Thursday, 31 December 2015
This year I have found and worn some beautiful work. I had a very unsettling period in the summer when my sense of smell just collapsed; I found myself unable to properly distinguish between notes, accords and materials I normally navigated with ease. This was the result of a serious viral infection a few years ago that resulted in hospitalisation and now a ghostly set of symptoms rises and falls like a malevolent tide, periodically attacking my olfactory system. Even when I recover, I am plagued by doubts; am I truly smelling cashmeran or cistus or just my memory of them? It has made me painfully conscious of how I interact with aroma, much more so then before and I have been researching the science of scent psychology and the effect on mood, migraine, learning, autism, dementia and sexual awareness. I now go for days with no scent on at all, whereas before I would never have dreamed of doing that. My skin and senses need days of neutrality and blankness in order for me to process aroma.
I have written less than I would have liked I think, but what I have written is bold and heartfelt. Some of you have commented on the increased poeticism and eroticism in the writing. This is fine; I am always trying to do different things. I wrote five scent-related prose essays for Issue 4 of ODOU Magazine, the olfactory related publication designed and edited by the wonderful Liam Moore. I loved writing these, short obsessive pieces linking sex, death, desire and love to five particular fragrances including Bulgari Black, Vero Kern’s Onda, Iris Nazarena by Aedes de Venustas, Daphne by Comme des Garçons and Tabac Blond by Caron. I have more prose in Issue 5.. not saying too much except it will be haunted and obsessed with roses.
I have always taken my time with my reviews and thoughts, those of you that follow my work are aware of that. I need to, the pieces are long, detailed and take a lot of time to research, plan and assemble. I also take a lot of the images myself. If don’t take them, I edit them ruthlessly through a complex series of apps, filters, lenses, effects and frames to achieve the precise look I desire. Editing is exhausting. I always overwrite and prune back; it’s the way I’ve always written. It’s indulgent and time consuming I know, but it allows me to play around with large amounts of info and then begin to carefully whittle it down through numerous drafts. I have a few trusted readers, only one technical reader, perfumer and friend Mr E; he has read my work from the beginning and I rely on his expert aroma knowledge to help me when I stumble or need reassurance that my instincts are not crazy. I still don’t do negative reviews and yet I’m still criticised by other bloggers for this. I don’t care. Everyone is different, all our tastes unique. I like things, you all like things. That’s all it really amounts to. I am not a perfumer or any kind of expert; I write on what I like, why waste time on anything else?
Thursday, 24 December 2015
It has taken me a little while to get around to writing down my thoughts on Fundamental Eau de Parfum by Rubini Profumi. I was very kindly sent a sample by Andrea Bissoni Rubini when the scent initially launched at Pitti 2015 and it fascinated and charmed me then. It is very much an Italian affair, created by Andrea, in collaboration with Ermano Picco, blogger at La Gardenia nell'occhiello, perfumer Cristiano Canali and renowned designer Francesca Gotti who created the singular presentation for Nu_be, another innovative Italmian niche brand. The mix of personnel is quietly and distinctively a family of perfumed immensity and quite the platform for a debut scent.
|Andrea Bissoli Rubini|
I have become quite addicted to Fundamental’s unexpected and compelling grape note; it smells yeasty, fatty, smeared and indulgent. Shifting from sparkling party bubbles, the bread and melon hit of prosecco to a more disturbing lolling, after-hours addiction of vampiric carmine stain; there is unwashed skin, a whiff of fuck and silence, falling make-up, lipstick, cologne, tradition and innovation. All of these disparate elements swirl around that central personality of Soave grape. It is quite an experience.
|Fundamental by Rubini|
So much time is spent writing about lost scents and houses attempting to shore up their crumbling foundations. There are also many faux-vintage olfactory formulae out there, offering cracked windows into bygone eras with mixed results. Fundamental is a very different creature. Andrea comes from a line of established Veronese perfume sellers, so his blood is scented, but he was restless, aromatically fatigued if you like, looking for something amid the usual flacons that would inspire him. He set out to create his own scent, an odour that satisfy his vintage cravings but also represent something modern, constructed and singularly apart from anything he had experienced to date. Could he build a fragrance that might echo with history and geography and yet still resonate with a contemporary set of complex and fickle senses?
|Ermano Picco (l) & Cristiano Canali (r)|
The name Fundamental is key to this scented endeavour. Andrea’s grandfather started up a small perfumery business in Verona in Northern Italy in 1937 after returning from the Italo-Ethiopian war. The word translates variously as crucial, intrinsic, supporting, base or foundation. His grandfather’s name was Pietro, the Italian word for stone. His post war perfumery business was literally the cornerstone of the Rubini family. Fundamental is Andrea’s homage to his grandfather’s memory but also a way of saying.. ‘This is my foundation, I place this olfactory object in place and mark a new Rubini beginning..’
In order to achieve his dream, Andrea set about assembling a talented and relatively green squad of collaborators to help him realise his Fundamental project. La Gardenia nell’Occhiello is an Italian perfume blog hosted by Ermano Picco, a man who knows a lot about the history and traditions of perfumery. Andrea consulted with Ermano in order to create a detailed brief they might start with. Using this, they contacted Cristiano Canali, a young graduate from the ISIPCA in Paris who Andrea had previously met at Pitti when he was showcasing a selection of the Osmothèque’s classic canon of perfumery.
Tuesday, 15 December 2015
‘When one is in love, one always begins by deceiving one’s self and one always ends by deceiving others. That is what the world calls a romance.’
From The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Romanza, the latest fragrance from the talented and dashing Masque Milano boys Alessandro Brun and Riccardo Tedeschi is a glorious, swooning descent into exquisite malignancy.
Ovid’s Metamorphoses tells us the tale of a beautiful hunter called Narcissus, obsessively loved by the wood nymph Echo who followed the boy through the mountains. Realising he was being followed shouted…’who’s there?’..
‘Who’s there? shy Echo shouted back. When she revealed herself, she was spurned and devastated, fading away to just her voice… an echo. Nemesis, the goddess of revenge lured the arrogant youth to pool of still mirrored water where he fell in love with his own reflection. When he finally realised his aching love would not be reciprocated, he died and was transformed into the narcotic, waxen bloom that so many of us love.
|The doomed Narcissus..|
This myth of obsessive all consuming love is a powerful concept. It is a psychiatric disorder indicated by differing degrees of severity. True narcissists are terrifying, fabulously charming and intoxicating but brutally cold and capable of astonishing emotional cruelty. Still, somehow we find them magnificent, alluring and sexually compelling. Like blue glittering fire, we feel the need to stand close, despite the fact we may be consumed. They have hypnotic vortex.
Wednesday, 2 December 2015
For Jakub. Thank u. x.
I have said it before in previous blog pieces, but so much intriguing and personal niche olfaction has come out of Italy in recent years.
Nu_Be, Rubini, Bogue, Masque Fragranze, Laboratorio Olfattivo, Blood Concept and Gabriella Chieffo to name just a few. Small independent perfume brands seem to thrive, due partly I think to the long-standing Italian commitment to artisan skills and quality, already perceived perhaps in other areas such as glass, leather, lace, couture, shoemaking, saddlery, chocolate and epicurean goods. Italy has a passionate culture of slow shopping, an appreciation of smaller retailers supplying more specific goods rather than just concentrating purchases in one place. This has created in the Italian psyche a way of savouring quality, service and individuality along with the actual product being incrementally valued as it passes between client and artisan. There is immense obsessive pride in detail, provenance, materials and service.
While this all seems rather obvious, this deliberately appreciative approach to careful, selective buying is anything but that. Slow shopping is about the perception of what has gone into the assembly of what you are buying as you wander the boutiques and small stores as part of a daily or weekly routine. Part of the luxurious pleasure is buying from vendors who know their trade, be it bread, cheese, wine, cured meats, coffee, fish, skincare, honey and of course perfume. One of the unique aspects to artisanal scent is often the opportunity to see or hear the makers or artistic directors behind the scents wax lyrical about their inspirations. There tends to be a palpably intimate artistry by some of these makers that drives them into the tricky and judgemental arena of perfumery.