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How to turn daily art world moments into scents?
"Gallery Opening" definitely has notes of cheap wine, cigarette ashes and oil paint.
Entertainment 26 Oct 2018

Have you ever wished a perfume specialist, or a nose, as they call them in France, could peer into your soul and create a perfect, ultra-personalized signature scent? Of course, you have. Maybe you’ve even been lucky enough to get a custom blend made. There’s something so special about having your essence captured in essential oils and literally bottled for you, and everyone around you to enjoy.
Well, we did the same thing, but for the art world. You know how some songs bring up super specific memories? For example, Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl will forever take me back to summer camp, age 12, when a certain crush gave his Mardi Gras beads to my best friend. Just like that, heart broken and friendship fini. But we don’t need to go there right now.
P.S., peep our ultimate gallerina playlist here
So if moments can have music attached, what about scents? It got me thinking… what would those classic art world moments that we’ve all lived through smell like? And an even more crucial question: what would the scent be called? And who would wear it? The matter clearly calls for a deep investigation.
Voilà, the results:

The scenario: Half an hour past the end of the gallery opening. The wine ran out eons ago and only the staff, some artists and a few of the regulars are left milling around. You’re contemplating a very deep, existential question: call it a night or stick around for five more minutes, hoping to score an invite to some sort of afterparty?

The signature scent: “Desperation.”
Top notes of something sticky that could be cheap wine but could also be cough drops or some rose salve lip balm. Middle notes of oil paints. Bottom notes of cigarette ash, wet pavement and maybe even a pineapple flavored vape.
The face: This spicy, earthy but also sweet blend is a bit on the sickly side. Not for those who prefer a lighter, more refreshing scent—or who have a busy social life, a healthy relationship or just a better place to be on a Friday night. Most likely, you’ll catch a whiff of this one on first-year gallerinas, very emerging artists (hoping to get signed with said gallery) or novice art journalists thirsty for some action. Yep, this is going to be the night that gives me the headline that makes my career. I can feel it. Let’s just stick around for another five minutes, okay? I know! I’ll ask the artist if I can bum a cig. Foolproof.

met gala oceans 8
The scenario: Baby’s first Met Gala! Whether you’re a journalist, the new Met intern who somehow scored an invite or a caterer, you’re definitely the least important person in the room, but you’ve never felt so high in her life. That time you did acid at a music festival in college got nothin’ on this. BTW, it doesn’t have to be the Met Gala—any big-time art world event will look the same to a newbie. The name might be different but the feels will be the same.

The signature scent: “Pure Bliss.”
Top notes of champagne bubbles. Middle notes of every top-shelf perfume known to man mixed together in one giant clusterfuck that makes your head spin but your heart sing. Bottom notes of dry shampoo, Dr. Scholl’s insoles for your horribly uncomfortable heels (not that you can feel them—you’ve temporarily floated out of your body), and little shrimp bites, or something with goat cheese, or whatever hors d’oeuvres are trendy these days.
The face: Young, practically a baby, glowing, and bursting with naiveté. She thinks she knows all there is to know about the art world—I mean, look at her, she’s made it. You bet your Acne Studios mule her IG story is already clocking in at 8 minutes and counting, and we’re only 30 minutes into the event. If you’re not jealous, well, you’re probably blind or confused, or so she thinks. Suck it, biology majors! Looks like art history can take you places after all. Her parents might still pay her phone bill, and she calls her mom every time she forgets how to cook potatoes, but in her mind, she’s basically Rihanna. But let’s be real, this was all of us once, so let her have her moment. Because one day, she might end up in a much darker place…

The scenario: It’s the last day of the pay period and you haven’t closed a sale in… let’s just say, more than two weeks. You’re frantically firing off “just following up” emails to all your major collectors, begging for someone to bite. No one is biting. There goes your Christmas in Jamaica! It’s looking like another holiday season with the in-laws, including weird Aunt Tracy whose green bean casserole you’ve been pretending to love for the past decade.

The signature scent: “Closing Time Panic,” a more mature version of “Desperation.”
Top notes of lasagna and lentils forgotten in the office fridge. Middle notes of pure, cortisol-drenched sweat absorbing into your white silk blouse—great. Bottom notes of a third cup of coffee that you really didn’t need but got up and made anyway just to have a break from staring at your inbox, which you are now fondly calling The Pit of Despair.
kristen chanel
The face: Think Kristen Stewart for Chanel Gabrielle, but about fifteen years older and has the eye bags and forehead wrinkles to prove it. Like Kristen, she’s still got that edgy art world chic—and a much nicer wardrobe than when she first started in this biz. But she’s no day-one gallerina. She knows all too well that even in an industry built around fantasy, the real world will get ya, sooner or later. Like today. Blame it on your horoscope, the economy, whatever, but today the art world gods aren’t exactly raining down riches on you. Better luck next time!

Text by Katya Lopatko
Photos via @dnsantina, PopSugar, My Bataz, Gogo Magazine, YouTube

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