Gorilla Perfume is a new shop/art gallery in London's rather trendy Old Street/Shoreditch area, showcasing the perfumes of Mark and Simon Constantine (co-founders of Lush cosmetics). I don't head out east very often, but there are some surprising things to be found: lots of cool graffiti; great little shops & cafés; nice architecture; people with moustaches when it's not Movember, and so on. So I guess a shop with a smelly art exhibition, Voice of Reason, out the back shouldn't have come as a surprise.
I was led around by one of the shop workers/curators, who explained a bit about the different exhibits to me (all a bit too much of the over-analysis for my simple mind). Each room was very different from the last, ranging from men's toilets (yes) to old phone booths, to a darkened forest. Upon entering each, the nose was hit with a new aroma, matched by the surroundings. The men's toilets, for example, smelled of toothpaste and cologne (not urine, thankfully - that would've been pushing it a bit far); the old phone booths of musty sandalwood; the forest of, well, a forest. In some of the rooms we donned headphones and were given an additional, auditory stimulus to accompany the visual and olfactory. The exhibition wasn't quite for all the senses - nothing to touch or taste, I'm afraid.
My guide was from Chile, a place where I'd once smelled the most unique fragrance at the top of a wonderful hike, in their lake district. I told how I wished I'd been able to bottle that smell; it would take me back to the magnificent view in an instant (nine volcanoes and endless araucaria forests visible, condors soaring overhead). Once we'd been round the exhibition she gave me some sample scents, to see if any of them matched my mountain-top one; sadly none came remotely close.
There are numerous fragrances for sale, both for men and women, and I wasn't sold on any of them, but that's just me - I'm not much of a perfume-wearer these days (and have plenty of barely-used bottles cluttering up my bathroom shelves already). I find the smell emanating from Lush shops a little over-powering (to say the least!), too, so I'm not clearly not their target market. The place is definitely worth a visit, though, even if you don't like perfume all that much and aren't interested in investing in some pong, as the exhibition is a truly unique sensory experience. It's only on for another week, but I imagine that they'll have similar spectacles in the future, showcasing work from up-and-coming local artists. It was certainly unlike any other exhibition I've ever visited. Once you're done, there's a great coffee-shop in nearby Leonard Street - Ozone Coffee Roasters - they even roast the coffee on-site. And then there's some great shopping just down the road too.