This summer, the East Wing Galleries of London’s Somerset House are hosting a somewhat unusual take on the traditional exhibition. Something we typically associate with being a feast for the eyes, ‘Perfume: A Sensory Journey Through Contemporary Scent’ promises visitors a more multi-sensory experience.
Curated by Somerset House senior curator Claire Catterall and scent writer Lizzie Ostrom, this contemporary exhibition explores the changing profile and role of scent in the 21st century. Featuring ten perfumes and their pioneering creators, from the classically trained to the self-taught, including En Passant by Olivia Giacobetti, Molecule 01 by Geza Schoen and Charcoal by Lyn Harris, these scents and their perfumers have radically changed our perceptions of fragrance over the last 20 years.
While classic fragrances, such as Chanel No. 5, remain bestsellers, niche perfumes have experienced a significant surge in popularity in recent times as our relationship with fragrance changes. As Catterall explained to Wallpaper.com, “Perfume isn’t just about being sexy and alluring anymore – now we not only want to smell different to everyone else but different to before.”
The exhibition takes visitors on an olfactory journey from inspiration to creation via a series of specially designed sets. In the absence of bottles and packaging, these individual rooms, from a Moroccan desert to a Catholic confessional, a water theme part to a lover’s boudoir, provide the visual, auditory and tactile references to the identity of the perfumer and the influences behind their creations.
‘Perfume: A Sensory Journey Through Contemporary Scent’ at London’s Somerset House runs until 17th September, 2017. Read more about the exhibition here.