Beauty and fragrance brands are beginning to explore what a multisensory metaverse could smell like—pushing the bounds of beauty in the process.

An illustration of a hand holding a bottle of perfume against a purple background
Gucci Flora

Gucci launched a virtual perfume on Roblox in August. Called Gucci Flora, the virtual fragrance has no smell; rather, it includes a range of experiences, including challenges, games and interactive learning experiences, as well as a digital backpack inspired by the perfume bottle that Roblox users can wear.

Byredo and RTFKT took a different approach to their virtual fragrance. Announced in June, the Alphameta fragrance interprets scent as a wearable aura. Each of the 26 auras represents a different emotion, like “acuity” or “naivety.” Users are encouraged to alchemize their own personalized auras by combining multiple emotions. Alphameta scents are available as limited collectible “elements” for what RTFKT calls its “avatar ecosystem.”

Archway with the sun shining through, behind a pool reflecting the light

Altra, a self-titled “profuture” perfumery, is also linking scent with emotion in virtual environments. The brand launched virtual scentscapes in February. “I’m fascinated by how something as sensorial as scent can cross over into the virtual world. We wanted to find a way to translate our scent into a digital space for launch and worked closely with an incredible artist, George Jasper Stone, to create these immersive digital scent moods offering a new way to imagine the experience of scent and evoke emotions for the viewer in an increasingly digital landscape,” Altra cofounder Beckielou Brown told Harper’s Bazaar.

To date, digital environments have been very visually driven. These early metaverse plays show how the future of digital engagement is shaping up to be truly immersive—enlisting senses beyond vision.

The Intelligence Take

Looking deeper, these experiments question the cultural lexicon of beauty. The era of Instagram has driven a heavy focus on visual beauty, leading to a rise in plastic surgery and what the New Yorker dubbed the “age of the Instagram face.” By asking, “how can scent be communicated in a virtual and primarily visual medium?,” brands are starting to rethink traditional beauty cues—divorcing the metaversal concept of beauty from physical elements.

“Imagine a world where we are not restricted by our anatomical make-up,” Lauren Bowker, alchemist and founder of The Unseen Beauty, told Dazed Beauty. “What would beauty even mean in that world? If it can be anything in the world, what would you look for?”

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