How COVID-19 Has Changed the Fragrance Industry — Report

Smith has kept up with continued demand for perfume during this time by boxing up all shipments in her own home, since the shipping solutions she once relied on are no longer available. She’s not sure if she’ll be able to continue to obtain the artisanal French glass she’s always bottled her perfume in. “Typically, France shuts down in August for their summer holiday, but if they do that again after quarantine, it’s going to make our bottles and components a lot scarcer,” Smith says.

Of course, that’s assuming perfume brands will have anything to bottle in the first place. “The base of all fragrance is alcohol, and there is currently a shortage due to the increase in sanitizer production, which is obviously an absolute priority at this time,” Feeney says. Some brands, like Sol de Janeiro, whose most recent perfume, Sol de Janeiro Sol Cheirosa ’62, launched the week that stay-at-home orders were issued across the country, have responded by leveraging its relationships with alcohol suppliers to launch its own hand sanitizers. Marc Chaya, CEO and co-creator of Maison Francis Kurkdjian, says the brand may focus more on personal-care items to meet shifting demands.

The future of perfume shopping when non-essential businesses are allowed to open their doors again is up in the air. But with countries like New Zealand and Australia starting to open back up, global brands and retailers alike are quickly trying to come up with a plan. (Editor’s note: Allure reached out to Coty, who owns the licenses for Gucci, Tiffany and Co., Lacoste, Marc Jacobs, and more, and Coty declined to comment on COVID’s effect on its perfume brands.)

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For their part, many brands are holding summer launches for fall. Gommichon says Diptyque’s stores plan to incorporate masks, gloves, sanitizers, and frictionless payment into all of their stores, while exploring avenues like phone orders, video consultations, and innovative sampling efforts. Atelier Cologne’s president Gerard Camme says its brand is currently offering Zoom and FaceTime consultations and envisions making curbside pickup available to customers when stores are reopened.

Until that day, perfume boutiques like Aedes de Venustas, a New York City staple nestled next to Bar Belly on Orchard Street and Canal, will lie empty. Or mostly empty. “I still turn on the chandelier every day, just for myself,” co-owner Robert Gerstner says. “I turn on the music every day, just for myself. I close the door, and it’s like time stood still. It’s such a feel-good place.”

And every day, the USPS delivery person comes by, laden with boxes of perfumes to bring to Aedes’ customers. “He told me, ‘The one joy I have every day is picking up the boxes from you because it makes the truck smell so good,” Gerstner says. “It’s about these little things.”

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