Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group is constantly testing innovations that light up the senses of audiences. Unlike sight and sound, activating smell and taste in a live experience is trickier, and still a relatively unexplored frontier. So, naturally, we turned this challenge into an opportunity.
While looking for ways we could tap into these senses to connect with our audiences, the idea of focusing on their impact pre-show became really appealing. Pre-shows offer up a key moment for a special proximity with the audience. The burning question we wanted the answer to was this: How could we enhance pre-shows by using a personalized sensory experience?
“I think this product is really fun because it combines food with arts and performance in a way.”Anouk Wipprecht, FashionTech Designer
The Fragrance and Elixir Experience
Think of Fragrance and Elixir as robotic-like articles of clothing (a dress or a suit) that deliver a customized sensory experience in, wait for it… a cocktail or fragrance! Here’s how it works: You come across a model wearing Elixir and respond to a few Qualtrics survey questions (developed in tandem with SAP) on a touch screen. Then, according to your answers, the Elixir costume mixes eight flavors through visible tubes in different ratios. Your personalized cocktail (with or without alcohol) is ready. Enjoy! Fragrance uses a similar technology, replacing the cocktail for a perfume.
We officially presented Fragrance and Elixir for their first test run at a cocktail event at this year’s New York Fashion Week (NYFW) .
The Creation Process – Innovative, Delicious, and Great Smelling
We were thrilled to welcome FashionTech designer Anouk Wipprecht to our creative residency program. She works at the crossroads of engineering, science and interactive experiences, finding new ways to weave them into her creations. During the Fragrance and Elixir ideation process, Anouk took a deep dive into human anatomy. Everything from the shape of bones to the way muscles contract guided her designs.
The challenge was finding an esthetic way to incorporate the cocktail or perfume mechanism. It had to be transparent to emphasize the personalized aspect of the experience, letting users see the conception of their very own cocktail or perfume in real time. The robotic look was landed upon. This allowed the focus to be on the pleasing visuals of colored flavors and fragrances swirling together in an elegant, practical (and somewhat hypnotizing) way.
To ensure the quality of the products served, we worked with Fanny Gauthier and Laurent LeGuernec, respectively an expert mixologist and perfumer. We then developed a perfume and cocktail delivery mechanism with peristaltic pumps capable of mixing eight flavors or fragrances, and digitally linked to the SAP Qualtrics survey. Thanks to Cirque du Soleil’s Atelier numérique, we could model and 3D print the pieces for the Fragrance and Elixir costumes in-house.
Fragrance and Elixir hit NYFW
It was important for us to debut the creations at an innovative event, one tailored just right for this type of project. For us, Fragrance and Elixir are wearable proof that we can constantly reinvent the functionality of costumes. We like to think there are no limits. Even when it seems impossible, there’s always a way, and that there are new frontiers just waiting to be conquered. New York Fashion Week adopts the same mindset, so the collaboration was a natural fit.
This being our first real world experimentation with the costumes, it was a critical step in the process. Not only did it end up being the perfect opportunity to test drive the technology and discover potential tweaks to be made, we also got into some serious brainstorm sessions with some of the planet’s most amazing creators on ways the concept could evolve.
“Fashion meets performance.”Anouk Wipprecht, FashionTech Designer
So, what’s next for these wearable wonders? We’re working on a 2.0 version to go even further with this concept.
Video/photo credits: Jeff Cacossa, Alex James, Anouk Wipprecht & SAP