Over the next month, Harrods is holding the Perfume Diaries Exhibition, which is a showcase of the past, present and future of the perfume industry. Basenotes had the chance to attend a preview last week, hosted by the exhibition's curator, Roja Dove. Unsurprisingly, given Dove's background at Guerlain, the exhibition features many bottles from Guerlain's long history. But there many historical exhibits from other historic houses such Chanel, Lubin, Floris, Grossmith's and Penhaligon's.
As you walk round, some of the fragrances are available to smell. Sadly for those of you wishing to try long discontinued classics will be out of luck: most, if not all of the scents available to try are available either in the Roja Dove Haute Parfumerie or in the Harrods Perfume Hall.
Having said this, there is more than enough treats for your eyes here, that your nose might not even notice. Here are a few images...
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At the start of the exhibition is a brief explanation about fragrance notes, and families.
Above: A visual interpretation of the olfactory pyramid.
An explanation of the olfactory pyramid.
Top to Bottom: Chanel No5, 1921 "Features Aldehyde to gently lift the floral notes out of the bouquet"; Bandit by Robert Piguet, 1944 "Features Isobutyl Quinoline to give the aggressive smoky notes"; Eau Sauvage by Christian Dior, 1966 "Features Hedione, which gives the distinctive strongly Jasmine characteristic in a way that is beyond nature"; Angel by Thierry Mugler, 1992 "Features Ethyl Maltol, and started the gustative trends"; Terre d'Hermes, 2006 "Features an ionine that naturally occurs in violets".
Above is the very first Eau de Toilette. Though it wasn't the name of the concentration, but the name of the actual scent. A Toile was a type of material which could be scented, and so Lubin took this further and made a liquid form: Hence Eau de Toilette.
Some early Coty bottles, including some bottles by Lalique
100-year-old sampler box of many Coty scents. May have been used by sales staff to introduce the range. The back row (out of sight) features L'Origan (1905) but mostly appears to have some duplicates of the scent in the front row, which are: (L-R) Styx (1912), La Rose Jacqueminot (1906), Lilas Pourpre (1911), L'Effleure (date unknown, but the scent was either relaunched or the name appears to have been reused in the nineties); Ambre Antique (1910) and Jasmine de Corse (1906).
Central, is a very old, very large bottle of Special No. 127
Early Guerlain bottles. Each was the same, as people bought them for the juice, which would then be decanted into a dedicated vessel.
L-R: Guerlain Pour Troubler, Chant d'Arômes, Fleur Qui Meurt, Apres L'Ondée
Shalimar showcase - includes top left - the original bottle, with the blue stopper painted with mercury; Middle left - 2010 limited edition designed by Jade Jagger, exclusive to Harrods; Middle right - Shalimar under the code name of 90 - as the Shalimar name was trademarked in the UK to the DuBarry cosmetics company, so Shalimar was known by the code in the UK.
L-R : Muguet, Voila Pourquoi J'Amais Rosine (That is why I loved Rosine), another Muguet
Various bottles including L'Heure Bleue and Mitsouko
Syringa, Tacoma, Jasmiralda
Very rare Chanel presentation box featuring No.2, No.5, No. 11 and No.22]
Early Chanel No. 5 advertisement
Evolution of the Chanel No.5 bottle over time, notice how the stopper gets bigger.
The first Worth fragrances when put together created poetry.
Scent and travel opportunities
New ways of travel inspired scents: L-R Vol de Nuit (Guerlain), En Avion (Caron), Normandie (Patou)
Below, various Caron fragrances
Above and below, early Youth Dew
Above - handwritten note by Audrey Hepburn, thanking Estee Lauder
Aramis Soap on a Rope