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“Perfume: Orchestrated Opulence” talk at the Dixon

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Brian Pera is an author, artist, and filmmaker. He's also a perfume obsessive.

On Wednesday, June 28th, noon, he'll be giving a talk titled "Perfume: Orchestrated Opulence" at the Dixon in conjunction with the gallery's exhibit "Scent and Symbolism: Perfumed Objects and Images."

Pera's attachment to perfume goes way back. He remembers standing at his grandmother's dresser as a kid, her perfumes collected on a tray of mirror glass with a filigree edge, hoping not to get caught. He then began his own collection in his 30s, but kept it secret.

From “Scent and Symbolism”
  • From “Scent and Symbolism”

Lately, though, Pera's perfume predilection has become better known among his friends and acquaintances, which is why, he guesses, that the Dixon reached out to him. For his talk, he's touching upon two perfumes per decade. And in an interactive flourish, he'll be handing out scent strips.

Pera calls perfume "ambassadors of the past." Smells bring back memories, a lot of them uncomfortable, like the lingering whiff of an ex-lover. He also posits that people can't really smell of anything anymore. There's policing of too-strong smells, perfumes are now neutered and smell of detergent.

Pera says his collection is large, but he won't get into specifics. "I have more perfume than anybody in Memphis," he says. He will put on six at a time. Perfumes from Estee Lauder are among his favorite, just like his grandmother.

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