Saturday, 19 July 2014

Gorilla Gallery, or why I smelled a shop dummy's crotch

It's not going to surprise anyone that I enjoy a bit of media cross over. Visual art, cinema, patterns, performance art, design and architecture, food, music... all these things can play a role in perfume, not only as inspirations for their initial creation, but also in the way perfume houses use them as tools to introduce -and teach about- new releases. A bit of pomp and circumstance goes a long way and we all love to be entertained. That this is by no means a one way street was recently demonstrated by the collaboration between Mark Buxton and Wes Anderson for the "Grand Budapest Hotel" movie and the use of perfume for the "Cheapside Hoard" exhibition in the Museum of London. Multi-sensory experiences go a bit deeper...

Curtain up the for the Gorilla perfume gallery, on show in London's Soho in an underground space beneath the city's coolest record shop:

Perfumes put on show via playful and often interactive installations from a garden shed to a disco environment, a corn circle simulated by a sand picture, a wall comic or headless cardboard dummies. While it is certainly possible to just amble about and read the explanations on display, the whole experience is much better if you take the guided tour offered by one of the lovely and enthusiastic staff. Not only will you learn more about the Death, Decay and Renewal idea behind the show and the perfumes, you will definitely sniff more, because he or she will spray the fragrances in the relevant pages of the little comic booklet you get on entrance. 

This is not really meant for in depth perfume testing (the ink of the print has a strong smell itself and after 4 or 5 different scents your booklet will have acquired something of a bouquet...) but to give a first impression. The fragrances can also be smelled directly on installation objects, including the crotch of a shop dummy which is not only a personal first but also pretty weird. Nice perfume though... 

Not all the fragrances were made for production, but will just be there to complement the concept of the show and some are not even meant for using on skin. 

This  is  a not a review post, but my favourites perfumes were Kerbside Violet (clue is in the name), Stayin' Alive, a surprising frankincense and Death &Decay, a powerful lily. Honourable mention to Dear John, a manly but soft cologne.

Altogether a lovely experience. Playful, charming, open to everyone, not taking itself too seriously but meaningful, while showing some impressive perfumery. That it all took place underground came as an added bonus on the hottest day of the year and the booklet with all its accumulated scents made for the most intriguing fan on my 1 1/2 hour unairconditioned bus trip home. 

How and where to go or buy:
The gallery will only be open until the 24th of July and is usually calm during the day, busy in the evenings when there is music, talks and booze. It's on 51 Poland St. in Soho. 
The new scents will be released over the coming months, but can be  bought exclusively either  at the gallery or the new Gorilla perfume shop in Islington. 

P.S. No, I'm not getting paid by them I just really, really  enjoyed myself.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Cologne du Maghreb

I think I mentioned in one of my last posts that I am not looking for refreshment in a perfume, and while that is still the case, I have to agree that a spritz of a well made cologne can be a bit nice indeed. There are a few new and lots of good old candidates on the market, from the cheap and cheerful to the eye-wateringly expensive, but I personally don't see the point in paying a huge amount of money for something that is just a short little pleasure and has to be used in abundance to make an impact. 
Tauer perfumes Cologne du Maghreb is sort of in the middle ground, price wise, and I when I was offered a sample I was very grateful for the opportunity to test it. Andy Tauer created this cologne from all natural ingredients because he believed it didn't need anything else. The result is very much the equivalent of proper home made lemonade: Made of 3 ingredients and a thousand times better than anything you can buy in the supermarket. 
It opens with a wonderful citrus note, not too bitter, not too sweet, not too green, just right and bright and gradually warming on the skin into a more golden orange. There is a hint of what I would clumsily describe as 'dust' which I find unusual and pleasant. Around an hour into wearing a touch of warm, dry wood adds the composition which then stays in a kind of hovering layer just above the skin....and then it's gone. On me, that is. A lot of bloggers describe their ride differently, expressing  great surprise at CdM's longevity. I envy them, because I would very much like it to last longer on me. In all fairness, colognes often require a repeat. And therein lies a certain pleasure. It was the idea of repeating the opening again, and again, and again that finally gave me the inspiration for the visual of Cologne du Maghreb.

Seamless geometric repeat patterns, or Tessellations, are a whole world of wonder. If you've ever looked intensely at intricate patterns and complicated ornaments your eyes got probably lost following the meanderings of eternal ribbons, laces, triangles and interwoven colours. The system behind them is pure geometry and surprisingly easy. (ish) It all starts with a primary cell, the smallest particle of a pattern. This can be a square, a triangle, or, if you are M.C. Escher, pretty much anything. 

The next step is creating a repeatable tile, I used the 4 cells in a pinwheel rotation to form this particular, square tile. Had I chosen a different symmetry, the end result would look very different. In fact, you can create up to 24 different patterns from just 1 primary cell depending how you turn or mirror it. 

Now you can repeat the tile endlessly and you have simple lace pattern. 

For the visualisation of Cologne du Maghreb I chose not to just recreate a vaguely Moroccan inspired pattern, but to capture this rhythm of reapplying CdM by breaking the absolute symmetry of the pattern. You won't be doing a repeat spritz at equally timed intervals, so what will happen on the skin is an overlap of layers at different stages of the scent. The effect can turn a simple structure, may it be olfactory or visual, into a surprisingly complex experience. I certainly enjoyed mine.

My interpretation of Cologne du Maghreb by Andy Tauer

How and where to wear:
A good travel companion, this one. Take it with you when you know that the journey will be long but rewarding.