Monthly Archives: June 2017

Perfume: A Sensory Journey Through Contemporary Scent – Somerset House, 24th June 2017

When I first heard about the perfume exhibition at Somerset House I wasn’t that bothered about going. I scanned the list of perfumes to be showcased and didn’t feel tempted. I was totally missing the point though. This isn’t just about the individual perfumes, it’s about interacting with fragrance in a new way.

Rather than a traditional exhibition, this is an interactive experience that seeks to open up your mind and give context to what you’re smelling, as well as chart the evolution of scent through recent times.

“Multi-sensory exhibition featuring ten extraordinary perfumes and their pioneering creators, who have radically changed our perceptions of fragrance over the last 20 years.”

I’m grateful to Megan of Megan In Sainte Maxime for suggesting we went along last Saturday. It was lovely to get to hang out with her and we had a lot of fun.

I know it’s only just opened but it was nice to see a queue of people waiting to go in for the 3pm session.

SPOILER ALERT: I mention which perfumes the rooms represent, so if you are planning on going along, you may want to read this post after you’ve been.

 

20170624_145148

 

The exhibition’s content was selected by Senior Curator Claire Catterall and fragrance expert/writer Lizzie Ostrom (Odette Toilette).

 

20170624_144826

 

The first room was a brief run through some landmark scents of the last century starting with L’Origan by Coty from 1905 and ending with CK One in 1994. They included Chypre de Coty, Shocking, Vent Vert, Youth Dew, Georgio and Opium.

 

20170624_151203

20170624_151340

20170624_151245

Megan sniffing L’Origan by Coty

 

At the start of the 10 perfume rooms we were offered a piece of card and a pencil to write down our thoughts on each scent. What an excellent idea!

 

20170624_151839

Room 1 had a trough of small dark beads strewn with black balls that had scent inserted into them. One of the staff told us we’d go through the first 5 rooms before we’d find out what the scents were and this process would then be repeated with a further 5.

The first perfume turned out to be Comme des Garcons 2 by Mark Buxton which aims to capture the scent of ink used in the Japanese art of Calligraphy. CdG were ground-breaking in developing personal fragrances inspired by synthetic substances.

 

20170624_152015

Those beads felt nice!

 

Room 2 held a big metal cube with vents at each corner, releasing the fragrance. Maybe it was the delivery system which made me note down “hot radiator” but there was a definite whiff of paint and dust. The actual perfume was Escentric Molecules Molecule 01 which I didn’t recognise at all.

 

20170624_152419

 

Next, in room 2, was a suspicious looking rumpled bed in a dimly lit room and I quickly twigged that this was Secretions Magnifiques by Etat Libre d’Orange. What at first seemed like balled-up tissues impregnated with scent, were attached to the covers and I had to push myself to pick one up and sniff it. There was that stomach-churning aroma of bodily fluids and metal mixed with white flowers.

 

20170624_152531

In sharp contrast to the previous room, Room 3 had billowing white linens at the windows and a dream-like video playing on the wall. I recognised Olivia Giacobetti’s En Passant the moment I lifted one of the lengths of white fabric to my nose. A lovely wistful scent of fresh, watery lilacs by Frederic Malle Editions de Parfums.

 

20170624_152703

 

20170624_152805

20170624_152713

 

Room 4 had little scented bean bags and two purple chaise longues which were being hogged by a reclining couple. The perfume was very faint on the fabric but I got an iris-tinted powder. It turned out to be Olfactories Purple Rain by Prada: a high-end reworking of their Infusion d’Iris perfume.

 

20170624_153022

After the fifth room the fragrances were revealed with descriptions, notes and a chance to try them again.

 

20170624_153703

The fragrance I found the most intriguing was up next, although the room wasn’t quite as inspiring. There was a narrow shelf which seemed to be decorated like a desert floor the day after hipsters had been camping out – like a scene from Burning Man. The aroma on the little pyramids was smoky and dusty but I also noted pine needles. There was a cool vibe created by a speaker playing an American voice talking about perfume over the top of a Velvet Underground-style soundtrack.

20170624_154111

 

El Cosmico by D S & Durga contains notes of dry shrubs, desert pepper, pinyon pine, creosote, dry sand accord, oak and khella.

 

20170624_153940

 

Scented bean bags were used again in room 7 which contained bark benches and a tree stump. The scent was not too dissimilar to that of the previous one to my nose but nowhere near as complex.  I noted down that I wouldn’t want to wear it as personal fragrance but would love it as a scented candle.  It was Charcoal by Lyn Harris for Perfumer H.

 

 

 

20170624_154344

Charcoal scented bean bag.

 

20170624_154452

 

Next we were met by a room of people studiously painting away in silence. There were little jars of what Megan correctly identified as L’ Air du Desert Morocain by Andy Tauer and you were encouraged to paint your impressions of it.

 

20170624_154845

 

We had the most fun in the Avignon room. With its hanging black, leather-look pouches and little cubicles, Megan understandably got a 50 Shades vibe. It transpired that it was actually seeking to represent confession booths at Catholic church. Through the lattice-work in the walls we could hear who I assume was perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour, talking about the composition process.

 

20170624_155015

IMG_20170624_201304_706

 

In Room 10 you picked out a scented cuddly toy and had your photo taken with it. We concentrated so much on selecting our toy and getting our photo taken (which wasn’t easy as there didn’t appear to be a flash or countdown) that we didn’t spend much time focusing on the scent.

It was Dark Ride by Xyrena which seeks to replicate the aroma of theme park water rides and includes notes of chlorine and fog machines. Our picture was sadly too appalling for public consumption.

 

20170624_155757

 

As before, the next room contained information about the perfumes in the last 5 rooms.

 

20170624_160254

 

It was great that at the end of the interactive experience there was a chance to talk to some perfumers from Givaudan. They were also doing demonstrations of how to put together an accord. People were really interested and one woman even asked if they had any civet for her to smell.

 

20170624_161019

There were some individual ingredients to try from the previous 10 perfumes.

20170624_161014

 

20170624_161057

 

They were collecting and taking photos of people’s notes at the end.

 

20170624_161437

 

Of course, you exit via the gift shop but even this was a cut above the rest. You could buy all but one of the perfumes in the exhibition (which is exclusive to Selfridges, possibly Purple Rain?) and lots of fragrance books, as well as a booklet about the exhibition and large scented postcards.

 

20170624_162018

 

 

 

You could tell it was a well thought out project with a great deal of time and effort put into the details and presentation, all with the aim of eliciting maximum engagement.

They’ve done a brilliant job of compelling us to interact with fragrance differently; to think about what we’re smelling and what associations it brings up before discovering the name, brand and notes.

Visitors really seemed to be enjoying themselves, comparing their thoughts and making the most of the interactive opportunities. I was totally impressed.

 

Perfume: A Sensory Journey Through Contemporary Scent is on at Somerset House until 17th September.

 

20170624_184424

I got to meet another online perfume pal for the first time!

 

What do you think about the exhibition and the perfumes selected? Let me know your thoughts in the comments. 

Advertisements

12 Comments

Filed under Perfume Events

Italy, Friendship and Fornasetti

 

I know I said I wasn’t going to post this week but I couldn’t wait to share my recent trip.

It was wonderful, partly because Italy is such a fabulous place but mainly because of the people I was with. Ines, Asali and Natalie are all truly kind, supportive and inspiring women.  It was a real joy to finally meet Ines (read her lovely write-up here) and Asali (who designed my gorgeous blog header) and to get to know Natalie better.

We not only saw Bologna, where we were based, but also took the train to Parma for the day.

Sadly, Ines and Asali had to leave before our final expedition to Venice on Monday.

 

Bologna

 

 

Parma

 

 

Venice

 

 

I came home feeling extremely fortunate, but also with something I’ve wanted to own for a while now.

 

fornasetti-a-la-une1

 

Fornaetti is an iconic Italian homewares brand, producing room fragrances, plates, cushions etc.

You may have seen their scented candles, even you didn’t know the name. The images are very striking and usually quirky. I guess they are something that you either find  appealing or you don’t. For me, they are actually much more about the ceramic holders than the scent of the candle inside. They are a thing of beauty and wit – a winning combination.

What had put me off until now was the price. The smaller 300g ones are generally £140. However, visiting Italy gave me the perfect excuse. We were browsing a clothes shop in Parma when I noticed the candles. There were about 8-10 of them and I thought they would make the perfect souvenir of this awesome experience.

 

20170621_121340

 

The shop offered a little money off and when Natalie worked out the conversion rate (£113), that swung the deal.

I took a little while to make up my mind but I went with the image that spoke to me the most.  This one of soprano Lina Cavalieri dressed as a medieval knight – called “Armatura” –  fits me to a T. As Natalie said “It’s dark and empowering”.

 

20170621_121728

 

The candle’s scent is called ‘Otto’ which was created in collaboration with perfumer Olivier Polge, who in recent years has composed Misia and Boy for Chanel.  The fragrance was inspired by the Mediterranean herbs found in and around the Fornasetti home in Milan. It has notes of thyme, lavender, cedarwood and incense and was created in Grasse, France, while the porcelain holders are made and hand-decorated in Italy.

 

 

I’ve been piecing together my own metaphysical suit of armour for a couple of years now and the idea of a fighter with femininity resonates greatly with me. It will be a nice reminder of the strong women that are my friends and for who I will travel the earth to see, as well as my own inner warrior.

 

 

Do you like Fornasetti or scented candles in general? Is there a decorative object that you’ve long lusted after?

 

 

23 Comments

Filed under Perfume Friends, Perfume Shopping, Travels

Italy and Instagram

Hello All,

There won’t be a blog post next week as I’m off to Italy for a few days. Tangentially, it’s a perfume-related trip, as I’ll be meeting up with three friends I’ve found through blogging.

These are, Natalie of Another Perfume Blog (which is sadly no longer extant), Ines of All I am – a redhead and Asali of The Sounds of Scent. I’ve never met Asali or Ines in real life so I’m super excited to see them for the first time and it will be beyond wonderful to spend time with Natalie again after she’s been such a great support to me over the last few months.

Add this to finally meeting Undina  a couple of weeks ago and I feel really lucky to be meeting so many women I’ve known online since the beginning of my adventure down the fragrant rabbit-hole, some six or seven years ago  As Vanessa says, we come for the perfume but stay for the friendships.

We will be travelling to Bologna from four different countries which is pretty cool. Bologna looks like a fabulous medieval city and a good base for seeing other parts of the country. It also helps that the region is known as ‘The Stomach of Italy’ because I plan on eating all the food.

I intend to post some pics on Instagram which I’ve joined recently (@abottledrose). I never thought Instagram was the place for someone with a sight impairment but I was encouraged to try it by Val the Cookie Queen and she never steers me wrong.

I’m giving it a go and enjoying it so far. The photos on Facebook have long been my favourite part and the Insta Stories are a lot of fun. I post the odd Scent of the Day pic and other bits and pieces. As I have recently become skincare obsessed there’s some of that too.

Although I did wonder at first if I should be cutting down on my social media, not adding to it, Instagram feels more carefree than other virtual hangouts.

 

 

Have you been to Bologna? Are you on Instagram? What are you thoughts about social media?

 

 

 

 

46 Comments

Filed under Perfume Friends, Thoughts, Travels

Mood Scent 4 – Wedding Guest Perfumes

 

We are four perfume bloggers from four different places on the globe but together we are the Mood Scent 4. If you didn’t catch our first joint post, Rainy Day Perfumes, you can read mine here with links at the end to the others.

June has long marked the start of the traditional wedding season. Some of us will be getting ready to attend and wish the happy couple well, but what to wear? Of course, I’m referring to perfume.

For me it all depends on the location. Weddings can take place almost anyway these days but I’ve picked four of the most popular choices and paired each of them with an appropriate scent.  Yes, they are all florals of a kind but I don’t think someone else’s Big Day is the time to show off one’s edgy taste in fragrance.

 

Mood scent purple.png

 

The Church Wedding

No. 22, Chanel

You can’t get more demure and well behaved than Chanel so it’s the obvious choice for a church wedding. No. 22 is a bit more special than the house’s well known offerings because it’s part of Les Exclusifs. The combination of squeak clean aldehydes, orange blossom and a wisp of incense makes it very fitting for a religious ceremony. Orange blossom has a long history of being worn by brides in their headdresses and bouquets.

The Country House Wedding

Mito Voile d’Extrait, Vero Profumo

A classy countryside do like this needs a sophisticated but unstuffy scent to suit. Mito Volie d’Extrait is a perfect match for the grounds of a stately home or rural hotel with because it was inspired by the greenery, statues and fountains of a famed Italian garden. Fizzy and sherbet-y to start, Mito settles into a green floral with lush magnolia and just a touch of fleshy tuberose. It feels both joyful and elegant. Actually, my lovely friend The Candy Perfume Boy wore Mito at his own exquisite scented wedding in the country.Mito

The Destination Wedding

 

Frangipani, Ormonde Jayne

I’m all for jetting off and getting married somewhere tropical. So if you’re going to be celebrating the couple’s nuptuals on the beach, I recommend the beautiful Frangipani. It’s floaty and tasteful but the blooms are rich and creamy, perfectly sliced through with a dash of lime. This is a very romantic fragrance which is perfect for an exotic location. You could also go for the luggage friendly travel set.

 

The Chic City Wedding

Le Parfum de Therese, Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

My interest in the Frederic Malle line has been reignited recently with travel bottle purchases of Superstitious and Iris Poudre.. For a cool and stylish registry office wedding in Marylebone or the likes, I’ve gone for Le Parfum de Therese. It already has a romantic backstory because perfumer Edmund Roudnitska created it for his wife in the 60s and it was only released to the world in 2010. It’s a classy fruity chypre with ripe plum and melon and a chic undertone of leather.

 

 

wedding.jpg

Make sure you check out the other Wedding Guest Perfume posts at Megan In Sainte Maxime, I Scent You A Day and L’Esperessence.

 

Which fragrance have you chosen to wear as a wedding guest?

21 Comments

Filed under Perfume Reviews