A Sensory Journey Through Contemporary Scent

To me, perfume is more than just a scent, it's often associated with a memory, a place, a person. I'd also say the process of finding THE perfume is often a journey, sometimes it can be a slowly acquired intimacy that takes time to understand. I'd always ask a perfumer what's their favorite scent, be it a natural scent or a synthetic one, it often tells a story about him/her. I love hearing interesting stories and hence this latest exhibition at Somerset House easily became one of my favorite exhibitions!  

The exhibition will take you on an olfactory journey through a series of 10 rooms designed to reflect the inspirations of the scents, from Moroccan desert, a Catholic confessional, a water theme park to a lover’s boudoir. Each room includes visual, auditory and tactile references to the identity and influences of the perfumer to guide you on your olfactory journey. You are also encouraged to write down how you feel, but not what you know, what kind of thoughts provoke you from the scent and here are two of my new scent discovery I absolutely loved!  

ANTOINE LIE

 

– SÉCRÉTIONS MAGNIFIQUES

For this particular notorious scent with hint of saliva, blood, sweat, milk and semen (yep you hear it right!), it's either you love it or hate it. It really does take some nerve to reinterpret classic fragrance by taking them to next level. To me, it was definitely love at first 'scent'. Being set up in form of a bedroom, it provokes the thought of sexual pleasure, lust, an absolutely unique scent I've never encountered and my personal favorite out of the ten. Back in 2007, the marketing hype of this perfume focused on the smell of semen, which apparently was imitated by 2-Methyl-2-Pentenoic Acid (god knows what that is!). Lie insisted that the perfume move beyond sex to encompass other human relationships, from the sweet of lust to nurturing mother's milk. The fatty milk accord was especially critical to wrap the scent in softness and pulling it back from being totally unwearable (smelling like semen for instance?). 

OLIVIA GIACOBETTI 

 

– EN PASSANT

Walking into a dreamy setting with an easy summer breeze through a flowing curtain, this scent provokes a sense of time, space and movement. According to Giacobetti, En Passant is a scent of Paris in the spring when the lilacs bloom, a white breeze, an atmosphere in a bottle. The aquatic accord also introduces the idea of a spring rain shower with opposing accord suggesting freshly cut hay to take off the chill. Nothing like the usual floral fragrance you've encountered, this scent absolutely captivated me and I'm ready to get a bottle for myself. 

The exhibition runs through Sept 17 at Somerset House, check out here for more details.