The World’s Most Expensive Perfume: Really?

Clive Christian The Most Expensive Perfume in the World

Imagine, you’re just starting your day. After a leisurely bath it’s time to choose which fragrance will best fit your mood. Instinctively, you reach for a bottle with a label proclaiming it is “The World’s Most Expensive Perfume.” A smug, satisfied smile reveals itself as you think, “I’ve made it – I’m wearing the world’s most expensive fragrance.”

So the first question is what sort of fellow thinks it’s actually cool to spritz one’s self with a product whose label shouts, “THE WORLD’S MOST EXPENSIVE PERFUME”? Is it a rude to presume this person might just be a jumbled up bundle of anxieties and insecurities? More on this later.

Clive Christian, make of the The World's Most Expensive Perfume
Clive Christian thought it would be cool to put “The World’s Most Expensive Perfume” on the bottle.

In the meantime, one thing we know for sure is the fragrance – Clive Christian No. 1 – is not only sold but celebrated at Harrods who act as a sort of enabler for Christian’s artless excess. “The smell of success is going on sale at Harrods and you’ll have to be super rich to afford their latest perfume…” So goes the oleaginous Harrods press release to mark the opening of the Salon de Parfum boutique promoting Cristian’s special edition, a diamond and gold encrusted bottle on sale for an eye watering £143,000.

How much is the World’s Most Expensive Perfume?

But never mind the one-off six figure bottle. A standard bottle of the fragrance still costs £450.00 and is marketed as “The World’s Most Expensive Perfume” along with the written reminder on the bottle’s label (just in case you ever dare to forget), “The World’s Most Expensive Perfume.”

At MAN LONDON we love luxury and we also like spending money, but we can’t help feeling the whole exercise has a bit of, how to say it elegantly [?], douchebag quality to it. Never mind. So what is it that makes this juice so expensive?

Is it the signature bottle with a screw cap fashioned into Queen Victoria’s crown? Is it the “all natural” ingredients”? Realistically,  it’s none of the above but this is the true genius of Clive Christian; somewhere along the way he realised the product is irrelevant to the marketing. Sure, it goes without saying the packaging must be attractive and the product needs to smell nice, but the real brilliance is Christian’s understanding of human insecurity.

Christian clearly grasped that there are enough thousands of people worldwide with shit loads of money who are exceedingly insecure and desperate to be reminded that no matter their frailties they can at least afford “the world’s most expensive perfume.” I spend, ipso facto, I am.

According to a 2015 study published by the peer reviewed Global Management Journal for Academic & Corporate Studies (GMJACS), “People buy luxury goods to fulfil their inner desire of luxury and to gift themselves for their accomplishments…”

The World's Most Expensive Perfume, Clive Christian No1 Limited Edition Perfume, 15th Anniversary Version
Clive Christian No1 Limited Edition Perfume, 15th Anniversary Version

Well, Christian figured this out, but still, you have to admire the man’s gall. The website proclaims that he has created “the perfume of my heart” and was,“ inspired to create an iconic bottle as precious as a crown jewel to mark this special event.”

The reality is a bit more banal. Dundee-born Clive Christian originally made his name creating bespoke furniture after he bought a 19th century manor house and filled it with his period designs. People liked his work, so he started selling his trademark reproduction Victorian Kitchen (average cost £100,000) and then slowly upped the ante and designed products to fill every room. He was awarded an OBE in 2012 for ‘services to the luxury goods industry.’ So far so good.

Christian’s foray into the world of fragrance began in 1999 after he bought the long gone Crown Perfumery name in 1999. He set about reviving the prestigious company founded in 1872 by corset maker, William Sparks Thomson, and was once one of Britain’s top perfume houses.

We wanted to talk to Clive Christian to get a better sense of what inspired him to create The World’s Most Expensive Perfume but the company said he was unavailable. That said, a press release proclaims that No 1 represents the ‘non plus ultra’ of British luxury. It uses the “rarest and most precious ingredients,” both for the fragrance as well as the bottle. Indeed, all the ingredients are strictly “vegetable,” no man made molecules, the scent being a mixture of jasmine, cardamom, carnation, lemon, bergamot and more.

This isn’t a fragrance review so we won’t weigh in on whether the scent is good or bad. And certainly, there is nothing wrong with paying for quality so maybe it’s really the top level ingredients that inspire buyer confidence?

Well…unlikely, but knowing that Clive Christian No 1 is The Most Expensive Fragrance in the World probably counts the most for buyers who are looking for an evanescent, quick hit of confidence and self-validation at £450.00 for 50ml of liquid (a tenth of a pint or two and a half table spoons) which works out to circa 45 pence a drop or £20.00 per light spray.

If that’s the price for confidence in a bottle maybe it’s not such a bad deal, after all!  ML