June 18, 2014
Location:Los Angeles, CA
Perfumer Brent Leonesio is known for his line, Smell Bent, and the cheeky, fun, and affordable scents that are his trademark. His recent creation for UNTITLED is taking his talent to a higher level. “We know life can be hard, but it shouldn’t have to smell bad,” Brent jokes, emphasizing Smell Bent’s affordable, and more universal price point. The L.A.-based perfume company has found a niche, coming up with fun and delightful fragrances made from hand-blending the world’s finest ingredients.
Consenses Interview with Sally Taylor:
What made you want to participate in this project?
I have a fine art background and have been working in what I’d consider more commercial art mediums for the last 10 years. I thought it would be a nice return
to my roots.
What was your first reaction to the painting? (thoughts, images, emotions, memories, tastes, sounds etc?)
I saw a sunset. I could feel the damp. There was the warmth of the sun on a cold day. I had a flashback to being too warm in my winter coat.
What was this painting about for you?
It was about the contrast between warm and cool- bright pink against the metallic hues. It was about the end of winter. It was the sunset on a day in February.
What part of the painting informed you’re interpretation the most (color, style, meaning)?
It was both the color and composition. It was distinctly a sunset in my eyes and it was hard to shake that notion. You had said to focus on first impressions, so I didn’t try to change that.
What part of the scent came to you first?
The name – February. It summed up the entire mood for me. It was about the end of winter, thawing out.
What was your process? How did you take your original reaction and turn it into this fragrance?
I started trying to recall the smells of this memory I had. There was the mud and the cold air and the wood and the dampness. Those were my notes.
You named this fragrance “February.” What about the painting was February and tell me more about your personal experience of February?
It was a February sunset – that’s what I saw. And when I realized that’s what the painting was, I thought about my Februarys and about sunsets I had seen like that. This memory of trudging home came back to me. It was when I was 18 and I was walking back to this old house I lived in with my best friend. It was such a wonderful time in my life. It was the first winter I had experienced in a long time and I was out in the world on my own. Not only that, but I had these wonderful people in my life. The walk home was full of excitement. It was about getting back to this place that I loved and escaping the cold.
How do you normally create? How was this experience different?
It depends. It often starts with a name or a concept. What story am I trying to tell? There is also a style I’ve developed with the smell bent scents (a character, a cute name etc.) Perfume isn’t just about smelling nice for me. That’s not interesting enough. There has to be content beyond the work. And it’s usually a story about something else. This story happened to be about me. That makes it different, as does the presentation. It’s more minimal than usual because I wanted the scent to stand on its own.
What techniques/tools did you use to help you express you’re interpretation?
I have a lab overflowing with different types of ingredients. Naturals. Synthetics. I have a lot of choices.
Are there certain choices you made which mean something specific to you that the observer might not know?
There is always more than what is on the table. I was afraid of influencing the next artist with too many words. I am not in the word business. The scent should be open to interpretation, which is why I left the words separate. Part of me thinks the observer has all they need when they sniff.
But this is a very personal scent for me. It’s about a very specific moment in my life. How can you present something so personal and expect others to have the same response? You can’t. So it’s offered up with a little backstory for context and to convey my relationship to this place. But scent is so transportive, and people have such different noses. I smell this and remember New York in 2001. You smell this and go somewhere else.
Extra credit: Did you enjoy this project? More you want to say about your experience?
I did. I think it’s very important to get out of my groove and participate in something that’s different. I think it’s an exciting idea and I’d love to see what comes before and what comes after. What will become of my memory? And what does this painting mean to the painter?