Scentsational! Chandler Burr Debuts Mystery Fragrance Project

“Wearing it makes you feel like you’ve walked away to a distant point and sat down in a cloud bank; it lends you the purity of purpose and the luxury of self-imposed isolation.” Despite the whiff of Karl Lagerfeld breathlessly describing his latest sartorial confection for Chanel, this is actually fragrance expert Chandler Burr on “S01E01 (Season One Episode One),” the debut juice in his latest scentsational project. The former New York Times perfume critic, who serves as director and curator of the Center of Olfactory Art at the Museum of Arts and Design, has teamed with shopping site OpenSky to launch the Untitled Series: every month, he’ll strip an existing fragrance of its branding and make 50-milliliter aliquots available in 100 plain glass bottles ($50 each on OpenSky). You may be spritzing Clive Christian 1872 or Debbie Gibson‘s Electric Youth, the latest private blend from Tom Ford or something with musky middle notes derived from marsupial saliva. It’s all part of the fragrant fun.

“The point of the Untitled series is that whatever your reaction, you will be able…to experience these scent works as scent, and nothing else,” says Burr, who got the idea for the project from the rigorous blind evaluation process he relied on at the Times. He’ll introduce OpenSky shoppers to each mystery fragrance with a “critical assessment” (S01E01 “has an astonishing olfactory texture, soft, cool, precise”) and reveal its identity just before launching the next in the series. Just don’t mistake this for a game of guess the scent. “I hope people won’t search for clues, post guesses on the site, create competition, or use this as a means to show off their knowledge of perfume in front of others,” says Burr. “Identifying the scent is exactly not the point. The point is, in peace and quiet, to experience a work of art.”

Previously on UnBeige:
What Does Lever House Smell Like?
Museum of Arts and Design Launches Center for Olfactory Art