You may have read this excellent article on Fragrantica:The Map and the Territory
This statement, “the map is not the territory”, I have heard it before. It comes from a publication by Alfred Korzybski, creator of general semantics in the 1920s (I won’t recommend it unless you’re passionate about it, it’s quite abstruse).
In short, it expresses that our perception of an event is totally subjective. Thus, Emily and Patrick may have witnessed the same moment, like a car crash, they will describe it differently, according to their own experience, their education, culture…
In short, everyone builds their own reality, their own portable movie theatre.
The description is not the fragrance.
This implies that no description of a fragrance is the perfume itself. This seems obvious but it is important to remind this and Serguey Borisov does it elegantly in his article. The pyramids, the poetic-ish, elitist-ish marketing of the brands, the comments, will only ever give you a truncated, oriented vision of a perfume. And only your personal experience will be able to give you a more precise idea.
We perfumers and brands try to represent and convey ideas and emotions through these descriptions. In them, I share my story of how and why a particular fragrance was created, and what I believe can speak to you. But what really interests me is that you then create your own story, when you make your own experience of my creations. And when the fragrance lives with you.
To go even further, it also implies that your very personal perception of a perfume can vary over time, depending on the moment, your emotional state… And that therefore, your experience of a perfume is never the same twice. It varies every time you wear it. You never bathe twice in the same river, Heraclitus said.
The formula is not the fragrance.
And so comes the idea that perfume can vary. For me, the most beautiful fragrances are the elusive ones, the ones I never manage to completely grasp, which are moving me and tell a different story every time, the ones that take me in because they seem to be much more than a list of notes and components, they have a soul almost.
The industry seeks to present products that always smell the same, on everyone, and quality control takes care of this. Artisans are fortunate to be able to free themselves from these considerations.
The tuberose absolute from last year’s batch of L’Eau Scandaleuse will not be the same as this year’s. And minute variations in note and color make each batch a new creation, even if the formula doesn’t change one iota.
Creating a perfume from A to Z is a bit like being a magician.
And that’s what I love about crafting art. Creators intuitively know that their map is not the territory, they only present a stylized version of their reality, which has no other pretension than to touch the public or make them reflect on their own inner map. And that maybe, the magic happens and you are transported.