Gorilla Perfume at (s)Lushfest 2012

A small child plays in the mud with his wellies on, holding a special Gorilla Perfume comic book created for the occasion by Plastic Crimewave

Fun in the mud!

Lushfest (affectionately nicknamed “Slushfest” due to the rain, wind and mud) was, amongst many other fabulous things, the launchpad for several new perfumes from Gorilla Perfume.

It was held at the Holton Lee site in Dorset from Wednesday 4th of July through to Sunday the 8th. This was the second Lushfest, and this year it was open to a limited number of external visitors (mostly friends and family but also a handful of competition winners and other lucky people who managed to get tickets). The public days were Saturday and Sunday. Other than a music festival and a general celebration of all things Lush, this could also be one of the world’s first “perfume fesvivals” – there were simply so many perfume events to see. If perfumers have recently begun crawling out of the woodwork and representing themselves as artists, one could say that Mark and Simon Constantine went a step further and made the launch of their perfumes more of a rock n’ roll thing.

A beautiful, haunting dead tree at the site for the Set in Stone stone circle

The site for Set in Stone.

On Thursday evening, Simon and his team had set up a stone circle up on a little hill by the campsite. Each of the stones were scented with one of Simon’s new perfumes, inspired by local history and landmarks. This collection of new perfumes is known as “Set in Stone” and features:

Hellstone: Inspired by an ancient burial mound known as the Hellstone. As described in lore written in 1803, the Devil himself flung this stone in place. The smell evokes unearthed roots and freshly turned earth and is accomplished using resinous, rooty and spicy smells like vetiver, cumin and beeswax.

Lord of Goathorn: Inspired by a small, uninhabited peninsula off the coast of Poole – and the fisherman who lived there and had his boats commandeered by smugglers who would then leave him bounty. The smell evokes the sea using seaweed, lime and basil.

Burning Rosemary: Simon visited Stonehenge on his 30th birthday and witnessed druids burning rosemary as the sun came up. This is the fragrance he created inspired by the smell of burning rosemary in the air. He used rosemary and cade oil to achieve this effect.

Furze: Simon liked the idea of creating an English equivalent of the French “fougere”; a new accord inspired by a native plant. The prickly furze bush smells a little like vanilla and coconut, so Simon created an accord from those two scents and made a beautifully addictive perfume. It was an instant hit at Lushfest!

Flower’s Barrow: Also known as Pines Hill, this Iron Age fort is said to have been taken over by the Romans and it’s said to be haunted. The fort is now sinking into the sea and nettles and brambles have taken over. Simon created a scent using sage, thyme, geranium and blackcurrant.

Live music performance at Set in Stone launch

The live music performance at Set in Stone launch

The Devil’s Nightcap: Based on one of the most mysterious megaliths in the town-place of Studland, this fragrance of oakmoss, clary sage and ylang ylang captures the magic of the stone that folklore says the Devil threw across the sea in an attempt to hit Corfe Castle.

We heard a live set from Simon Richmond and John Metcalfe from the Imagined Village and heard a talk by Paul Devereux. The weather favoured us during the evening – it had been raining all day Wednesday, and by Thursday lunchtime we were getting a little worried, but then the sun came out and our only problem was insect bites. Luckily there were bunches of rosemary burnt on the hill and the smoke scared some of the mozzies away.

Lushies smelling the scented stones

The porous stones were a wonderful vehicle for these very natural-smelling fragrances.

Everyone was absolutely blown away by the beauty of the new scents and the imaginative presentation of them. Many of us returned to the site on the following days to have some time with the circle. The stones have been left standing there and perhaps a thousand years from now someone will be wondering what they might mean.

Meanwhile, at the festival proper, two Gorilla Perfume tents held two different showcases for Mark and Simon’s perfumes. In the black tent, you could pop in to see a re-creation of the London Shoreditch perfume gallery and experience all of the fragranced rooms and stories.

There were a few hiccups due the rather extreme weather conditions on Saturday – the power went out three times (which meant the lights, tills, music tracks and other things didn’t work) but the team of perfume staff carried on through regardless, unflappably singing the Tuca Tuca instead of playing it from a recording; and hand-writing sales down on a soggy piece of paper.

The black tent with the Shoreditch gallery

This was the tent with the recreation of the London gallery, Paul’s bar and a surprise perfume by the tills.

Paul Tvaroh from Lounge Bohemia was on site with his magical molecular mixology and offered visitors cocktails inspired by Mark’s Hairdresser’s Husband cologne. Meanwhile by the tills, there was a surprise perfume called HQ = “The smell of a Lush shop in a bottle”, made especially for Lushfest.

Over in the yellow tent, one could take a walk through a new showcase featuring:

The Voice of Reason: Inspired by the Beat Generation and literary figures like William Burroughs, Neal Cassady, Gil Scott Heron and Leonard Cohen. The scent feels like you’ve just walked past a bar where something exciting is
happening and you get a waft of cigarette smoke, booze, perfume, books… the perfume includes notes of sandalwood and tonka bean. It may rival our famously moving Dear John in its ability to cause strong emotional reactions.

The yellow perfume tent, featuring The Voice of Reason, The Bug and Sun

The yellow perfume tent, featuring The Voice of Reason, The Bug and Sun.

The Bug: Inspired by the paranoia of the modern age (and a track by the same name), this perfume was introduced by walking people through a dark corridor full of clips from cctv footage and glowing uv-lights. The perfume contains galbanum and black pepper.

Sun: An uplifting, fresh and beautiful perfume by Mark, inspired by his need of sunshine and good vibes during dark days. The Sun evokes Mark’s trips to USA during springtime and features orange, tangerine and sandalwood.

There was going to be a merry-go-round outside for people to experience Euphoria in, but it would have sunk to the mud, not to be found again until the same people who will discover our abandoned stone circle will dig the site for bizarre archaeological curiosities about a 1000 years from now, so that idea was scrapped.

Bottles of Euphoria perfume on the vintage bus

The vintage bus was filled with an eclectic mix of bottles.

Euphoria was available on the Gorilla Bus instead. It is based on aromatherapy research and includes materials known to cause feelings of euphoria, such as clary sage, grapefruit, lime and neroli.

On Sunday afternoon, we were treated to a live gig from Sheema Mukherjee. Her last track was called “Sikkim Girls” – which also happened to feature in her last year’s set and inspired Mark and Simon to invite her to the lab and create an appropriately seductive scent.

Sheema told us the story of how she was warned to stay away from these “dangerous girls” by a cafe owner in Darjeeling. Apparently, despite having their faces covered, the Sikkim Girls had managed to seduce and steal away his son-in-law. He said “it was all in the hips” and Mark wanted to create a fragrance based on this concept and Sheema’s song. The resulting tuberose and frangipani fragrance is extremely beautiful, and, according to Sheema, the authentic smell of a Darjeeling flower market.

Dizraeli running with a molotov cocktail towards three blue cars on a field

“Wait, was that Dizraeli?”

Possibly the most unusual showpiece was the launch of two new incense products. Mark and Si appeared on stage after Dizraeli’s set and talked to us about the London riots and the Jasmine Revolution – and how they were personally affected by both of these and wanted to encourage people to burn incense, not cars. During this speech, Dizraeli was seen running towards us and to a group of cars on the field next to the stage. He threw a molotov cocktail at the cars and blew up the cars! The crowd hadn’t expected this and there was a general air of W…T…F-just-happened in the air.

The Gorilla perfume bus

The Gorilla perfume bus.

Everyone’s favourite perfume place to hang out was the retro bus, painted by Plastic Crimewave and styled inside by our design team gurus to look like the back cover of an old Jane’s Addiction album. An assortment of different bottles decorated with labels designed by Plastic Crimewave housed all of the new perfumes for people to buy.

There were long queues because the bus could only take a couple of people in at a time, but people didn’t mind waiting (the bus was inside the Village Hall tent and there was always some good music on).

All in all, it was a magical event – and to think that the perfume showcases only represented one part of the festival with many, MANY other exciting things going on – you almost have to wonder how it was even possible to pull it off! Hats off to everyone who made this happen and participated in any way. You’re all amazing.

There are lots of videos of Lushfest on our official Lush YouTube channel and we’ve got a metric tonne of photos of all these perfumes and events on our Facebook page.

Perhaps we’ll see the Gorilla bus in other locations soon?



The Gorilla Perfumers are up to something…

Gorilla comic book cover

Not King Kong.

The Gorilla Perfumers have been busy in the lab again and new perfumes are around the corner. There is much more afoot, however, and the upcoming Lushfest will be a really unique showcase for some amazing new creativity. Head on to our Facebook page for your chance to win tickets or keep an eye on there and this blog for photos, updates and reports from the festival.

All will be revealed soon…

Lushfest is happening on the 7th and 8th of July in Dorset, UK.

Seoul Music

(Aka Pia’s Korean Travel Journal)

National stereotypes are generally quite cringe-inducing. Sometimes they can be convenient ways of describing a common feature present in a particular ethnic group or country. I’m a Finn, so, to explain to my new Korean friends why some Finnish men are crazy enough to risk dying in sauna competitions (which are basically an even more neanderthalesque-version of hot dog eating competitions), I’d say “Finnish men are very stubborn. They find it’s a badge of honour to be the last bloke in the sauna, even if it means you risk being cooked to death.” Clearly not all Finnish men are stubborn; at least not by Finnish standards. And clearly not all Finns treat sauna as a competitive sport. But it’s fair to say that the aforementioned behaviour doesn’t surprise me one bit.

Lush staff at the Lush Land and concert, Seoul

Lush staff at the Lush Land and concert, Seoul

So, with this in mind, I hope you will excuse me while I say that it seems that all Koreans love singing and dancing. The nation seems almost obsessed by music and though the majority of music I experienced on my trip to the Lush Land and concert, held in Seoul this April, was typical pop, there were some surprises in the mix. And I was completely blown away by the talent of ordinary retail staff members who, during the event, burst into song and dance (as you do) to the delight of the over 4000 visitors that came to Lush Land over the two days.

Getting ready for press

From left to right: Joy, Pia, Dragon (getting ready for TV and press interviews).

I was just about to take a much-needed two week holiday when our Press Office called to ask if I would like to attend the launch of Gorilla Perfume in Korea. It would have been nice to travel with Mark and Simon but both of them were away at the time. I may have even taken my holiday instead of going on a work trip. However, it was lovely to be asked to represent the perfumery team this way. It was also a new kind of challenge – this time I would be interviewed and grilled for more details by everyone, instead of being the invisible support person behind the scenes. I immediately bought a new dress.

The Korean team did send us a Power Point presentation of what they were intending to do but I don’t think any of us in UK fully appreciated the magnitude of the event from the slides – and actually – I don’t think even the Koreans really knew what they were getting themselves into until the project developed critical mass and rolled off like an unstoppable juggernaut. By the time I arrived in Seoul, there were two days to go and everyone looked a little gray and waxy; nevertheless in good spirits and very hard at work. I can’t imagine how many long shifts and cups of coffee went into putting together what was essentially a small festival, open to the general public.

Bubble demo at Lush Land

Bubble demo at Lush Land

The event was called Lush Land and designed to showcase the best bits of the company. It was staged at a popular concert hall, outside of which stalls were erected and all kinds of other activities also took place (from lively bubble bar demos with an actual bath tub to slightly creepy rock-paper-scissors-type game a man in a gorilla mask was encouraging visitors to participate in. They got free drinks as a reward so I suppose that went some way towards easing the trauma).

Mock Carnaby Street arch

Mock Carnaby Street arch

The exterior space was inspired by Carnaby Street. It sounds a bit corny but actually, in situ, the Carnaby-Street-style arch and clever printed backdrops gave the concrete courtyard a kind of kitsch charm, though I’m not sure how English it was exactly. Except on the second day when it poured down with rain and all the stalls had to be brought indoors. That’s when it felt English.

There were food and drink stalls, serving imported Wedgwood tea (of which I drank many cups, having been brainwashed during my 20 years in England to crave the stuff), beer, vegan food and fruit. The Lush pop-up stalls with Fresh Face Masks and other handmade cosmetics blended in effortlessly and at times I wondered whether any non-Lushies were there, trying to figure out which stall to queue for if they were feeling a bit peckish.

People queuing to get in to Lush Land

People queuing to get in to Lush Land

Both days started with a general market-feel with people milling around outside. There was a concert on both nights. On the first day, there were very long queues of people hoping to guarantee a good spot for the evening’s performance. I was told that this was because Big Bang, a Korean boy band, would be there and that they are insanely popular in Asia. So much so that there were people from neighbouring countries who’d flown over just to see them and camped outside the venue overnight.

Jungle in the Breath of God room

Jungle in the Breath of God room

The Gorilla Perfume gallery was set inside the concert hall and was open throughout the event. Hundreds of people were led through the maze of scented rooms. I’ve participated in all of the other gallery launches and was pleased to see how well the experience had been translated here. The local design team members recreated the gallery very well and Jungle*, the charismatic guy responsible for Korean training, spent the evening before the event with me and the gallery room staff, polishing up their performance. I can’t stress enough how important it has been to the whole gallery set-up to have excellent staff who make the whole thing just click in place. Although I don’t speak Korean (apart from the four or five words I learned from my iPhone app on the way there), I could tell how well the roles of each perfume were played by the curators chosen. The Breath of God room was a special Korean addition to the gallery; it turned out to be a good decision as the fragrance became one of the best-sellers at the pop-up shop. I did wonder how much the decision to include a Breath of God room might have been due to its Buddhist connotations and the fact that it

Lanterns at a Buddhist temple, Seoul

Lanterns at a Buddhist temple, Seoul

happened to be Buddha’s birthday month (widely celebrated with multicoloured lanterns and special Baby Buddha altars across Seoul).

The biggest surprise for me was probably the first few minutes of the opening night’s concert, when the curtain rose to… a full philharmonic orchestra! I was told that getting them to perform at a popular music venue rather than a concert hall had been a long (but clearly eventually fruitful), booze-fuelled task. By the second night, the drummer had got the hang of it and really went for a big drum solo, to the tune of hundreds of screaming and clapping visitors. I doubt he has people wolf-whistling and squealing at him very often.

The mix of music over the two nights could perhaps be best described as a kind of cross between Jools Holland’s Annual Hootenanny and X Factor. Korean music taste seems to lean towards the highly produced and glossy but there were a couple of performers that stood out. As an example of the glossy, none seemed more loved than Lee Sora, who the locals call Milky Skin. Her sentimental ballads sound lovely even when you don’t understand the lyrics, but apparently the lyrics are the main reason why her music is so well-liked.

My absolute favourite from the whole experience was a new Indie group called Jang-gi-ha and The Faces. Their performance was superb; starting with a quiet piece and building the audience to a hysteric froth over several songs until everyone was clapping and waving and jumping to the tune of the last song. Again, I wish I could understand the lyrics, but their music is very catchy and I really enjoyed it.

What's going on?

What's going on?

When the two-day event came to a close, there was a final treat in store for everyone: a mass Tuca Tuca dancemob in the lobby! I don’t know whether it was planned or whether the whole team just decided to jump in and do it (I suspect the former), but whichever the case, it felt spontaneous and emotional. As guests left the building, they stopped to look and take photos.

It’s always such a pleasure when a work-event feels like something you would have enjoyed even if you weren’t in any way affiliated and that’s exactly how I felt at Lush Land in Seoul. I also really fell in love with our team there and hope they do well and that I get to visit them again some day.

If you would like to see lots more photos of the whole trip, head over to our Facebook page to have a look!

*Lush Korea uses nicknames inspired by the names of Lush products in all internal communications. I actually have no idea what Jungle’s real name is. Not that it matters. Jungle suits him perfectly well. He’s exotic and colourful!

Smelly concert?

Concert invitation

Don't you just want to touch that CUTE nose?

Lush Korea are about to have an ambitious event – they will magic up a kind of fantasy Carnaby Street-cum-Lush festival in Seoul – with live music, stalls and the full Gorilla perfume gallery experience to boot. They’ve entitled the event a ‘Smelly Concert’ which, of course, will induce no end of titters in any native English speaker, but will probably exceed all of our expectations of a truly modern day out.

I’m going there as the guest from our perfume department and really can’t wait to see what it will be like! If you happen to be anywhere near Seoul on the 29th and 30th of April, join us!


Guest blogger: Persolaise

This month we welcome our first guest blogger, Persolaise, to tell us about his evening at the  Gorilla Perfume event in Lush Portsmouth.

Team PortsmouthI Love The Smell Of Primate In The Evening

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: some of the most original, affordable and downright weird perfumes currently on the mainstream UK market are in unassuming, squat black bottles bearing an image of a half-peeled banana. Even their names are unusual. I mean, how many companies can you think of that would dare release a fragrance called Breath Of God? So when my local Lush store decided to organise a party to showcase not just the ‘regular’ Gorilla range but also the online-only scents (the so-called B-Sides, which some of you will remember from BNTBTBB), I admit I was intrigued to discover what the evening would be like. After all, Portsmouth isn’t exactly the first place people associate with discerning perfume aficionados.

Deciding whether to attend a party is made so much easier when someone asks you to write about it… and I was lucky enough to receive just such a proposal from Gorilla Perfume’s own web editor, Pia Long.
“I’d love to be your journalist,” I said, “as long as you know that I’m not into self-censorship.”

“That’s absolutely fine,” she said. “Go ahead and write whatever you like.”
Well, I’m pleased to report that I needn’t have worried about being placed in a difficult position, because the event turned out to be a genuinely (dare I even say, surprisingly?) enjoyable meeting of like-minded people.

Full credit for this must go to Tom The Manager and his snazzily-attired team. (Think: Downton Abbey meets Camden Market.) They decorated the shop with tulips and long-stem lilies. They provided a plentiful supply of chocolates, peanuts and nachos. And they even put together a menu of perfume-inspired cocktails. Caught up in the excitement, I suggested that some of the staff should juggle bath bombs whilst dancing on the counter tops, but this was met with a look of decidedly un-Lush-like derision.

As Tom dashed around the place, making sure all was in order, the guests were entertained by Ash, the shop’s resident Gorilla guru. Spraying any scrap of bare skin on which he could lay his hands, he rattled off engaging stories about the birth of some of the fragrances, from the moving tale of Dear John to the mystical influence behind Inhale and Exhale. Before long, everyone was sniffing everyone else’s wrists, elbows and necks… and when we ran out of flesh, someone had the bright idea of using handkerchiefs and brown paper bags as blotters.

My chats with the guests revealed that almost all of them had been drawn to the event by the presence of the B-Sides. One woman told me that as she’d nearly finished her original supply of BNTBTBB’s Cocktail – which she’d bought at the old Covent Garden shop – she was thrilled to be able to stock up again. I spied three brand new bottles in her basket! Another customer – who’d made the journey from Chichester – explained how she’s always relied on Lush to bring a devilish touch of drama to the high street, which was why she was eager to try the perfumes. And another punter was beside herself with glee each time she smelt Ladyboy. She said it reminded her of the lollipops that taste unbearably sweet at the start and then reveal a blob of bubble gum in the centre.

“And that’s a good thing?” I asked.

She nodded with almost uncontrollable exuberance.
Regrettably, the evening ended without anyone throwing themselves onto the soaps and doing the cancan, although Ash did start blowing bubbles at one point, which is probably about as much anarchy as a deserted shopping mall can take in one night. But even though propriety was maintained, I was fascinated to learn that one of the event’s most popular perfumes – in terms of sales of the 2ml sample vials – was none other than the aforementioned Ladyboy! So Portsmouth does have a naughty streak after all… or maybe it’s just plain old good taste, because as every self-respecting Gorilla-lover knows, this particular scent radiates earthy, labdanum-based sophistication after its initial chuckle-inducing burst of synthetic fireworks.

So there you have it. I hesitate to type the words ‘A fragrant time was had by all’ but it’s true: we went back home radiating everything from orris to orange blossom, with rose otto and oud in between. And if you like the idea of a perfume party taking place at your own Lush, then you may be interested to learn that a rep from the White City branch was in attendance, watching the Pompey crew show her how it’s done. So it might not be long before the idea spreads… and Lush-ophiles up and down the country are balancing a Sicilian on the tips of their noses whilst regaling the crowds with impressive high kicks.

About the author
Persolaise is a Jasmine Award shortlisted writer and amateur perfumer who has had a strong interest in the world of fine fragrance for over 25 years. For more information about his work, please visit www.persolaise.com or contact him at persolaise at gmail dot com

We had a hoot in New York City!

Simon at the door

Simon waiting for the show to kick off

Touring with the Gorilla gallery is not too unlike touring with a band. All the equipment and the set have to cross continents and deliver the same experience regardless of location. The team works hard behind the scenes – hectic preparation backstage, nerves, laughter; late nights. It’s all there.

This is fitting since the idea for the brand was born in a conversation Mark and Simon had in Canada – about making a series of new scents, like one might release singles and an album. The music idea never went away and now we’ve even got an actual cover version of the famous Italian pop song playing in Ibiza nightclubs.

Even though North American Lush has its own factory, all the fine fragrances are handmade in Poole, Dorset, UK. Trying to estimate how many are needed is always tricky and shipping everything over in time is scary to say the least. When you think of a perfume factory, your mind probably conjures up images of shining stainless steel vats and production lines. Nothing could be further from the reality of how our perfumes are made. There is a handful of skilled compounders working their little butts off, hand-mixing every single batch of fragrance, hand-filling the bottles and even the tiny samples, sticking on the labels and handling the packing and export, too.

The fact we’ve pulled off such a huge launch seems close to miraculous!

Condom machine for the Dirty room

Backstage: condom machine for the Dirty room. That seems awfully seedy...

Charlotte travelled from the UK a couple of days in advance to prep and train the ‘storyteller’ team. Meanwhile, Katie and Jo (the duo behind the gallery exhibit interpretations of Mark and Simon’s perfumes) built the set with the help of our North American Design team.

When the gallery opened its doors to the press on the evening of 22nd of September, we were all excited and hopeful that our efforts would be well received.

And boy, were they! Below is a selection of what visitors from that night had to say:

The sociable and entertaining nature of the event was a good fit for the Lush Gorilla Perfume line, where perfumer Mark Constantine and his son Simon weave their personal stories into the stories of the perfumery raw materials. The result is product images with a remarkable depth and texture. Avery Gilbert, author of What The Nose Knows.

To call Lush’s entrance into the perfume biz grand would not be an overstatement—the handmade cosmetics giant just launched its very own fragrance house with not one, but ten thoughtfully conceived scents. Style.com

NY readers, before you even begin reading this post, I want you to stop what you are doing and run, don’t walk over to 54 Crosby Street in SOHO, where LUSH is throwing one heck of a fragrance party. Kraseybeauty

I was, and still am, pretty much over the moon. The event itself…went down like a museum exhibit of sorts, or like select scenes from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. You know, where the president’s talked about how great water slides and ice cream are? LUSH took on volunteers from within their various stores and taught them the stories behind the perfumes in the line, which the storytellers then repeated for the guests as they came in and out of the thematic rooms of the gallery. My favorite room was the one they set up for a perfume called The Smell of Weather Turning, which was inspired by a witch, a musician, and a dream. This scent is comprised of English peppermint, hay absolute, and new oakwood. It’s intense and amazing. BUST magazine

On the 23rd, we had the lovely Sniffapalooza group join us at 54 Crosby and one of the visitors was the editor of Perfume of Life, another good gathering place for perfumistas. Her full description of the event is a good read. The gallery was open to the public for the first time that day and as Brandi, the NA PR manager predicted, evenings were our busiest time. “New Yorkers go out after work,” she said, and we saw the evidence.

Gallery map front

Gallery map front

Gallery map inside

Gallery map inside

Were you there? What did you think?

Feedback postcards after day 2

Feedback postcards after day 2

Visitor comment

Visitor comment

Visitor comment

The touring perfume gallery will make three more stops. We’re preparing for Japan and Russia next!