Acing the Smell Test

Commentary by Dr. Don Newbury

During growing-up years, I don’t remember hearing much talk about splashing on sweet-smelling stuff.

Surely it was poetic injustice, what with cotton-picking heating up many of my kin who labored in the fields, not to mention other farm chores that caused streams of sweat that seemed inevitable during half of each calendar year.

The injustice? Air-conditioning was a term we hadn’t heard of; the closest thing to it in our town during the 1940s was movie theaters claiming to offer “air-cooled comfort.” Many of us were either born too soon, or air-conditioning arrived too late.

Dr. Don Newbury

With such in mind, a recent piece by SMU grad Lucy Ladis in the Dallas Morning News was more than “eye-catching.” It grabbed our olfactory nerves as well. Listed under high-end retail, it detailed a new Dallas boutique that offers customers signature perfumes.

I’m not sure I recall that smelling good ever warranted great cash outlays.

Signature perfume at the Krigler boutique of the Ritz Carlton Hotel is offering a “$60,000 experience…where shoppers can create their custom perfume from raw materials.” Thoughts of paying such a princely price pretty much shuts down my whole smelling system, and causes my sweating to go into overdrive.

This perfumery that turns out “signature scents” purports to provide a subtle “hint at luxury.”

It is light years removed from years of childhood, when elementary school girls bragged about Blue Waltz perfume.

Unquestionably, though, the unmistakable smell seemed unrelated to luxury, sailing well over the  “hint” bar.

Coming to mind is a third-grade boy, slouched at his desk on a hot day in mid-May.

Known for her subtle classroom remarks, the teacher observed, “Young man, one of our deodorants is wearing thin.”

His answer: “Well, it must be yours, ma’am, ‘cause I ain’t wearing none.”

Now, back to the signature scents. Owner Ben Krigler explains that creating such exotic fragrances doesn’t happen overnight, and that it can take up to 18 months to let them age in wine barrels.

That’s the way the Kriglers have made perfumes for more than a century, having turned out some of the world’s “most coveted fragrances,” he told The Dallas Morning News.

In fact, it all started in 1879, when founder Albert Krigler pursued the hand of a French perfumer’s daughter. For their engagement, he produced the scent that resulted in “oohs and ahhhs” from the discerning set. It was called “Pleasure Gardenia 79.” Chances are excellent that it was applied in a fine mist, never to be viewed as the “splash on kind” of the Blue Waltz crowd.

Krigler has thought the matter through. He points out that the perfume industry is booming in Dallas as the result of a post-pandemic upswing in personal grooming, plus growing demand for luxury. 

Further, he thinks Dallas to be a great market for testing custom perfume demand. The city is the company’s third-largest online market and ranks number six in the United States fragrance market.

The company has been courting elite clientele since 1904, and the customer list includes Jackie Kennedy, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Audrey Hepburn. Fragrances start at $455 for 50 milliliters, and Krigler offers candles and soaps in signature scents.

There are others, of course, who figure Texans start out running in the back of the pack, where odors sometimes are more prevalent than aromas.

The same critics think most folks have oil wells and can buy whatever they want. Truth to tell, however, the fragrance market is big around the world, growing to nearly $11.5 billion in 2022. For a five-year period ending then, the industry gained an average 8.4 percent annually. We are advised that fragrances can transport consumers to other realities, remind us of wonderful memories, help us to relax and support overall wellness. Administer whatever “smell test” you like, and the Krigler Boutique is likely to get highest marks. So does Lucy Ladis, a budding journalist who is bound to blossom!

   Dr. Newbury was a long-time university president who writes weekly and is an after-dinner speaker throughout Texas. Phone contact: 817-447-3872. Email: Facebook: Don Newbury.

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