Fashion Makes Scents

Fashion Makes Scents exhibition photo

Exhibition Dates
October 16December 2, 2006

Fashion and fragrance both have their genesis in ancient times. From the outset, the materials that went into their production and the finished products were highly prized. Though each was worn on the body, the two artistic specialties rarely crossed paths until the early 20th century. Due to advancements in scientific research and manufacturing techniques, by 1900 the fashion and fragrance industries had become global markets. French fashion designer Paul Poiret is credited with introducing the first “designer” perfumes in 1911: heady, spicy blends that referenced the Orientalist clothing styles then popular. Soon, other designers such as Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel and Jean Patou introduced their own lighter, sporty scents, their most famous being “No. 5” and “Joy,” respectively. With the booming post-World War II economy and the introduction of Christian Dior’s fashionable “New Look,” a plethora of flowery essences found popularity. In the twenty-first century, dozens of designer fragrances debut each year and those that survive are drawn from centuries of expertise and creativity—they enter a world where fashion makes scents. This exhibition explores five themes that complement these artistic endeavors: Modernism, La Belle Époque, Space Age, Americana, and Orientalism.