Flanker vs. Variation, an addendum

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In my zeal to draw an indelible line between of the flanker and the variation it’s possible I’ve overstated the case.  Phrasing the former as an atrocity and the latter as righteous is easy, but, as usual, the fun occurs in the grey areas.  Things blur when inspired flankers and dull variations pass before your nose.  So, two points to counter my own hyperbole:

A) Not all variations will be inspired.

The bottomless pit of Montale versions of oud perfumes demonstrate the potential rut of basing more than half a brand of perfumes on a single note.  I imagine many Montale buyers don’t even know which perfume they own.

While the Comme des Garçons Incense Series was univocally praised and their Cologne Series underrated, other Series (Leaves, Red, Sherbet, Energy C) included a few space-fillers to complete the project.

Juliette Has a Gun has bled the rose dry and are trying to create perfumes that will dispel the image of the rose that it worked so hard to place in the minds of their audience.  I don’t mean to say that the line of perfumes is bad, but that by defining themsleves as a line of rose perfumes, steering the line in another direction is difficult.  Ditto for Les Parfums de Rosine’s rose focus and Comptoir Sud Pacifique’s vanilla obsession.

B) The Godfather II effect.  Every now and again there is a great sequel.  See:

Four examples of the grey area I’ll leave for you to consider.  Flanker?  Version?  Both?

1)  The Guerlain 19th and 20th century classics.

2) Lutens/Sheldrake beat the competition to the punch by claiming an entire territory before another line could outflank them.

3) Maurice Roucel made a series of similar perfumes across a number of brands.

4) Bernard Chant.  I stand in awe of Chant’s ability to balance the flanking needs of Estée Lauder and the creativity he demonstrated. The fact that he did so while effortlessly crossing the gender-line that perfumery strives to hold inviolate deserves applause.

(Sculpture by Marta Klonowska, after Portrait of Henry the Pious, Duke of Saxony by Lucas Cranach)


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