Okay, it was a bad advert, but poor Chanel No 5 doesn’t deserve to be obliterated. Which is exactly what could happen if the idiots in Brussels have their way. Yesterday, it was reported that the European Commission was considering adding a further list of 100 perfume ingredients to the 26 already on the banned list, on the grounds that they could cause an allergic reaction in between 1 and 3 per cent of the population.
They are also looking at an outright ban on tree moss and oak moss: the backbone of chypre and fougère scents and, of course, a vital part of Chanel No 5. The proposals also include limiting citral (found in lemon and tangerine oils), coumarin (found in tropical tonka beans) and eugenol (found in rose oil) to 0.01 per cent of the finished product.
Other fragrances at risk would be Guerlain’s Mitsouko, Miss Dior, Creed’s Green Irish Tweed and, er, Brut (well, they say every cloud has a silver lining). Still, idiocy, not least because of all the jobs that would be at stake if these restrictions ever took effect, but also because, frankly, anyone who suspects they may be allergic to a perfume need only do a simple patch test to find out either way. Human beings are not entirely stupid, although you wouldn’t know it from half the stuff spewing out of Brussels.
Besides, perfume makers, especially at the luxury end of things, have years of experience and a proud professional reputation to maintain; they know what brings people out in a rash and what doesn’t. If customers reported itching every time they spritzed on their favourite scent, they would very soon be out of business. This is, to an extent, a self-regulating industry. You have only to look at the speed with which politically incorrect ingredients such as civet were dropped to see that.