Dejan Levačić / Levy Perfumes
– Levi Inc. Ltd. London, Wenlock Road 22 / Čakovec, Croatia
By the end of September “The Croatian Perfume Story” published as a series of texts came to its conclusion. I started the story relying on information published in several most influential mainstream national media. I hoped that the story would represent authentic Croatian perfume production, possibly even artisanal, and I wanted to find and review authentic Croatian perfumes.
In the first text, as an introduction (here), I explicated and elaborated the criteria for establishing a “Croatian perfume” and a “Croatian niche”.
The story about Dejan Levačić and his (now passivized) brand Levy Perfumes made me the most enthusiastic.
Based on what I read in the media, I hoped for a beautiful perfume story.
With the texts written for perfume lovers like myself, I also hoped to personally contribute to young national perfumery.
Unfortunately, my story turned out to be everything but.
It is not about transparency, lawfulness, perfume beauty and values we all consensually share, but the opposite.
Every on-line source generated by Mr Levačić is now shut down, including few web pages and an official Facebook page of his brand, Levy perfumes. However, the Croatian internet is full of not only newspaper articles and his interviews, but also the promotions published on official sites of a few local/county administrations and the other official parties connected.
That’s why I think this text is important.
As I described in the text about testing and eventually buying Mr Levačić’s perfume (link), the information came to me through media.
In personal contacts with Dejan Levačić (firstly as a buyer, under a personal name, then also as a perfume blogger) I initially believed in his story, in the way he presented it.
But in repeated contacts, the plausibility of the story suddenly started to wear out, as the perfumer refused to provide the answers to my questions.
The whole investigation started because Scented Shelf, on behalf of its also unfortunately misinformed readers, insisted on getting the answers.
Here are the questions that every perfume lover with average knowledge would ask:
1. Where did “the saffron note” comes from in the perfume made from “Croatian natural materials”?
2. Where did “the n-a-t-u-r-a-l- sandalwood” note come from in the perfume made only from natural materials?
3. Can I please see the lists of ingredients for the perfumes you are trying to sell to me?
In lack of any explanation, I decided to take a detailed investigation and find out what is behind the perfumes promoted as “Croatian”, “handmade” and “natural” and what is behind Mr Levačić’s story.
My investigation of Croatian and British official databases, public records and other on-line resources led to disturbing and shocking findings, so I decided to get official confirmation and rely on Državni inspektorat, the official state authorities in charge for public health and trade.
As a perfume blogger, the author of Scented Shelf and under the full set of my personal data, I addressed Državni Inspektorat and asked for proof that the perfumes I wrote about are IFRA/EU compliant as it was claimed, because I needed to confirm that Mr Levačić’s perfumes do not represent any possible threat to health of those who use them.
Also, I asked for official confirmation that the perfumes are made in Croatia, as it was claimed, and not imported.
As a support, I provided the data about the numbers of visitors on the pages of my blog which were about Mr Levačić’s perfumes. I was hoping that more than 2500 clicks in less than one month will establish the importance of a proper and reliable informing by Scented Shelf.
Also, I attached the list of all the links gathered through my unofficial investigation, believing that they can lead to the understanding of the full extent of Mr Levačić “business” and justify my report.
While waiting for the official information, I edited texts about Levy Perfumes published on the blog (the review of now banned collection (link) and the review of now banned perfume (link), adding the note of warning for those who prepare to test or buy the perfumes. The note included the link on Croatian Ministry of Health, which transparently published the whole set of EU regulations in connection with cosmetic products/perfumes.
The note also informed readers about the right to be informed on what we buy and use.
Also, while waiting, I published a general post about the importance of a product’s certification: “What keeps us safe while we smell beautiful?” (link). Relying on official sources Ministry of Health provided, I explained EU regulations in a detailed, approachable and understandable way. I generally highlighted the possible hazards when using uncertified naturals of unsure origin.
I was hoping that this would be enough until the official findings arrive.
In less than a month a shocking confirmation arrived: the national Sanitary Inspection banned all the perfumes made by Dejan Levečić until they get in compliance with EU Regulation 1223/2009:
Also, Sanitary Inspection passed forward the information provided by Scented Shelf, so the investigation moved on the field of trade, led by Market Inspection of the Republic of Croatia.
From there came another official confirmation:
None of the perfumes was actually produced in Croatia, because behind the production was the firm based inLondon, GB – Levy Inc Ltd.
Levy Inc. Ltd was 100% property of Mr Dejan Levačić. His firm without not one reported employee produced and imported banned perfumes. In this perfume business, some laws regarding international trade were broken, too.
Not one of the official information was ever provided by Mr Levačić or published in any journalistic or other sources.
Until Scented Shelf reacted and got the information, Dejan Levačić and his brand were presented, marketed and known for making “Croatian”, “natural”, “handmade” perfumes.
The story came to an end.
Maybe permanently, maybe not. I don’t know.
Having tested some of the banned perfumes, I personally hope that Dejan Levačić will continue his work without endangering the health of those who buy his perfumes, with transparency and in a fair and legal way.
Out of 10 banned perfumes, I extracted three because they provide a shocking background and the insight on how it was possible for things to go that far:
Banned perfume 1
Perfume question: where did saffron come from?
This banned perfume, also the most expensive one, became Guinness World Record for the largest perfume bottle in the world.
Here is the official Guinness description:
I sadly believe that Mr Levačić’s perfume will hold the unpronounced and unofficial record of the world’s biggest bottle of banned perfume for a very long time. I am not proud that a beautiful little continental town Čakovec, mentioned in Guinness, deserves that, partly thanks to Međimurje County, which supported this blamage:
The official Međimurje County site reports that the banned perfume was created in collaboration with Tourist Union of Međimurje County / Turistička zajednica Međimurske županije, financed from the budget.
In the on-line sources, there is also the information that a value of the biggest banned perfume bottle in the world is roughly 1,3 million euro (10 million kuna)
As a perfume blog, Scented Shelf wouldn’t be compelled to write about the price of the banned perfume and the marketing/financial/political arrangement if the banned perfume with unknown ingredients was legally put on the market and if it was not delivered to me personally by Mr Levačić, when I contacted him as a buyer.
However, this perfume blog is devoted to the perfume lovers and perfume buyers, because I am one of them, so I could not ignore the fact that among all the public officers and officials in Međimurje County nobody checked the things Scented Shelf discovered in a few clicks through online research.
This is their public duty.
Additionally, the cost of getting a certified analysis which could prove that the whole investment does not present a potential health hazard is roughly 1% of the total value of the investment.
But, nobody did that.
As the author of the Scented Shelf I contacted Međimurje county and EMeđimurje, County news portal unofficially via Facebook to inform them about the official findings.
In a brief conversation, EMeđimurje reported back that all the published information were delivered by Dejan Levačić.
The Međimurje County official Facebook page is silent.
Banned perfume 2
Perfume question: where the “n-a-t-u-r-a-l” sandalwood come from?
The other banned perfume had the sandalwood listed in reported perfume notes and was broadly marketed, partly trough the separate web page. Dejan Levačić tried to win another Guinness with this one.
In order to achieve that, this perfume was in an organised and officially marketed way tested by 1500 people, encouraged to try “natural” and “local” perfume.
This information froze the core of my civilized being and shocked me thoroughly and for a long time.
The fact that 1500 misinformed people were gathered and encouraged to test the banned perfume, despite no proof that it is safe and no official data about its ingredients horrifyingly resembles the perverted social experiment or field testing in vivo, on humans, unaware.
This testing of Levačić banned perfume was publicly announced and marketed by another County Turist Union office, Koprivnica, which called visitors of the County Renaissance Fair to participate in testing and contribute to possibly another Guinnesss World Record by testing “perfume fairytale”:
Nobody can be sure how many of 1500 visitors of the County Renaissance Fair would willingly test the banned perfume if they were told that nobody knows its ingredients, that there is no proof that the perfume is natural and harmless and how many of them would knowingly accept the role of guineapigs in a public perfume experiment.
However, the misleading and false information were once again presented by official county representatives and Dejan Levačić got one more point to credibility.
I simply could not ignore the information “1512 people”.
This was not a “perfume fairytale” as Koprivnica Tourist Union wrote on the official portal.
This is a perfume horror.
Banned perfume 3
Perfume question: where is the list of ingredients?
The story behind the third banned perfume does not shock me this much, but I somehow feel embarrassed as a citizen of Croatia.
Dejan Levačić also had support from some Croatian representatives in European Parliament, where else but in Bruxelles, in situ, right where all the legislation that he ignored was born.
In the EU Parliament.
I believe that the Croatian representative, like myself, relied on many official sources which suggested a high level of credibility. Perfume made of “honey” was a planted egg.
If there were some surrealistic top list, the story behind Dejan Levačić would make a number one.
I deeply believe in all the possibilities my beloved homeland Croatia and in its people who promote European values and run their business transparently and fairly, struggling to enter EU market.
I must express my deepest gratitude to the central authorities, Državni Inspektorat, which reacted swiftly and responsibly on the report of some perfume blog and its author. Without the results of the official investigation, this text on Scented Shelf could not be published.
As a perfume lover, perfume buyer and perfume blogger I believe that it was really important to make this story public and I really hope that something like this will never happen again.
* * *
That’s why it is important to check those globally hyped claims about “natural perfumes” and “natural ingredients” and react.
Each. And. Every. Time.
This is not just about perfumes:
This is about transparency and honesty.
This is about false claims concerning “natural perfumery” and the profit based on unallowed claims.
Above all, this is about true values groomed in societies and cultures which also groomed the perfumery.
Before I conclude this very long text, let me stress once again:
Every reaction on misleading or unallowed claims is important.
Independent and responsible perfume blogging is important.
The popularization of perfume knowledge and perfume education of average users is tremendously important.
Thank you for reading, Iva.