Under Your Smell exhibition image
Under Your Smell exhibition image

Under Your Smell exhibition

Immersive Photography Exhibition & Opening Party Report with Interviews

Under Your Smell, an immersive photographic exhibition created in collaboration with ECAL and Jean Paul Gaultier, was held for the first time in Asia at Parco Shibuya from May 30 to June 9, 2024, after having traveled to Paris, Miami, and Lausanne. Check out Parco’s report on this immersive photography exhibition and interviews below.

Under Your Smell exhibition image

The immersive photo exhibition "Under Your Smell," which took place at GALLERY X BY PARCO in Shibuya from May 30 to June 9, 2024, showcased a unique collaboration between the University of Art and Design Lausanne (ECAL), a prestigious art university in Lausanne, and renowned designer Jean Paul Gaultier. Led by Florence Tétier, Creative Director of Jean Paul Gaultier, and Nicolas Coulomb, photographer and consultant for Novembre Magazine, with the artistic direction of Milo Keller and Calypso Mahieu from ECAL, students of Bachelor Photography ECAL came up with fresh and innovative reinterpretations of Jean Paul Gaultier's perfume collection. Through their artworks, the students explored gender diversity, new definitions of beauty, and body expression. 

Having previously been exhibited at prestigious locations such as Gaultier Headquarters in Paris, Art Basel Miami Beach, and the Photo Elysée Museum in Switzerland, the exhibition made its way to Shibuya PARCO in Tokyo.  

Discover in this article reports on the exhibition itself, the talk session held during the opening party, as well as interviews with Calypso Mahieu and Jonas Pulver, Head of the Communications & Culture section at the Embassy of Switzerland in Japan.  


A major highlight of the exhibition was its immersive experience, inviting visitors to dive into the world of the works while surrounded by photographs printed on fabric and hung throughout the gallery. The printed fabric also served as cushions, allowing visitors to sit and immerse themselves in the surrounding artworks while sampling the scents of Gaultier's perfumes. Visitors were encouraged to engage with the artwork in multiple ways, offering a visual, tactile, and sensory experience.  

One of the standout features of the Tokyo exhibition was the inclusion of photographs inspired by Japanese culture, such as the iconic image of the Minami Nanami figure as a model. This integration of local influences added a layer of depth and connection to the works, resonating with the audience in a meaningful way. 

Under Your Smell exhibition image
The students were very inspired by Japanese culture. I thought it made sense to include this work in their exhibition at Gallery X.
Calypso Mahieu

The artworks showcased a wide range of themes, from capturing the essence of perfume bottles to conveying the juiciness of fruits and the intimacy of youth relationships. The exhibition successfully blended beautiful colors, light, and physicality, showcasing the young creators' diverse methods and ideas in interpreting the challenging theme of perfume. 

On May 29th, a vibrant opening party was held at ComMunE, where 250 guests gathered to celebrate the exhibition. The evening began with a toast by Gregor Muischneek, Head of the Finance and Economic Section of the Embassy of Switzerland, followed by a talk event featuring photographer Calypso Mahieu, fashion designer Tomo Koizumi, and moderator Yuri Abo, and ended with energizing music from DJ Hana. 

The talk session featuring TOMO KOIZUMI × Calypso Mahieu from ECAL, moderated by Yuri Abo, provided insights into the creative process behind the exhibition. As Koizumi noted, the focus was on creating an immersive environment that engaged all five senses, allowing visitors to fully experience the art in a new light. The collaborative effort between ECAL and Jean Paul Gaultier resulted in a dynamic showcase that bridged the gap between traditional photography and modern sensibilities. 

Overall, "Under Your Smell" at Parco Shibuya was a stimulating and pleasant exhibition that showcased the innovative spirit of both ECAL students and Jean Paul Gaultier. Through their unique perspectives and creative approaches, the project succeeded in exploring the complex world of fragrance and visual storytelling, leaving a lasting impression on all who experienced it. 

Interview with Calypso Mahieu

Under Your Smell exhibition image

Calypso Mahieu teaches basic photography at the École cantonale d'art de Lausanne (ECAL) and is the coordinator of "Under Your Smell." The project is a collaboration with the international brand JEAN PAUL GAULTIER. How did they guide the students to make this project a success? We interviewed her at GALLERY X BY PARCO.

How did you feel when you saw the exhibition in Tokyo? Let us know what you think.
Calypso Mahieu
“Under Your Smell" was very challenging. The project began with a concept set up by Florence Tétier (Gaultier's Creative Director), Nicolas Coulomb of "Novambre Magazine," and Milo Keller, Head of Bachelor Photography. When we first held the exhibition in Paris, we thought of a structure that would fit the space at Jean Paul Gaultier's headquarters. The space was very large, so we decided to print the photographs on huge pieces of cloth and exhibit them. Therefore, we, as a team tried to figure out how to express this exhibition in the limited space of "GALLERY X BY PARCO" in Tokyo, but because of its size, we decided to fill it with works of art. For example, we added a work that covered the walls with printed cloth like wallpaper, and we are glad that we were able to create a space in which visitors would encounter new works no matter where they turned in this exhibition.
Compared to the exhibitions in Paris, Basel, and the Photo Élysée Museum, are there any differences between the exhibitions in Tokyo and others? Shibuya PARCO has been a center of culture, fashion, and art in Japan for the past 50 years. What do you think is the significance of holding this exhibition in such a space in a commercial facility?
Calypso Mahieu
Of course, galleries in department stores are rare, but Shibuya PARCO is known as a cultural center where various fashion brands gather, so I felt it is natural to hold this exhibition in this space.
The students attempted to visually represent "perfume," an area of fragrance that cannot be captured by the sense of sight. What advice was given to the students?
Calypso Mahieu
Indeed, the scent of a perfume is invisible. Under the direction of Florence Tétier and Nicolas Coulomb, our students first focused on the Gaultier brand, trying to capture the image and atmosphere of the brand. We also thought about the materials and colors of the perfume and explored together what it would be like to experience them using our five senses. We were also inspired by the provocative concept of the Gaultier brand.
How long did it actually take and what kind of process did you use to create this collaboration? Is there any explanation from Gaultier's side?
Calypso Mahieu
First, we explained to the students that such a project was going to be started, and then asked them to do their own research and create a mood board.  There was no particular explanation from the brand side. Students gave presentations on a mood board about how they feel about perfume and what kind of image they want to create, and consulted with the teacher several times. A mood board is not an abstract content that conveys the atmosphere, but a concrete detail. They wrote down the image in as much detail as possible, such as what kind of model will be used, makeup, styling, and colors to be used. After that, the bottle of perfume actually arrives, and there is a one-week shooting period. We call it Workshop Week, and it's a very grueling week where we are constantly shooting. It took about two months from the beginning of the project to the end of filming.
This exhibition is described as "an anthem to a new definition of gender diversity and beauty." How did you come up with this theme? Gaultier's perfume bottle itself is designed with the motif of a typical idealized male and female body, with a somewhat conservative sense of gender. However, the students' photographic work has a very queer atmosphere. What gender and beauty awareness do you think your students have?
Calypso Mahieu
I'm 30 years old this year, and although there is a 10-year age difference between me and the students, I don't usually feel that much of a generation gap. However, through this project, I realized that the sense of gender is different from that of the student generation. If I were to create a work for this project, it might have been a little more conservative in terms of gender expression.
So, when I saw the atmosphere of the work submitted by the students, I was very surprised at first. The younger generation naturally breaks through various stereotypes, and I think it's very nice to see them. Nowadays, various ways of being are visualized in terms of gender and sexuality, such as bisexuality, asexuality, and polyamory, and everyone has different ideas about love and work, and they are free to choose as they like. That's great.In addition, the fashion industry is quite aware of the importance of respecting this diversity, such as the fact that there are many different body types, genders, and sexualities. Recently, I feel that this is gradually spreading to other industries. I used to work with a luxury watch brand, and the model was always a white man, wearing a very large watch, and they wanted to take a picture of him posing in a dignified pose. But in the future, we may be able to express works in a more queer and freer atmosphere in these areas. I think our customers want that too. No one wants to see the same ad all the time. When it comes to advertising, I think the most important thing is to surprise people.
Being able to collaborate with world-class brands while they are in university is a very fortunate environment for students. Is collaboration with these companies regularly part of the curriculum at universities, not just Gaultier?
Calyspo Mahieu
We collaborate with Gaultier every year. Apart from that, there is one collaboration project every year. There are a variety of brands that collaborate with us. When I was a student, I did it with BMW. In addition, there are various French brands, shoe brands, etc.
For students, this is an initiative with educational value that will lead to a job after graduation. What do you think is required of educational institutions in the future to nurture young creators?
Calypso Mahieu
We want to prepare them through education so that they can play an active role in society after graduating from our school. After students enter the workforce, they will work with various companies and brands. When they work with a marketing team, their goal is to sell products, so they need to be creative to meet those expectations. To address this, I tell my students that creativity is the most important in any situation, and that creativity should not be stifled in any situation. The other is rights. For example, if they work as an artist, will they be paid properly, and what will happen to the copyright to their work? In school, we teach specific practices on how to protect oneself as an artist in society. This is the most important thing.
This is very important for building a career after graduation. Thank you very much.

Calypso Mahieu | photographer

French photographer based in Switzerland. She is the Artistic Deputy at ECAL (University of Art and Design Lausanne), where she teaches the fundamentals of applied photography in the Bachelor's degree in Photography. Born and raised in Paris and the South of France, she moved to Lausanne, Switzerland in 2012 to study at ECAL. During her studies, she was mentored by Paolo Roversi, Jürgen Teller and Walter Pfeiffer.

In addition to teaching, she is active internationally by producing fashion editorials and campaigns for magazines and brands. The work deals with the relationship between the body, social networks, and posthumans. The photographs are very colourful and inspired by the 80s and beyond, with a techno-pop aesthetic borrowed from surrealism and with a touch of humor. Through commissions and personal projects, Calypso Mahieu prefers to tell stories and anecdotes inspired by everyday life and the society that surrounds

Interview with Jonas Pulver

Jonas Pulver oversees communication, public diplomacy, and cultural affairs at the Swiss Embassy in Tokyo. In his interview, we delve into the reasons behind selecting Shibuya PARCO as the exhibition venue this time.

What did you think of this exhibition?
Jonas Pulver
I am personally happy and proud to have contributed to the visualization of gender diversity and queer culture through this project. I also hope that my friends in Japan will enjoy the amazing talent of the entire ECAL team.
As an embassy, what do you expect from this initiative?
Jonas Pulver
The year 2024 marks the 160th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Switzerland and Japan, making it an ideal year to start cooperation. The friendship between the two countries, which began with Swiss watchmakers and watchmakers seeking to open up new markets, is rooted in business and pioneering spirit.Today, we're shaping the future together by tackling issues such as sustainability, health, and diversity. Our Public Diplomacy program, "Vitality.Swiss", offers many opportunities to think together and imagine potential solutions to the challenges of our time. Under Your Smell is the highlight of the Vitality.Swiss program in 2024.
Why did you propose Shibuya PARCO to ECAL?
Jonas Pulver
PARCO is a legendary cultural operator in Shibuya, Tokyo and Japan. Since the 1960s, it has helped millions of young people in Japan shape their identities. Shibuya PARCO, which has always been at the forefront of social progress through fashion, art, and culture, thought that it would be the perfect partner to hold this "Under Your Smell" exhibition. This is the first time that the Embassy of Switzerland in Tokyo has collaborated with PARCO, and we are very proud to have the opportunity to work with such a well-known and highly relevant cultural institution.

Is there a role you would like PARCO to play in international cultural exchange?

Jonas Pulver
PARCO is a great platform for cultural exchange and we look forward to continuing the dialogue on topics such as creativity, diversity, cultural innovation and social change. Japan and Switzerland have some similarities in the sense that their societies seem a bit conservative, but there is a lot of innovation and creativity happening in the fields of design, architecture and photography, for example. We look forward to further leaps forward as a place of innovation and creation for the future!