A Talk with Kathryn Catanzaro – Perfume Buyer and Specialist at Fortnum & Mason

The universe of artistic, niche fragrances is not just a question of the distinctive, unique nature of the products. It is a rapidly expanding market characterised by trends, evolutions and involutions that need to be properly evaluated by industry insiders. 
 
And precisely on the occasion of the panels/talks at Fragranze 14, the comparison of different market scenarios, the world of distribution, the entry of big players from the cosmetics industry into the artistic perfumery sector and the acquisition of niche brands will be discussed in depth by industry experts, under the careful guidance of Chandler Burr, American journalist and writer and former Perfume Critic for the New York Times.
 
To pave the way for the debates, we have also chosen to explore these market trends, now more current than ever, through the opinion of certain key international buyers. Here’s what Kathryn Catanzaro – Perfume Buyer and Specialist at Fortnum & Mason had to tell us: 
 

What are the elements that make a niche brand interesting? And actually make its fragrances real pieces of art? And what are the priorities that niche brands must respect in order to compete at international level? 

The fragrance. The story. The packaging and presentation. Above all, brands need to have integrity and provenance. They must also be driven and have energy to work tirelessly to ensure potential consumers hear about their brand and that people who are respected within the world of perfumery talk about their fragrances in the best way.  

 
In your opinion, has the idea of niche product become overrated recently? How would you quantify the presence of artistic perfumery in the UK market?
It would appear that a large majority of brands from the bigger to the smaller are all describing themselves as niche. This has resulted in an over-use of the term and it has lost the true value of its meaning. The market is still dominated by the larger houses but over the past few years there has been an emergence of smaller artistic perfumers.
 
More and more leading artistic perfumery brands are opening up single-brand stores, without sacrificing the right positioning within department stores or specialized multi-brand stores. What are the reasons behind this trend? 
Over the past few years some brands have seen the rise in the sale of perfumery and have been opportunistic in their response. In some cases it lends the brand gravitas and increases awareness if it has a stand-alone shop. There is a danger however, of one location taking from another.
 
Tell us about your work, what exactly does it consist of? ... Your typical day?
It is hugely diverse but often fun and very rewarding. There is a lot of decision making, balanced with analysis, experience and sometimes just a gut feel.
 
What do you think are the upcoming trends as regards fragrances?
There is a movement away from too many ouds and towards more fresh florals and fragrances reminiscent of the great classics.