Gorilla Perfume is the offshoot of handmade, ethical cosmetics company Lush, created by founder Mark Constantine and his son Simon. Both professional perfumers, they were looking for a way to express themselves and get creative with scent as their medium, describing the product as ‘revolutionary fine fragrance inspired by art, music and poetry.’
Indeed they’ve just filled a gallery under a record shop in Soho with 13 new fragrances – each with its own story and accompanying installation, from an eerie funeral piece to a loving recreation of Mark’s father’s shed/garden complete with camomile.
The exhibition is loosely based on the theme of Death, Decay & Renewal, after the family experienced some personal losses, but draws on more positive / less morbid aspects of the subject.
Within that, the fragrances take their inspiration from many different places like the Princess Cottongrass Swedish folktale or a trip to an almond grove leading to a Cyanide perfume. Like the latter, not all will be available to buy – that particular one, while smelling like marzipan (/cyanide poison) is actually too concentrated to put directly on the skin.
One perfume, Smuggler’s Soul, is based on a trip Simon took around the world sourcing sandalwood which turns out to be so valuable that people will (and do) kill for it. The illegal trade and their adventures following it have not only inspired the fragrance but also a graphic novel – On the Trail of Sandalwood Smugglers – illustrated by Plastic Crimewave, ‘the psychedelic guru of Chicago underground rock and roll.’
Sets of perfumes are released as ‘albums,’ this being Volume 3. Previously Gorilla has presented the perfumes and built galleries in Tokyo, New York and South Korea, collaborated with musicians, poets, artists and dancers, organised secret bus tours and sold-out scented cinema events. They continue to seek out truly creative minds and exceptional inspirations to collaborate with – expect to see them popping up unexpectedly and hosting secret events in the future.
The exhibition is open until 7.30pm on 24th July, under Phonica Records on Poland Street.
On the Trail of Sandalwood Smugglers will be released on the 2nd August along with inspired products Veerappan Moustache Wax and Smugglers Soul fragrance.
The fragrances are made in small, limited edition batches available for a limited time only from the Lush kitchen but will be available to buy from the new Gorilla shop in islington and In Lush shops very soon. (www.lush.co.uk/kitchen).