“The Scented Myth” is the second Unidentified Scented Object designed by house perfumer Mathilde Laurent. In 2017 it replaced “Nuage Parfumé” created in a glass cube placed in the pool of the Palais de Tokyo and was presented in 2019 as part of the “10,000 Years of Luxury” exhibition at the Louvre Abu Dhabi.
These Unidentified Scented Objects add artistic dimension to perfume; It aims to establish an authentic dialogue with the public, who is invited to renew their relationship with perfume through a direct and unique interaction. It challenges the senses and activates them; invoking dreams, inviting us to transcend space and approach insignificance. Like the Cartier perfume manifesto based on the creation of invisible ornaments, USO 1 and now USO 2; It questions our relationship with what can be smelled and felt, presence and absence, the visible and the hidden. These installations are destined to wander the world where they reflect the artistic dedication and audacity of the house.
Since the beginning of humanity, perfume is an invisible link between the earthly and the divine; created a transcendence between the concrete and the imaginary. USO 2 was created to give fragrance this original transcendence. His olfactory and luminous aura is a metaphor embodied by a panther, proving his divine essence. This allows everyone to experience the sensation of Panther’s aura and its protective trailing radiance. As Theophrastus and Dante describe, the most attractive cat in the animal kingdom is the only cat that can exert an irresistible attraction to other wild animals thanks to its naturally pleasant scent.
“The panther emits a scent pleasing to all other animals, so it hunts in disguise and attracts prey by its scent” Theophrastus, VI, 5, 2, circa 320 BC, in De Causis Plantarum. At the start of this olfactory journey, the visitor is greeted by the legendary incarnation of Dame à la Panthère, a drawing by painter George Barbier for a Cartier invitation in 1914. Accompanied by the symbolic animal of the house, Dame à la Panthère seems to invite us to a magnificent temple, the entrance to which it guards. This invitation is accompanied by a poem by Rhael “Lionhearted” Cape. The visitor, plunged into darkness, is then put to sleep with a sound pattern around the golden ratio frequency.
The head-to-head encounter with the Panther at the center of the installation is utterly consuming and almost meditative. The mysterious animal wanders, attracts, allows to be approached, and disappears in thousands of luminous particles as soon as you try to touch it. The panther disappeared, but its scent remained, leaving a soft, velvety feel and a scented and luminous trail, giving the visitor an invisible aura.
“Taking perfume out of the bottle and allowing the public to discover and experience the power of scent: this was the purpose that inspired the first USO (Unidentified Scented Object) in 2017. Maison Cartier’s second USO, “The Scented Myth”, has been manning people since the dawn of time. It explores the dimension of the love of perfume that connects it to the divine. Perfume continues to cheer our souls today, thanks to the miracle of its olfactory beauty. As a form of spirituality free from dogmas, it has its own founding myths: Aristotle, Plutarch, Theophrastus and Pliny the Elder told the story of the fragrant panther. It can exert an irresistible attraction on other wild animals thanks to its attractive scent emanating from it. An invisible but powerful halo, an aura of scent. This traditional story was my starting point to imagine an immersive installation where light and scent meet, thus creating a divine appearance of the iconic cat. Expressing the power of smell while trying to combine myth and icon I imagined the feeling of seeing them come to life before us through all our senses. An initiation where everyone is invited. At the meeting point of chemistry and alchemy, infinitely large and infinitely small, perfume is much more than just applying a scent to ourselves. As a manifestation of the invisible and the invisible, it questions our human condition in the universe and blurs the boundaries that separate the molecular level from the cosmic level, the physical from the metaphysical level. Perfume works intertwined with art as it questions the nature of the world while supporting humanity in daily life. My greatest wish is to make this rapprochement visible to everyone.” Mathilde Laurent, Cartier Perfumery
Cartier Perfumery Mathilde Laurent
USO 2 was designed in collaboration with The Bureau of Extraordinary Affairs, a London-based art and design office founded by Dagny Rewera and Vincent Rebers. Thanks to the integration of time as a process, the unique use of materials, the in-depth exploration of the subject and their excellent command of technology, they take the audience on a temporary journey with each piece they develop. Whether catching the fragile formations of ice crystals; Whether making the presence of an animal goddess and the power of perfume visible to mortals with light and sound, her work creates a kind of magic.