The perfume in the time of Balenciaga

Invisible, ethereal, subtle yet unforgettable, perfume is the epitome of luxury. While a blend of aromas forms its essence, it is the gem-studded bottles, ornate packaging, captivating advertisements, and evocative names that bestow upon perfumes their tangible allure, positioning them as coveted objects of desire.

Spanning a timeline that coincides with the life of Balenciaga (1895-1972), this exhibition presents a history of modern perfume, featuring the fragrances that would likely have left an imprint on the couturier as a child, his own aromatic creations, including the iconic Le Dix from 1947, as well as the perfumes from the last few years of his career.

This temporary exhibition highlights the role of the leading perfumery houses in France and Spain that pioneered the industry and shaped its evolution. It also celebrates the contribution of couturiers-perfumiers from the early 20th century who viewed perfume as – in Chanel’s words – “the unseen, ultimate fashion accessory”.

The exhibition brings together a selection from the extensive collections of Anne de Thoisy-Dallem and Juanjo Ruiz Crivillé, together with items from the Cristóbal Balenciaga Museum and the San Sebastián perfumery Benegas, and some reeditions of historic fragrances from the Osmothèque in Versailles.