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Everyone’s a Critic

Contact Author Jeb Gleason-Allured, Editor
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This is only an excerpt of the full article that appeared in P&F Magazine. The full content is not currently available online.

At industry gatherings over the past year, I have been pulled aside countless times by perfumers and other fragrance industry colleagues and asked what I make of fragrance critics and bloggers. These colleagues tend to be filled with a mix of anxiety, irritation and distaste born of a sense of being either misunderstood or misrepresented in venues outside of the industry’s control. While I share many of these misgivings, one cannot paint with too wide a brush or ignore the fact that new media has changed the playing field for all of human communication and interaction—and it’s not changing back.

It is difficult to think of any consumer products (laptops, washing machines) or art forms (novels, paintings) that are not received and analyzed by a well-established critical audience. Curiously, fragrance is not one of them. When fragrances launch, one does not read reviews in all of the major newspapers and consumer Web sites as one would in the case of a television show or electronic device. Aside from three high-profile critics (off the top of my head), there is virtually no mainstream, professional criticism being written about scent. In the Web 2.0 age, that void has been inevitably filled by genuine, independent fragrance lovers—whatever the quality of their critical chops. Fragrance-centric blogs can run the gamut from sub-literate meanderings to gorgeously written and well-informed discussions of the power and beauty of fragrance. Perhaps some of my colleagues would argue which ones are which.

In the course of my conversations around the industry, I’ve found it most helpful to analyze my colleagues’ arguments instead of merely debating whether the Web propagates misinformation (it does, at an alarming rate). With that in mind …

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