It's not going to surprise anyone that I enjoy a bit of media cross over. Visual art, cinema, patterns, performance art, design and architecture, food, music... all these things can play a role in perfume, not only as inspirations for their initial creation, but also in the way perfume houses use them as tools to introduce -and teach about- new releases. A bit of pomp and circumstance goes a long way and we all love to be entertained. That this is by no means a one way street was recently demonstrated by the collaboration between Mark Buxton and Wes Anderson for the "Grand Budapest Hotel" movie and the use of perfume for the "Cheapside Hoard" exhibition in the Museum of London. Multi-sensory experiences go a bit deeper...
Curtain up the for the Gorilla perfume gallery, on show in London's Soho in an underground space beneath the city's coolest record shop:
Perfumes put on show via playful and often interactive installations from a garden shed to a disco environment, a corn circle simulated by a sand picture, a wall comic or headless cardboard dummies. While it is certainly possible to just amble about and read the explanations on display, the whole experience is much better if you take the guided tour offered by one of the lovely and enthusiastic staff. Not only will you learn more about the Death, Decay and Renewal idea behind the show and the perfumes, you will definitely sniff more, because he or she will spray the fragrances in the relevant pages of the little comic booklet you get on entrance.
This is not really meant for in depth perfume testing (the ink of the print has a strong smell itself and after 4 or 5 different scents your booklet will have acquired something of a bouquet...) but to give a first impression. The fragrances can also be smelled directly on installation objects, including the crotch of a shop dummy which is not only a personal first but also pretty weird. Nice perfume though...
Not all the fragrances were made for production, but will just be there to complement the concept of the show and some are not even meant for using on skin.
This is a not a review post, but my favourites perfumes were Kerbside Violet (clue is in the name), Stayin' Alive, a surprising frankincense and Death &Decay, a powerful lily. Honourable mention to Dear John, a manly but soft cologne.
Altogether a lovely experience. Playful, charming, open to everyone, not taking itself too seriously but meaningful, while showing some impressive perfumery. That it all took place underground came as an added bonus on the hottest day of the year and the booklet with all its accumulated scents made for the most intriguing fan on my 1 1/2 hour unairconditioned bus trip home.
How and where to go or buy:
The gallery will only be open until the 24th of July and is usually calm during the day, busy in the evenings when there is music, talks and booze. It's on 51 Poland St. in Soho.
The new scents will be released over the coming months, but can be bought exclusively either at the gallery or the new Gorilla perfume shop in Islington.
P.S. No, I'm not getting paid by them I just really, really enjoyed myself.