I am quicksilver, the fox in the night, emotional about the poetry, love & desire in scent, read me.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

The Sanctuary of Cesious Dust: ‘Nettuno’ by Mendittorosa Odori d’Anima

‘..Long afloat on shipless oceans
I did all my best to smile
'Til your singing eyes and fingers
Drew me loving to your isle
And you sang
Sail to me, Sail to me
Let me enfold you
Here I am, Here I am
Waiting to hold you..’

From Song to the Siren (Music:Tim Buckley Words: Larry Beckett, Tim Buckley)

I have been coating and comforting myself in layers of blue refractive Nettuno most evenings these last few weeks before falling exhausted and troubled into bed filling the inert, unyielding mugginess of June nights with this most enigmatic and compelling of scents from the mind of quixotic olfactive siren Stefania Squeglia of Mendittorosa Odori d’Anima. Nettuno is the third of her charged and charismatic Talismans after the architectural patchouli rose curves of Le Mat and the sea urchin, booze and leather dream of Sogno Reale.

Le Mat, pulled from the earth, trailing dirt and life, Sogno Reale, a glittering oceanic oddity and now Nettuno an astral, alien thing, cosmic and weird, a glassy rose, rotating slowly in a cyan void. All three Talismans are the work of Amélie Bourgeois at Flair in Paris. Amélie and Anne-Sophie Behaghel created the entire Mendittorosa line including North, South, Id, Alfa and Omega. I reviewed Sogno Reale in December 2015; it was a scent that I’d craved reviewing and then it just surpassed my expectations:

Mendittorosa Odori d'Anima
Sogno Reale

‘It smells mysterious and unexpected. Reading any of the descriptions does not really prepare you for the curiosity of its gauzy ozonic games. It is a bizarre mix of Italian sea-food platter, awash with salt and iodine, shells, claws, rock and sand mingled with a fantasy of mer-people crowned in diadems of polished urchin shells in dazzling aqua shades.’ The Silver Fox. Dec 2015

Stefania is one of the most intriguing people in contemporary perfumery in this humble fox’s opinion, indulging openly in her passions for astrology, olfactive runes, fate and spirituality and pouring these desires into her collaborative odiferous work with Flair, glass makers, jewellers, poets, dancers, designers and a coterie of likeminded friends.
She is a woman of huge heart and creative voltage. So many niche brands talk of soul and aromatic perception and make it sound excruciatingly twee and self-serving. Stefania’s Mendittorosa is different; there is honesty amid the occasional arch phrase and broken English, a genuine sense of yearning connection directly from Stefania to us, our skin and our emotions.

Stefania Squeglia

It was no real surprise that her preoccupation with cosmic voodoo, astrology and the complex symbolism of our planets would of course inevitably lead Stefania to a perfume inspired by one of the celestial bodies. So now we have the magnificence of Nettuno, inspired partly by The Flight of Neptune by Italian writer and astrologer Marco Pesatori and by the cryptic distant blue-cloaked planet itself, an ice giant discovered in September 1846 by Urbain le Verrier and Johann Galle.

Galaxy themed chocolates
©Megan Voight

Neptune fascinates me.. (I am a secret planet geek…) so far away, the eighth planet from the sun and the only one to be have been discovered using mathematical prediction; the orbit of nearby Uranus was being affected by unusual gravitational anomalies which could only have been the result of another planet. The planet is seventeen times the mass of the earth and orbits the sun only once every 164.8 years. The glorious, glassy aqua colour is due to bands of methane gas in the planet’s 80% hydrogen/19% helium mix atmosphere absorbing of infrared light. Before it was officially named after the Roman god of the sea, another suggested name was Oceanus, appropriate considering the planet’s cyanotic atmosphere. Neptune has a myriad of moons, fourteen in all, including Triton, Meirad, Proteus and Thalassa; there is also a ring system, similar to that of Saturn’s although not quite as refined or settled.

Hand-blown glass vase
by Phillipa Headley
Image © TSF

In Stefania’s beloved astrology the planet is difficult to pin down, representing duality, sensitivity, idealism and compassion on one hand; illusion, confusion and deception on the other. So, ambiguity, contradiction and illusion can rule a compassionate, sensitive heart. How divine. The planet also watches over prisons, hospitals, mental institutions and monasteries, spaces where individuals are separated from society either with or without their permission. These are all rather strange facts associated with this colossal cobalt body turning invisibly millions of lights years away.

Mendittorosa Odori d'Anima: Nettuno
Image © TSF

Much closer to hand we can extravagantly indulge in the reflective dust of Nettuno, essentially a rose-themed composition but one exploded with mirrored gazing and a sweet/sour leather romance blurred with iris and carrot seed that serves to remind us that in time roses bruise, fade and fall. The cold heights of pink pepper seem initially ill-judged yet of course they are not; Amélie Bourgeois is too cunning a perfumer for this. Instead this sparkling shot of spice deliberately over-illuminates the top allowing other elements to shift into place and settle, ready to seduce, develop and radiate as Nettuno quietly expands into a sanctuary of such particles that it’s hard to pull away from.  

Stefania at Esxence, Milan 2016 

Nettuno is an elaborate construct of nebulous comfort and some small disquieting mood. The notes support an atmosphere of aromatic suspension; the materials arranged in such a careful, slow release way, beautifully blended with both mournful and cocooning intent. This Mendittorosa rose, like Stefania herself, strong, unique, so strange and indefinable, passionate and enigmatic, moving through stardust, galactic debris and frozen time. Nettuno is Stefania’s deeply personal voyage of powdered blooming expansion, compassion, fate and illusion. Despite delirious flight of extravagant fancy, in the end we cannot escape ourselves. This is why we often have such tempestuous relationships with mirrors; they demonstrate our ability to face ourselves unflinchingly or avoid and distort our inner selves. I dislike them intensely, I have always believed them to lie, years of over scrutiny lead to unhealthy and surreal versions of self. It is quite a disconcerting thing to be faced with the hugely mirrored cap of Nettuno each time I go to pick up the bottle; an unnerving experience, always catching sight of some part of myself, slight distorted by the mosaic style cut of the glass. 

From 'Circle Series' BY Flossy McAslan
Taken By TSF at the
ECA Degree Show June 2016
Image © TSF

So, after weeks afloat on this shipless ocean of Nettuno’s strangeness I am deeply fallen for the milky suede counterweight to the alien rose complex that Amélie has somehow managed to place so resolutely and magnificently in Stefania’s imagined universe of powder, splinter, distortion and wonder.

The crème of the nutmeg (translating more as mace..) and roseate zing of the ginger add a careful tingle of spice over the billowing dust of iris and wonderfully handled carrot seed in a deceptively casual yet elaborate vintage-form base. A rum effect is a witty addition, not boozy per se, but gracious and tawny, just enough suggestion of gourmand intent poured over the powerful lacteous musks in the that wonderful base that rise and fall on the skin like stardust.

I’ve been pondering the thing that pulls me back time and time again into the orbit of Nettuno and realised as with most of Stefania’s Mendittorosa fragrances but especially in the Talismans, there is a key motif, an almost medicinal, arctic swabbiness underlying the compositions.
It translates as a thread of transparent acerbity that flows in and out of the spaces between notes with delicate hospital floralism. Nettuno opens in that bold and slippery key of aqueous cyclamen that Amélie Bourgeois floats on the upper atmosphere of the scent; the bloom feels vaporous and elusive falling downward through that opaline rose accord and drowns in musks, dust and hide. It is a bittersuede trail of aromatics that manages somehow to mingle the astringency of antiseptic vapours with radiant metallics, foliage and boreal stone.

Blue Ginger
(Dichorisandra thyrsiflora)

Amélie Bourgeois has used Blue Ginger (Dichorisandra thyrsiflora), a tropical plant resembling a ginger, but actually related to spiderworts with striking almost neon blue blooms. It is a rare fragrance note, probably due to its cost; but it’s not unheard of, Mona di Orio used it beautifully in her masterly Vetyver (2011) and traces of it filter through the smoke and ganja effects in Neela Vermeire’s dizzying Trayee (2011). I think in combination with the rub of creamy nutmeg in Nettuno there is an oddly narcotic companionship in that lovely heart period It’s good to see materials used with careful impact and not just for rarity’s sake or show.  

There is restlessness in Nettuno, something else I admire in its design; I like to think this comes from the organic way in which Stefania works, collaborating with others, using sensory, artistic and olfactory muses. There is a gathering of Mendittorosa talent including Luisa Deglia Specchi a mosaic artist who worked on the beautiful glass decorations on the Nettuno flacons, Alessandro Reggioli who created the wooden packaging, inspired by art transportation crates, of course Amélie Bourgeois of Flair, the innovative and flexible young French parfumeuse who has been responsible for interpreting Stefania’s world into olfaction. These people tune in and out of Stefania’s world like vital vibrant code.

Jakub Piotrowiscz of Persefume
Photo - Bukowska Photography)
(filters added by TSF)

There are two more important people to add to this illustrious mix with the launch of Nettuno. Jakub Piotrowicz, of the stylish and always on point Persefume perfume blog that he founded with his olfactory partner and fellow blogger Aleksandra Cacha. Jakub is a close friend of Stefania, he sent me my set of original Mendittorosa samples that introduced me to Le Mat and Sogno Reale, so my love affair with the line is all his doing. His is my virtual friend now too, I am so glad of this..he was one of the earliest followers of the Silver Fox and one of my kindest, most sincere (and handsome ..)supporters. Throughout the process of Nettuno, Jakub has watched, lived and breathed (literally) its development. Despite what you might think, trust is actually quite a difficult thing in scent, believing someone’s opinions on mods etc, you need to choose your evaluators wisely. I know this from personal experience. You can sense his passion and friendship in his support for the launch and press info for Nettuno on Persefume. He is proud. And so he should be. Stefania has a rare gift for bringing people to her to inspire the processes that motivate her.

Trésor Prijs for Mendittorosa Nettuno

The face of Nettuno, the muse if you like is the fragile visage of beautiful Trésor Prijs, writer, model, creative unfolding being; her delphian face boldly returning our gaze in a glittering galactic wash of celestial haze. Trésor’s gender fluidity and strength of personality is caught in tense lip line and feline eye, a ripple of vulnerability, a cupped-in throat hollow and clavicle. It is a remarkable image in its oddity and cool, haughty grace; the imposed planetary effect looks at first glance like scars or burn flares. Trésor’s left eye seems to be weeping oil like a holy Madonna. A lightening strike bloom across the corner of her right eye, her neck inundated with white ink, leaching into skin. Despite the planets in our solar system having names that might imply gender I have always considered these compelling bodies that orbit our brilliant, firebrand sunstar as fluid and androgynous. Thus Stefania’s wise and tender choice of Trésor as the face of Nettuno seems exquisitely right.    

Trésor Prijs for Mendittorosa Nettuno
(photography Shawn Mackay)

As with Le Mat and Sogno Reale, Stefania has embarked on an emotive journey to explore the hinterlands of her olfactive imagination. She is a deliberate woman, searching for reason in an increasingly sterile, controlled world. As our lives become more and more impersonal, we need more than ever things around us of difference and vitality, essences of desire and interference. For her these three Talismans are just that, scented charms, odiferous juju, weapons and runes to ward off miasma and malevolence. The complexity of the trio is undeniable in comparison to the rest of the line that while intriguing and elementally essential, they are in many ways, observers and acolytes at the talismanic court.  The binding and cascades in the trio are unavoidably erotic too; this becomes beautifully apparent as soon as juice meets skin, then brain and senses.

Dancers from Sanpapié performing
at the Nettuno launch
at Exsence in Milan 2016

Nettuno has a distinctly reserved sensuality, blue-stained, inked if you will, a shadowed persona I find hugely alluring. Its notes and effects exit and roam in shade, halo and aura glow. Sexy is usually associated with heat, warmth, dirty musks, golden ambers, vanilla, animal inflections, oud, sweat and religiosity, however Nettuno plays a different game, demonstrating a limpid sexuality of flickering cesious flames in still, dark windows, night skies, insects flocking, wings searing. It has a cool, offbeat charisma of morbid compulsion. It is a very hard scent to deny. I am beginning to think it has addictive components; such is my willingness to return over and over to the bottle and spray. Stefania in her deliberate collaboration with Marco Pesatori is considering duality and enigma, reflections, sanctuary and void. Marco’s infinite mirror may fly but I am still caught in orbits and planetary patterns; the glass tarnished by such weary cosmic travel, we can no longer see ourselves.

'...And so I see
The ghost of sadness
Makes room for the spirit
Makes room for the soul
That doesn't belong to me 

And then I fly
And say goodbye
I'm the model
I am the mind
I am the selfless guy

That in an infinite mirror 

From The Flight of Neptune (Il Volo di Nettuno) by Marco Pesartori.

They don’t really matter, the details and ephemera of night flight; Nettuno’s arc is starlit and magnificent, what could possibly shatter such beauty as you sail to me in the darkness?

Mendittorosa Odori d'Anima: Nettuno
Image © TSF

For more information on Nettuno and Mendittorosa Odori d'Anima, please click on the link below: 

The Silver Fox 07 July 2016


  1. So here I go, ordering samples of this and Sogno Reale.... Your pieces are always a joy to read for the imagery they conjure up. But one thing if I may be a music geek, Song to the Siren was penned by Jeff's father, Tim. All the best

    1. Hi moodypaws.. please let me know what you think of Nettuno & Sogno Reale.. and thank you for the kind words and support for my blog.. writing is a lonely game and it is genuinely nice to hear back from people. Geek away re Song to the Siren... i was cutting/pasting. But of course ur right. Tim Buckley composed, Larry Beckett and Tim wrote lyrics. I should be mortified... i played the This Mortal Coil Version so much in my teens it feels hardwired into my DNA. Regards Foxy.

  2. Awesome review, as always!

  3. Thank you!! Nettuno and the evolving Mendittorosa collection are very special fragrances. I found wearing Nettuno a unique experience, it has a peculiar compulsion to it.. i loved writing about it. Stefania's work is both personal and generous. Regards Foxy.

  4. Such a mesmerising review Sir Fox. Sounds amazing.

  5. Such a mesmerising review Sir Fox. Sounds amazing.

    1. thank you Barry.. it is a remarkable scent.. the three Talisman scents are beautiful... Ax