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Over the past century, the sense of smell has been used in art on several occasions, from Marcel Duchamp’s L’Air de Paris in 1919 to Michel Blazy’s Mur de poils de carotte in 2000, via Rachel Lachowicz’s Lipstick Urinals in 1992.

The last decade has seen a number of multidisciplinary collaborations around olfaction flourish on the artistic scene. This is an opportunity for Acumen to highlight some of these most recent initiatives.  


Last January, Diptyque unveiled the story of Do Son, one of its iconic creations (2005), in the form of an animated short film, produced by the Werlen Meyer studio, set to music by James Blake. Exploring a contemporary and dynamic dimension of drawing, the film revives the memories of Yves Coueslant, one of the three founders of Diptyque, of his childhood by the sea in the coastal town of Do Son. 

Diptyque entrusted the music to James Blake, singer, songwriter, musician, and producer, once again underlining its link with today’s art. This is a way for the brand to perpetuate these encounters based on shared sensibilities with craftsmen, artists, and creators, who have shaped its history since the beginning. 


Guerlain has just enriched its L’Art et la Matière collection with a new opus, Jasmin Bonheur. A jasmine bathed in light, whose shades evoke the vibrant nuances of the work of the artist Henri Matisse. From this creative resonance, a partnership was born with the design house Maison Matisse, around a bottle in a limited edition of 1,000 pieces worldwide. For the occasion, the cap and case are adorned with a colorful motif exclusive to Guerlain, sublimating the painter’s most iconic shapes and colors.

After leather goods, jewelry, and fashion, Yayoi Kusama is customizing three iconic Louis Vuitton fragrances. The bottles of Attrape-Rêves, Spell on You, and L’Immensité are adorned with polka-dot petals, colorful butterflies, and playful pumpkins, expressing the Japanese artist’s passion for flowers. Available in limited editions, the fragrances are sold from €320 as collector’s items.


If these artistic partnerships stimulate sales by attracting a clientele sensitive to creation, the olfactory dimension is also invited into the cultural space. More and more exhibitions, installations, and alternative projects are inviting the sense of smell to the heart of the experience. Like the latest exhibition at the Espace Ecureuil Foundation in Toulouse, on view until 19 March, which offers a journey through the history of art through the olfactory prism.  


Sophie Normand