Meet the perfumer bringing art to life through scent.
Ulrich Lang is a man who visualises the ephemeral. The self-styled fragrance publisher launched his line of scents back in 2003 in the suitably bohemian surroundings of New York’s Greenwich Village. The thoughtfully curated collection brings together the perfumer’s love of fragrance with his passion for new photography. Each scent is inspired by, or inspires – the creation of a unique image in collaboration with a contemporary photographer.
It’s the perfect balance between art and fragrance and it makes sense given Ulrich’s unique background. Growing up in the South of Germany, his grandmother ran her own perfume house – “I absorbed what was going on in my grandmother’s perfumery from an early age, I had my education there in terms of fragrance. It taught me so much”.
But it was the world of art that initially lured him in – early adventures at Art Basel and stints working at Artnet and Brant Publications (Interview Magazine, Art in America, Antiques Magazine) honed a passion for photography and arresting visuals. Later he returned to the world of fragrance, working in marketing for L’Oreal, before creating his own brand. “I’m interested in art, photography, fashion and fragrance and I wanted to find a way to bring them all together”.
For Ulrich, the relationship between the image and the fragrance is a symbiotic one. “When someone asks does the fragrance or the photograph come first, it works both ways. The photographers I work with are people who I like, people who I would want to collect. A lot of times I will have an ingredient in mind and then I will commission the photographer, sometimes it starts with the image”.
The line so far includes collaborations with photographers including Olivia Bee, the 23 year old creative who he considers “one of the most interesting photographers in fashion right now”. Aperture is a heady pepper, jasmine and cedarwood scent built around Bee’s striking image of a young man set against a bright red-orange and lavender sky (a portion of the proceeds go towards supporting Aperture Foundation’s education programming).
Apsu, a green, natural summer scent was inspired by an image of palm leaves from a series shot on the West Coast by photographer Matthew Porter, while Amsterdam-based Elspeth Diederix, brings her sculptural approach to the imagery for Lightscape, a fresh citrus.
Built around the Osmanthus flower, Ulrich’s latest release 17 Nandan Road is named after the street address for Shanghai’s Guangqi Garden. Chinese author and poet Song Yuan has created an ethereal, abstract image of the flowers which bloom in the park every October.
Creating meaningful, slower experiences is important to the perfumer – “everything is like fast food these days, I want to do something different and occupy a calmer space”.
His dream collaboration?
And what would the fragrance smell like?
“It would be very sexy and very mysterious”.
Ulrich Lang New York’s 17 Nandan Road is available now from libertylondon.com
Explore the full Ulrich Lang collection.
4 April 2019