"Creed has always claimed to hail from 1760, 'from father to son,' but there is only factual evidence of a tailoring business under the name, and not as far back as that. In fact, Olivier Creed burst onto the fragrance scene in the 1970s . . . It was in a Lille shop called Soleil d'Or where Olivier is said, going by the memoir of the daughter of the shop's founders, to have introduced his line in the 1960s. On page 41, she claims the first three perfumes 'he [Olivier] had them made to his own specification,' clearly alluding to outsourcing."
Her suggestion that Creed's heritage is "only" a tailoring business that doesn't really date back to 1760 is directly contradicted here by professors Daniel James Cole and Nancy Deihl, who wrote in their 2015 book The History of Modern Fashion:
"Both [Queen] Victoria and [Empress] Eugénie favored riding apparel from the British tailoring firm of Creed, which had served men since 1710."
I'll give both Oppenheim and Vosnaki the benefit of the doubt in their casual dismissal of the brand's provenance, and chalk it up to the forceful tide of social media sentiments, but I'm bothered by the obvious lack of research on Creed. Surely experts in fashion, now holding respectable posts at an American university, are trustworthy sources on the topic? Creed served Queen Victoria and the wife of Emperor Napoleon III. Who believes there weren't perfumes offered by Creed to such clientele? Sports apparel of the time was often associated with the trappings of country-clubby hygienic products, and fashionable riding tack connects pretty neatly to something like Royal English Leather.
That a family member associated with Soleil d'Or said that Olivier "outsourced" his perfume line in the 1960s isn't news. Should we believe that Olivier created a bunch of niche frags by himself? Does anyone know how difficult it is to source materials? Long before the internet, and before social media, this relatively unknown fashion maverick mustered the funds to pay third party perfumers. They followed his "specifications" and handed over the results to Olivier so he could parlay them into a perfume brand.
How does this dent his credibility, exactly?
Vosnaki goes on to assert many other things about Creed, but eventually lands on the main point of contention for me, something that I'm likely guilty of purveying myself at some time or another in the not-so-distant past:
"The timing was crucial, because despite Creed's claims to historical heritage, and the unhistoric claims of famous patronages wearing what is olfactorily surely modern stuff, realistically it was Aventus that catapulted their skyrocketing fame to the average perfume buyers with a (seeming) penchant for showing off."
To which I say, well, no - I sigh. What can I say to this? Aventus isn't what brought up Creed, nor is it what let them sell out to BlackRock Private Capital. Green Irish Tweed was what put the brand on everyone's map. I was wearing GIT long before Aventus. My college friends were wearing GIT long before Aventus. Here in Connecticut, the "nutmeg state," whenever I mention Creed to anyone I know who has an interest in perfume, the words "Green Irish Tweed" are inevitably what they say.
Men worshipped GIT. From the mid-eighties onward, GIT was the cult favorite. Cool Water was the affordable EDT version, the alternative that most men preferred to drop coin on, but twenty-five years of GIT on the market bought Creed the wherewithal to create Aventus. It's true that Aventus was the biggest thing after GIT, and it's also true that Aventus, released when social media was really taking off, was a huge sensation, but we shouldn't get too absorbed by the narrative here. Let's remember what really happened with Aventus when it was released - it was lambasted.
I was there in 2010 when it was released, a member of basenotes avidly reading the forums. I was there to see member after member call it all kinds of names - it was "designer," "mall juice," "generic," "fruity," and "disappointing." Basenoters only changed their tune on Aventus when the fragrance was appropriated by an army of immature guys who claimed (immaturely) that Creed was a sexual good-luck charm.
The same army then pretended to know a thing or two about perfume by obsessing over "batch variations" of Aventus, which led to YouTubers getting in on the conversation, and before you knew it, a bunch of people were experts on Aventus. Mind you, these early YouTubers weren't buying their bottles. They were given their bottles. Much of their discourse led to a backlash, by which the troops were given to retracting and recanting. Merely five years after its release, Aventus was overexposed in the newly-formed social media bubble of the fragcomm, and people were eager to distance themselves from all the silliness, the Aventus "hype machine," and any suggestion that this was their favorite fragrance, or even their favorite Creed.
My point is that Aventus has had a convoluted reputation in the world of fragrance enthusiasts, and drawing a straight line from the first bottle to Creed's BlackRock sale is ill advised, in my opinion. Sure, the fragrance has benefitted from a wider market of more buyers at untethered prices, which is simply a sign of the times. But Creed was building that success slowly, over many decades, and with many earlier and better releases.