4 September 2015
  |   Until:  
31 Januar 2016

IA – Duft (“IA – Scent”)

Schwarzlose & the Berlin Perfume

The exhibition “IA – Scent” presents the luxurious side of the twenties on the third floor of the Ephraim-Palais within the framework of the special exhibition ”Dancing on the Volcano”. Here, you can experience the zeitgeist of the 1920s – not just with your eyes and ears, but with your nose as well! At the heart of the exhibition is “IA – 33”, the renowned perfume by Berlin-based company J. F. Schwarzlose.

Fragrant soaps, perfumes, powders and other cosmetic products have long represented the epitome of luxury. In the early 1920s, the demand for fine scents created an unexpected boom for perfumers and druggists. In 1920, there were more than 150 registered businesses making their money by producing or distributing perfumes in Berlin alone. The Schwarzlose company, founded in 1856, became one of the most successful perfumeries of its time with its extensive offering of beauty products featuring unique product designs.

Schwarzlose delivery truck | photo: J.F.S.

The name "IA – 33" (pronounced “one-ay thirty-three and therefore often incorrectly written "1a – 33") may sound strange to contemporary ears, but it refers – as was clear to consumers in the twenties – to Berlin’s former automobile number plates. As early as the era of Kaiser Wilhelm II, a system was introduced for designating private motor vehicles in the German Empire, in which the Roman numeral "I" stood for Prussia and the letter "A" for Berlin. At that time, the automobile was seen as the epitome of the fast-paced modern world, and the perfume “IA – 33” by Schwarzlose was marketed as a trendy product for the modern, motorised woman.

A sensual and glamorous journey back in time

The history of the Berlin perfumery J. F. Schwarzlose, which closed down in 1976 and was reopened in 2012, is typical of the booming perfume industry of this period and for this reason it has been given pride of place in this special exhibition. From 1922 onwards, the company was known as J. F. Schwarzlose Söhne GmbH. It survived the difficult period of economic crisis, but suffered as a result of oppression under the National Socialists, the war that they started and the subsequent division of Germany.

IA-33, ca. 1929, J. F. Schwarzlose Söhne © Stadtmuseum Berlin | photo: M. Fümel

The reconstruction of the legendary perfume collection “IA – 33” by J. F. Schwarzlose is just as sensational as the history of the company: within the context of our special exhibition, you can enjoy this historical perfume with all five of your senses. Let not just the scent, but also the elegant design of the bottle and beautiful Art Déco-style advertisements take you on a sensual and glamorous journey to the 1920s.

In addition to Schwarzlose, this exhibition also presents three other once-renowned Berlin perfumeries. Their cosmetic products and artfully designed bottles and packages are presented alongside examples of period advertisements, thus offering fascinating insights into this eventful period in the long history of perfume.