Gorilla Perfume Gallery: Death, Decay and Renewal

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.

death

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.

cropcircledeadmeadow

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.

cyanide

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.

9 thoughts on “Gorilla Perfume Gallery: Death, Decay and Renewal”

  1. Technical detail. Benzaldehyde and cyanide smell the same, but benzaldehyde is generally classified as safe, except by IFRA. Although you could probably kill someone if you dropped a big enough bottle of it on their heads. It caused a bit of a fuss in the Paris Metro when they decided it would be nice to fragrance it with almonds.

    1. Hah! Thanks, Sarah. The point I was trying to make is that it’s got too much benzaldehyde to be “safe to wear”, I just worded it badly!

  2. I rather enjoyed the gallery, and the scents. I ended up buying Smugger’s Soul (I’m a sucker for a good sandalwood) and what I keep calling Princess Cottonmouth (actually Cottongrass.)
    I know Death and Decay is meant to be lily, but for some reason I got lilac Glade from it, so, not for me.
    I loved the Cyanide and the mushroomy one. Though perhaps not to wear, even if safe! I also liked a couple of the Three Sisters scents, which are not for sale. And I forget to get the new shampoo, so I’ll have to go to the shop for that.
    All in all, a fun afternoon.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it Tanka – and snap on the Smuggler’s Soul front!
      Princess Cottongrass was really reminiscent of last years The Bug, both of which are too green for me.

  3. I went to this funky exhibition with a couple of mates. It was great fun. My comic book is still giving out the smelly vibes. xxx

  4. I didn’t have time to catch this exhibition, but I have read several accounts and was able to appreciate it vicariously. Sounds like a lot of whimsical fun. 😉

    In a curious twist, my mentioning on FB that I bought a job lot of Annick Goutals on eBay the other day has prompted a friend to go forth and buy Smuggler’s Soul in Bath, so that’s nice!

    1. Thanks V! I’m sure there’ll be another one next year with another set of fragrances, and it’s definitely worth checking out.

      Still not sure that I understand how Goutal translated into buying a Lush fragrance!

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