Photo-Inspired Perfume Reimagines The Fragrance Design Cycle

Photo-Inspired Perfume Reimagines The Fragrance Design Cycle

Dutch fashion photographers Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin have turned a portrait into a perfume, creating a “scent in reverse.”

Daniela Walker
  • 12 september 2013

Famed fashion photography duo Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin have shot many perfume ads, creating portraits of the final product. This inspired the duo to try their hand at perfume-making. Collaborating with Swedish fragrance house Byredo, they decided to reverse the usual cycle of perfumery, by creating a scent inspired by a photograph.


The perfume, entitled 1996, is based on a photograph called Kirsten, 1996, a portrait of a girl taken that year. Working with Byredo’s Creative Director Ben Gorham, they sought to interpret the emotions the picture evoked through a smell. The photographers told Barneys:

We are always on the other side of the coin when we shoot fragrance campaigns, where the design of the bottle, the name, the scent, etc. have all been decided upon already. We always said that we’d love to create a scent in reverse. Ben Gorham created the perfect interpretation of the dualistic tendencies in this photograph.


The aroma has notes of juniper and violet with deeper, contrasting tones of dark amber and leather to create the soft/hard aesthetic of Inez and Vinoodh’s photography. While perfume inspiration can come from anywhere, the entrance of two  is a novel approach to a scent-making by taking a photograph, which usually comes at the end of design process and bringing it to the forefront.

Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin’s 1996


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