If you had asked a group of people which perfumes they were wearing 10 years ago, the answers would have mainly centred around pillar scents from major fashion houses – think Chanel No.5, Dior J’Adore, Thierry Mugler Alien… And now? Whilst those fragrance classics remain bestsellers, niche perfumery has enjoyed a meteoric rise. Perfumers previously working behind the scenes at major fragrance houses have struck out on their own, creating unusual, original and often outrageous scents under their own names, and opening up a vibrant new perfume scene for the 21st Century.
These scents, and the noses behind them, are what Somerset House’s new exhibition, perfume, sets out to explore. Focusing on 10 contemporary scents, including Olivia Giacobetti’s En Passant, Geza Schoen’s Molecule 01 and Lyn Harris’s Charcoal, the exhibition takes visitors on an olfactory journey through the creation of a scent – from inspiration to completion. The scenes recreated include a lovers’ boudoir, a Moroccan desert and a water park, with visual, auditory and tactile references to the identity of the scents they inspired.
A section of the exhibition is also dedicated to 20th Century perfume, including a focus on 10 trailblazing scents of the time. Until September 17 – buy tickets and find out more here.