Feel the success

One of the greatest lifestyle empires today resides in the fragrance industry. It’s the epitome of a luxury gift, advertising goes all out, and Western celebrities, from Jennifer Lopez to Rihanna and Kim Kardashian, have tasted success with their own perfume. But new-age perfumers are also moving away from an old philosophy of perfume: that of scents differentiated by gender.

According to Antara Kundu, GM–Marketing, Brand & Customer Acquisition, The Body Shop, “Today, as more of us view fragrance as a personal signature, the lines between scents for him and for her have blurred. . Gender neutrality in perfume is simply the freedom to choose perfumes according to personal choice, independent of the traditional categorization of olfactory. This underscores how all genres are beginning to view fragrances as a means of self-expression.

Gender neutrality in fragrances emerged in the 90s, when Calvin Klein launched CK One – the first gender-neutral EDT – into the mainstream market. Soon after, the world’s biggest luxury brands – Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Jo Malone and Chanel to name a few – got in on the game. The Body Shop is also one of those brands that encourage consumers of all genders to simply follow their noses. Cut to date, it’s a thriving local scene for such EDTs, though experts say the scents were inherently neutral to begin with.

Says Shishir Mehta, Founder and CEO of Scentido Niche Perfumery, “Fragrances have always been genderless and brands have chosen to promote them as gender-specific. For example, traditionally it was perceived that floral scents were for women, but this is not true, as even men love heady or “floriental” floral scents. Today’s world is all about breaking stereotypes, and fragrance brands need to follow that. Additionally, the fragrance industry has evolved and become more inclusive. Remember that a perfume reflects personality, not gender.

Dimple Fouzdar from niche perfumery brand Maison de Fouzdar explains how it goes beyond the label. “We live in a world of gender equality and therefore the world of fragrances is no longer divided by gender. Today’s different fragrances are now seen as a reflection of a growing demand for these fragrances. Swaraj Sunku , owner of Elixir Niche Perfumery, says, “When you are not limited by gender, there is a perfume wheel full of possibilities. We are able to make unique blends, for example white florals with musk , aquatic with oud, etc. Thus, we can express bold olfactory forms, experiment with sharp profiles and use rare raw materials to bring out artistic creations.

Another example is Rare Scents, a luxury fragrance brand from Bengaluru-based jeweler C. Krishniah Chetty, which offers a range of gender-neutral EDPs infused with real 24-karat gold flakes as well as ingredients sourced from from 26 countries.

Mehta summarizes: “Today, there are very few customers who come in search of a perfume specific to their gender, unless it is to offer. The Indian fragrance market has seen an increase in non-binary fragrances, where the effort is put on understanding notes rather than just following nomenclatures. Removing the labels certainly led to a sense of freedom.

What notes make the perfect unisex scent – would it be citrus or leather or wood? Spiced with Tahitian vanilla, rose or something else? Well guess what? There are no fixed rules because while it is not bound by gender, it is also not defined by specific fragrance notes. Tasneem Sabuwala, owner of Perfume Bar, explains: “Previously, the division into rich woods for men and powdery petals for women was common. But these days, exciting new fragrance ingredients are breaking the gender barrier and smelling both men and women. Musks are popular, and energetic citrus/fruity scents and aquatic notes are most popular.

Abdulla Ajmal, Business Mentor and Perfumer, Ajmal & Sons, has an interesting insight when he adds: “Androgynous notes are not a modern phenomenon. Traditionally, attars were unisex because they are based on the scientific premise that the same perfume smells differently on a man than on a woman. Rose attar is not necessarily feminine and a spicy note could be worn by women. The right way to wear them is to feel them and change them according to your mood. Note selection has more to do with your nose than your gender. It’s not as simple as dismissing floral notes as feminine and intense woody-smoky notes as masculine. As a perfumer, it’s about creating blends with new ingredients and an innovative combination of ingredients. Today, you’ve created in-between scents in neutral packages that are a cocktail of crisp citrus, zesty spices, sea florals and heady.

Enjoying a unisex fragrance is one thing, making sure people have hands-on experience making them is another. There are dedicated workshops where people can invent perfume. Raunak Munot, co-founder of Trove Experiences who does this, says: “During perfume making experiences, we see a lot of interest from men and women who want to create a perfume that is more neutral than them. and their partners can use. The expert encourages participants to go beyond gender stereotypes and concoct a perfume representative of their taste.

The trend goes even further into bachelorette parties, sangeets, and even corporate sites. Krishnapal Rajpurohit of The Perfume Stand, reveals, “Stylists set up the portable bar or stand and guide guests through the process. They then invent the perfume without any gender categorization. The perfume is put in pretty monogrammed bottles and jars.

Sabuwala explains the interactive experience: “At Perfume Bar, all of our notes flow, and it’s interesting to see people doing all the mixing and matching. We’ve had men who came to the bar and mixed sweet florals with amber and citrus, and women who created something that’s a mix of light woods with watery and spice notes. . It’s a cool way to entertain guests, giving them the experience of creating their own personalized scent – all freshly mixed, on the spot.

So the next time you want to choose a perfume, the only thing that will matter is what it does for you and how it makes your personality shine.

Freeda S. Scott