In an era where looks are everything, it is often hard to remember the adage that it’s what’s inside that counts. This seems especially true when it comes to fine fragrance; after all, the juice is what consumers fall in love with—not to mention what drives repeat purchases.
But in many ways packaging, celebrity appeal and slick advertising has become part and parcel of fine fragrance.
Scent expert Chandler Burr is bucking that trend.
The former scent critic for *The New York Times and current curator of the Department of Olfactory Art at New York Museum of Arts and Design has linked up with socially-oriented online shopping platform Open Sky on “Untitled,” a special project that’s about the juice, and nothing but the juice.
OpenSky features experts in areas such as food, style, healthy living, beauty and home décor—think Martha Stewart, Bobby Flay, Cynthia Rowley, Liz Lange—who dispense tips and ultimately sell products to the site’s members.
Since it launched in April 2011, OpenSky has attracted more than 1.5 million members, according to company officials.
Untitled was available for Open Sky members.
Here’s how Untitled works: Burr creates “episodes” in which he introduces an unnamed scent in small-sized, minimalist packaging. He describes the juice on video—revealing neither its name nor fragrance house where it was created—and then offers 100 bottles for sale to Open Sky members. The social element comes into play because members can chat with each other and interact online with Burr about the fragrance.
According to Burr, what makes the OpenSky Untitled project unique is that clients are “actually paying both for the blinded perfume and—and this is the point—for the blindfold itself. Specifically I’m selling the chance to smell a perfume stripped of marketing, signals, brands or cultural cues.”
The first scent, known initially as SOE101, debuted on June 1 and all 100 bottles sold out. On June 30, Burr revealed the name; it was Prada Infusion d'Iris Eau de Parfum.
According to Burr, Prada Infusion d’Iris (2008, Givaudan) was the perfect place to start.
“I had several in mind,” Burr told Happi, “and we’re working on making those E03, E04, E05 and so on, but for E01 I wanted a work executed flawlessly in a 21st century style and with a 21st century technique because so many people’s perception of perfume is negative—they use words like ‘heavy’ and ‘overpowering’ and so on.”
Burr continued, “Infusion has an astonishing translucent, virtually weightless elegance and the clarity of cut glass.”
On July 2, Burr, who is also the scent editor for CG, unveiled S01E02.
Once again, there are only a limited number of bottles (this time 200) available at $25 each.This latest installment, Burr says, has been on the market “for years” and “is among the greatest of the below-the-radar great works I’ve been lucky enough to come across.”
Come July 31, we’ll find out which fragrance that is.