‘Nez à nez’ is ‘nose to nose’ in French. In the exhibition ‘Nez à nez. Contemporary perfumers’, we follow the trajectories and creative processes of those working in the complex and demanding world of perfumery. The public can now access some of the insider secrets of an exclusive creative medium which touches us all. Like fashion, the creation of perfume is an applied art: a craft that must take into account the function of the end-product, more than its form. Perfume-making is a specialised discipline which requires extensive expertise and no shortage of creative curiosity. Perfumers compose, blend, assemble, assess, sniff… and tell a story.
To show just how complex and diverse the world of perfumery is, the exhibition spotlights the creations of thirteen perfumers from various countries and backgrounds: women and men, at different stages of their careers, working independently, as head of their own brand or for a perfume house. We teamed up with the perfumers themselves and the experts from specialised magazine ‘Nez’ to select three fragrances by each creator to feature in the exhibition.
The fruit of many years of planning, ‘Nez à nez. Contemporary perfumers’ presents the perfumer’s art on three different levels: the individual creator’s experience, in the form of interviews; common themes uniting the work of two or three perfumers; and general information introducing the craft. For mudac, the main challenge was to present something as intangible as scent in a museum context where visual experiences usually dominate. How could we display fragrances without influencing the public’s perception of them, while keeping perfume centre stage? For a solution, we turned to designers Sarah van Gameren and Tim Simpson of Glithero, who have created six olfactory installations that embark visitors on a poetic, sensorial journey into the world of scents. Design thus playing an essential role in elevating the art of perfume.
Claire Favre Maxwell