I am often asked what a niche fragrance is. It is easy to give the standard answer, to explain the difference between the kinds of perfumes we carry at Etiket and the ones found in department stores. Niche isn’t better….niche is well….niche. (What is Niche Perfume?) Niche is another way of looking at fragrance. Yes there are definitely standards that separate niche from mainstream fragrances but it was after my last trip to Florence for the Pitti Fragranza that I truly understood not only what niche fragrances are but why they are a much bigger challenge to sell here in Canada. Fragrance itself is not part of our culture the same way it is in Europe. Although with the onslaught of lisenced products we have seen perfume at every level, and it is more accessible than ever before, but fragrance is still not part of our lives as it is in Europe. What we buy is even more different. When I ask people why they wear the perfumes they do, the answers of course range, but it is usually related to marketing and a designer name before it is about the juice in the bottle i.e. the smell. It is about the whole experience of owning Chanel or Armani or Burberry or…dare I say…..Britney Spears (who has 16 perfumes to her name.) It’s about what does that bottle look like on your dresser or in your bathroom and what it says about you by wearing it. I am not saying that designer fragrances may not be beautiful – I wore Eau Sauvage from Christian Dior for years and Caron’s Yatagan is still a favourite and we have Etro in the store because I have never found a Patchouli that I like more, but I have to ask myself why more people don’t visit us to experience the beauty and possibility that is in the fragrances that we carry.
I know there is a very simple reason; they don’t know the brands or the fragrances that we carry, (the very reason we put in place the sample program that we have now). It could be price of course, but the perfumes we sell are no more expensive than what you find in a department store and the quality of the ingredients in niche fragrances are more often than not so far above what is found in perfumes from “le grand boulevard” that I just wish that more people would come in to see what these truly spectacular perfume houses are all about. There is nothing more I, or any of the team at Etiket love, than taking someone through the store to experience a new fragrance, be it from a new house like Arquiste by Carlos Huber, the cult followed Escentric Molecules, or the love story that is Atelier Cologne. We love to help find a new floral or to explain what a fougère is, or what makes an eau de cologne different from an eau de toilette different from an eau de parfum. Trying perfume is often compared to tasting wine and it is not because of the alcohol content! Take the opportunity to explore the olfactory world of niche fragrances. Look for the experience inside the bottle, not through the advertising you see in a magazine. Allow yourself to define your style by the fragrances you wear and not the other way around.
Simon Tooley President/Owner