Germaine Cellier

The most famous female perfumer [before Annick Goutal] was named Germaine Cellier (a pioneer, like Annick, but Germaine liked bold challenging difficult accords in her perfumes whereas Annick developed mainly romantic florals) – SMW.

Listings connecting to the social link “Germaine Cellier” (1)

Image of Studio object

  • Catalog No.
  • 00625-2013-DoP-MonumentToDepression-02
  • Title
  • Monument to Depression (performance)
  • Dimensions
  • N/A
  • Materials
  • Living body and perfume bottles
  • Object Location
  • Digital

  • Technical Notes

Location: Formerly known as Witte de With, Rotterdam in the exhibit of AA Bronson ‘The Temptation of AA Bronson’ // performance, specifically, entitled ‘It’s Still Materialistic, Even If It’s Liquid (From Me To You)’. Duration of performance: 3 hours. Link:

  • Reflection Notes

“How did it your Monument to Depression piece start, and what was the first perfume?” – AC. “The work started out as therapy and I did not know I was making a work. I had been hospitalized for 6 months in 2003 for manic depression, that’s when I got my formal diagnosis. During the hospitalization period, a good friend sent me a perfume smelling strip/little paper she had tried at a department store (Galeries Lafayette) in Berlin. It was from a company/brand/perfumer called Annick Goutal, French, who worked together with a mentor called Henri Sorsana. Annick was originally a model and classically trained concert pianist, and through coincidences in her life discovered perfumery. Before her the most famous female perfumer was named Germaine Cellier (a pioneer, like Annick, but Germaine liked bold challenging difficult accords in her perfumes whereas Annick developed mainly romantic florals). The perfume smelling strip that my friend sent me was thus by Annick Goutal and it is called ‘Eau de Charlotte’ made for Annick’s daughter in I think 1981. I see it was composed or the formula is from 1982. The smelling strip was devoid of smell, the perfume had evaporated. So I went out to look for a tester bottle to smell, there used to be an Annick Goutal boutique in Rotterdam run by Lianne Tio. I think Robin and I went there to test things. My perfume love goes back to 1987 I think when I was 13, when the first ‘Benetton’ perfume for women came out, it was called ‘Colors’. I smelled it in a Benetton boutique in Lawrence, Kansas near where I come from in Topeka, Kansas, USA. I thought Benetton was so glamorous and international. It turns out that their first feminine perfume (although perfume has no gender it’s all marketing) was very special and mixed basil with pineapple and a host of other things. Delicious. But I was not allowed to buy the perfume or use it by my parents decree because it was marketed to women. Gender roles were pretty strict in those days where I come from, and in the Jewish community where I was raised. It was only about 6 years ago that I finally got around to buying a bottle of the Benetton perfume on eBay, a vintage bottle. It was very cheap, it’s legendary but weird (like me, haha). I answer this question differently every time. Because after the Benetton my first feminine perfume I discovered and used in about 1994, the original ‘Angel’ eau de parfum from Thierry Mugler. I was and am a huge Mugler fashion fan and that’s why I was wearing Angel, this was when I first came to Europe and moved away from my family. During my teens I had used ‘Aztek’ from Yves Rocher and ‘Smalto’ by Francesco Smalto and ‘Xeryus’ from Givenchy. All marketed to men. I think the first Paul Sebastian was also one of my perfumes, more citrus/floral. After Angel from Thierry Mugler I used ‘O de Lancome’ eau de toilette and ‘Eau Dynamisante’ from Clarins, this would have been around 1995. I left a big bottle of Angel next to the heating/radiator in 1994 and boiled the whole bottle to beyond repair… Around 1999 I started using the original ‘La Prairie’ which was composed in 1993 (or the composition comes from that year). I wore this exclusively for several years, the eau de parfum, as I was obsessed with skincare and specifically La Prairie. I wish I had begun collecting much earlier but I did not realize how fascinating the people are behind perfumes, how creative, how philosophical, and often how kind. Around the time of 2002 in Berlin I came across this perfume, also at Galeries Lafayette that I mention above. A saleswoman came and gave me some to smell and I had never smelled anything like it: Gorgeous. I now have the eau de parfum and the eau de toilette. When I first started collecting seriously I started getting interested in very vintage/older perfumes, and the first I remember asking my mother to buy for me (after I came out as queer my mother became very supportive of my ‘feminine side’ as well as what she knew to be the ‘masculine’ one) is called ‘White Shoulders’ from Evyan. The formula comes from the 1940s, here is what my bottle looks like: There was a company in the USA called Long Lost Perfumes/Irma Shorell who relaunced classic perfumes like ‘Crepe de Chine’ from Millot, ‘Casaque’, ‘Ecusson’, ‘Replique’, ‘Bakir’, and the original ‘Uninhibited’ Cher’s perfume from the late 80s. They also had an ‘Apple Blossom’ perfume which I was especially interested in but never bought when it was available. I could probably find it on eBay though: So I guess officially my first little bottle would have been ‘White Shoulders’ by Evyan, a white floral, my favorite fragrance group. I have been interviewed by a now famous perfumer in Zürich called Andy Tauer (Tauer Perfumes) and I might have told him another story. The thing is that collecting started very organically and then there was this curator Annette Schemmel from Germany who had done De Appel’s training program for curators. She was from Munich specifically where I had done some work, so I was wearing a Munich Tshirt once at an event at De Appel and she came over to introduce herself. It was her that listened to me talk about my collection and she helped me see that I had been making a sort of Fluxus sculpture, a counterpart to what my husband Robin and I call our ‘Feminist Art Collection’ which has works by Carolee Schneemann, Hannah Wilke, Adrian Piper, Howardena Pindell, Harmony Hammond and Senga Nengudi. Also Annie Sprinkle, Kirsten Justesen, Lydia Schouten. Annette Schemmel was putting together a show in northern France at the Frac Nord-Pas de Calais in Dunkerque and she invited me to show the collection as a work and my/our Feminist Art Collection as a work. The title came quite easily of the ‘Monument to Depression’ as my renewed awakening to the powers of fragrance in the early 2000s was was brought me out of the deepest depression I have ever been in and perfume continues to do that today. Here is the interview with Andy Tauer: When I showed the work in France the bottles, about 170 of them, were just loosely standing and set out on a huge plinth [Amalia I will send you these images they are gorgeous] and at the opening of the exhibit which was called ‘Decollecting’ I performed in my first wig ‘Lemon Pie’ with a black Speedo swimsuit (I was not allowed to be naked) and plastic gel slippers with silver glitter in them and green nylon sparkly butterflies in my hair, hairpins. I just interacted with the audience via Annette, who spoke fluent French, most of the people at the opening did not speak English and my French is minimal. This show in France was around 2008 and I had been collecting seriously for about four years by then. Studying perfume history etc. It’s all like reference and the little bottles are all like animated personalities for me… So again it was this process of therapy that started it all, and as with one of my first seminal works, ‘I’m Proud Of Myself!’ from 1996 (where I tried to become a model and then used the look book images for a work)… I just start living life and then realize that I am making work. So it’s never clear if work comes first or life. They co-exist and influence each other in a processual way.” – SMW.