist: perceiving a smell from a new angle in the case of a flower or plant, understanding the logic of aromas associated in a recipe, finding the structure that can link the different smells of a place. Getting to the point where a perfume will generate emotion is grueling work: even the most instinctive creators can only let their intuition speak after years of learning, and they’ll often go through the dispassionate observation of dozens, even hundreds of mods to reach that moment of emotion. They never forget this, and most perfumers I’ve spoken with are much more comfortable discussing their observations on materials and the forms they’ve deduced from them than emotions or stories. Their aesthetic stance is implicit, to be deduced from the result of their research as much as by what they disclose about their observations or other people’s work: most of this remains off the record.
            Why do perfumers keep mum, precluding any possibility of an informed, public critical discourse? Octavian Coifan and I recently attended a conference at the Société Française des Parfumeurs where new ouds were being presented by Andrew Steel who heads the Asia Forestry company, and when Andrew asked perfumers to comment on their characteristics, not a one spoke up though there were several in the auditorium. As we were talking about the reasons for this silence, Octavian pointed out very relevantly that the way a perfumer envisions a material or the smell of a thing is his trade secret: any publicly shared insight will put his colleagues, who are also his competitors, on the track he intends to follow. This is as much about technical innovation as aesthetic vision: you want to be the first to get there, and the only one able to see things as you see them. Gas chromatography may disclose what you’ve done with your materials, but not necessarily the turn of mind that yielded the result.

This culture of secrecy is one of the reasons why there are no aesthetic manifestos, no movements or self-proclaimed schools – especially since the results belong not to the perfumer who authored them, but to the labs that employ them, to be exploited in the name of the brands that commercialize them. Add to this the absence of perfume culture in the general public – a chicken-or-egg conundrum, since as long as insiders don’t talk, the public won’t learn, and the public isn’t asking them to talk since they don’t even suspect there’s something to talk about --, the dearth of historical sources for past perfumers, and even the fact that most perfumers haven’t got the pedagogical bent or verbal skills necessary to take a public stance on their own aesthetics…When they have one. Frequently, it aesthetics boil down to a matter of tastes; of taste in the best of cases. We are a long way still from being able to discuss perfumery as we would other art forms.

But I still don’t think tucking perfumes into slots meant for painting, music or architecture is helpful, beyond transforming them into a cultural currency intelligible to the art world and its followers: a pitch. Drawing parallels with other arts is useful only inasmuch as to grasp new knowledge, you’ve got to graft it onto information you’ve already acquired. Perfume is a specific idiom, with its own currents, filiations and stances: as long as perfumers don’t communicate with people who are apt to translate it into discourse, there’s little chance of its being granted full artistic status – or at least as the potential for being an art form. The good news is that they’re starting to. And not necessarily, or at any rate not only, to feed the ravenous maw of the society of the spectacle. Some actually care.

Image: Isidore Isou, Self-portrait.

31 commentaires:

  1. Denyse,
    I just finished up after cooking a risotto for some friends- reading this made me think of the parallels between cookery and perfumery... fabulous and thought provoking piece... now we need a manifesto!

  2. Alexander, that's a great idea, and we need to start by having a big old fight about what it should contain. It's late, so I can't really get into it (everyone heaves a sigh of relief), but the first point is why not critically scrutinise the category"art" itself? One view that's around the place these days is that part of the problem is a kind of categorical "purism" which erases "hybrids" even as it creates and thrives on them.

    Also, things migrate into, and possibly out of "art", but they do need the passport of a critical language, given the border patrol issues noted above. If we think of art as a process, we see this most clearly. At the start of the last century, for example, artefacts brought to Europe from elsewhere (I'm thinking of Africa here), first inspired artists, then gradually came to be seen as "art" themselves. Before their elevation to the supreme isolation of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, they were part of people's lives, members of a community, and, some were "vital' in themselves - divinities to whom people told their hopes and fears.

    If we look at contemporary African art, we see an interesting variation. There were people, who called themselves artists, whose work was purchased as art by some, but who were widely regarded 25 or 30 years ago, as producing work that was uncreative, derivitive and so undeserving of the name art. Over time, with the development of a critical language, one which started from the perspectives of the artists themselves, with galleries, conferences, books, etc., this view changed. But it's been that recent.

    Finally, the definition of "art" commonly used recapitulates the old distinction between intellectual and manual labour, and this always seems a trench too wide for the horse to jump. So we'll have to walk it.

    instead of comparing perfumers to other decorative artisans, we should compare them to lawyers. If you look at how layers actually work and think, they are very engaged by the specifics of the materials they have to hand - statutes, sections, intenational treaties & obligations, precedents, case law, etc. And in each instance they are building a new argument, building or composing a new case out of these materials - but addressed to and so inlcuding the specifics of the brief they have in hand. Most of them might not speak in ways that the public would understand, when talking about what they do, but the subtext would never be that they can't talk. (Denyse, I know that this is not what you, of all people, are saying about perfumers, but it does seem to be implicit in this artist/artisan distinction.)

    Well, that's enough of that! Thanks D, for a thought-provoking post.

    All best wishes,


  3. I think it's also hard to talk about perfume - we lack a precise and commonly shared vocabulary for the ancient sense of smell. That makes it harder to appreciate perfume as an art, I think.

    You, Octavian and other bloggers and commenters are grappling with this and providing wonderful essays and insights. Perhaps another contribution of the internet (in addition to having made niche perfumery possible) is to help us begin to create the necessary language.

    Ultimately it will take art appreciation training, too, won't it? Imagine if something like your course were part of university programs everywhere! It would also help to have museums where we could study, explore, and appreciate the classics and modern art. (I'm SO hoping that the idea of an Osmotheque in New York is realized in my lifetime!) ~~noseknoz

  4. Alexander, if memory serves, there was (is?) a website created by Andy Tauer that offered one up. The fact that it came from the "margins" -- no disrespect intended to Andy, but as a self-taught independent, he's not speaking from a locus of power -- meant it couldn't create any form of dynamics.
    I don't the era lends itself to manifestos though -- when's the last time you saw an artistic movement come up with one?

  5. Kit, about African art, the last development is that artists working in Africa are no longer called upon to display their "Africanity" in their work or, any more than artists from anywhere in the world, evaluated based on their origins... But that's another story developed by Nicolas Bourriaud in his latest essay.

    Hybridity is indeed at the core of the matter. A lot of art has challenged the splendid isolation, the solipcism of the artwork, over the past decades. A year ago, after a discussion with Octavian, the idea of relational aesthetics (Bourriaud again -- can't help it if he's my god-daughter's dad) cropped up: the idea that perfume is relational art, i.e. that it reaches its status through the effects it produces within the community. Clearly this is what has been happening online in recent years but even before, you could say that perfume exists when it is performed by its wearer, much like a musical score comes to existence.

    The point you raise about lawyers is very interesting -- the economist Richard Florida would definitely classify them amongst the creative classes. It doesn't take into account the idea of striving to create beauty, though. I'd rather think of the commissioned art that was practically the only art over several centuries in the West: music, painting, sculpture, architecture, they all had to contend with patrons/payers.

    Most perfumers, though, are not very apt at talking: they may not have the vision, they may not have the cultural currency needed (a matter of education), they may not have the time.
    But again, producing the critical discourse needed to "sell" your art is also a fairly recent phenomenon on the scale of things, and coincided with the birth of the avant-gardes.

  6. Nozknoz, well now you can also look forward to the New York Museum of Art and Design's olfactory art department!

    As for courses, I've been speaking with the people I know who teach in art schools, and if not courses, at least talks or seminars are being discussed. Fashion schools are also an avenue I'm exploring.

    You rightly point out that a language is being elaborated online -- hijacked from its legitimate owners, as it were. I'm not an expert in ethnology but I do remember readers papers about the way certain non-Western cultures have a much more elaborate vocabulary for the sense of smell, so it's within the realm of human possibility. The fact that it was often considered one of the basest senses by Western philosophers in our eye-centric culture certainly slowed things down, but we are also the culture that developed the possibility of discussing olfactory art...

  7. Hi, there! Re African art, yes, I know, but that started at the very commencement of the development of this critical language, and was a significant topic in the politics of the art itself and the artists. And of course many artists who are African also live and practice in Europe, but are still regarded or would regard themselves as African artists. It was too much of a sidebar issue for the point I was using it to make yesterday. There is a whole issue about this "purifying" process I mentioned - stripping the work of its "ethnicity" or its social history as if that were proof of its virtue and thus its entitlement to be truly "art" is not an apolitical process.

    I'll be interested to explore Bourriaud's approach and look forward to reading his book. From an anthropological point of view, there is nothing that is not relational. Given that human beings are social creatures from the moment of our birth, there is actually no such thing as a single human being. Even when you look at one, you are looking at many. So, from an anthropological point of view, the concept of the relational puts forward as an explanation exactly what itself needs explaining.

    As for lawyers and beauty, I think justice is beautiful. People walking free to live their lives in security is beautiful. I left out yesterday, again too much of a sidebar, the point that the way I came to think about how lawyers think was through work I was doing on international humanitarian law, war law, and human rights law. This was the context into which my interest in perfume "erupted".

    big hugs, K

  8. Kit, about African artists (or Latin American, or Asia, or from wherever else for that matter), I was taking it the other way round: as a possibility of *not* having to trade on one's ethnicity/origin in order to be taken into consideration. Of not overtly displaying it, no more than one would need to overtly display one's gender in an artwork. Bourriaud talks about the way artists are defining themselves no longer through origins but through destinations.
    But I agree, that takes us pretty far from the issue at hand.

    Relational aesthetics is a way of considering the type of art that builds in deliberately the relations/reactions of the viewers: performance art, for instance, or installations.

    As for law being beautiful, I guess it depends on what the definition of beauty is, and no one's ever agreed on that! Let's say the primary intent is not aesthetic but ethical. But it's been a couple of decades since I've read Kant, and the last time gave me fever, so I won't do it again! xx

  9. I think you are probably right- the time for manifestos has passed- and indeed I think some niche brands do have a clear manifesto and have been developing the artistic landscape for perfumers - along with the blogosphere heaping praise. AT's efforts are admirable.

    Perhaps one might now say that the blogosphere has begun to organise itself into having a critical role (in both senses of the word). There will always be space for all sorts of commentary on the web, no one being priviledged over another, but one should not hold back from pushing the boundaries towards a high level discourse.

    For some it may ruin the magic, but I for one want to know more!

  10. Alexander, I believe it is indeed up to the client brands to develop as strong discourse, to "cast" perfumers skilfully and to work with them along the lines that have been established. On the other hand, brand-generated discourse will always be subject to scrutiny -- I'm watching brand blogs with a beady eye -- and cannot aspire to own the discourse developed around their products. The more sources of light to shed on them, the better.

  11. Back to African art, for a moment. Yes, I understood you to be making that point, and don't think the issues are exclusively African by any means. It's also been a point of aesthetic/political creative contest for some time, and a very productive one too.

    During the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920's the big debate was whether artists & writers should be working to "advance the race" by demonstrating that black people were capable of making art (as opposed to 'craft' or 'folk' stuff or nothing) or to express themselves even if it meant they said things that played into racial stereotypes. More recently, in respect of transnationalism, migration, and diasporic communities, the point has been made that it's routes, not roots which count in the formaton of identity. Also very productive, and itself part of the building of a critical discourse which contributed to legitimating the objects in question (in some cases these were the people). But, yes, perhaps too far away from the central point, at least for now.

    Where I was trying to go with the discussion, was to draw to our attention (a)the processes of separation which we take for granted, and allow us to consider "art" as only a certain kind of thing, separated from other kinds of things (say, science things or medicine things) - and thus, (b) the ways in which an object has to be transfigured or reconstituted in order to be taken as art.

    Both are processes of "purification", and the reason why I chose African art as an example is because one can see most clearly the process by which an object becomes denuded or dispossessed of its social context in order to become art. This is relevant to "perfume as art" becuase perfume can't really make that transition if it can't be divorced from a context of use. We can say that this is what the Museum of Design will be attempting, but that, so far, only No.5 has achieved this "by itself"- and it has done so by the process of 'outliving' innumerable social contexts while itself remaning 'unchanged" and commercially successful - in this sense timeless. My argument would be that if we keep sharply distinguishing the instrumental from the aesthetic, we enter the fray having already given up too much! xx

  12. Kit, clearly "purification" is relevant in both cases -- and problematic. This is why I was referring to Bourriaud, as an art theorist who is attempting to define different notions of what constitutes art than those predominantly held. Also why I underlined the formal quest of perfumers as a specificity of their idiom. It's a practice that sets its own terms. Rather than attempt to make away with those terms, I think they have to be thought out. I'm not sure postulating that perfume is one of the fine arts is necessary to appreciate it as an artistic practice... Edmond Roudnitska called it "une belle possibilité" and I'll go along with that.

  13. This connection between the creation of perfume and the science of it all seems to hold perfume back from calling itself "art". Actually, when I think of perfume, I think of photography (and architecture for that matter) because when I worked as a photographer, the chemistry of development and, in particular the sepia and selenium finishes, fascinated me. It was the worlds of art and science together that interested me in photography in the first place. It's what interests me in perfume. The same goes for architecture... artistic expression but limited by technical issues.

    We think of painting as the ultimate artform and so we use it as a yardstick to measure other expressions. When compared to painting, perfume seems to fall short. As you say, "client briefs and budgets" prohibit perfumers calling themselves artists. But the great Renaissance painters were often told what to paint by their benefactors... and given a budget... and we don't hesitate for a minute calling them artists. "And by the way, your artistic expression has to fit on this vaulted ceiling... good luck!"

    Great post... difficult topic!

  14. Once again, a very interesting post -- the book-writing has obviously set you thinking :)

    The task of finding an appropriate language for discussing perfume as art (or as a beautiful possibility, or...) is a fascinating one but I suppose one question one might ask is ‘whose language?’ As a corollary to the control of discourse attempted/desired by brand interests the ‘professionalisation’ of perfume criticism might also require ‘watching’. In any art-form the formalisation of criticism brings with it its own potential for academic control/monopoly; it would be a pity if the amorphous but vigorous body of online perfume commentary were to be narrowed down to a core of elite commentators ‘authorised’ by their mastery of a specific vocabulary, industry contacts etc (unlikely, I know; really I'm thinking more about the allocation of critical authority). I suppose the way to think about it is, as you suggest, as a search for vocabularies in the plural, not for a singular master-discourse.

    Sorry, always write the ridiculous long comments!

  15. I was thinking along the same lines as theperfumechronicles, in that a few hundred years ago, artists and musicians created at the pleasure of their patrons. Like our modern-day perfumers, who must please their parent companies, these earlier artists had to satisfy their patrons for their livelihood.

    The problem I ran into with this analogy is that, most of the time, these artists and musicians only had to please one person. They did not have to worry about their work's appeal to the populace at large. In that regard, the analogy is more apt with bespoke perfumes, created only for one person, than it is with most marketed perfumes, designed to please as many people as possible. As we have seen, this tends to bring many perfumes down to the lowest common denominator and certainly makes it more difficult to treat them as art. However, one could also point out that not every artist is a Michelangelo, but the quantity of less compelling art makes the true gems stand out.

    All this aside, though, I think we do see movements in perfumery. We pick out the great examples of perfumes within those movements and comment on what makes them particularly notable, whether it be technical brilliance or simple loveliness. I'm in no way an art critic or an art historian, but it seems to me that, despite many perfumers' non-participation, the perfume community has already been treating perfume as art. Does it really matter if the perfumers intended to create art? We believe they have and treat it as such. Maybe we're seeing the nascent understanding of perfume as art.

    That wandered a bit, but I hope it makes sense.

    The Second Kit

  16. Normand (PerfumeChronicles), the scientific dimension is perhaps less of a hindrance than the technical or commercial one, since perfumers do have an amount of scientific knowledge but don't actually have to be scientists -- many of the greatest had no training at all though today it is necessary to have a degree in chemistry to be admitted to ISIPCA as far as I know, and though a number of perfumers came up through the scientific/technical branch.
    Where there is a divergence with art as it is practiced today is in the technical know-how involved.

    As for artists of the past and commissions, I'll address that my response to Kit's comment...

  17. Kit, yes, the analogy is not entirely adequate, which is why I tend to think more along the line of the cinema: the Hitchcocks, Renoirs and Wilders of yesteryear were creating art that would draw in the maximum number of spectators, and nevertheless it was art. It was when the Cahiers du Cinéma pointed out that there was a vision at play that these filmmakers were perceived as authors, despite the restrictions they operated in.

    As for intention, I actually do think it's the necessary condition. Otherwise, as I wrote, perfumers can follow their tastes, their clients' tastes, they can even have taste, but that self-awareness of what they're doing is what allows them to create new forms.
    This does not invalidate the perception of perfumery as an art form in the online community: but this is not the only possible perception and depending on the product, the approach can be more consumer-driven, which has its legitimacy as well.

  18. This is a comment by Parfymerad which popped into my inbox but has somehow failed to show up here, so I'm copy/pasting it:

    Once again, a very interesting post -- the book-writing has obviously set you thinking :)

    The task of finding an appropriate language for discussing perfume as art (or as a beautiful possibility, or...) is a fascinating one but I suppose one question one might ask is ‘whose language?’ As a corollary to the control of discourse attempted/desired by brand interests the ‘professionalisation’ of perfume criticism might also require ‘watching’. In any art-form the formalisation of criticism brings with it its own potential for academic control/monopoly; it would be a pity if the amorphous but vigorous body of online perfume commentary were to be narrowed down to a core of elite commentators ‘authorised’ by their mastery of a specific vocabulary, industry contacts etc (unlikely, I know; really I'm thinking more about the allocation of critical authority). I suppose the way to think about it is, as you suggest, as a search for vocabularies in the plural, not for a singular master-discourse.

    Sorry, always write the ridiculous long comments!

  19. Parfymerad, I wonder who would bestow that authority? By its very structure, internet cannot give monopoly to any one voice. So I wouldn't say any appropriation of discourse will happen online: people can position themselves as better experts, and/or have more technical knowledge, but in no way is this hindering the increase in discourse, on the contrary. The knowledge builds up.
    I would say that any appropriation could come through cultural institutions and/or mainstream media.

  20. Thanks very much for this post, Denyse. This subject is one with which I struggle a great deal, and as I strive to improve my perfumery skills, I often ask myself if what I'm doing is becoming a better artist. I haven't come up with a satisfactory answer as yet.

    One point you made which resonated strongly with me is that we mustn't try to define the art of perfumery in relation to the arts of literature, painting etc.

  21. I'm not surprised none of the perfumers got involved in the discussion. I think that's why I've always been fascinated by Serge Lutens radically different approach from other perfumers. Edmond Roudnitska was very adamant about making his point that perfumery is an art form. Do most perfumers consider themselves "nose" technicians or artists?

  22. This has got me thinking about the arc of L.C. Tiffany's work. He definitely considered himself an artist, and, although he began as an adherent of the Asthetic school, he started to approach his window commissions more and more as fine art. But what is really interesting is that his lamps, which were a purely commercial venture (with an artistic sensibility), unintentionally became art objects. To some degree during his lifetime, and certainly a few decades after his death. Today people think "Tiffany lamps," not "Tiffany windows."

    I guess my point is that art awareness doesn't necessarily need to trickle down from the creators, it could be a phenomenon fueled by educated consumers. Starting with blogs like this one, newspaper columns, etc... I can't help wondering if it might not be the growing awareness of the consumer that could end up legitimizing perfume as art to the world at large. I appreciate the move by the Museum of Design not because I think it will legitimize perfume to the ivory tower, but because it has the potential to encourage more people to think of perfume as an art form. Perhaps perfume is on its way up despite the industry?

    Thanks again for fostering an interesting discussion!


  23. Alastair, the first job of my boyfriend's father who immigrated from Croatia to the US was to break into pieces and throw out hundreds of Tiffany lamps at a Bank in Manhattan. He didn't even keep one Tiffany lamp for himself thinking it was junk!

  24. Persolaise, I think one of the things that triggered this line of thinking is my reading Flaubert's correspondence. As he write Mme Bovary, he tells his lover Louise Colet, another writer, about his struggle with the *form*, not the story itself.

    Why am I writing this in reply? Because the work to improve form, style, is the artistic process. So while we cannot superimpose one field on another, I can very much recognize the way I work on my writing in the way certain perfumers work on their formulas.

  25. Uella, Serge Lutens is not a perfumer in the sense that he could never have expressed his vision without a perfumer who himself had a strong aesthetic vision. His position is quite different from Roudnitska's, who had both the vision and the skills to express it, and who felt the perfume spoke for itself, on its own terms.

    I think the way perfumers consider themselves varies according to the perfumer. The word "art" is a loaded one and those who bandy it about are not necessarily always those who are the most entitled to appropriate it.

  26. Alastair, there definitely is a virtuous circle at play, alongside the vicious circle of marketing-fuelled launches. It's true that the more awareness of the aesthetic stakes involved there is in the public, the more demand there will be for products with artistic integrity and vision. But also, the more crap in artistic clothing will try to pass itself off as art, as the notion is fetishisized by a certain public.
    As for Tiffany lamps... in French there is a distinction between "oeuvre d'art" and "objet d'art", the latter being apter to end up in the drawing rooms of the bourgeoisie than the former. Both can undergo the process of kitsch-ification. But that's another topic.

  27. Uella, I don't know whether those lamps were genuine Tiffany pieces or just in the Tiffany style, which would have made a difference to their owners (the bank) as the former could be auctioned off... But even if they were, certain styles acquire their value later on, but are just considered outdated junk for decades: this is why people could amass fabulous Art Nouveau and Art Deco collections in the late 60s early 70s when the style was thought worthless.

  28. carmencanada, I know what you mean by 'more crap in artistic clothing will try to pass itself off as art'. I saw this afternoon an 80's skateboard style cotton sweater made in China by Isabel Marant at Barney's with a $500 pricetag on it. Her collection sells like hot cake and she can't even keep up with restocking at her boutique in Soho, the stuff literally flies off the shelves. That being said, I bought the new Serge Lutens 'Encre de Chine' water ink for lips, it's a dark blue color and contrary to what you might think ;-) it's easy to wear and more chic than the former plum and saffron.

  29. His dad believes they were real Tiffany lamps. I'm inclined to think they were, I've seen a few Antiques shows, back in the days american banks built the most luxurious buildings in New York, they had tables, paintings, chairs and desks that reach astronomical prices at auctions.

  30. Uella, you know that famous quote "there's a sucker born every minute"... I was thinking of a number of niche brands, or certain specific uber-expensive perfumes fobbed off as "art"... though the people who can afford the latter probably wouldn't know art in perfumery if they were plunged in a vat of it.

  31. what you say about perfumers having to define themselves as artists is very true- but I think they are and agree with you, it's good things are changing