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Perfume on the Radio with Institute for Art + Olfaction


Ancient Egyptian perfume vessels in the British Museum collection

Sarah was recently invited to participate in Perfume on the Radio, a radio show created by the Institute of Art & Olfaction in Los Angeles, hosted by the institute’s director Saskia Wilson-Brown.


Sarah took part in the second episode of the series broadcast on Lookout FM in California. Entitled ‘Questions of Class’ this episode turned its attention to considering the relationships between perfume, class, status and notions of luxury.


Saskia pulled together a really interesting combination of participants to interview, interspersed with sharing some of her own extensive knowledge of the history of perfume.


Robyn Price, currently working towards her PhD at UCLA Cotson Institute, gave listeners an understanding of perfume’s role in Ancient Egypt and the broader classical world and the part that class played in its use in the ancient Mediterranean Rim.


Jake Treddenick, a young fashion designer who trained at the Royal College of Art, shared his personal granular insights into the idiosyncrasies of the British notions of class, an enduring preoccupation in his approach to designing clothing.


“The empire was actually conquered through the gifting of perfume to soldiers.” - Robyn Price quoting Pliny the Elder

Art historian and writer Jessica Murphy turned her gaze on the American class system viewed through the microcosm of perfume bottle design, stalking NYC’s Upper East Side to gather interesting insights into how design aesthetics create beliefs about luxury and prestige.


Consumption of perfumes grew rapidly among an expanding middle class in the 19th century

Nuri McBride, an academic, activist and perfumer, is interested in some really underexplored aspects of fragrance that are usually not discussed. She applied the same intellectual rigour that those familiar with her Death/Scent website have come to expect in looking at the underlying (and not necessarily positive) meanings in the way fragrance is articulated in mass media.


“I shifted my priorities and made things that were meaningful like excitement, playfulness, delightfulness. Those are the things that are important to me.” - Sarah Baker

London-based fragrance reviewer Miya Porubcan known for her Fab Trends by Miya Youtube channel, spoke about the way the broader fragrance industry instrumentalises class and exclusivity to commercial ends and her personal consumer response to fragrances.


Sarah was asked to contribute from the perspective of a visual artist and talked candidly about her interest in class and interrogating representations of luxury in much of her work as artist and how this serendipitously led to her to founding the house and becoming a perfumer. And, for those who like a bit of behind-the-scenes gossip, she also talked about some aspects of the process by which our Bascule fragrance was created not previously revealed anywhere else.


HRH, the Queen points out the signifiers of class in the UK: a reliable horse, a country pile and sensible headgear

Not tuned into FM radio in California? No problem. You can listen to the complete episode online here.


Many thanks to Saskia for creating such a great radio show and the opportunity to be part of such a fascinating and knowledgeable line-up of guest pundits.