Fleeting — Scents in Colour

One of my favorite fragrance blogs, Now Smell This, posted a brief mention of an upcoming art exhibit at the Mauritshuis museum in Holland. It is called “Fleeting — Scents in Colour”, and it will pair artworks with the imagined scents of what is portrayed. Apparently, some of those scents will be pleasant, and others — not so much. But what a great idea!

I think fragrance is under-utilized as a partner to other arts, but I understand why — it is hard to use in live performance spaces, for example, unless one decided to have one dominant smell, because how do you clear one out of the air to make room for another? And some people could be allergic, even if it just makes them sneeze. Pairing more static artworks like paintings with fragrance one can smell in limited space seems more feasible, though I wonder how this will work in the ongoing pandemic of airborne COVID-19.

Kudos to the Mauritshuis for even trying! Here is their description:

Fleeting – Scents in Colour

11 February 2021 – 6 June 2021 – Scented flowers and perfumes, foul-smelling canals and unpleasant body odours, smell and well-being, new aromas from far-away lands (spices, tobacco, coffee and tea), the disappearing smells of the bleaching fields, old crafts and more. Can life in the seventeenth century be captured in smell? How are smell (and scent) portrayed? What significance did people attach to smell? And what aromatic connotations do artworks have? In this exhibition, the Mauritshuis will undertake smell-historical research. In the vicinity of the art, various historic scents will be prepared to bring the paintings in the exhibition to life.

This effort reminds me of my 2019 trip to Venice (sigh — no travel for me in 2020), specifically my visit to that city’s Palazzo Mocenigo, which houses a perfume museum. I miss traveling, and I miss my “perfume tourism”, but I was so lucky to have been able to take more than one lovely trip with my husband in 2019. While 2020 was a lost year for travel, other than one much-needed week at a beach to which we could drive, my fingers are crossed for at least the second half of 2021. And since he won’t be traveling for work much this year, and who knows what international restrictions will be in place, we’ll probably get more creative in our travels and explore more of our own large and beautiful country.

Do you engage in “perfume tourism”, by which I mean seeking out perfume-related sites and stores in places you visit, and maybe bringing back perfume souvenirs?

8 thoughts on “Fleeting — Scents in Colour

  1. On our last couple of years of trips I definitely sought out perfume. Toronto- Guerlain boutique. London – Ormonde Jayne and Harrods salon. Paris – Jovoy, Annick Goutal, Nicolaï. San Francisco – Tigerlily, Chanel boutique. I many cases I set out on my own, leaving the boys to do something more interesting to them, which was fun in and of itself – I haven’t traveled solo much since the early 90’s, not having jobs that included travel. Looking forward to having the chance again some day…

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    • Ooh, you’ve just given me some great ideas! I’ve visited some wonderful places in London, where my husband’s company is headquartered, but sadly, we were planning to go to Paris in Summer 2020, and of course that trip had to be cancelled. I haven’t been to Toronto or San Francisco! I highly recommend the Scentbar in LA, though.

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  2. I get so envious reading about the scent exhibitions that are being or have been held in the Netherlands! Since 2019, everywhere I have travelled, I have sought out perfume. The last visit was Twisted Lily in Brooklyn in January 2020. Like you, I’m optimistic about the second half of 2021!

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  3. I have definitely sought out scents when I travel, along with great food! I tried out some Ramon Monegal’s in Barcelona and bought a couple of Hermes in Paris. I need another trip to Paris just to sniff perfumes, among other things. One of my favorite ‘perfume trips’ was a visit to Lucky Scent a few years ago as part of a trip to LA for a convention. I loved the shop in West Hollywood (the only store they had at the time) and I had so much fun trying different perfumes while I was there with a friend. I forget what I bought, but I know I bought at least 2 bottles of perfume and loved the experience of the shop. My last trip to NYC I spent a fair amount of time sniffing fragrances at Saks with my husband. He helped me pick out a Jo Malone and a Prada Olfactory, Cargo de Nuit. Pining for another trip to Spain and a Jovoy store!

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    • I first tried the range of Ramon Monegal’s scents in Barcelona too! My husband had brought me one bottle from one of his trips there for work. And I had a similar visit to the Scentbar in LA some years ago when I was there for work. Such a nice store!

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  4. Usually I’m very slow and indecisive when it comes to perfume purchases, so I rarely do spontaneous purchases of perfumes I haven’t tried before, but I did it at least once – in Barcelona (it seems that city inspires such behavior, judging from the previous comments). I bought a bottle from the Spanish brand Ramon Molvizar. Al other perfumes I ever bought while traveling were more or less planned purchases.

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