It was as I was setting a bottle of perfume in lime jelly last week in preparation for blog photography that I realised that I may just be a little bit mad. Creative, yes, but also a bit bonkers. Over the last year or so I’ve made a real effort to ensure that any photos that appear on The Candy Perfume Boy are ones I’ve taken rather than marketing shots. You might be wondering why this is, especially as it’s a real effort and it does lead to strange occurrences, such as when I stained my stark white dining table green in my lime jelly endeavours (whoops!). The answer for me is two fold: firstly, I’ve always loved photography but have only recently found a knack for actually taking photos myself (it’s now a thoroughly enjoyable activity for me); and secondly, there is something really fascinating about trying to translate an odour into something visual.
Perfume is the most vivid of the arts, yet it’s the hardest to describe and visualise. With The Candy Perfume Boy it has always been my aim to make the art of olfaction more accessible, explaining and now presenting fragrance in an easy to understand way. This is why I’ve dived so deeply into the world of photography because it can instantly show the spirt or odour of a fragrance just in one image. Translating these scents into a photo is a really fascinating undertaking. It’s fun to be literal, creating tableau’s of a fragrance’s key materials or to put together something entirely more abstract, using art, craft materials, lighting and the natural elements to make something beautiful.
The district of Peckham in south-east London isn’t the first place that springs to mind when one thinks of the house CHANEL, but that’s exactly where the world’s most famous couturier decided to host a five-day pop-up scent installation inspired by their fragrances. The location was chosen because it is home to the studio of Es Devlin, the Stage Designer picked by CHANEL for their first collaboration with i-D under their ‘The Fifth Sense’ partnership.
Es Devlin creates “kinetic sculptures meshed with light” and is famous for piecing together elements of the London 2012 Olympic Closing Ceremony, Béyonce’s Formation World Tour (having created a gigantic “monolith” of a video screen for the tour), Adele’s BRIT Awards performance of “When We Were Young”and pretty much all of Kanye West’s performances in recent years. With such an illustrious and frankly fascinating body of work, it’s no surprise that Es was the perfect artist to work with for CHANEL’s very first pop-up scent installation.
Entitled ‘Mirror Maze’ this installation takes themes of navigation, gravity and memory, and links them to fragrance. The physical aspect sees a mirrored maze reminiscent of Coco Chanel’s famous mirrored staircase intertwined with video installations and soundscapes. Fragrance comes into play in the form of a specially-created scent crafted by CHANEL in-house Perfumer, Olivier Polge – a fragrance that scents a special space within the installation. The fragrance and installation (which closed yesterday) will last for five days, after which they will only exist as memory.
“I began to think about scent as a means of finding my way and measuring myself – not in space but through time. I thought about the smells that take me back – burning street tar, Vicks inhaler, Christmas tree resin, freshly cleaned school corridors, printer ink, chlorine, sunscreen, baby milk, mosquito coils, Indian jasmine mixed with street cooking, diesel – and I began to see them as landmarks for who I was when I first and last smelled it.”
At the recent launch event for Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s latest duo of fragrances there was a lot of discussion around art and its relation to the world of perfume. Kurkdjian, who is ever a frank and fascinating speaker, asserted that perfume is not art because it is created to please consumers and where art is given a value by the market, perfume prices are set by their creators. This isn’t to say that Kurkdjian is belittling perfume by any means, in fact it seems that he takes a purely practical view of the subject, comparing his collection to an olfactory wardrobe, containing a plethora of pieces ranging from the everyday staple of the white T-Shirt (Aqua Universalis) to the more occasionally worn leather trousers (Absolue Pour le Soir).
Also at the event, Art Curator, Karine Giannamore spoke at length about what constitutes a masterpiece, piecing together simplicity, hard work, innovation and emotion, as the key ingredients that create a timeless work of art. Giannamore states that a masterpiece “has to be new [and] has to be original” but also must be “cemented in tradition”. This collision of the innovative and the traditional is exactly what Francis Kurkdjian has played with for his two new fragrances – féminin Pluriel and masculin Pluriel.
“What makes a work of art? A masterpiece? A Timeless work of art? Something so good or beautiful that it cannot be affected by changes in society or fashion.”
– Karine Giannamore
The Pluriel (Plural) duo has been created as a mirror image – two fragrances that perfectly capture the essence of femininity and masculinity, or as the brand puts it; “the eternal feminine and masculine.” With each fragrance, Kurkdjian takes a traditional theme and adds a contemporary twist to create a pair of perfumes that feel thoroughly modern and very much in keeping with his clear and radiant style. For féminin Pluriel and masculin Pluriel, Kurkdjian has crafted two new pieces for his olfactory wardrobe – two fragrant garments that are as modern, chic, timeless and elegant as anything a couturier could construct.
Now here’s an interesting idea! Dutch artists Lernert & Sander have created a perfume made entirely of perfume samples, 1400 to be exact. The perfume (or shall we say concoction) is entitled ‘Everything’ and contains just about every perfume launched in 2012.
I wonder how it smells? Probably pretty awful to be honest, but if you are intrigued to give it a whiff you can do so at Colette in Paris during the first week of March.
For a full list of the fragrances included in ‘Everything’ click here and for more details on Lernert & Sander click here.