Paul Schütze is a London-based artist and composer, who has composed film scores, worked with legendary light artist James Turrell and shown audio-sculptural installations at London’s Hayward Gallery. With a career that has taken in photography, video, music and print, and an acute sensitivity to his surroundings, perhaps it was only a matter of time before he started working with the sense of smell as well as with sight and sound.
Though he’s long been fascinated by perfume, it was after a workshop hosted by the Fiorucci Arts Trust in 2014 (fellow attendees included film-maker Isaac Julien) that he started working seriously on his own perfumes. Now, two years and a steep learning-curve later, he has just released his first three fragrances: 'Tears of Eros', 'Behind the Rain' and 'Cirebon'.
The surprise is not that they’re so good – which they are – but that they’re so instantly wearable. There are so many ‘niche’ perfume brands launching these days that the temptation can be to create something different from the rest just for the sake of it – even if it smells more weird than wonderful. Luckily Schütze has resisted the temptation, and the results speak for themselves.
Schütze describes 'Tears of Eros' as a ‘narcotic, heady, living incense’. Inspired by an artist’s studio in winter at night, it plays on the odour of incense from Kyoto’s Sanjūsangen-dō temple, along with clementine peel and hyacinth. 'Behind the Rain' was inspired by ‘the warmth of the sun after a sudden rainstorm on an island in the Aegean’. With resinous and conifer notes, its formula includes black pepper, lentisque, patchouli, fennel and vetiver.
Music is the inspiration for 'Cirebon', the third perfume in the trio. Schütze imagined the sounds of a Javanese gamelan drifting across the waters of a lake, with (olfactory) notes of bergamot, bigarade, orange-flower and petitgrain, cedar, magnolia, sandalwood and vetiver. It’s an appropriately symphonic mix.
For now, 'Tears of Eros', 'Behind the Rain' and 'Cirebon' can only be found in London, at Roullier White in Dulwich and Bloom Perfumery in Shoreditch and Covent Garden, but for lovers of unusual and thoughtful perfumes they’re well worth seeking out.