Somerset House is best known to be the ex-home of Fashion Week, but just because the shows are no longer held on the iconic cobbles, doesn’t mean you have no reason to visit the beautiful courtyard building.
Perfume at Somerset House is a brief history of perfume through the ages – an incredible experience that puts you sense of scents to the test.
We were hosted by Coty for our sensory experience, which began with the history of the first commercial fragrance. Previously, women would buy a fragrance, top up their crystal decanters at home and throw away the bottle. Coty together with Lalique created a bespoke crystal bottle, complete with an elegant label, ready to sit on the ladies dressing tables. It was a big moment for fragrances and helped shape the industry into what it is today.
Of course, they had none of the rules and regulations/knowledge that we have today, so got away with putting all sorts of nasties in the products. It was amazing to compare the scent then (powdery and musty smelling) to what it is now (fresh and individual) by looking at the very similar CK One by Calvin Klein.
Following our introduction, we followed the rooms around, one by one to the different exhibitions smelling the various objects trying to decipher which fragrance or smell they may be similar to.
There were smells in balls.
In a mattress.
And in medicine bottles!
As well as various other items.
Safe to say I won’t be becoming an expert perfumer any time soon, as I failed horrifically at the task at hand. It was fascinating though and thoroughly engaging, I won’t spoil it for you by giving away what’s what, but definitely try and get down to the exhibition before it closes on 23rd September.
We continued our journey with a cocktail and canapé scent pairing at Spring restaurant which sadly isn’t part of the exhibition.
However, I highly recommend if you’re going to the exhibition, or indeed any exhibition at Somerset House, that you pop in to Spring restaurant. Skye Gyngell is a genius chef and produces some of the most delightful, colourful and delicious food I have ever eaten. Lunch costs £45 and dinner is £65. If your budget is a little more humble, you can always try the Scratch menu. In an effort to keep food waste minimal, every day between 5.30pm and 6.30pm, Skye serves up a three course set meal for just £20!
Do let me know if you go and experience Perfume at Somerset House, Tickets cost £11 and can be booked here.