Bars were never places I enjoyed until well into adulthood, and even then (now) it had to be not too noisy, not too crowded, and preferably I got a comfortable seat where I could watch the bartenders work efficiently with a touch of magic to craft a signature drink.
This visual magic, as I learned—the choreography of deft, calculated—and mostly superfluous—movements, was called flair bartending, and was apparently harder to find in recent years than it used to be. So it was all the better whenever I found it.
Now, from what I read, perfumery businesses are differentiating themselves by the multisensory experiences they offer. I’m all for it, as the senses work together in synergy and art is multidimensional.
How about, then, some flair perfuming?!?!?
When I visited the Annick Goutal boutique in Manhattan earlier this year, the lovely salesperson showed me fragrances by spraying them in the air and making some sort of double-looped flourish with the bottle cap in her other hand to capture the miniature droplets before extending the cap to my nose. It was the first time I’d seen such a demonstration, and I liked it. (It doesn’t work well for multiple fragrances, though, as she got a generous mist on her hand each time she did it.) It was a bit of flair!
Frédéric Malle has said that he’s “not crazy about those affected gestures that some specialists are trying to impose.” I’m not sure exactly whether the loops fall into this category, and I wouldn’t mind seeing some more of their kind. I also think of his famous “smelling columns” (which I have yet to experience as of this writing) and, to me, that counts as flair too!
A cleverly designed, or aesthetically beautiful, bottle of perfume is not by itself enough to be called flair, though it brings multisensory pleasure. Nor is an Instagrammable storefront that retails perfume. There has to be movement involved.
I hope flair perfuming becomes a thing.