Sarah Baker fuses art, film & fragrance in a decadent soap opera feast for the senses. Watch the film and smell the perfumes…

London-based artist Sarah Baker is fascinated in the cult of celebrity, depictions of glamour and the extravagent shoulder-pads-at-dawn dramas played out in American soap operas. Though Baker’s career has thus far mainly revolved around making her own films, in to this heady mix of art and film she wanted to weave another layer of storytelling  – this time through the medium of scent.
Working with the prestigious Institute of Art and Olfaction in Los Angeles, Sarah Baker began to develop her own perfume line, collaborating with renowned perfumers, with Baker overseeing production from her East London Studio and the four fragrances finally launching at a decadent art show/party in December. Says Baker, ‘Each perfume is inspired by luxurious fashion motifs that evoke lavish scenes; while gazing at the printed bottles and smelling the perfumes, one could, for instance, be instantaneously transported onto the deck of a yacht in the Mediterranean….’
Sarah Baker Perfumes take us on a journey from the fizzing ozonic freshness of grapefruit and hedoine’s cooling breeze in Greek Keys, to the frankincense, florals and castoreum ferocious animalic growl (underpinned by fuzzy fur) in Leopard. Taking a softer turn, we have milky musk, coconut, vanilla and an ambrox sexiness of bare skin glimpsed in Lace; finishing with the full-on smokiness of open fires, heather-strewn hills, leather, hops and tobacco of Tartan. An eclectic and genuinely evocative collection, the Greek Keys and Leopard were made by perfumer Ashley Eden Kessler; Lace and Tartan by 4160 Tuesdays very own Sarah McCartney. At once enlivening, challenging and comforting – they are all a true feast for the senses.
Sarah Baker Perfumes are currently £60 for 50ml eau de parfum, and available at sarahbakerperfumes.com
The worlds of film, fashion and fragrance are set to collide this Saturday, with the showing of Baker’s 2013 film Impirioso the story of a wealth and fame obsessed fashion heiress who murders her husband when he sells the family fashion business, in the style of an ultra-glam 80s mini tv series.
And vital news for fragrance fanatics – you’ll be able to smell all the perfumes following the film. Sarah Baker explains that, in fact, ‘…Impirioso is actually the artwork which inspired me to make perfumes. It’s not about perfumes at all, it’s about a woman who murders her husband (based on Patrizia Reggiani) . Instead of using Gucci documentary/biopic-style I created a fake fashion brand “Rocco Rosso” and with it the logo and costumes, hats, home wares. It inspired me to finally make a real product, I had always wanted to produce a perfume, and that’s when I started working with Saskia from Institute for Art and Olfaction.’
You can watch the trailer for the film by clicking here
After the screening you’ll be guided across the road to Storefront – the installation where Baker’s perfumes are displayed, for smelling, wine and chats. It all sounds gloriously glamorous, and, even better – tickets for Impirioso are FREE, but booking is required.
The Hat Factory Arts Centre, Luton
Saturday 14 January
4.30pm
Trains run regularly from St Pancras Station and it’s a 1 min walk to the screening from Luton Station.
Written by Suzy Nightingale
 
 

Illuminum 95%…. the delicious link between taste and smell

Illuminum are ‘pushing the boundaries of the possible’ and exploring the myriad links between between taste and scent. Ever ones to enjoy explorations in both of those areas, we set out to discover more…

Did you know that 95% of what we perceive as a taste sensation is actually constructed from our sense of smell? It sounds astonishing, but anyone who has taken part in our immersive How to Improve Your Sense of Smell Workshops can attest to the power of that discovery [our next one is in Brighton, August 21stcome and join us!]
Indeed, anyone who has ever suffered from a cold and then attempted to eat some comforting bowl of nourishment – only to discover it tastes of almost nothing (or simply unpleasant) – will suddenly have realised the intricate connections between smell and taste…
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Illuminum London proudly straddle the worlds of art and fragrance, pushing the boundaries of how we experience scent and altering our pre-conceived perceptions of smell itself. Having collaborated with many artists, designers and architechts over the years, it seems only natural they should now be working with chefs and exploring that vital link between food and fragrance. Illuminum invited innovative chefs Jackson Boxer, Yuki Gomi and Tom Wolfe to create three distinctive fragrances that explored the interfaces of this connection, playing with our notions of what we think our nose knows.
Illuminum say: ‘Outside the world of perfume, it is chefs who use their sense of smell on a daily basis to spark or guide their imagination. For Illuminum, this cross-disciplinary collaboration with three thoughtful practitioners, each with a clear view of the role and potential of scent, is a unique opportunity to transcend the borders of experience, expectation and practice in order the fashion the new. Formulated in partnership with expert perfumers, the three new scents demonstrate the brand’s ethos of carrying a passion for perfume into fulfilling realms of shared experience, including the worlds of art and culture. For Illuminum, fragrance is an art form in its own right.’
Illuminum Bruswick House

‘Founder of the Brunswick House restaurant and bar in London’s Vauxhall, Jackson Boxer brings his individuality to bear on every facet of the guest experience. Here, within a unique architectural emporium, the antiques themselves are for sale as part of a spirited homage to good taste.’ Explains Jackson:  ‘Food and wine have long provided the framework around which I construct memory. Since I mainly perceive this through scent, the opportunity to create a fragrance with Illuminum that would not only stir me, but also represent a range of hard-to-articulate feelings about cuisine, was fascinating.’ His fragrance features labdanum, oak and cedarwood for a warmly woody Oriental to set the nose tingling…
Illuminum Yuki&bottle
‘For Yuki Gomi, master of Japanese cooking, teacher, and founder of Yuki’s Kitchen, the ‘95 Percent’ series collaboration is an opportunity to reconnect with a childhood spent in the foothills of Mount Fuji, home to all the subtlety and poetic suggestiveness of Japan’s culinary tradition.’ For Yuki‘s scent, the notes osmanthus, green tea, tangerine and vetiver are entwined to entice the senses…
Illuminum Tom Wolfe
‘London-based Tom Wolfe pioneered the fusion of food with art and product design, carving out a uniquely flamboyant niche in the capital’s culinary landscape. This collaboration with Illuminum is a chance to show off his dazzling talent for drama, story, spectacle and cultural allusion.’ Tom Wolfe #234 twists fennel infused with bergamot, geranium and neroli and a base of pine tree with amber to intrigue…
Illuminum 95% fragrances £80 for 50ml eau de parfum
Buy them at Selfridges
Written by Suzy Nightingale

Paul Schütze – a beautiful journey through art, photography, music and now… perfume

We first met the artist Paul Schütze some years ago, during his Silent Surface exhibition – a gallery of works exploring banned books and the power of words. The centrepiece was a magnificent tome on a plinth, the pages entirely blackened as though burned, and from which the most incredible aroma wafted – the more instense the closer you got. A scent evoking old libraries, dusty pages and fresh ink filled the room, and apparently many visitors asked if they could buy the fragrance itself. Having never seen the exercise as a commercial venture – the aroma as much an artwork as those on the walls – Paul hadn’t really considered such a thing, back then. But how things change…

Fascinated by the ability of aroma to provoke distinct emotions and long-distant memories, Paul began working even more closely with the concept of integrating artworks and instillations with our innate sense of smell – an unseen hand of the artist. Last year, Paul collaborated with Sir John Soane’s Museum on a candlelit tour devoted to exploring the sensorial heritage of the house, with Paul using aromas to evoke the sense of the family having just left the room – olfactory time-travel, if you will.

13181389_588833121284256_228160111_nWhile still working on his music and stunning photography (seriously, have a look at his Instagram account for a taste of the visual treats), Paul worked extensively on creating exquisite formulas, himself  – transforming his fragrance dreams into a reality, while slowly traversing the tricky areas of perfume regulations.

Now, the trio of fragrances have been realised – each of them chosen to describe a moment in time recalled by the artist ‘for it’s unique particularity’. And there’s no doubting these fragrances are unique.

Behind The Rain

Behind the Rain: black pepper, conifer, olibanum, grapefruit, lentisque, linden, moss, patchouli, sweet fennel, vetiver.

The moment of being caught in a Monsoon-like downpour – sheltering beneath a tree on some exotic island’s beach, the petrichor scent of the rain istelf, drenched foliage and sweetly sodden earth, then plants blooming as heat returns and the liquid steams…

Cirebon

Cirebon: bergamot, bigarade, cedar, cyclamen, magnolia, pettigrain, sandalwood, Tunisian orange flower, vetiver.

An hallucinogenic evocation of one sultry night in Java – the memories of an orchestra playing, their music drifting across the water on the scented breeze; a synaesthetic merging of the senses as sound and smell become one as they swirl around you…

Tears of Eros

Tears of Eros: ambergris, benzoin, cardamom, cedar, incense, green clementine, guaiac wood, hyacinth, labdanum, orris, pink pepper.

A rememberance of the artist working in his Parisian studio – the smouldering embers of incense from Sanju Sangendo, Kyoto, among discarded clementine skins, the heat releasing the sharp pithy notes along with the juicy freshness of the skin; a potted hyacinth on the window ledge blurring the cool air of the city beyond…

Strikingly characterful and bold, yet hauntingly ethereal, they seem almost to recall the manual method of developing photographic prints themselves – an image deepening with details, shadows emerging as they warm on the skin. Like his artworks, there’s an avant garde starkness shot through with a stately elegance – a way to transcend through scent.

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Paul Schütze perfumes £135 for 50ml eau de parfum
Buy them at Roullier White

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Aether perfumes – time to stop and smell the molecular roses…

When is a rose not a rose….?

Niche perfumery can sometimes fall in to the very tropes they so desperately try to avoid – highlighting expensive, natural ingredients and hiding, or at least not announcing, the incredible molecular technology (often just as expensive as raw ingredients) at play in the majority of perfumes we have been falling in love with since the early 19th Century. Part of the problem is the language involved – ‘synthetic’ just doesn’t sound sexy. But these clever molecules add depth, space and longevity to fragrance – ultimately, some being as complex and multi-faceted as several hundred ingredients mixed together at once. While of course the perfume industry still celebrates the multitude and quality of naturals, it’s vital – now, more than ever – to educate ourselves on, and stop being squeamish about, the modern methods of extracting and shaping these invisible bubbles of pleasure.

The just-launched Aether perfumes are unique – a wardrobe of fragrances dedicated to paying tribute to synthetic molecules – while showcasing their elegance, diversity and ability to convey distinct and intricate emotional messages through scent. Offering a new way to experience fragrance for we beings who so desperately cling to known and expected smells, the collection is an eye-opening (nostril-widening?) demonstration of how molecules are not something to hitch up your petticoats and stand on a chair (in the manner of a Tom & Jerry cartoon) in fear of. Far from it – these are scents we know somehow, emotionally, if not by name alone – could many people automatically bring to mind the smell of Cetalox or Oxane?

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©Roberto Greco

Under the creative guidance and artistic direction of Nicolas Chabot – perhaps best known for his rescuing and reinvigorating of the heritage house Le Galion – perfumers Amélie Borgeois and Anne-Sophie Behaghel have created five fragrances that break the boundaries of “known” smells, crafting ‘egoless perfumes, creative atmospheres where everything is delightfully extravagant, whimsical, playful…’

Aether say: ‘If each molecule has a rather distinctive smell, who could guess exactly what the smell of the aldehyde C12 or ISO E Super would be? Sometimes a shimmering bubble and sometimes dazzling beauty, the molecule – this almost nothing in infinity – is the sacred young muse of the collection. At ÆTHER, no flower-show or flight of lyricism around the historically traditional raw material; rather the evocation of metallic vegetation, unknown woods, imperceptible sounds, moments to come … These scents of imperial fancy do not envy the wake of others, but prefer a luminous halo, a magical ring, an aura of humor and mystery…’

Closing your eyes, forgetting what you think you know and allowing the fragrance and sensation to wash over you is the pleasure, here. And what pleasures there are in store…

Muskethanol: ‘A semblance of realism: a handful of golden sand poured in alcohol (damascenone) that starts to glow, as if by magic, a thousands sequins, a silver shimmer similar to the sea. The disturbing impression of sand that has been rendered almost abstract. A sand of steel, futuristic, perhaps from another world (cetalox, muscone).’

Ether Oxide: ‘Far away, very far away, you vaguely smell a beautiful fresh and contemporary wood; closer, there is strange “ether accord” (ethyl acetate), a sort of gentle steam, which approaches the skin like a breath of burning wood (ambroxan, ISO E Super). An emanation of love. “And if peace had a smell?” She asked me, a little worried. “It might be like this” I replied.’

Rose Alcane: ‘One could imagine it so textured, so vivid, so real (Rose Oxyde). Beautiful flower in a cowhide. A rose for girl and boys who do not love roses madly, but who do not hate to be surprised. Through beautiful floral mechanics, the miracle of alchemy transforms, right under your nose, a super fresh rosebud into a metallic flower.’

Aether
©Roberto Greco

Citrus Ester: ‘One of those days that seems to stretch out forever, and you are not quite sure there is going to be a second. The moment quivers with energy. An energy ghost, bright (methyl grapefruit) and caring, tinged with a slight taste of primordial fruit (firascone, rhubafurane). Life, the beginnings of life.’

Carboneum: ‘The dreams of a child: the man in a diving suit resurfacing from the ocean wrung out by the waves, before being propelled into space by a magnetic force. A strange harmony representing neoprene (Benzoate Methyl, Sudéral, Timbérol)! One also smells the texture of foam, a little rough (Globanone). The next night it had the same dream.’

We admit we’re very excited by Aether and their unashamed celebration of molecular fragrance beauty – an art form, yes, but not for art’s sake alone: each of them are totally wearable (and sharable) by even the most molecularly-inexperienced fragrance lover.

Forget what your nose thinks it knows – about rose, or any other scent, and give in to curiosity…

Aether perfumes £140 for 100ml eau de parfum
Buy them at Liberty

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Culture, bottled: pants, punk and pre-Raphaelites – eight shows to see and scents to wear there

At The Perfume Society we happen to fall firmly in the camp of perfume as an art form to be celebrated in its own right – a myriad of cultural and language crossovers in the areas of music and fragrance being particularly prevalent; with top, middle and base ‘notes’, perfumer’s ‘organs’ with their raw materials arrayed as the keys of an instrument, ‘accords’ and olfactory harmonies now standard references in scent.

Colours and painting, too, have their scent story to tell, with any number of world-famous noses experiencing the multiple layering of senses (people who ‘smell’ colours and musical notes, for example) known as synaesthesia – a subject we have previously explored in great depth within our Scented Letter magazine, indeed devoting an entire issue to the subject.

We’re blessed with a rich tapestry of diverse cultural events around the UK, and this summer promises a spectacular line-up of shows, festivals and arty comings-together with a little bit of something for everyone. As any ‘fume-head’s nose knows, one must always scent appropriately for the occasion (indeed, many of us pick our perfumes before we get dressed in the morning), and this set us wondering which perfumes would be best for culture vultures to wear at the panopoly of entertainment on offer in the months ahead….

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Exhibitionism: The Rolling Stones – 5 April-4 September 2016, Saatchi Gallery

Their musical cavortings now – incredibly – span 54 years, and this lively exhibition reflects on the vitality the Stones have brought to the music scene at large. Purporting to be ‘the most comprehensive insight into the group’ ever seen, it’s even got a sensory depth to plunge in to – should you wish…  the scent supposedly evokes the ‘revolting digs’ the band lived in before becoming famous. A heady blend of Tandori chicken (Mick’s dish of choice, apparently) and fish & chips (the other members’ preference) along with the distinctive scent of unwashed socks and – well, all manner of things, one supposes – it’s likely even die-hard fans wouldn’t want to splash that all over. Maybe go for a stylish take on nostalgia with this old-school perfume oil, instead? Not the headlong dive into a hippie shop one might expect, it’s the resinously smoky birch tar that takes centre-stage, here; joined by vanilla on in the base (on the bass?) to further soothe animal insticts.

Le Labo Patchouli 24 £95 for 30ml perfume oil
Buy it at Liberty

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Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear – 16 April 2016-12 March 2017, V&A.

Exoloring ‘the intimate relationship between underwear and fashion and its role in moulding the body to a fashionable ideal’, this major new exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum proves an eye-popping extravaganza of all things racy and lacey. From historical under-crackers that could raise more than titter, to some of the finest examples of scanties ever seen, we could think of nothing more appropriate than the designer who made it okay to show-off your underwear as outerwear – breathe in and plump for this latest, lighter version of JPG’s powdery orange blossom and musk-laden perfumed paean to the powerful curves a corset can bring.

Jean Paul Gaultier Classique Eau Fraiche £67 for 100ml eau de toilette
Buy it at The Perfume Shop

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Scented Swimming at the Also Festival – 17-19 June 2016, Warwickshire

With a plethora of fascinating talks, banquets and ‘happenings’ lined up, including a Mini Beast Safari, Wine and Philosophy tastings, talks about trans-humanism, and cream teas in the orangery, there was already a lot to tempt us here. Add a perfumed book club over afternoon gin cocktails with our fragrant pal Odette Toilette, the rather lavish sounding promise of a ‘Scented Swim in Compton Verney’s stunning lake to the soundtrack of live classical piano’, AND one of Sarah McCartney’s perfume making workshops – we were sold. Of course you could eventually be weaing a scent you create yourself, but if you can’t bear to go bare, drench yourself with this British take on the Oriental – a bright mix of citrus, jasmine, vanilla and cedarwood, it’s the scent of sun-kissed skin and happiness.

4160 Tuesdays Sunshine & Pancakes £90 for 100ml eau de parfum
Buy it at Roullier White

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Missoni Art Colour – 6 May-4 September 2016, Fashion & Textile Museum

Founded in 1953 by Ottavio Missoni and his wife, Rosita, they actually began by knitting tracksuits for the Italian’s 1948 Olympic team – a rather incongruous start for what went on to become an iconic fashion house noted for their flair for colour, patterns and intricately woven fabrics; but all becomes clear in this wide-ranging exhibition when you discover Ottavio was also a former Olymic athlete. Featuring a stunning central pyramid of fashion mannequins, and with abstract artworks and home furnishings, it’s a feast for the eyes. What else to wear than the colourful new Missoni scent, designed to be the finishing touch to any stylish outfit it’s a distinctly Italian confident concotion of bergamot, pear, jasmine and tonka bean with a woody, soft musk trail.

Missoni Missoni £42 for 30ml eau de parfum
Buy it at The Fragrance Shop

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Pre-Raphaelites: Beauty and Rebellion – until 5 June 2016, Liverpool

Having graced many a student’s walls, don’t make do with the dog-eared blu-tacked posters – go and see the real red-heads and wanly pouting beauties in person. With over 120 major works by the masters including Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Ford Madox Brown, William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais, the significance of being exhibited in Liverpool is explored with the history of the city’s Autumn Exhibitions – a tradition that allowed this most overtly poetic and literary inspired movements to flourish. To complete the picture? A spellbindingly beautiful re-working of rose (perfumer Dominic Ropion using an unprecedented concentration, here) with broad brush strokes of refined patchouli, powdered bezoin, a sprinkle of cinnamon, smooth sandalwood and a glistening bunch of ripe berries fresh for the plucking.

Frederic Malle Portrait of a Lady £145 for 50ml eau de parfum
Buy it at Selfridges

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Bees (And the Odd Wasp) in My Bonnet – 18 March-29 September 2016, Oxford

Not merely vital as pollinators for the thousands of flowers and other naturally sourced materials the majority of fragrances still rely on, but for the survival of the human race itself, artist Kurt Jackson has long been obsessed with the litle buzzers. Ever since he first enrolled as a student of Zoology at the University of Oxford, Jackson has focused on bees, wasps and other pollinating insects as his main source of inspiration; and together with his various canvases, sculptures and prints, the university have loaned some of their extensive archival collection to support this exhibition, and highlight the true importance of these creatures we cannot take foregranted. It had to be honey-laden scent, of course, and bolstered by the darkly glimmering magnificence of oudh and a delightfully tempered, lightly musky dry down – this one has it in oodles.

Floris Honey Oud £160 for 100ml eau de parfum
Buy it at Floris

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Glastonbury Festival – 22-26 June 2016, Somerset

The day after legendary musician Jimi Hendrix died in 1970, the idea for the first Glastonbury Festival was born – the date of the (originally free) musical shin-dig was moved to coincide with the Summer Solstice, and 1971 saw an estimated crowd of 12,000 enjoy performances by Hawkwind, David Bowie, Joan Baez and Fairport Convention among others. It’s fair to say the numbers have increased somewhat since those days, but it’s still an absolute British institution on the live music scene, and with Adele, Muse, New Order, Coldplay and ZZ Top announced for 2016 so far, it’s set to be a record-breaking year. Another British institution is the almost inevitable torrential rain an ensuing mud-bath. We say, be ahead of the crowds and drench yourself in this before the heavens open, with cool ‘petrichor’ notes – that unique smell straight after a downpour – somehow captured in scent; it’s sure to refresh even under extreme circumstances.

Library of Fragrance Rain £15 for 30ml eau de toilette
Buy it at Boots

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Punk.London May 13-September 19 2016, London

We bet you’ll be joining us in stocking up on safety pins and sprinkling your rubber trousers with talc for this year-long celebration of perhaps the most subversive – and influential – youth-led cultural movement in living history. Showcasing fashions, music and art that were all integral to making punk so iconic, and images of rainbow-coloured mohawked teens as synonymous with the image of London around the world as a red bus; it’s a joyfully exuberant yet important doccumentation of a genre that continues to break boundaries. With the BFI Southbank screening a selection of contemporary films starring, among others, the now Grand Dame of punk, Vivienne Westwood and Ari Up, lead singer of The Slits; it might be that you Boudoir-it-up with one of Westwood’s fragrance collection. However, for a scent that really embodies the shake it up and shock ’em nature of the scene; we tentatively suggest this adrenaline-infused fragrance. Never a house to pull back from the edge, it’s a blend of arousal-inspired accords on a bed of orris, opoponax, coconut and musk. Devisive as the spirit of punk itself, it’s a love or hate you’ll not forget in a hurry…

Etat Libre d’Orange Secretions Magnifiques £70 for 50ml eau de parfums
Buy it from Les Senteurs

Written by Suzy Nightingale