NFTs are infiltrating the beauty industry with their potential for audience-building, gaming platform use, and sustainability as well as product authentication. With NFT transactions constituting a $250 million market, brands such as Jeffree Star Cosmetics are already trying their hand at the medium, launching an NFT line in collaboration with artist Marcelo Cantu.
The world of fragrance has remained largely quiet on the subject, save for Look Labs’ Cyber EDP and corresponding NFTs launch. In a merging of the abstract digital and tangible physical realms, London-based independent fragrance house Rook Perfumes, founded by emergency doctor-turned-perfumer Nadeem Crowe, teamed up with NFT production agency Lily & Piper on Scent the Metaverse, a collaborative fragrance to be created in conjunction with the crypto community over the course of four months. The unisex fragrance is being launched as a limited-edition NFT experience on digital art marketplace KnownOrigin.
Upon purchasing (1 out of 100) NFT tickets for 0.3 ETH, buyers are given an exclusive code which grants access to a unique DAO (decentralized autonomous organization), a communication channel between them, Crowe, and Rook’s in-house designer to discuss ideas around the aromatic profile of the metaverse, with potential to extend the discussion to other online communication channels such as Clubhouse or Twitter. Crowe will then incorporate the inspirations from that discussion into a fragrance, the physical release of which NFT buyers will have first access to (as well as receiving a digitized version of the artwork on the bottle). They are given creator rights to the final product, and royalties out of any potential ensuing business partnerships around the product in the future.
The brand has a history of community collaboration, such as their sold-out fragrance Flaming Dandelion, modelled after a Rankin photograph of a dandelion on fire and crafted with scent notes suggested by the fragrance community. “It was amazing to see how people wanted to discuss the notion of transforming what they were seeing into what they would smell,” Crowe tells BeautyMatter. With this project, he hopes to harness the intrinsically collaborative nature of digital media.
“People love learning about the ingredients that go into fragrance and how I work. What the NFT has added to the process is a new medium for inspiration, a new world for me to work from, a new audience, and also the sense of ownership,” Crowe states. “It’s taking a creative process that I love working in, but combining it with this notion of allowing the hive mind to own a part of what they’ve created and make a decision as to what happens with it.”
Despite the synergistic ethos of the project, Crowe emphasizes the importance of a directorial eye. “I will only create something that I stand by. Within the DAO you have voting processes, providing imagery to help direct the conversation, keeping it broad enough to be bespoke, but giving it some kind of direction so it doesn’t become completely out of control,” he explains. While traditionalists may claim that the physical sensation of scent cannot translate into the digital realm, Scent the Metaverse provides a compelling bridge between both worlds, daring to explore the untapped potential of a medium in its developing stages.
“There is a new culture being built around NFTs,” Crowe adds. “If you’re going to make this appealing to the non-NFT experts, there needs to be something physical at the end. I like the idea of making it more practical: having group owned, and funded, beauty. Having a start-up company that launches a brand that is funded by this autonomous organization that creates digital art that has value, but also funds the creation of something real. I see what we’re doing as a new way of crowdfunding.”
Crowe is open to extending the project to a range of Metaverse drops, a parallel branch to Rook Perfumes, in the future. He acknowledges the powerful marketing potential, but also high risk factor, of this digital medium, with consumer concerns around the sustainability impact or non-tangible reality of digital fragrance. “Suddenly you have exposed the world of fragrance to a whole new cohort, but it’s scary as well,” he explains. “The fortunate thing is, what’s the worst that could happen? If it doesn’t produce anything, no harm has been done. We’re trying to do something innovative, collaborative, and truly artistic.That’s why I feel like I can really stand by it.”