Share it

I understand the appeal of rarities. Yes, the treasures obtained only by the diligent, the persistent, the half-mad – this I feel in my bones and in my blood. That is why independent perfumers appeal to me. That is why I am a fan of niche houses. However, as with all things, there is some natural limit, and if any one house has abused the concept of niche perfumery, it is the house of Xerjoff.

The name first. Perhaps it is some elitist sneer at bourgeois morality, or some Italian cultural tone-deafness, but even though it is pronounced “Zer-joff”, it reads like something else. I sense a braggadocio here, as if the name was not important, and neither is the fragrance itself, for what you are purchasing is status. However, if status can be purchased simply by believing in the cachet of kitschy ideas (fragrances embodying the smell of meteors) and spending, then surely it is cheaper and much more authentic for me to believe in the status of myself and put money in the bank. I shall be my own luxury brand without trying.

Second, Xerjoff releases by no means stellar fragrances, in small numbers, with limited distribution. Quality aside, is this not some sort of game? I have created something, advertised it, but you cannot have it. Why do this? This is not art, like Liz Zorn’s creations. This is not just not having the reach, as say the Violette Market. Even Smell Bent is easier to find than Xerjoff. Then, to compound the problem, they provide no samples. Even Amogue and PureDistance have samples available!

Xerjoff arouses ire because even other expensive fragrances, such as Clive Christian, and Boadicea the Victorious, do not restrict the supply of their product by creating extremely limited editions – to my knowledge. Neither does Creed. I believe very much in paying for quality, because quality takes time, resources, and skill to create. However, with fragrances that cost upwards of $350 a bottle, how much quality is actually present?

On a wine column, a comment stated that wines below $15 were not worth tasting, but from $15 to about $100, the quality was quite good. The next quality bump was $100, and after that only the thousand-dollar range brings the next improvement in taste; however, by $100, you have 99% of the experience. A lot of high-end products suffer from this phenomenon; often you are not buying a substantially greater product; you are demonstrating the status that derives from not having to be concerned about price.

Does fragrance follow a similar law? I suspect so, but price alone does not determine Xerjoff’s anathema. Behavior counts for much, and it takes a special kind of arrogance to sell fragrances but to be so exclusive as to prevent people from obtaining them; fragrance as a subtext rips the heart out of the olfactory art, and that is the reason I disdain Xerjoff – it is soulless luxury.