Gorilla Perfume Gallery Exhibit in New York City

Gorilla Perfumes Gallery exhibit: exterior and perfume display

Gorilla Perfume, the new fragrance division of Lush, has been promoting its line of scents with a traveling “fragrance gallery." This exhibit is promoted by Gorilla Perfume as “a winding olfactory maze of wonderment,” and it was recently installed in New York City for three days of sensory delights.

The gallery was set up within a converted brick townhouse building on a cobblestoned street in SoHo, and it occupied three levels of rooms and corridors. A printed map guided visitors through the building, where the Gorilla team had utilized nine atmospheric stonewalled chambers to bring its various scents alive through decorations, lighting, and sound effects (not to mention a refreshment or two).

Orange blossom display: Gorilla perfumes

Orange Blossom, for example, was illustrated by a “grove” of colorful cardboard-and-burlap trees; visitors were handed rice-paper blotters dipped in an edible, orange-watery interpretation of the fragrance. Imogen Rose perfumed another room, which was illuminated by pink fluorescent bulbs, with waves of scented bubbles; and The Smell of Weather Turning was introduced in a small, dark chamber lit only by flashes of “lightning” and filled with the recorded sounds of thunderclaps and chirping insects.

Gorilla Perfumes Tuca Tuca & Lust

Gorilla Perfume definitely espouses a playful sexuality in certain fragrances: Tuca Tuca was showcased in a room set up like a TV studio, complete with live dancers swaying to the “Tuca Tuca” song, and the jasmine-heavy Lust was visualized as the cluttered bedroom of a teenaged girl who has just dolled herself up for a night of clubbing.

Men's bathroom for the Lush Dirty fragrance

Some areas, like the hallway that displayed The Smell of Freedom and its limited-edition component fragrances, were shadowy and serious. Others, like the imagined men’s restroom where Dirty and its accompanying body products were set out, were bright and humorous.

The final section of the gallery offered its visitors a cocktail inspired by The Hairdresser’s Husband, served in tiny flasks at a bar, before steering them towards the boutique where Gorilla Perfume’s fragrances could be purchased.

Perfume materials

In one corner of the shop stood a table-top display that looked like a large checkerboard; it turned out to be horizontal cabinet whose many drawers contained perfumery ingredients — dried botanicals, essential oils — to be examined and sniffed. It was a satisfying close to the tour, since it worked as an apt reminder of the raw materials behind the whole Gorilla Perfume experience.

Gorilla Perfume will stage its next gallery event in Japan, in early 2011.  Stay tuned at the Gorilla Perfume website for details.

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  1. 50_Roses says:

    This sounds like it was a lot of fun! I don’t harbor any desire to live in New York, but things like this make me wish I at least had the opportunity to visit it once in a while.

    • Jessica says:

      50_Roses, It *was* fun! and yes, very true, the variety of experience in NYC is the reward for its less enjoyable aspects.

      • 50_Roses says:

        OK, I looked at the Gorilla website, and now I feel another sample binge coming on. I really like that they offer 2 g sample sprays. The 1 ml or 0.7 ml samples never seem to be enough for a thorough testing, and I prefer to spray (unless it is extrait), as that is how I will be applying the fragrance if I spring for a full bottle.

        How would you characterize the Gorilla scents? The website and your article on the exhibit certainly make it seem that they would be offbeat, but the ingredients listed sound normal enough. I ask because my tastes are somewhat conventional. I love classic perfumery and anything with natural essential oils. I don’t mind a fragrance being unusual, as long as it smells good, but I don’t really care for out and out strangeness. Examples of perfumes that I consider unusual but beautiful, and which I loved enough to buy FBs, are Ormonde Woman and CdG Avignon. Scents which I found very strange (and hated) are Dzing! (supposed to smell like a circus and I agree–there was definitely a note of animal dung in there), The Unicorn Spell (smelled like enchilada sauce to me), and Iris Silver Mist (the worst scrubber I ever tested). If it helps, the samples I was considering were Imogen Rose, Icon, 1000 Kisses Deep, B Scent, The Smell of Freedom, and The Smell of Weather Turning.

        • Jessica says:

          The 2-ml sample size is perfect. Just a general warning: they’re splashes, not sprays, and if you pull the cap too hard, expecting an atomizer underneath, you’ll end up spilling most of your sample. (Speaking from experience.)

          These definitely aren’t classic-perfumery perfumes, but I don’t think they’re “weird” in the same way as Dzing! or ELd’O Secretions Magnifiques, either. They combine natural and synthetic ingredients, and they do have unexpected pairings of notes, which is the quirky part… but they’re still wearable. I’m going to review two of them next week, so you’ll get more of my thoughts on this!

          • 50_Roses says:

            I am looking forward to your reviews!

        • lemonprint says:

          I enjoyed being able to go to this event as a spur of the moment thing, – I was downtown anyway that night – and enjoyed being able to try the scents without a big sample-buy of stuff I wasn’t sure I’d like.

          Gorilla perfumes have a sort of “Lush-ade” quality to all of them – there’s a plastic candy underlying edge to all of them that I don’t really care for. That said, I bought five, because I do like the scents occasionally and some of them are unique.

          If you like classic perfumery, I would strongly recommend a restrained sample-buying effort first, and see if you like them.

          Imogen rose is a nice gentle rose (I bought this) and would be good sample to see if you like “Lush-ade”. It’s a bit soapy, calm, not too sweet; I liked it. I also bought Tuca Tuca, which you should NOT buy, just because it had both violet and vetiver in it and was one of the WEIRDEST things I’d ever smelled.

          The Smell of Weather Turning was one of the reasons I went. I LOVED the smell of the room, LOVED it on the storyteller, and HATED it on me. BECAUSE IT DIDN’T SMELL GOOD. Even the woman upstairs who smelled it after it dried down a bit said “That isn’t good.” It smelled like burnt rubber on me. This is part of why I am restrained with Gorilla’s stuff – they really aren’t like traditional perfumes, or like naturals either – they behave in their own odd ways. I still bought The Smell of Weather Turning, in a small spray, hoping to use it to scent something at some point – the spearmint is SO wonderful, so unique. I’ve worn it since and it wasn’t so bad – perhaps the weather, or the dryness level of my skin, affected it too. But I suspect I’ll wear it seldom and I’m glad I got a chance to try it on my skin before I went hog-wild buying it.

          I bought the Orange Blossom, which was a nice neutral orange blossom, not too sweet, not Serge Lutens’ Fleur d’Oranger either :-), Tuca Tuca, Lust (which really was a luscious nice simple jasmine and rose with a LOT of jasmine), a small spray of The Smell of Weather Turning, and something else, I forget. Oh, duh, imogen Rose. The solids are nice to carry.

          I would have bought The Hairdresser’s Husband if it had been in a smaller, affordable spray. It was a nice juicy scent, more Orangeade than the Orange blossom, and I liked the story (and the scented beverage!) that went with it. But it was only in a bigger bottle and I wouldn’t love it enough to justify that.

          It was a fun event and they certainly got me to spend more than I would have otherwise. In the summer, when I want something simpler than a classic perfume like Diorissimo or even Creative Universe, I can reach for these and not feel bad about sweating them off fairly soon. :-)

          • Tama says:

            I had to laugh –
            I don’t like these, but I bought five.
            hee hee

          • Jessica says:

            Thanks, Lemonprint!

          • promiseevans says:

            The smell of weather turning did the same thing on me for abt 20 minutes…then was much nicer…and had a drydown like a distant cousin of BOG. I have had several of their’s do that to me though. Ladyboy is another… It’s not nice on my skin until the drydown.

        • promiseevans says:

          I thought the The Smell of Freedom and 1000 kisses were both straightforward enough from beginning to end. Nothing weird to learn to love, and no 3 ring circus of top and middle notes before getting to a nice ‘normal’ if you will, base. So you might want to be sure and try those if unweird is your preference.
          And I second the caution on the sample bottles. They are glass, they have a cap, and when you take the cap off, there is a hard rubber plunger thing stuck into the bottle. Just turn it upside down and dab the plunger some on ur skin or paper….it has holes in the top of the plunger, so it comes out that way. If one of my samples had not leaked a little during shipment, and me looking to figure out how, I wouldn’t have noticed this and tried to pull the plunger out like Jessica, with similar disasterous results.

          • lemonprint says:

            I agree that the Smell of Freedom was pretty straightforward and wearable enough. Don’t remember the 1000 kisses.

            I’m glad to hear it’s not just me the Smell of Weather Turning turned on!

          • Jessica says:

            I do remember liking Smell of Freedom… it has a good sandalwoody feeling, as I recall. Soothing, natural, nothing jarring.

      • promiseevans says:

        Did they happen to say anything, print anything, give subliminal messages in a dark hidden corner abt when Breath of God will actually be available again? The website says ‘soon’ and when I asked the girls in their office in UK abt it, they said they had no idea but all of them were anxiously awaiting it as well since they all love it also.

        • Jessica says:

          Promiseevans, Breath of God wasn’t featured in the Gallery, but now I’m curious, too! Will keep my ears open.

  2. Tama says:

    That does look like fun – I can’t wait to smell some of these! Nothing fun perfume-event-wise seems to ever come to San Francisco….

    • Jessica says:

      Tama, That surprises me! I’ve never been to SF, but I’ve always imagined it as an epicenter of cool happenings.

      • Tama says:

        I guess we have lots of cool unscented happenings – lol. We’re uber-PC. Sometimes a perfumer will come to Barney’s or something, but Malle is not coming to the Barney’s in SF for his home fragrance tour, which was disappointing.

        • lemonprint says:

          LOL – you’re exactly right about my “don’t really care for these – bought five”, Tama. (I’m a wee bit out of control.) Better for me to go to a Gorilla Perfumes event than Barney’s with this habit, don’t you agree? :-)

  3. LaMaroc says:

    Ohhh, I want a room in my house set up like “The Sound of Weather Changing”! Hmmm, maybe i can convert the hallway closet. lol

    • 50_Roses says:

      One of my still-to-be-accomplished projects for my house is to paint sky and clouds on the ceiling in my foyer.

      • Jessica says:

        Oh, nice idea.

      • LaMaroc says:

        I’ve always wanted to paint a wall in my bedroom with an red-orange-purple sunset and big dark storm clouds. I don’t know why! I’ve grown up in the Midwest and have a healthy fear and respect for tornados and severe weather but I love the look of those apocalyptic skies.

        • 50_Roses says:

          Go for it! As a result of living for 14 years in rental housing in which all the walls were off-white (and I couldn’t change them), I have decided that any time I paint a room in my house, it will be anything BUT off-white. The room I am in right now is green, and I mean GREEN, as in grass green or emerald green, and my laundry room is a dark lavender–not quite purple, but not pastel either. One of my coworkers took issue with my choices on the basis that it would make my house harder to sell in the future. I countered that I am the one living in it and I will paint it to please me, not some hypothetical person who may or may not be buying the house at some unknown date years from now. If and when I decide to sell it, I could always repaint it then, or better yet, the person who buys it can paint it any color he or she wishes. Personally, I would be more inclined to buy a house that was painted with imagination, and not with all off-white or beige, bland boringness.

          • FOandW_oh_my says:

            But painting is soooooooo much fun!. I live in a rental currently and have painted my walls. I’ve heard the “you will have to pay for us to cover that when you move!” My snarky retort is, not if it’s white agaiin by then. Besides paint is a quick and relatively cheap way to change your whole environment and ambience.

          • LaMaroc says:

            I never understand this attitude. Yes, your realtor might ask you to paint the walls more neutral colors or white if you’re house has been on the market for awhile or isn’t selling, but, yes why live in a home decorated according to someone else’s taste? That makes no sense to me. And paintig is the easiest and least expensive method of personalizing a room and making it feel more like your home. Here’s my issue about painting the tableau: I am a terrible artist. lol And I have high expecations of how it will look. I want it to look like a Turner but if I do it, it’ll look like a four year old did it.

          • 50_Roses says:

            La Maroc–Is there a college or university near you? Why not hire an art major to paint it for you? College students are always short of cash, and would probably do it cheaper than a professional. If there is not a college handy, even a talented high school student would do.

    • Jessica says:

      Ha! Me too. And this room was a sub-basement space with dark stone walls… perfect.

  4. ladida says:

    I got the sample set about a month ago along with a couple of their older B Never scents. I was really excited about Imogen Rose and for about an hour it’s a really nice expansive rose on me but then it goes horribly wrong. I was really disappointed. Tuca Tuca has grown on me…that skanky violet is really strange but addictive. Lust is great…full on sexy jasmine, if you like that sort of thing.

    • Jessica says:

      Tuca Tuca and Lust seem to be selling well!

      • ladida says:

        I think they are probably the most wearable for most people. They didn’t turn on me like some of the others did. I found the “turning” phenomena disconcerting. I’ve never had any other perfume go so very wrong as some of these do. Even stranger, they don’t do it every time I wear them. I can honestly say that the Gorrilla fragrances are an adventure in perfumery…. mercurial little diva’s that will have their way They aren’t traditional, they aren’t even modern…they are post-post-modern.

        • Jessica says:

          Ladida, I love your description! They *are* little divas, wearing high-end natural-fiber garments. ;)
          I was impressed by Tuca Tuca, because it seemed so daringly “who cares!” to me — so much cassie, so much violet and vetiver, kind of sweaty-sweet and more androgynous than I expected. Lust was much more straightforward, to me: jasmine all the way.

  5. Lemonprint has captured the quirkiness and oddity of the Gorilla Perfume line very well. They are highly original and fun, and definitely different. I agree that there is a “Lush-ade” quality to the scents though I find all perfumes with a high proportion of natural ingredients quite strong – like the olfactory equivalent of HD TV! I liked B Scent best of the ones I have tried – and I am still going through my sample set at a steady pace… Imogen Rose also “turned” on me, and Orange Blossom, Tuca Tuca and The Smell of Weather Turning didn’t work either. 1000 Kisses was pretty, and Icon was also interesting. Exhale was a surprise hit too in a very different, smoky style. Tbh, I think with this range more than normally, the issue of “skin physics” is absolutely key. I have no doubt that there are people on whom these all smell marvellous, but you do need the right skin. I have smelt Breath of God on someone and it was “breathtakingly” good – but I don’t bring out the best in it. Hats off to Gorilla though for breaking the mould – conceptually, in terms of branding, packaging and the scents themselves. And that exhibition in NYC sounded a lot of fun too!

    • lemonprint says:

      Thank you! Sounds like I need to try 1000 Kisses and perhaps B Scent.

      I think you’re absolutely right about these perfumes, more than most, being quite different depending on the wearer. I do like smelling them more than wearing them. They all smelled fantastic on the storytellers at the event!

      • Jessica says:

        I completely agree with both of you that these scents can be quite changeable — from person to person, from hour to hour. I definitely wouldn’t advise anyone to purchase an entire bottle unsniffed… samples would be wisest. You definitely need to experiment with this line! which, in itself, is a nice change from so much mainstream perfumery, where everything is “up front” and standardized.

  6. Quite agree with you, Jessica, about these scents being the polar opposite of standardised. I just retried Orange Blossom, which had been a bit rasping and metallic on me the last time in a way I find quite hard to describe, but now it is beautiful and really naturalistic, just like a noseful of blossoms in a Florida orange grove.

    Maybe these perfumes are alive…. : – )

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