The Scent of Fashion: Perfuming Runway Shows

by Alexandra Owens

photo: WWDphoto: WWD Fashion shows have always been an experience for the senses. They transport you to another world (for eight minutes)--before a buyer steps on your foot with her stiletto or you're shoved by a hoard of bloggers. Lately, many designers have been employing a new trick to share their vision even more completely: scenting the room to match the mood of the collection. One fragrant highlight this season was the heady combination of Bulgarian rose, amber, and something called "animal notes" wafting through ventilators at Prabal Gurung that complemented the tough-yet-ladylike clothing.

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Dawn Goldworm, the nose behind olfactory branding firm 12.29 and the woman responsible for the aroma at Gurung's show, among others this season (including Calla, Tocca, and even the American Express Skybox at Lincoln Center) has pioneered this business since she scented Rodarte's fall presentation in 2009. And no, she's not just spritzing around room spray or lighting a candle. When I spoke with Goldworm earlier this year, she explained her creative process. (Goldworm, by the way, has synesthesia, a rare neurological condition that allows her to literally see what she smells, so don't feel left out if this goes over your head a little bit.) "I take the core essence of the brand identity--things like their typography, target market, color influences--and translate that into an olfactory vision, as I call it," she says. "Thakoon once gave me images of cowboys and Indian spices that inspired his spring 2013 collection. To turn that into a smell, I plot out the ingredients. I think about things like the floor of the saloon, leather boots, and fresh tobacco. It's less about scent as an accessory, and more about how it makes you feel."

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