Scents and Sensibilities

Have you visited the FIDM Museum’s Annette Green Fragrance Gallery on the second floor of our Los Angeles campus? This intimate space has held a range of exhibitions showcasing fragrance, jewelry, and accessories. We are happy to announce our new exhibition Scents and Sensibilities: A Century of Fragrance Concepts will open in this gallery on Monday, September 25! Please note: to see this exhibition, check-in with a photo ID is required at the FIDM security desk inside the ground floor rotunda. Exhibition hours are Monday -Friday, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm.


Shocking by Schiaparelli
Gift of Annette Green

Scents and Sensibilities: A Century of Fragrance Concepts explores themes central to the creation of modern fragrances and corresponding branding, and emphasizes that personal identification with a fragrance can be more than love at first sniff—but also at first glance.

Artistic expression associated with perfume is essentially a twentieth-century phenomenon. On a practical level, fragrance bottles perform one necessary function: to contain and preserve a liquid concoction. Commercial success, however, relies on much more than just a utilitarian vessel: a conceptual approach to packaging and marketing has proven every bit as important and nuanced as the perfumier’s scent itself.

Elements contributing to a perfume’s popularity include the name, bottle design, label graphics, packaging type, and promotion. All facets should complement one another to achieve optimal results. A scent’s inspirational (or aspirational) name, logo, and the emotion visualized in advertisements are less tangible than physical presentation boxes (though packaging is more ephemeral and expendable). Purposefully designed bottles, also called flacons, may be regarded as artworks long after the last drop is gone. Together, these many layers combine to support one of the core tenets of fashion: to spark consumer desire.

Below, you’ll see a small glimpse of our curatorial process with a few behind-the-scenes photos. We selected objects from our extensive fragrance archive and organized them into distinct themes: Orientalism/Femme Fatale, Aromatic Jewelry, Hyper-Feminine, Hyper-Masculine, Figural Whimsy, Maximalism/Minimalism, Cross-Promotion, and Classicism. Stay tuned for more perfume posts; throughout the exhibition, we’ll be sharing information about each category and the fragrances we chose to highlight.


Contenders for the Minimalism theme.


Objects in consideration for the Maximalism category.


Fragrances with Eastern influences.


Museum Coordinator Leigh Wishner puts the finishing touches on the Minimalism display.

A short time-lapse of our last stages of installation…adding the numbers next to the objects!

One response to “Scents and Sensibilities

  1. Cindermama says:

    I am so looking forward to seeing this exhibition!!!! There are so few museums and museum shows that address our sense of smell. Creating a perfume is similar to creating a musical composition!

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