Industry advocates say to stop using “Oriental” to describe perfume


A group of perfumers and members of the beauty industry called on the perfume industry to stop using the term Oriental to describe smells — they said the term was outdated, inaccurate and racist.

according to Petition posted online last week, The categories of “Oriental” and “Floral Fragrance” (Floral Oriental) in the perfume world “have no real olfactory meaning”. The petition states that they were created by using a colonial perspective to treat “East”-a term used in the East, especially related to Europe-as a “sensual, exotic, and obsessive” colonial perspective.

Scents belonging to this category usually have woody, spicy, musky warm notes, such as vanilla, rum, cinnamon, sandalwood and saffron.

“There is no other industry—wine, chocolate, beer, tea, coffee—no one else uses this term,” said Yosh Han, a perfumer in Los Angeles who initiated the petition. “This is basically a false marketing term.”

Han, the founder of the perfume brand YOSH, said that the term is an example of “other”, which confuses more than 50 countries scattered in North Africa, South Asia and East Asia.

“It just means anyone who is blackened. Then you will realize,’Oh my God, this is white supremacy,'” said Han, who also founded the Scent Festival during the pandemic, which is an exploratory scent and A virtual holiday celebrating diversity. “We are aware that this industry is not good for us. It is mainly Europe-centric.”

El Masri collaborated with her company Jazmin Saraï to launch a series of perfumes and essential oils. She said that brands should stop profiting from superstition stories in other cultures. (Submitted by Dana El Masri)

A century-old brand

Montreal perfumer Dana El Masri, who runs her own perfume company Jazmin Saraï, said that the use of the term “Orient” in the perfume industry can be traced back to the French Guerlain perfume Shalimar in the early 1920s.

“[Guerlain] There is this idea and concept of Taj Mahal And India and that storyline. It is classified as Oriental. This is where it started and didn’t stop,” El Masri said.

For a long time, the perfume industry has profited from our story.-Dana El Masri, Montreal perfumer

El Masri helped edit the language of the petition and is creating a diverse database for blacks, aboriginals, and people of color in the industry.

As an Egyptian-Lebanese woman, El Masri said her image was “much orientalized” through stereotypes. She said that the term Oriental is “misleading, inaccurate, outdated and absolutely racist.”

She said: “Since I moved to Canada, I have been called by many people who devalue Arabic.” “I am very, very passionate about the accurate performance and multicultural expression of perfume… because the perfume industry has long profited from our stories.”

El Masri said that labeling the Oriental category is “misleading, inaccurate, outdated, and absolutely racist.” (Submitted by Dana El Masri)

Jane Daly, editor of the online magazine Daly Beauty in Ottawa and creator of Eau De Jane perfume, says that the ingredients normally found in perfume come from all over the world. Raw herbs may come from Mexico, many spices come from India, and various resins-viscous substances with different aromas extracted from trees or plants-come from parts of North Africa.

“None of these things can be called Oriental. It’s just inaccurate,” she said.

Daly said that the incense wheel’s classification of other scents, such as fresh, floral, and woody, made the use of the East more “attractive.”

“You will see ordinary words that describe the smell of perfume,” she said. “Then you will see this terrible racist word.”

Daly said the suggested term for this category is now “amber” or “amber,” which captures the “comfortable and cute” note of smell.

‘No one wants to comment on this’

“From a consumer’s point of view, it doesn’t make sense. Really, what does the East smell like?” Madelyn Chung is a freelance writer and former beauty editor who founded Representing Asian projects, An online platform to amplify the voices of Asia.

After a long period of negotiation, we decided to use our influence to provide a more inclusive vocabulary.-World Perfume Statement

General Wrote an article about using Oriental as a perfume category After her editor-in-chief asked her to study this topic, she worked for the fashion magazine Flare in 2019.

“It’s very interesting, because as a…Chinese Canadian, I didn’t even realize that the East is a thing [in this industry],” she says.

Madelyn Chung is a freelance writer who has worked in the fields of beauty, fashion and lifestyle for many years. She wrote about the use of the term Oriental in the perfume industry in 2019. (Submitted by Madelyn Chung)

Although she didn’t get much response after her initial article, Zhong said it was exciting to see this issue resurface in the rhetoric surrounding anti-Asian racism.

“When I write this article, I really don’t think there will be any changes, just because I have received responses from these big perfume companies,” she said. “No one wants to comment on this.”

CBC News asked several companies to comment on their position on the use of the term.

The luxury brand group Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton or LVMH (which owns brands such as Guerlain, Bulgari, Christian Dior and Sephora), L’Oréal (which cooperates with brands such as Maison Margiela and Giorgio Armani to develop perfumes) and Chanel have not made any Response.

On the left is a screenshot from June 29, 2021, showing the perfume wheel on the Fragrances of the World website and the new classification that the organization promised to use by mid-July. (World Perfume/Instagram)

Fragrances of the World, its fragrance wheel is widely used as a reference for perfumers, issue a statement Last week promised to change the oriental wine to amber from mid-July.

The company cited “young people” who believed it had nothing to do with the term and critics who pointed out the colonial roots of the term.

The statement read: “In the context of perfume, the term “orient” has never been offensive, but people’s views will change.” “After a long period of negotiation, we decided to use our position of influence to provide more inclusiveness. Sexual vocabulary.”

Han said that if the perfume industry wants to remain relevant, it must change the word to substitutes such as amber.

“I beg any brand that wants to stay relevant [to make that switch],” El Masri added, noting that the petition gave the major brands 6 to 12 months to update their language. “This is absolutely feasible. “



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