Timeless Scents
Glam 1930s dressing tables held French perfumes

Inside the sparkling new Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, we discovered a bit of kinkiness. In a small side room, patrons were pressing their faces to the walls and sighing dreamily.

No, it’s not a peep show...but it is part of the new “Timeless Scents: 1370 to 2013” exhibit just off the lobby.

For this panorama of perfume artistry and chemistry, fragrance expert and author Chandler Burr dreamed up a way to educate as well as titillate: While you read about favorite scents like Chanel No. 5 and Prada Amber, you can smell them through wall-mounted machines that emit puffs of lightly scented air.

We know: It sounds potentially obnoxious, but we promise the smells are not at all headache-inducing. And the coolest part (as always) is the learning. We gleaned handy cocktail party chatter--like the fact that amber was the first royal fragrance--and also got a broader sense of the history of perfume.

Men’s scents are included, too--and we confess to swooning a bit over Polo, our Proustian madeleine of teenage crushes.

The exhibit is a natural supplement to Parfumerie, the Wallis’s on-stage comedy, which takes place in a 1930s fragrance boutique. Both the exhibit and the show run until December 22.

Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, 9390 N. Santa Monical Blvd., Beverly Hills; 310-746-4000 or thewallis.org

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