The Scented Myth: Cartier’s new Paris perfume exhibition

Cartier has unveiled a new installation that converts fragrance from an intangible sensation into a visible experience.  Dubbed “Le Mythe Parfumé,” or “The Scented Myth” opened to the public in Paris Thursday last week.

 The project is the brainchild of Cartier’s head perfumer Mathilde Laurent and follows on from Laurent’s 2017 installation outside the Palais de Tokyo, OSNI 1.  OSNI 1 was a habitable glass cube with a single twisting staircase inside that led visitors through a floating cloud, up to a clear, perfume-filled vista. Like its predecessor, OSNI 2 The Scented Myth aims to bring perfume outside of the bottle and, consequently, recalibrate how people experience smell. 

“The idea is to show the public that perfume is more than just a hygienic product or a fashion accessory,” says Laurent. “When you smell a perfume, you must also seek to see it, hear it, and feel it with your whole body. I want to encourage the public to just feel the emotions, rather than perceiving [perfume] as something superficial.”

The installation opens with a mythical incarnation of the Dame à la Panthère, an artwork created by artist George Barbier in 1914 for a Cartier invitation. As viewers step further into darkness, they watch as the silhouette of the panther moves around the space in the form of thousands of luminous particles. In the background, a gentle soundscape composed around the golden ratio frequency plays, adding to the dreamlike atmosphere. 

As an audio accompaniment, spoken-word artist Rhael “LionHeart” Cape reads a poem he penned, which opens: “At the altar of our (airborn) senses, delicately poised, an ethereal panther of sacred particles made prayer, reveals itself (amid) thin air, this sensuous scent….” Visitors hear sounds that were composed around the golden ratio frequency, considered to be conducive to meditation. They are invited to touch the falling water, which leaves a scent on their hands.

OSNI 2 is open to the public until 11 December at 2, rue Robert Esnault-Pelterie, 75007 Paris. Discover Opulent Club on Apple news.