Sunday, June 26, 2011

Dear Jacques Polge Re: Chanel N°19 Flanker, Sexism and Gender Conditioning

Jacques Polge, I've been a fan of many of your perfumes, the ones you composed for Chanel, Tiffany, Frederic Fekkai and others. No doubt your Coco and Coco Mademoiselle will go down in Women's perfume history (edited to add: and Chance, too; how could I forget?). However, let's just say the last time someone let a perfumer speak, it didn't help Guerlain at all. You're not doing Chanel a favor by showing your old world sexism, and conflating your interpretation of how N°19 smells, and what Henri Robert, master perfumer who created Chanel N°19, tried to communicate through his creation. Is "hard bitch" really what Henri Robert had in mind? Also, if you want to sound like an intellectual, please double check facts such as when First Wave Feminism actually occured, when it was coined as such, by whom and why. I'm not interested in powdery perfumes that are meant to keep the image (and self-images) of traditional femininity, when the image of lack of powderiness, or tradition, is made to appear unappealing by comparison. It's a mean-spirited, dated tactic to put something down to sell something different, because in this big, shared world, there's room for both, and still more options without being judged for our consumer choices.

It's one thing for me to interpret a scent and its gender specifications or lack thereof in the context of fragrance history; it's another thing to be dictated what they are and ought to be.

I think powdery perfumes gender-designated to women are meant to communicate that women are soft, fuzzy (minded, perhaps?) and infantile; such an analysis that feminine perfumes are essentially nicer (maybe powder needs to come back, remarketed as "newer and better"), says more about you and how threatened you must feel around strong, self-assured women, than it does about the women who wear so-called masculine-leaning feminine fragrances like N°19 - the masterpiece of the Chanel line and my personal favorite next to Ernest Beaux's N°22 and your sweet, refreshingly UNpowdery reorchestration of his Gardenia.