Art of the City — 4

Photo by Rick Stachura. Union Square Subway Station. February 14, 2020.


On Valentine’s Day 2020, these popped up around the East Village taped to scaffolding, subway kiosks, digital ad displays, and empty storefront windows. This one was placed on the uptown N/Q/R platform in Union Square. The connection? They’re all the work of perfumer Shabnam Tavakol.

After studying her craft in France and laboring for a number of corporate entities, Ms. Tavakol opened her own fragrance studio in New York called Kismet Olfactive. Now, instead of producing big scents for mass consumption, she tailors small batches for individual clients. The model enables her to react quickly to changing trends and cultivate an “intimate” approach to designing both fine and natural fragrances. 

Her inspirations? Well, Ms. Tavakol cites things like movies and music from the 1960s, but also the more abstract and suggestive: ideas like human connection, theories of time, or states of moodiness. For example, her natural scents named “Jasmin” and “Patchouli” reference their eponymous flowers. On the other hand, fine redolences like “Wedding in Oaxaca” or “Troubles with Tobacco” provide mere hints of their aromatic origins.

Ms. Tavakol’s motto reads “In Flowers We Trust” so she’s typically attuned to the environment. Her perfumes are both unisex and sourced from ethically sustainable materials. That’s probably what prompted her Valentine’s Day surprises: She lets nothing go to waste, not even the trials and errors of her art. I smiled at her handouts. Hopefully the “imperfections” helped a few people who were hurting that day. 


Photo by Rick Stachura. Uptown N/Q/R Platform, Union Square. February 14, 2020.



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