“You’ve got to know the rules to break them. That’s what I’m here for, to demolish the rules but to keep the tradition”.
– Lee ‘Alexander’ McQueen ¹
Whether one is a follower of fashion or not, it cannot be denied that the work of the late, great Alexander McQueen is art. McQueen paired exceptional tailoring (forged after an apprenticeship on Saville Row) with violence, romance and often alien beauty to create pieces that shook, and more importantly, challenged the world of fashion. Whether it be his early collection, ‘Highland Rape’, which had a name as controversial as its clothing, or the 3D printed and H.R. Ginger inspired ‘Alien’ footwear from ‘Plato’s Atlantis’, McQueen demonstrated that he was a fashion renegade – always courting controversy, but never losing sight of beauty.
This weekend I visited the Savage Beauty exhibition at the V&A in London. Running until 02 August 2015, the exhibit is a tremendous showcase of McQueen’s work, spanning his illustrious career from his MA Graduate Collection (‘Jack the Ripper Stalks his Victims, 1992) to his final, and incomplete collection (Autumn/Winter 2010). The whole thing is impeccably staged, with each room transformed to capturing the theme of each body of work. Perhaps the most captivating part of the exhibit is the ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’ – a room that spans two storeys and is filled with a dazzling array of pieces, from accessories such as bags, shoes and head pieces (many of which are collaborations with milliner, Philip Treacy), to gowns and metal spines. There’s simply so much to look at and the whole thing serves as a true testament to the talent, nay, the genius of one of the world’s greatest fashion designers.
Leaving the exhibition I felt incredibly inspired. It was fascinating to literally walk through the evolution of McQueen’s aesthetic, encountering the divine and the macabre along the way. There will never be another talent like his and to celebrate this stunning exhibition and body of work, I thought I would pick out some of my favourite McQueen pieces from his greatest collections, and ‘scent them’ with some perfumes that embody the spirit of these remarkable pieces of fashion. Here you’ll find some deeply intriguing clothing and scents, all of which are tailored to perfection and challenge one’s perceptions. They are works of fashion and olfactory art.
“Rubbing Noses is a series, in which I, The Candy Perfume Boy, grill the most important members of the perfume industry – the perfumers. These are the brains and noses behind the perfumes we know and love, and their unrivalled insight into one of the world’s most ancient of arts is something to be treasured, enjoyed and shared.”
This episode of Rubbing Noses focuses on one half of the dynamic father and son perfume crafting team responsible for Gorilla Perfumes, the perfume arm of cosmetics company, Lush. Simon Constantine is the son of Lush’s co-founder Mark Constantine and he has quickly proved himself to be a true talent within the world of perfume. He was the genius that mixed the two B Never to be Busy to be Beautiful fragrances ‘Inhale‘ and ‘Exhale‘ to create what we now as ‘Breath of God‘ – a truly unique and beautiful fragrance that is a shining star in the Gorilla Perfume range.
In this interview, Simon (and a tiny bit of Mark) talks about the inspiration behind three of the fragrances with Gorilla Perfume’s third volume of scent, ‘Death and Decay’, as well as discussing fragrance materials, IFRA and what makes a good perfume. I think you’ll agree that Simon has a unique view on the world of perfume, one that is shown not only here, but also in his olfactory creations which are anything but dull. Anyway, that’s enough of my babbling, let’s see what the Gorilla perfumer has to say…
The fragrant themes explored by Gorilla Perfume have never been conventional. Let’s not forget that they are the very same people that bottled the scent of nightclubs filled with ladyboys (see Ladyboy) and mixed two polar opposing perfumes together to create something rather remarkable (see Breath of God). They do all of this with exceptional talent and remarkably good materials, AND at a reasonable price, which is no mean feat in this world of hyper-luxe dreck. It’s witchcraft, I tell you.
With their third volume of fragrances, named ‘Death, Decay and Renewal’, Gorilla perfumers Mark and Simon Constantine have translated complex emotions associate with loss, whether it be the loss of a loved one or the end of a relationship, into a fascinating collection of perfumes. The three fragrances (Death and Decay, All Good Things and Kerbside Violet) in Volume 3 are not what one expects. They take the macabre and make it optimistic, and present the challenging as comforting and familiar. As always, Gorilla Perfume push the envelope in the most fascinating of ways.
[Also, make sure to swing by tomorrow for a special Gorilla Perfume giveaway.]