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CAN AN EAU DE COLOGNE BE "EXCLUSIVE"?


This year, Guerlain has issued a new fragrance line called "Les Eaux Exclusives", comprising the two colognes Un Dimanche à la Campagne (green note, orange blossom, white musk) and La Cuvée Secrète (bergamot, petitgrain, lavender). The latter is a reissue of Cologne Fond de Cuve from 2013, but with a ml price that is three times higher.

It begs the question if an Eau de Cologne, being the least concentrated of all fragrance formats, can really be "exclusive". Although Empress Eugénie loved Eau de Cologne Impériale in 1853, we later learned that perfumery can do so much better. Paradoxically, in 1937, Guerlain began to sell diluted, inexpensive EdC versions of its intense parfums, but that was only to give less affluent people — of which there were probably quite a few in the 1930s — the opportunity to allow themselves the luxury of buying a Guerlain fragrance. "The nice thing about Guerlain colognes: in essence they are Guerlain perfumes," said the ad for Shalimar EdC, as if trying to excuse the fact that it was not the most luxurious thing the brand had to offer.

We can only conclude that modern marketing has succeeded in convincing us all that the term "exclusive" must refer to something other than the actual production costs of a product, whatever it is.
(October 2017)


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