The story thus far:

Over a fragrant rain forest,

the perfume company's hot air

balloon pulls a raft

that captures new scents

for the company's olafactory archives.












Through extensive polling, the folks at Quest can tell what ingredients smell like peace or sex or clean laundry to the majority of the population.

Forecasters graze the culture for trends, match them up with the database of stored associations-as-smells and hope that a perfume star is born.

...they sometimes think of themselves as a DJ mixing different sounds....

Ms. X fondled a pair of cargo pants. (She often gets sources of inspiration from fashion.) "It's about having all your stuff on you," she said. "Just look at all those pockets and flaps and things... Pro-function, that's big."

a corporate fitzcarraldo
" a badge of identification"---that's what we want our scents to be, that's what will make them really sell...."

"that whole tribe thing, very on-target socio-demographically"

extracts are taken from rainforest flowers using hypdermic needles

saved for future reference in company archives

scent-blotter libraries

Ms. X recently prodded her perfume company to develop a fragrance for teen-age surfer girls, or at least girls who would like to be surfers, and to find a retail client to market it. It smells, she said, a little like a beach, a little like the ocean breeze off California. "Which is sort of citrusy," Ms. X added, "and it's there because when I asked surfers what they thought about when they were waiting for the next wave, they described this smell."
The youth market is a moving target.

Lori told us that the New Age consumer---Generation Y or whatever---is very comfortable with chemicals, which is a complete switch from the Gen X unbleached-linen-botanicals thing," said the fragrance president and general manager. "So maybe now a perfume has a silicone base instead of a natural one. Total reversal! But these are the kids we have to bring in. Because once you get a group to experience the joy of personal fragrance, they don't ever go back."

---source for many of these quotations, plus the graphic:

"Catching a Whiff of the Future," New York Times, 8-2-99, p. A1, A4.

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