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LCFBA16 Cordwainers and Cosmetic science students collaborate to create fragrance

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Written by
Josh De Souza Crook
Published date
09 May 2016

BA (Hons) Cordwainers Fashion Bags and Accessories: Product Design and Innovation designer Reika Yamasaki has collaborated with MSc Cosmetic Science student Roberta Ion on her final major project for LCFBA16, creating three different fragrances that represent the past, present and future.

Marianne Martin, Perfume Unit course leader, followed the collaboration from start to finish. She said:

I have been so impressed by both students. It was a privilege to see the outstanding art work within Reika’s final year project. Reika had a vision for how fragrance could express her ideas in a unique way, especially for communicating to visually impaired people. Roberta for her part has totally understood the brief and interpreted it beautifully, showing real creativity in working with odour. It has been an honour to facilitate the collaboration and watch it blossom, both students growing in the process. The final fragrances are unique, not intended to be worn necessarily but to tell a story. I feel each of the three captures Reika’s ideas perfectly. I hope Reika has light a touch paper of further links between perfumery and other creative fields.

The collaboration wouldn’t have been possible without the help of AFF Aromatic Flavours and Fragrances, who provided the ingredients for the project. Reika and Roberta discuss the collaboration below.

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Photo credit: Runa Anzai, second year BA (Hons) Fashion Photography at LCF.

How did the collaboration come about, and how did you find combining science and design together?

Reika: I wanted to create a perfume that expresses my design concept. I wanted to make a bag for my grandfather who uses a wheelchair. After deciding my concept, I knocked on the science lab door to ask if it was possible to collaborate on a fragrance. I was asked to present my concept to a group of first year students, this is where Roberta expressed her interest and wanted to help in creating a perfume. We met most Monday’s to work on the three fragrances, with the help of course teacher Marianne (perfumery unit course teacher) and the technicians. The passion of the cosmetic science and Roberta made everything possible, I wouldn’t have been able to finish my project without them. It was also a really good opportunity to combine design and science.

Roberta: I heard during my first term that a Fashion Accessories student wanted to collaborate with the Cosmetic Science course but it wasn’t until the Perfumery Unit in the second term that Reika was introduced to the class. Marianne was very supportive and helped us connect and understand each other. None of this would have been possible without her experience and guidance. As soon as I heard Reika’s concept, I saw her visual representation of the fragrances, so I was intrigued instantly. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to combine scientific skills and artistry, which is the reason why I chose to study at London College of Fashion. I acted as a ‘translator’, making Reika’s ideas come to life as scents.

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Photo credit: Runa Anzai, second year BA (Hons) Fashion Photography at LCF.

There’s three different perfumes correct. What scents have been created and what’s the reason behind it?

Reika: Remember: This is the smell which reminds you of your childhood, hometown, grandmother. The smell is powdery with a vanilla sense. Natural disaster: This is a very conceptual perfume which has burning, volcano, animal and ocean salted smell. Futuristic: This smell is the most used with my products. Imagine being in a 23rd century, dark forest and first you cannot see anything as it is too dark. You end up paying more attention to the sounds. Your eyes end up getting use to the darkness, so you start seeing dark blue colours and begin smelling a mix of fresh flowers and a bit of a chemical smell. I wanted to represent my vision of the future in this perfume.

Roberta: The three fragrances represent past, present and future as an analogy to nostalgia, destruction and rebirth. The first fragrance is powdery and vintage. I had ’50s glamour in mind with the comfort and familiarity of grandmother’s house. This one might be considered wearable, compared to the others. For the second fragrance, Reika told me she wanted it to smell ‘like volcanos, earthquakes and tsunamis’. It was very challenging and conceptual. I would say it smells like expressionist paintings fusing with World War II documentaries. The third fragrance was suppose to be a new species of flowers in a wet forest at night. It isn’t very clear, but has a dark, chemical, almost grotesque core. I was inspired by the Sweet Tabacco flower which only blooms in evenings. Reika showed me pictures of grass growing out of cracked concrete, so I guess this flower grows out of destruction and disaster. It is beautiful and strong, but still bears fear and fragility.

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Photo credit: Runa Anzai, second year BA (Hons) Fashion Photography at LCF.

Will you be releasing the fragrances? Are you two planning on working on something again in the future?

Reika: I hope to continue perfume making and hope to collaborate with Roberta again in the future. I’m planing on going back to Japan after my graduation so who knows what happens next. I’m excited to see what she will do after graduating, I’m very happy to help or collaborate on her final major project.

Roberta: I hope to become a perfumer in the future, so I wouldn’t rule out collaborating with Reika again. I was inspired by her creative process, vision and aesthetics.