11/12/16

It's Donald Trump's America. Does This Bring 80s Perfumes Back?



This has been a weird week. Donald Trump, author of ghostwritten tomes such as The Art of The Deal, and reality TV star, Page 6 playboy of the 1980s and 90s, will soon be giving the State of the Union Address. Think about that for a moment. The guy behind Trump Steaks will be signing legislation with sixteen pens in just a few weeks. It doesn't get any more surreal than that.

One of the more entertaining theories I've had about about time, history, fashions, and trends bears a look at what it means to actually time travel. Many people talk about time traveling into the future as if it were a physical possibility, at least as far as astrophysics is concerned. Travel faster than the speed of light (round trip), and twenty years of your time becomes two hundred years of everyone else's. It's basically the premise of Planet Of The Apes. According to most physicists, it's theoretically true.

But traveling back in time is something most physicists would frown upon. There is currently no plausible theory to support the idea. Sure, you could try it, but visiting the past isn't the same schtick. We can't actually shift the time/space continuum manually. It's not a dial we can adjust. We can only accelerate our participation, but decelerating progress is a mathematical impossibility. The Big Bang can't be repeated, not because it can't happen again, but because it already happened.

Yet I've been a staunch believer in the circumstantial nature of time travel. If you really want to return to a bygone era, and don't have a few trillion dollars available for researching and developing your time machine, there is still one teeny tiny little step you can take: just walk the walk. Interested in revisiting the 19th century? Get rid of all your modern appliances, chuck your computers and phones and modems. Lose the car. Lose your entire wardrobe, and replace it with starched tuxedos, top hats, and hoop skirts. Put up a few pictures of Queen Victoria. Scale back your bathing routine. Grow your own food. Mill your own oats. Say goodbye to electricity and running water. It would probably cost you around $100K to shift your time period over, and when you're finished, you'd probably want your money back. But if you were really interested in going back to that era, it can be done. You just have to live it.

Collectively, we've done that here in the United States. We've elected Donald Trump to be our leader. This is a man who has given interviews on TV from inside his private jet, gulped champagne and danced with floozies at Studio 54, and did lines of coke at the Playboy Mansion. He has bragged about everything, including his failures. He surrounded himself with New York City thugs for most of his life. He had ties to the mob. He had ties made in China. He has broken every political rule ever written, and up until now he wasn't even remotely interested in being a politician. And now he is one. The ULTIMATE one. The leader of the free world.

It's a loose return to the days of Ronald Reagan. In 1980, America knew Reagan as the governor of California, and a man whose B movie career had already been largely forgotten. He was unlikely to become President, and yet he did, and at one point even secured electoral votes from every state except Minnesota. He is quoted as telling Pat Buchanan, when asked about this single defeat, "No Pat, we didn't lose Minnesota."

Trump is not Reagan, however. Unlike the Gipper, he has no experience in leadership, and he isn't as widely loved. Reagan was never offensive to people, because he always embodied that old-school Hollywood charm, rather like an American Cary Grant. And Reagan wasn't divisive. He never used bold rhetoric, he never swore, he never singled anyone out. He was a union-busting, anti-gay, anti-socialist asshole, but he usually kept these qualities under wraps. He and Margaret Thatcher were perfect together.

Trump does not represent Hollywood's golden age. He represents Wall Street's Gordon Gecko days. He represents shady business dealings, slick-haired shenanigans, materialism, excess. Donald Trump is the 1980s incarnate, and amazingly his views of the world are still solidly 1980s views. Thirty years ago America was still a racist, homophobic, shallow culture. Doubt it? Just watch Crocodile Dundee. That film was a huge hit. The fact that Paul Hogan grabs a transsexual woman's crotch and calls her a "fag" meant little to audiences, because they just loved characters in Tarzan outfits who walked around NYC with big knives.

So what does it mean that millions of Americans have voted for Gordon Gecko? For Paul Hogan? For materialism, unbridled narcissism, and wanton excess? Does my country really yearn for those days to return? Do we want to turn back the clock and watch Madonna and Micheal Jackson tear it up? Do we want to abolish political correctness and put racist and homophobic characters back into our movies? Do we yearn for the days when Communism and Socialism were bad words? If so, does that also mean we want our loud, bawdy, room-destroying eighties perfumes back?

Will fragrance companies subconsciously pick up on this? Will Dior release a reformulation of Fahrenheit that actually smells like the original? Will Grey Flannel come back into fashion, and become as popular as it used to be? Maybe Davidoff will reissue the original Cool Water. Perhaps Chanel will come out with a new masculine that smells so heavy and complex that the IFRA goes apeshit. Impossible, you say? Well, I'm not so sure anything is impossible anymore.

I hope that the fragrance world does "regress." It would be nice to stop hearing vintage enthusiasts complain about everything. It would be great to have all the classics back in their original form. It would really be terrific to smell new releases that explode with woody, spicy, floral aromatics. How hot would it be if people started offending each other with their perfumes again? If a woman's floral behemoth entered the room an hour before she did? If guys emitted vicious clouds of cigar box madness when they went to church? America has a habit of adopting the zeitgeist of its leadership, and letting it pervade all aspects of their society.

With Donald Trump's Presidency, there is hope after all.




14 comments:

  1. The new trends will be "huge" - how could they be otherwise?

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  2. I am intrigued..............what direction would the fragrance world gravitate towards if Hillary won? Bernie?

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    1. This is an excellent question. Obviously I don't have a true answer for you. But let me say a few things about it anyway; take what you will.

      One of the reasons I was never enthusiastic about Hillary or Bernie is that these people represent almost nothing at all. Hillary represents globalist conservatism. She is the Wall Street Democrat with close ties to major banks and several Washington "insiders" who pull strings in unsavory places to get unsavory things done for her.

      Bernie represents an illusion of change. The illusion is, on its face, a pleasant one: free college, free healthcare, free love. Kill the fossil fuel industry and replace it with "green jobs" in wind, solar, and whatever new miserable experience Elon Musk is tinkering with. Pretend that putting millions of miners and frackers out of work is no big deal, because there are millions of make-believe jobs in solar panels and windmills waiting to be filled.

      It's bollocks, of course. Bernie really represents naive intellectual laziness. In no way would America ever get its shit together enough to manage free college tuition. No way we could manage free healthcare. Or "green jobs" in whatever incredibly difficult technology we attempt to push on people. So his vision, his ideology, is moot. In the real world, there's no "there" there.

      Thus I imagine neither of these candidates would usher in an era of anything, other than disappointment and disillusionment. Hillary's "more of the same" approach would continue to peddle tepid domestic policies and dangerous foreign policies. Bernie's free love bonanza would immediately fizzle into the reality of being another Carter administration. We'd have a culture of paralysis and political correctness. There would be no chaos, no conflict, no drama, no romance.

      With Trump, we're looking at either a return to 1960s civil disobedience and foreign fireworks on a Bay of Pigs scale, or possibly a very Trumpian 1980s redux, with his bombast and never ending weirdness pervading our national psyche in ways that trickle down to perfume. Maybe being the loud, obnoxious American will become a thing again (not that it ever truly went out).

      Fingers crossed.

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  3. Weird, but fun -- thanks for keeping it light (kind of afraid to read online just now...) I was lecturing in my design class to students about aesthetic changes following on politics -- trying to tell kids born around the turn of century that George W. Bush helped usher in the era of Juicy Couture, giant TV's and monster SUV's, for instance. The point being, yes, that we should all expect something new now. But of course it is always more complex and staggered... I'm sure those big SUV's were part of the unreality of the dot-com boom economy that got rolling under Clinton, and Juicy Couture was part of the main-streaming of a decade's worth of hip-hop culture... And of course the evolution of a commercial industry like fragrance (and the tastes of its audience) still depends on artistic influence, which to some extent operates on an alternate (though related) timeline. I guess a lot of it (from the perspective of 'men's scents') will depend on how men want to see themselves. I do hope we learn to stop overcompensating quite so much. Personally, for myself, I plan to be dependable, so I'm pricing out 500ml of Caron Pour un Homme (the bottle's really big, so that's something, right?)

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    1. Dependable, not deplorable. I like that, John!

      Look, the art world, the music industry, the film industry, auto industry, and fashion scene never expected Donald J Trump to become President of the United States. Almost no news networks expected it. No internet blogs were heralding his arrival. No talking heads saw it coming. I recall reading a Brooks editorial in the NY Times eight or nine months ago where he compared Trump to the "pink rug" that you think is cute in the showroom, but after careful consideration decide would not work after all. Turns out the only thing that was cute was his useless article - America bought the pink rug. They bought the rug, AND the man wearing it. Irony. Irony, Irony, Irony.

      So I'm trying to see the silver lining here. Maybe this is the one time in American history where all the cultural worlds collide. Maybe the art world, the music industry, the movie industry, auto, fashion, the slew of talking heads and editorial writers, and everyone else just come together to seize the moment and try to make the most out of what is perceived as a "dangerous" thing: our upcoming administration. The 1980s was a decade of "grim optimism." We were fighting a Cold War. We were getting over the awful after effects of Vietnam. We had an AIDS crisis and a drug crisis brewing. We had Timothy Dalton playing James Bond, we had the Challenger disaster, we had Chernobyl. Yet we celebrated. We made movies like Bachelor Party and Ferris Beuller's Day Off. We had Julian Schnabel throwing everyone's fine china around. Robert Longo was making death look chic. And Culture Club put the world's most flamboyantly "fem" man up against Cyndi Lauper in the charts. Oh, and Donald Trump was that super-rich asshole that everyone disliked but secretly wanted to be (or be with). Perfumes? Perfumes were huge. Poison. Drakkar Noir. You name it, it was loud, giving people headaches.

      Is this an era that could happen again under 4 or 8 years of Trump? My advice is to stay on your path of wearing Caron PuH, because I predict in a couple years it'll be the guys who wear discreet, gentlemanly fragrances who will be the rebels of our time.

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  4. Like OMG, that is like so totally bitchin' bodacius and rad! Dude, I am like so stoked, this so bad, gnarly, happenin', illin', tubular, and schweet! Psych!

    Ok, so I'm all ready to douse myself in my mom's Giorgio (the reformulation is some pathetic wan and tasteful thing) wedge myself into some acid wash Calvin Klein jeans, hot pink Reeboks, United Colors of Bennetton hoodie, Vuarnet sunglasses, with a scrunchie in my hair. (Don't forget your Sony Walkman either!) Remember kids, 80's was all about materialism! Everything from your ankles to your ass to your earlobes better have something BRAND NAME on it.

    Oh please, not that again. I was a teen in the 80's. The 80's were blissfully obnoxious, the 90's were much weirder. I'm wondering where this post truth & anti PC business is going. I am so out of touch with America (I've not lived there since 2006) and quite honestly prefer to stay that way. America loves sleazy hucksters I guess? That certainly explains how semi legal scams like time shares and multi level marketing companies like scAmway and Mary Kay stay in business. I have a niece who has an art gallery in Manhattan and a cousin who works at one of Trump's properties in NYC who've told me of Trump's histrionics and mistresses and other nasty habits.

    Whatever's coming it's going to be BIGLY! or was it Big League? maybe Bigsly?
    YUUUUUUGE!!!!

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  5. This is really going to disappoint the perfumers who are currently concocting the next releases to smell like rocks and distilled water....I mean rare minerals emitted from the Earths core, and Appalachian mountain frost drippings

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  6. What you're suggesting would be waaay cool. As a massive fan of 80s power scents I want this to be true so badly. A regression/progression back to a new powerhouse era inc rereleases of all the 80s classics in their original form would be absolute heaven. It would be rad seeing some big, new release, high octane, ball busting power scents too. One can only hope and pray this all happens🙏

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    1. If the "live large" ethos of Donald Trump actually seeps into the mainstream culture and accompanies a successful Presidency, you never know Ben, we just might luck out and start to see a revivalist spirit usurp the ranks of the boardroom bums and spit out big-boned fragrances again.

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  7. I wonder if Trump's own perfumes will see a resurgence? Success comes to he who waits...

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