Art Books Events Terry de Gunzburg Launches Rouge Nocturne and Rose Infernale

Terry de Gunzburg Launches Rouge Nocturne and Rose Infernale

07/03/14 13:00:39 (2 comments)

by: Suzy Nightingale

“I don’t know how to do the things that are expected of me. I wanted my Roses to be unique, provocative … unexpected, I wanted them to be felt without breathing their scent. Fragrant colors transform into an olfactory nuance like make-up exuding a hypnotic scent … which becomes addicive."—Terry de Gunzburg

Making Colour is a new exhibition at The National Gallery in London; the first of its kind in the UK, being a space in which all manner of incredibly famous paintings and lesser-known artworks are gathered together without regard to era, style or artist, but instead are collated by color alone. Funded by Terry de Gunzburg—internationally acclaimed makeup artist, perfume creator and long-term art lover—this collection has been put together in order to wake the eye of the viewer, to let it catch upon the color itself and drink it in as they stand before the works of art and gaze deeper—seeing beyond the pictures or artifacts themselves, and reaching a truer understanding of method, mood and symbolism. It may sound a little incongruous, that surely we should focus on the image portrayed, not the predominant color used, but in fact this is a fascinating way to experience the works—some of which were familiar to me, many of which I had never seen before.

‘‘Making Colour, the first exhibition of its kind in the UK, invites you on an artistic and scientific voyage of discovery. From sparkling minerals to crushed insects, learn about the surprising materials used to create pigments and the incredible journeys made by artists in their pursuit of new hues.

"Span hundreds of years from the early Renaissance to the Impressionist movement as you take in displays of paintings, mineral specimens, textiles, ceramics and glass.

"Journey from lapis lazuli to cobalt blue, ancient vermilion to bright cadmium red, through yellow, orange, purple and verdigris to deep green viridian—in a series of colour-themed rooms. Finally, enter a dazzling central room devoted to gold and silver.

"Making Colour is complemented by an interactive display that introduces a new world of contemporary scientific thought on colour. Designed to demonstrate how we perceive and register colour, the experiment will reveal how the eye and brain respond to colour in unexpected ways."

Terry de Gunzberg is a women who knows her colors, and although choosing to launch her two latest fragrances into the world at The National Gallery also seemed a little incongruous at first, having seen their intense colors and then finally been able to smell them before walking around the exhibition’s preview; all became clear.

"The exhibition begins by examining how theories of colour—such as an awareness of primary colour, or of the colour spectrum—have influenced painters’ use of pigments, and their quest for new materials. Visitors then journey from lapis lazuli to cobalt blue, ancient vermillion to bright cadmium red, through yellow, orange, purple and verdigris to deep green viridian in a series of colour-themed rooms. Finally, they enter a dazzling central room devoted to gold and silver. These metals were of fundamental importance to the colour effects of European paining through many centuries, although they do not appear on the traditional color wheel."

The intensity and multitude personalities of Rose is Terry’s theme for the fragrances, and ties in beautifully with Making Colour’s journey of discovery. It is perhaps more obviously realized in the dual-launch of her latest make up lines, but I have long argued the crossover in fine fragrance, art and music, and so would argue there are many connections to be found. Terry stated that she didn’t want to do an "obvious rose" perfume—why would she, when there are so many literal versions out there already? Instead, she wanted to strip the roses used back to their predominant colors and focus on the emotions they inspired within her.

"Transformed by Terry de Gunzburg’s irresistible imagination, these two fragrances convey exuberance, luxury and olfactive excellence, whilst remaining faithful to French Haute Perfumery. They reveal new accords expressing a timeless modernity in the case of Rouge Nocturne and a modern passion for Rose Infernale. Both fragrances share a DNA in creativity derived from an instinctive combination of noble raw materials and a stylish opulence."

It is this respect and re-examination of the raw materials and working with them to create two entirely different moods from what would appear to be the same note, which entwines the new fragrances with the exhibition itself, for The National Gallery pride themselves on extensive research and development techniques in closely analysing ancient artists materials and the ways they used them. This helps them better understand how to go about restoring masterpieces, but also gives a wider breadth of knowledge as to the almost alchemical methods they used to squeeze color from the most unlikely sources. When bandied about as just "rose" the note is almost meaningless unless accompanied by the specific type, as there are so many varieties all with wildly differing characteristics; something Terry and Michel Almairac—the perfumer she works so closely with—understand only too well.

Terry explained to us that she was inspired by the vivid colors of roses, and wanted to capture two of these colors in scent. The first is Rouge Nocturne—"crimson rose of desire and timeless extravagance"—it speaks of dusty red velvet gowns worn by elegant ladies of a royal court; the dusky soft bloom on a deep red rose petal. Richly extravagant it may be, but never overwhelming, the Turkish Damascena Rose is paired with a soft Amber vanilla-like heart, fully rounded and reminiscent of a vintage powder puff tied with a crimson silk bow. Indonesian Patchouli darkens the mixture a little, but doesn't dominate—the resulting silage reminds me of crystallized rose petals dusted with icing sugar and strewn across a lavishly buttercream-topped cake, decadent in its simplicity; a classical rose softened for dreamily elegant aesthetes.

Rose Infernale takes a darker turn, still using the Turkish Rose but imbuing it with lashings of Indonesian Nutmeg at the top and running it through with a smoky Somalian Frankincense and a gorgeously dry Haitian Vetiver. Spicy yet cool-smelling, it transports me to the shady garden of a Catholic church, fingering a rosary while caught between the heady blooms around you and the smell of incense inside. This rose becomes the crossover between black and purple/red - hypnotic but intensely wearable; a modernized rose for exotically inclined ne'er-do-wells.

After smelling the perfumes and admiring the new makeup and beauty products in the By Terry range, we were privileged to be given a private tour of the exhibition, traveling through room after room of magnificent artworks and really feeling the power and emotion of the way each predominant color is used. It was fascinating to see how when a color has been brought to your attention in this way, the eye seems to scan past seeing the image of the painting itself, at first; and hones in, scanning the surface to find it and drinking that in before zooming out for a wider appreciation of the scene portrayed. This way, even paintings you think you know very well become new to you, perhaps it brings us closer to the experience of the artists themselves as they went about creating these pictures—working on minute sections and often using one color at a time, gradually building layers, adding more colors until the finished picture emerges.

The rooms which struck me most vividly, and appropriately enough the parts of the exhibition which relate most aptly to the two new rose perfumes themselves; were called Seeing Red and Royal Purple. Two of my favorite colors anyway, here they were breath-taking in their richness and variety, a sumptuous feast for the eyes. In certain paintings, the color became a texture, so intricately had it been worked to create the feeling of draped fabric or human hair—the urge to reach out and stroke the paintings takes over, and one hastily pulls back when glared at by the security guards and staff seated in each room.

Giovanni Battista Moroni, Portrait of a Lady ('La Dama in Rosso')

As I gazed in wonder at the silk sheen captured in Giovanni Battista Moroni’s Portrait of a Lady (1556-60), thought to be Contessa Lucia Albani Avogadro; the incredibly lifelike texture on the velvet brocade of Cosimo Tura’s paining of A Muse (1455-60) thought to be Calliope; and the amazingly bright colors of the natural sources for pigments used—kermes, stick lac, cochineal, brazilwood and madder—I really felt as though I were seeing the color red for the first time, properly exploring its depth and the way we respond to it not just in art, but in everyday life around us.

Cosimo Tura, A Muse

In the purple room, the painting that struck me most deeply was Paris Bordone’s A Pair Of Lovers (1555-60), which depicts the damson colored velvet of the lady’s gown almost photographically—it just leaps at you from the canvas, you can almost feel its weight draped over your own body, imagine the pile moving beneath your own fingers.

Paris Bordone, A Pair Of Lovers

After walking around the exhibition twice—so captivated by the colors, this new way of looking at art and the materials the artists chose—I no longer wondered at Terry de Gunzburg launching her perfumes at The National Gallery; it became quite clear how her love of art, colors and fragrance were so entwined. Terry wanted to emphasize the personality of red roses, the texture of each petal, the ultra-feminine symbolism re-worked into modern day perfumes that actually smell like the colors they represent. It made me think again of synaesthesia—the condition which leaves some people with the sensation of directly associating particular colors with distinct smells; and some believe is far more prevalent in artists than any other profession. It would be fascinating to walk around the exhibition with someone who experienced colors in this way—would the smell they sensed in each painting be influenced by the subject matter, the predominant color used or simply unique to them and unconnected to any further outside stimuli? Just as no description of a fragrance can ever truly do justice to the scent and smelling it yourself—the flat reproductions of the paintings can never convey the feeling of standing in front of them, feeling them towering above you or peering so closely you feel you could be sucked in. You must go and see this exhibition with your own eyes, if at all possible; and of course experience the magnificence of Rose—revel in red—the color and the smell combined, when the latest of Terry’s creations are released.

Rouge Nocturne & Rose Infernale: Eau de Parfum Intense 100 ml - £127.00
Exclusively available at Harrods from  September 1, 2014 and then at selected department stores from October 1, 2014.


Making Colour is on until September 7, 2014 at The National Gallery—Sainsbury Wing Exhibition. (website)

Ticket Prices:

Adult £8.00
Senior £7.00
National Art Pass (Art Fund) holders £4.00
Student/Jobseeker £4.00

Photos from the exhibition by Suzy Nightingale

Suzy Nightingale (Miss_Nightingale) is a perfume-obsessed writer from the UK who wore Chanel's Coco aged 10 and never looked back. After reviewing her fragrance collection for Fragrantica and receiving positive feedback from fellow members and editors alike, Suzy joined the Fragrantica team to be a UK correspondent.

Reporting on exclusive events, product launches, interviewing perfume makers and discovering brand new labels to enthuse about; she also manages a day job in the world of fashion, while blogging about style, beauty, historical snippets and the various trinkets that catch her eye.


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Thank you for this informative article!

But you left me with a bleeding heart... I was sure there will be an article for this pair of rose scents as soon as I stumbled over them, but to read here that they will be exclusively available at Harrods (and later in selected department stores, so definitely nowhere near my place) is stabbing my anticipation with a rusty dagger of disappointment. :(

What you smelled and described was a bit different to the perfumes pyramides shown here on fragrantica, and while I was thinking Rouge Nocturne may be the better choice for me and Rose infernale less safe, after reading your article I now suppose it might be the other way round.
But... Most likely I will never know, as i probably never will be able to find and test them..

The exhibition sounds like fun as well and you have shown very beautiful (beside one, completely unknown to me) paintings here.

Even with a bleeding heart, thanks for this article!

Jitterbug Perfume Lover
Jitterbug Perfume Lover

Wow! I wish they would bring this exhibit to Los Angeles! It looks gorgeous and I've never seen a collection curated around the theme of color. What an excellent idea. Thanks for this interesting article.
When will these fragrances be available in the US?


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