Frivolous, moi?

friv·o·lous

[friv-uh-luhs]

adjective

1. characterized by lack of seriousness or sense: frivolous conduct.
2. self-indulgently carefree; unconcerned about or lacking any serious purpose.
3. (of a person) given to trifling or undue levity: a frivolous, empty-headed person.
4. of little or no weight, worth, or importance; not worthy of serious notice: a frivolous suggestion.

 

I’ve been so interested in perfume lately, and I’ve been asking myself if it’s a good way to spend my time (and money).

I have one friend who insists that it’s important to remember that perfume is frivolous, and by this I think he means it’s not a requirement for survival.  I would argue that this actually lends weight to the notion that perfume is art – art, also, much as I hate to admit it is probably a want beyond food, shelter, procreation.  Once you’ve got those sorted, though, it certainly makes life more interesting.

If you look at the definition of frivilous, however, it is actually not such a great way to describe perfume.  Perfume can be serious, perfume does serve a purpose, perfume is important, all things I would say about art as well.

Perfume can inspire, lend confidence, attract attention and even affection.  LIke clothing, it is another way of communicating our tastes and personalities to others without opening our mouths.

Perfume certainly doesn’t need any defending – enough people are interested and spending their hard-earned money.  I don’t think fragrance is in any danger of going the way of, say, handmade artisinal lace.  However I believe that it is important to celebrate perfume as art, as a worthwhile enterprise, in that it is a product that can be driven too much by the market in a way that limits the freedom of perfumers and dilutes the creativity and quality of compositions.

Niche perfumers have inspired even mass market brands to bring out limited and special edition runs of fragrances, but the cynical part of me worries that this move on the part of the big companies is a finanically-motivated response to the niche trend rather than a true investment in high quality products and creative freedom for noses.  This month’s Vogue (November 2011) has an interesting article about the trend for niche perfumes.  If we get more 3-D, high quality fragrances out of this trend rather than the sometimes disappointing, 2-D quality mass market fragrances so often spritzed at department store counters, it must be something to celebrate.

Viva la parfum!  Viva la revoluzione!  Viva la PARFUM AS ART!

That sounds pretty serious.  Certainly the big money aspect of the perfume business is serious.  But I also think creativity and freedom of expression are serious.  As are high heels, in the right context.

art

noun

1. the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.
2. the class of objects subject to aesthetic criteria; works of art collectively, as paintings, sculptures, or drawings: a museum of art; an art collection.
3. a field, genre, or category of art: Dance is an art.
4. the fine arts collectively, often excluding architecture: art and architecture.
5. any field using the skills or techniques of art: advertising art; industrial art.

Definitions from Dictionary.com

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