Gorilla Perfume is bathtime favourite Lush’s fragrance arm. Every new collection is matched with an exhibition scented with the perfumes in the range. Last year’s Gorilla Perfume Gallery in Shoreditch also had a re-focus on the original Gorilla Perfume collection. This year the gallery popped up in the basement of Phonica Records on Poland Street.
The Gorilla Perfume concept has been interesting to say the least: launching their product with an exhibition, translating the perfume into three dimensional installations (and even some things that they can’t sell, fragrances which can only be experienced at the gallery) to capture the traditional Lush fan, the perfumista crowd, and also the art scene in one fell swoop. When asking the staff at the gallery what the attendees had been like, I received a thoroughly diplomatic reply: “a mixed crowd”.
As a fan of the BNTBTBB fragrances, especially the lauded Breath of God, the Smell of Weather Turning from the original collection of Gorilla Perfumes, and The Voice of Reason from the last collection, I was looking forward to discovering the scents on offer.
The overall theme of the gallery was apparently due to a year of loss and discovery in the lives of Mark & Simon Constantine, the father-son duo of product perfumers at Lush. Upon entering the Death, Decay and Renewal gallery, a funereal feel is immediately apparent. The first fragrance, Death & Decay, was an immediately enjoyable, sunny Lily soliflore – lilies of course being associated with funerals.
My favourites of the gallery were Smuggler’s Soul: a glorious sandalwood, Cyanide: a “lethal” dose of benzaldehyde, the scent of bitter almonds, that isn’t safe for human consumption/wearing (which was impregnated into a wooden column that smelled fantastic: perhaps Lush should launch wooden home scents embedded with Cyanide), Mycellium: a softly earthen, mushroom inspired scent, supposedly explaining interconnectivity, and finally Dad’s Garden Chamomile & Honeysuckle: a successful attempt by Simon to capture the odours in his father’s garden.
As with all Lush products, there is a raw, unfinished, but playful quality to the fragrances that are on display. It’s part of the charm of the brand.
Gorilla Perfume’s first standalone shop is now open in Camden Passage, N1, and is absolutely worth a look in to discover the new collection. I understand that these fragrances will not be available anywhere else.