Year in review: the 10 best fragrance stories of 2021


Our pick of the 10 best fragrance stories of 2021 has very little to do with typical scent, instead focusing on the creative potential of scent to push new boundaries in art.

Hear renowned perfumers, concept artists, and experimental musicians talk about their experiences with scent. Find out how artist Anicka Yi creates a new feminist story through perfume and how musicians create soundtracks to scent for a soothing multisensory experience. All of this and more is here in our alternative take on the power of perfumery.

Top 10 fragrance stories of the year

01. Incense with its own soundtrack offers a new way to relax

In 2021, the Folie à Several olfactory art gallery and the Noguchi Museum in New York are launching a collection of altering incenses called Co.

The line sees Japan’s oldest incense supplier teaming up with experimental musicians to create a multisensory experience inspired by the Japanese tradition of Koh-do – a refined and elaborate ritual of “listening to incense” that is somewhat similar to traditional tea ceremonies but with an emphasis on smell rather than taste. Each packet of incense comes with a download link to an album composed to accompany this particular scent by one of the five experimental musicians from Japan and Europe. It’s an inspired approach to keeping calm in our current age of anxiety.

02. Renowned perfumers share the books that inspire them

In this article, we asked renowned perfumers to share the books that inspired their scents. From Freud the In interpretation of Dreams to Bonjour Tristesse, perfumers like Frederic Malle and Francis Kurkdjian explain how they distilled the essence of a novel into the scent of a novel. It’s a fascinating examination of the many ways we can tell stories.

03. The fragrant heritage of Niki de Saint Phalle

On the occasion of the Niki de Saint Phalle retrospective at MoMA PS1, a look back at the artist’s experiments in the field of beauty.

Saint Phalle blew up artistic conventions with her cheerful and daring work – plaster sculptures that she filled with paint and then slaughtered with a .22 rifle, a life-size bull that she once blasted with dynamite in the honor of Salvador Dalí, and, more particularly, the Tarot Garden, a vast park of sculptures in Tuscany populated by impressive female mammoth figures.

In the 1980s, Saint Phalle created his own perfume to finance his art. Called Niki de Saint Phalle, the fragrance is a peculiar chypre floral scent that blends notes of carnation and patchouli, with mugwort, mint, leather and sandalwood. Always a pioneer, de Saint Phalle was one of the first artists to extend her creative practice to the world of perfumery.

04. The best perfumes for women are inspired by history

In this article, we take a look at how brands and artists use scents to pay homage to famous women in history, and in some cases, use scent as an alternative way to examine women’s place in society.

It’s a curious and compelling alternate version of the story. Highlights include the biography of concept artist Anicka Yi, a line of three scents that “invokes characters buried in history for refusing limitations [of their gender] and pose a future where all women are connected in a fluid network ”. Next to that is Aesop’s homage to the life of French modernist architect and designer Charlotte Perriand, and Dior’s homage to French Resistance hero (and Christian’s sister), Catherine Dior.

05. Reinventing roses: an experimental version of a classic fragrance

Traditionally, rose scents have been characterized as the olfactory equivalent of pop music – guaranteed crowd pleaser, easily accessible. Recently, however, a slew of niche perfumers and major brands have experimented with rose fragrances, taking the ubiquity of perfume as a challenge to create scents that subvert the exceptions and offer a new perspective on an old classic.

06. Zoë Paul creates perfumed art for the Diptyque exhibition

Ahead of Diptyque’s 60th anniversary exhibition, “The Grand Tour”, we walked into the studio of Athens-based artist Zoë Paul. There, we discovered the enchanting scented artwork she designed for the brand and learned how an accidental trip to an ancient cave spurred her creation.

07. Frank Gehry creates a Louis Vuitton perfume bottle to make you say “Oh! “

Two titans of their respective professions, the architect Frank Gehry and the Louis Vuitton perfumer Jacques Cavallier-Belletrud, distill their creative juice for the new collection of Les Extracts. In this exclusive story, we take a look at how the collaboration took the perfumer and architect to new heights.

08. Patchouli scents are the hedonistic scent of the season

Long before patchouli was adopted as the signature scent of hippies everywhere, flowering weed, with its warm, woody, musky scent, was a symbol of opulence and prestige – rumor has it that King Tut was buried with it. liters of patchouli oil. Centuries later, Madonna gave the scent her own touch by infusing it in the pressings of her 1989 album Like A Prayer.

Here, we discover perfumers who bring patchouli back to its decadent roots.

09. Arpa is a new multidisciplinary brand inspired by synesthesia

In May 2020, we previewed Arpa, a new multiplatform brand from perfumer Barnabé Fillion that combines perfume, music, architecture and imagery in a global immersive experience. In November 2021, Arpa officially launched at the Dover Street Parfums Market, and the final collection is as captivating as originally promised.

Arpa sees Fillion reunite with many of his former collaborators, calling on their various talents to create pieces that complement the brand’s fragrances; these include a series of sculptures and records to accompany the scents, from Anicka Yi and French DJ Pilooski. The graphics are designed by the heavyweight of the Memphis group Nathalie du Pasquier and an office space designed by the architect of Aesop, Jean-Philippe Bonnefoi. Meanwhile, limited edition bottles were hand blown by artist Jochen Holz.

10. Photographer Lea Colombo creates an experimental fragrance

Renowned fashion photographer Lea Colombo has launched two new fragrances, 111hz and 222hz, alongside the opening of her first self-organized exhibition, Colors of My Body. In this article we tell Colombo about the creation of the two fragrances which, as she describes it, “explore our relationship with self, the balance of masculine and feminine that is achieved in the process of individuation”.



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