Ever Wondered What ‘Venus de Milo’ Smells Like? The Louvre Is Working With Top Perfumers to Make Scents Inspired by Its Masterpieces

The Paris museum has given carte blanche to eight French perfumers to capture the essence of some of its greatest works of art.

Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, French school. La Grande Odalisque. Photo by: Photo12/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

The Louvre has teamed up with a prestigious Parisian perfume company to create scents inspired by eight of its most famous works of art. They range from Venus de Milo to a bathing odalisque by Ingres.

Shortly after debuting its Airbnb partnership this spring, which included a competition to spend a romantic night at the museum, the world’s most-visited museum has come up with yet another creative collaboration that seeks to find new ways to draw audiences into its halls.

Ramdane Touhami and Victoire de Taillac, who co-created the French perfume company Officine Universelle Buly five years ago, jumped at the chance to manage the project as soon as they got the call from the Louvre. The duo has chosen eight perfumers for the highly specialized task. Each was given carte blanche, with no limits in terms of cost or scent profiles. They also got to choose their own works in the Louvre’s collection.

So, if you have ever wondered what the Louvre’s Winged Victory of Samothrace would smell like, you will soon be able to find out what at least one fragrance expert thinks. The iconic Nike smells⁠ like delicate, white tuberose flowers mixed with woody myrrh. Her scent, and the seven others, are launching on July 3.

The perfumers selected La Baigneuse and Grande Odalisque, both by French Neoclassical painter Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, as well as Thomas Gainsborough’s Conversation in a Park, Jean-Honoré’s The Lock, and Georges de La Tour’s religious painting Joseph the Carpenter.

Besides the winged statue and Venus de Milo in the Louvre’s sculpture collection, the perfumers chose Lorenzo Bartolini’s Nymph with Scorpion. All the scents will go on sale in a shop near the Louvre from next week, through January 2020.

Among the perfumers who worked on the project is Dorothée Piot of Robertet, a Grasse-based perfume company. Piot chose the painting by Gainsborough. “I wanted a fresh, delicate work, an outdoor, bucolic scene. I loved the candor and grace of the characters. To design my perfume, I thought of freshly hatched rose petals in a green setting,” she told AFP.

Another scent expert, Daniela Andrier, says Ingres’s La Baigneuse was an obvious choice. Andrier explained: “With her tender and milky skin, the water running, the linen on which she sits… I immediately thought of orange blossom, neroli, lavender, a rather modest accord evoking the sheets that have dried in the sun.” Andrier describes herself as a “translator” of Ingres’s work. “I see perfumers as translators, capable of transforming a color, light or texture into a note. Thus the green velvet curtain, on the left, evoked to me the absolute of lavender, rich and dark,” she said.

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