USO. A new, futuristic beauty term you might want to familiarise yourself with. It stands for Unidentified Scented Object. Sounds intriguing, strange and impossible? Almost. In fact, it is otherworldly.
The vision of Cartier’s in-house fragrance nose Mathilde Laurent, Le Nuage Parfumé – aka the Unidentified Scented Object – is located at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. The scented object is in fact a cloud, a puff of perfume if you will. Inside a glass cube sits a suspended spiral staircase with a floating cloud that hovers elegantly just below the ceiling. It looks abstract on first impression, almost an illusion until closer inspection when the texture of the cloud is clear to see.
The real magic though is upon entering the cube and climbing the staircase, where you experience a real “head in the clouds” moment. Then it hits you, scent, as you step up to the summit of the staircase. What is intriguing is that this is the first time you smell any kind of fragrance, as it’s absent when you enter the cube. But as you move into the cloud, a heady and hot but strangely crisp air hits you. It’s a perfume Laurent created for Cartier in 2016, L’Envol de Cartier. If you’re not familiar with the perfume, its base note is ambrosia, a sweet wine that was drunk by the gods of Mount Olympus, a divinely appropriate scent for the cloud installation. “It’s not a sugary, sickly fragrance. You can be sweet and refined,” Laurent explained, and it’s just that. With your head in the cloud and enveloped in the scent, you wonder how on earth this can exist, it’s almost dreamlike.
Designed by climate engineers, Transsolar, the environment of the cube is carefully controlled to keep the perfume stable and separate but sit harmoniously with the cloud – it’s a thing of technical beauty. The first in a commitment to annual olfactory experiences from Cartier, it sets the bar high, but for good reason.
“I hope that Le Nuage Parfumé will change things, I want people to understand that perfume is not just a product, it’s a work of art with the power to elevate and touch you so deeply that you won’t buy perfume in the same way. People will become more demanding, they will search for satisfaction, more than ever. This is about creating a dialogue, a conversation about fragrance and not settling for the same.” Laurent told us.
This puffy white perfume cloud is the stuff of bathroom dreams. Like a chic atomiser, it would work perfectly in a powder room to keep the climate fragrant. We hope it’ll become a reality soon.
Le Nuage Parfumé is open to the public from October 20 to 23 at the Bassin du Palais de Tokyo, Paris