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Sweat, blood, chlorine and ink. Not a list one would normally associate with fragrance, but a list, nonetheless, that welcomes all those heading to Somerset House’s newest exhibition, Perfume: A Sensory Journey Through Contemporary Scent, opening last week in London.

Arguably the sense we talk and think about the least: smell, has a peculiar place in our lives, with the average person having done little more than consider perfume as a last minute addition to an outfit for years.

For Curator Claire Catterall, and Co-Curator Lizzie Ostrom, AKA Odette Toilette, this newest venture is all about changing the tide. Pinpointing a shift in attitudes, the exhibition aims to stimulate and awaken the senses in a less than ordinary way.  “In the 21st century perfume is changing,” said Catterall. “We want to smell different. Different from everyone else and different from before. We want to be taken on a journey, to a space in time or a space emotionally.”

This is an initiation into the world for the uninitiated, but rather than showcasing fragrances we’ve all known and loved over the years, 10 rooms champion the scents that break boundaries, the rebels of the industry that are doing things differently.

From Killian Wells to Mark Buxton and Geza Schoen, a cohort of perfumers that look at the industry in a completely different way take exhibit goers on an olfactory journey through experimental scents.

Great event, I wish I could go! Yours, Fran

 

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