The 1980s are back. Not the economic boom or Duran Duran, but the shoulder pads, layered hair, and eel skin bags. Fresh from an evening of watching Dynasty, I spent time this afternoon rummaging through a trendy clothing resale shop, and I flipped past many a sequined blouse and whopper-bow-adorned formal. All that was missing were gashes of coral blush. It got me thinking: could perfume trends turn toward the '80s? If not, what perfume trends are coming up?
At the counter with my loot, I asked the baby-faced cashier what he thought about perfume. He twirled his Magnum P.I. mustache (popular in these parts now) and said, "I don't know. I don't wear odors — no deodorant, nothing. I rely on pheromones." The sledgehammer style of 1980s perfume won't gain a lot of ground here.
Right now, perfumes with a silky wood base, or a clean musk and wood dry down, crowd department store shelves. I'm thinking of Estée Lauder Sensuous, Lancôme Magnifique, Lanvin Rumeur, Chanel Coco Mademoiselle, and the like. The fruity celebrity scent trend continues strongly with the fruit and patchouli combo taking the lead (think Giorgio Armani Idole d'Armani), and crisp, green fragrances (Issey Miyake A Scent, Estée Lauder Private Collection Jasmine White Moss) are making a show. Soliflores hold their own, but aldehydic florals and narcotic chypres don't merit much shelf space. The traditional oriental surely has its fans, but I can't think of many new oriental releases in department stores.
Fragrances named for country music stars seem to do well in drugstores, although other celebrities, from J Lo to Halle Berry, have bottles locked up in the glass case, too. Cheapened versions of classics, including Dana Tabu, Houbigant Chantilly, and Coty Emeraude live at the drugstore, as do probably more musk-based scents than at department stores or niche sellers. And then there's AXE.
Niche perfume houses are all over the place, but clearly oud and vanilla are au courant. Pink pepper is hanging on, and iris and incense, thankfully, simply won't die. Green chypres and fresher scents from Robert Piguet Futur to Ormande Jayne Tiare to Serge Lutens's new Eau de Cologne are popping up now, too.
What about the next trends? I'm going to make a few predictions.
Department stores: With burgeoning eco-consciousness and a still relatively small fragrance-literate crowd, I predict soliflore fragrances featuring naturals will emerge. Imagine an edgy Jo Malone with hip packaging and information about where its ingredients came from. Marc Jacobs is on the leading edge of the trend with his focus on single scents, but the "natural" aspect — and who knows how natural they will actually be? — will play more of a role. The bottles will look like old apothecary bottles, but the labels will be hyper chic.
Drug stores: Same old, same old here. Marketing will focus on sex, rebellion, and fame. Is there a NASCAR fragrance out yet? If not, I predict one. For women, Lady Gaga will front a fruity patchouli scent featuring an exotic flower we haven't heard of yet and a "patent leather stiletto" or "crème caramel cupcake" accord.
Niche perfumery: It's the year of China. Something Chinese — Szechuan pepper? five spice blend? — will show up. Plus, and maybe this is only hopeful thinking, a grand, old-style chypre loaded with oakmoss will come out from a house that decides to thumb its nose at the new fragrance regulations. This is the fragrance Lady Gaga will actually wear. Other trends in niche perfumery: Dirt. The smell of dirt in perfume will show up in some sort of perfume named after a famous garden. I also get a hit of "blue". Blue ocean? Sky? Sapphires? Something sunny and expansive and blue will kick off a mini-trend. I need Kreskin for the details.
What do you predict for perfume over the next couple of years?