“Metal, Flowers, Blood, Smoky Ink, Milk, Sweat, Wood, Purple Iris, Semen, Saliva, Roots, Hot Sand, Creosote, Chlorine, Fog Machines, Sandalwood, Smoke, Souk Spices, Cookies.”
The first thing one sees when entering Perfume: A Sensory Journey Through Contemporary Scent, the brand new and very exciting exhibition held at Somerset House, London, is a list of words that describe a variety of odours. These disembodied smells represent the ethos of the exhibition, which is to remove perfume from the commercial setting and allow it to be experienced as something more immersive than one would find on the department store shelves, despite the fact that the scents themselves can be found in such a place. This is perfume as an experience, rather than a consumable product. It shows that it can be something more than just a pretty smell to make a person smell good.