A Fragrant Exhibition Wafts Into Somerset House

Perfume, Somerset House ★★★★☆

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 81 months ago

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Last Updated 23 August 2017

A Fragrant Exhibition Wafts Into Somerset House Perfume, Somerset House 4

Lie back on a chaise-longue, pick up a scented pouch and inhale the aroma.

Time to lie back and breathe in the aromas.

This is just one of a series of interactive displays in Somerset House's new Perfume exhibition.

A scented bed is part of the exhibition.

Elsewhere, you're encouraged to lie on a bed and pick up scented spheres, guessing what the fragrance of each one is. The answers will only be revealed at the halfway point, and at the end of the exhibition. Sadly, it seems our sense of smell leaves a lot to be desired — we didn't guess anything correctly.

Each scent is featured within distinctive zones of the show.

The minimalist design of this show really works. Rather than bombarding us with wall text, the stripped back approach lets our noses do all the work. It works well for a show that should be all about immersing ourselves in the fragrances.

Nice touches all around to make this exhibition immersive.

We were worried that the exhibition would contain overt advertising of certain fragrances littered throughout, as we often see in fashion exhibitions. But we're relieved to see this isn't the case and it's more about what goes into making the perfumes, as opposed to who made it.

At the end of the exhibition, stand in front of a green screen with a perfumed background.

Somerset House deserves kudos for experimenting with topic outside the normal realm of exhibitions, from one on Hair to the brilliant Big Bang Data. This innovative show definitely counts as one of the successes and is a breath of fresh perfume.

Perfume is on at Somerset House, East Wing until 23 September. Tickets are £11 for adults.