Jun 25, 2019
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Louvre taps Officine Universelle Buly founders for new fragrances

Jun 25, 2019

She was one of the great beauties of antiquity, and soon we are going to find out what the "Venus de Milo" smells like.

Ramdane Touhami and Victoire de Taillac

The Louvre in Paris has asked two of France's top "noses" -- otherwise known as perfume creators -- to come up with fragrances to go with some of its greatest treasures.

Ramdane Touhami and Victoire de Taillac roped in some of the biggest stars of the olfactory universe to help them find the right notes to go with statues of the goddess of love as well as the "Winged Victory of Samothrace".

The pair, founders of the Officine Universelle Buly perfumerie, were also asked to pair fragrances with Ingres' two most sensual works, the "Grande Odalisque" and "The Valpincon Bather" as well as Gainsborough's "Conversation in a Park".

But for now there will be no perfume for "Mona Lisa" -- the museum's most famous work -- who will guard her fragrance, like so much else, secret.

Controversially, among the paintings chosen is Fragonard's "The Bolt", the famous seduction scene that some feminists critics now say raises questions of consent.

They argue that the woman in the scene appears to be resisting the young man as he bolts shut the bedroom door.

'No limit on budgets'

Touhami told AFP that he wanted to gather the very best noses for the job.

"It is about adding an olfactory dimension to a visual experience. I chose eight parfumeurs, all stars and gave them 100-percent freedom, with no limit on their budgets," he added.

Dorothee Piot, who works for Robertet house in the French perfume capital of Grasse, chose Gainsborough's 1745 masterpiece.

"I wanted to create something fresh and delicate to go with their bucolic exterior scene," she said of the self-portrait of the artist with his wife Margaret in a Elysian English landscape.

"I loved the candour and the grace of the two of them, so I came up with a perfume inspired by roses that have just come out surrounded by greenery," she told AFP.

Museum spokesman Adel Ziane said the idea of the perfumes was "to help wake all the senses of visitors as they view the work at the Louvre.

"I think that the scents have a lot to say on the collections, particular the ancient works," he said.

The eight different fragrances will be uncorked and will also go on sale at the pop-up shop from July 3 until January next year.

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