This #Books and Looks is all about authenticity: how our identity is uniquely our own whilst also being informed and reflected through perception. 

The book, Face: A Visual Odyssey is by designer, artist and academic Jessica Helfand and begins with an exposition as to what a ‘face’ is, “at once an instrument of lucidity (we all have one) and an enigmatic canvas (we’re all different)”.

Published by MIT Press, Face is an illustrated A to Z of visages: from the pseudo-scientific anthropometry of the late 19th century to the zeitgeist of today, of selfie taking and transhumanism.

It considers the cultural significance of the face in regard to identity, power and how image-making, photography and its reproducibility (not to mention manipulability, especially in a time of Photoshop and Facetune), inform our sense of self and of others. “It asks us to consider choice, and timing; perspective, and framing; sentiment, context, and the glare of the authentic” (thank you, Walter Benjamin).

Smell is as much a part of a person’s identity as the way they look. And because the area of the brain that forms memory and creates emotional response, the amygdala, also processes smell, scent has an enormous effect on the way that we perceive and remember others.

The independent British company Sunspel have launched Oak Wood, their first scent in collaboration with perfumer extraordinaire Lyn Harris (of Miller Harris and then Perfumer H fame). Founded in 1860, Sunspel wanted to create a scent that reflected the ethos of the brand: their deep heritage of British craftsmanship and “passion for the natural and authentic”.

The unisex perfume strikes the perfect balance between bright notes and more grounded musky elements, creating a layered complexity. The initial bloom of fresh citrus, bergamot and neroli gives way to cederwood and sandlewood combined with a sensual base of frankincense and amber. It is a perfume with depth and substance

How we form our identity, the way that we present ourselves and how we are perceived, is of course to do with the way we (make ourselves) look. But a signature scent can be as much a part of a person as a typified aesthetic. Sunspel’s Oak Wood will surely become a signature scent for those confident in their self.

More More More!

+ Books & Looks | Love At First Sight

+ Books & Looks | Wake Up And Smell The Roses

+ Books & Looks | Notes On Memory And Modernity