About 150 years ago a British perfumer was scenting a section of the Crystal Palace using an ingenious system that allowed the diffusion of scents. With the creation of great architectural spaces covered with glass and similar to giant greenhouses, everything changed in the XIXth century. The Universal Exhibitions brought together the scents (and the products) from all the corners of the world and in my April lecture on "architecture and scents" I developed the impact of those events. From the "discovery" of exotic scents the western world has arrived today in the opposite direction - ban from public spaces, perfume paranoia or simply their disappearance from our lives because we live and work in a City far from nature and its scents.
Saturday night Francis Kurkdjian brought magic and emotion in a special place from Paris - Le Grand Palais built for the 1900 Exhibition, a moment when the art of perfumery exploded. It was its most brilliant period when the masterpieces of this 8th art were created. If we were not in a global world, Francis Kurkdjian, who received last year "La Légion d'Honneur", would be the official perfumer of the Fifth Republic.
But Noctambulle, celebrating the event "La Nuit des musées", is not about "grandeur", nor about entertainment. It is the simplest demonstration that fragrance is not just the 8th art but it has all the requisites to be a monumental one. Last year I explored this theme by an article devoted to this theme. If for several contemporary artists the scent used in exhibitions or performances was the "bad guy" (from decomposing to death and other "bad" smells), Francis Kurkdjian showed that perfume as an art form is about beauty and not about its negation, an easy path chosen by several contemporary artists.
Ten perfumes were scenting last night the Grand Palais, their choice and disposal was deliberate based on their power, impact, affinity and possible interaction.
The lily of the valley, maybe the strongest in terms of spatial impact, was set right in the frontal axis of the building. Right from the entrance, after the first seconds had something magic. The feeling that the entire space is scented and that the whole is not collapsing under each individuality but harmonizing, was something of an amazing beauty. It is also the clear demonstration that those antiperfume activists are the angel of death in the XXI century and their actions are meant to sterilize our soul. But more special was the spatial relation created between several scents, those spaces where the molecules from different sources entered in a some unexpected combinations (jasmine - mint).
There were about 23,000 people at the Grand Palais for Noctambulle. It was very special to see the people reacting to scents, trying to recognize or simply enjoying when a scented bubble broke on their nose. One of the theme I analyzed in my lecture on "scent and architecture" was the relation between odor and the power to generate or act on "social entropy". This became obvious after one hour when I followed the way people interact and their spatial "concentration" according to specific scents. More than 50 years ago Helena Rubinstein was launching in New York the perfume "Heaven Sent" using samples with a balloon on 5th Avenue. Now, Francis Kurkdjian sent us from the Heaven of Art the breath of the Muses. 9 were the Muses in the Classical Art and 10 were the perfumes embalming the night, a subtle reference to the new one, protecting the 8th art. That evening somewhere in space a new star was born.
The perfumes falling from Heaven were: jasmine, rose, honey, mimosa, pear, lily of the valley, green grass, mint, orange flower, fig. Their composition was simple, easy to understand but delicate and sensible. I loved the fresh rose, the sensual and dirty jasmine and the unmistakable lily of the valley.
I took the pictures before the sunset because I was afraid about the blitz. In several of them you can see master perfumer Francis Kurkdjian at work preparing the magic.
You can hear Francis Kurkdjian in this interview where he presents his new perfumes
Did you enjoy my article? Sign up for updates about new fragrances, reviews of artistic perfumes and exceptional vintage masterpieces. I would be very happy if you would consider joining 1000 Fragrances, throughRSS feed,GoogleFriend connect, Facebook (more personal), or any other way that appeals to you.
Fragrance is the 8th Art - Octavian Coifan - Le Parfum est le 8ème Art