Perfume: A sensory journey through contemporary scent

This summer, Somerset House’s East Wing Galleries has transformed into a series of scent-based installations showcasing the inspirations and skill of modern perfumery. During 21 June to 17 September 2017, the exhibition Perfume: A Sensory Journey Through Contemporary Scent explores contemporary’s scent scene through the work of ten perfume pioneers from the past two decades.

The exhibition begins with an overview of 20th-century perfumery. Mirroring the ten 21st-century perfumes highlighted at the heart of the exhibition, including ten trailblazing scents of the time – one for each decade of the 20th century. It starts with L’Origan de Coty (1905) – a hallmark perfume, now out of circulation. It ends with CK one (1994), the original gender-neutral fragrance of western perfume culture that led the ‘clean’ scent trend.

Perfume: A sensory journey through contemporary scent. Image © 2017 ART.ZIP

The exhibition puts scent in the spotlight, inviting visitors to provide a personal response and contribute their individual interpretations to each of the exhibited fragrances. A ‘notes-book’ will be presented to audiences on arrival to record their impressions.

Instead of the traditional text panels to guide the visitor on their olfactory journey, each room will include visual, auditory and tactile references to the identity and influences of the perfumer. Installations will reflect the inspirations of the scents in their design, from a sandy desert to the Scottish Highlands, a Catholic confessional to a lover’s boudoir. Only after experiencing each installation will the full story of the scent be revealed, so audiences can bring together their personal interpretation with the intention of the perfumer.

Perfume: A sensory journey through contemporary scent. Image © 2017 ART.ZIP

‘Smell is a way of understanding that nothing is lost’, says by perfumer Daniela Andrier. This exhibition discovers a vibrant new perfume scene, the contemporary cult perfumes shaking up scent culture and the unseen works of art worn on our skin. Contemporary perfume provocateurs are dispensing with traditional high gloss communication concepts, gender boundaries and conventional notions of good taste.


“人類75%的感情記憶儲存在嗅覺這個感官的感知中,一種氣味不僅能夠把我們帶到不同的時間里,還能帶去不同的空間中,喚醒發生在那裡的情感故事。我們可以再次去經歷隱藏起來的情緒和感受,讓今日的自己與往昔的自己再次相遇,重塑我們的內心世界。 ”


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