Perfume: go, go

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I was pretty sceptical when I heard that Somerset House was putting on a show about perfume, and even more so that it would be done in the manner of a contemporary art installation. Well that’ll show me – it was actually great fun, very well thought out, would be perfect to do either on a date or with friends, and is actually both non-intimidating and witty, a real achievement for a craft that is second only to wine-making for jargon, history and insiders’ snobbism.

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As the notes to the show said, self-taught perfumiers are now breaking the mould, getting away both from the stuffiness of some schools, and the idea of scent as a marketing product. I won’t tell you too much about the perfumes in this exhibition as the whole point of the showing is to have a guessing game / voyage of discovery of your own, but you can see from the pictures above how inventive the sets were. In other rooms you smelt white cotton scarves or brilliant liberty-style print pouches, whilst the room with “paint pots” inspired this response from some other visitors:

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I didn’t get so creative myself, but enjoyed the game of hide and seek, and the weekend I went there was also an interesting series of presentations from perfumiers at the end in the testing lab.

PS in the first room you smelt the bowling balls…it felt quite James Bond, actually.

Balenciaga

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Another exploration from my staycation this year – I loved seeing these dresses close up and the amazing skill that went into them. Such amazing shapes! And the details…

Bravo the V&A for encouraging photography and sketching.

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All photos by me from my visit.

Pretties

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In fact, twice in one day because I ┬ácan’t resist: a scrapbook of Instagram pretties: Schiaparelli dresses from @the_corsetedbeauty;

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an Evelyn Dunbar sketch from @designfortoday;

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an elegant doodle from @garancedore;

 

marmalade jars and the delightful National Trust home of Standen from phil._.b;

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dogs on the beach from @thewomensroomblog

Perfumer H

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Had a blissful half hour recently in Lyn Harris’ new venture near Baker Street and Marylebone, Perfumer H. I want them ALL. So nice to find a few perfumes I could grow into too. This woman is so talented, and if you don’t already know the Miller Harris scents from Lyn’s first range, I’d really recommend those too.

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The shop itself was stunning, but I’ll try and describe some of the scents. Rain Cloyd reminded me of a warmer, more generous version of Guerlain’s Apres l’Ondee, Ink really did make me see that wonderful blue-black colour as soon as I smelt it’s faintly pencil-shavingy scent, Velvet was also true to its name and a winter scent although not overpowering even on a hot day, while Rose was the least cloying, most beautiful rose scent I’ve ever smelt. Lots more exploring to be done…

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All shots from the Perfumer H Instagram feed.

Vetiver

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Just looking at these pictures of Vetiver in the wild cheers me up.

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It’s a scent I very much like, although it’s definitely deemed a more “masculine” one (maybe it goes well with shirt women, whom I aspire to be? I do quite like chypres and leather scents too though, which also aren’t your traditional floral feminines), and it can be quite divisive.

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I think it’s perhaps like the masculine tuberose: hard to ignore and a distinctive presence. So as I’m looking for a new summer scent, I was delighted to find this list of summer vetivers, topped by this favourite from Guerlain.

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