italy: 4 posts

Audrey Hepburn : Scent, Spring, Rome

The other day I was reading through old issues of Vanity Fair and found an interview with Luca Dotti, the second son of Audrey Hepburn. He was reminiscing about his mother, her relationship with his father, her acting career, her dismissive attitude to her looks, her thoughts on aging and the things she enjoyed the most. Audrey Hepburn’s image is such a familiar one that it’s difficult to see the real woman behind the large glasses, little black dresses and Givenchy couture. Dotti’s interview, however, is refreshing, and those who find Hepburn fascinating should take a look at it.

Yet, one part above all others caught my attention. Dotti was describing the ways in which his mother remains in his life and the small things that remind him of her. He said that he and Audrey had a ritual of noticing scents–of flowers, food, any other aromas. Audrey had an acute sense of smell, and when Dotti is thinking of scents, he feels that his mother is near.

When asked in what way his mother remains most physically present in his life, Dotti says, “Through scent.” Not perfume, but “the light sensation of a smell,” Dotti says his mother preferred. “We joked a lot together about the fact that both she and I have a very good sense of smell. So there are certain scents, you know, a certain cake, or a flower, things like that. It’s not so physical, but it’s powerful. And every spring, especially here in Rome, you have this smell of orange blossom in the air. Spring is coming and it was her favorite season. It makes me think of her.”

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The Italians

Some of the most interesting artisanal brands I’ve recently discovered come from Italy. I won’t venture to generalize about this trend, if it can be called so, although what strikes me about the new Italian creations is the freshness of their approach. They pay tribute to classics, but not self-consciously so, and they stay au courant while avoiding the pitfalls of style versus substance. In my new FT column, Italian Perfumes, I focus on two fairly new niche houses, Antonio Alessandria Parfums and Rubini Profumi, and explain what makes them stand out.

sicily1sicily2

Wearing their perfumes reminded me why I love the Italian take on elegance. It has a sense of humor.

“Classic Italian perfumery has a reputation for flamboyance – embodied by the Cinecittà glamour of Sophia Loren, as well as the gold tan and bleached-blonde aesthetic of Donatella Versace. It may be a cliché, but one need not be a marketing specialist to notice that Italians wear scents differently from the French or Germans. Women enjoy lush white florals with a touch of powder for an enveloping, lingering effect. Men aren’t shy about donning sweet perfumes and using them to make a statement. Encounter such a fragranced denizen cutting la bella figura at an outdoor café some place in Rome or Palermo, and you’ll understand better Italy’s penchant for the baroque. To continue, please click here.”

Do you have any favorite Italian fragrances? Apart from the bottled sort, mine would be the wet vetiver and iris smell of Milan, freshly baked pizza bianca with rosemary, lemon groves off the Amalfi coast, and the shamelessly lush Sicilian jasmine.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin, all rights reserved

Acqua di Parma Ginepro di Sardegna : New Perfume

Italian fragrance brand Acqua di Parma is introducing a new fragrance this month. Ginepro di Sardegna is inspired by the aroma of Sardinia, an island in the Mediterranean sea, it blends pepper, nutmeg, juniper, cypress and sage with Virginia cedarwood (itself a type of juniper) and true cedarwood.

“Then he thought he saw the flame that released the scent of juniper from the wood logs in the fireplace; and this scent,
in turn, opened up, beyond a musky tunnel, a landscape of woods, rocks, green slopes that reached down to the blue line
of the sea.”
from “Il Cedro del Libano” Grazia Deledda

Acqua di Parma

According to the press release, Ginepro di Sardegna “opens with the aromatic and balsamic notes of juniper blended with the sunny brightness of bergamot and the vivid spicy notes of pepper, pimento, and nutmeg that recall the green landscapes, deep blue skies, and bright colours typical of the lands of Sardinia. The energy of juniper, at the heart, is enhanced again by the aromatic resinous notes of common sage, with cypress bringing warm balsamic accents to the fragrance, in perfect balance with a base of warm and woody accents of Virginia Cedarwood. A feeling of deep satisfaction that is only offered by the Sardinian landscape, where the Mediterranean reaches the pinnacle perfection.”

Available at Acqua di Parma boutiques and department store counters. Via press release.

Boudoir 36 : Sicilian Perfume Destination

Boudoir 36 is a perfume boutique based in Catania, Sicily. Catania, a city at the foot of Mount Etna, is a sensory roller coaster by itself, but Boudoir 36 was one of the highlights of my visit.  Boudoir 36 carries an impressive collection of perfume brands and boasts an excellent customer service. Antonio Alessandria, the creator of Boudoir 36, works as an engineer by day and operates his boutique in the evening five days a week. Talk about passion for perfume! This unique place is the subject of my article for The Financial Times Magazine, October 26th issue.

boudoir36-catania

“Spend a day in Catania, a baroque jewel on the east coast of Sicily, and you will understand why Boudoir 36, an artisanal perfume boutique, is such a great fit for this exuberant city. Every scent, taste and color seems more intense—jasmine draping the building facades, oranges piled into ziggurats on the sidewalks, and even the blue of the sky framing Mount Etna. The perfume selection at Boudoir 36 rivals the finest boutiques in Paris and London, but its flamboyance and opulence are uniquely Sicilian.”

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Latest Comments

  • Victoria in Vetiver Mist: All essences have components that are soluble in water and those that aren’t. Which is why commercial perfumes always include alcohol and water. In my experience, vetiver essence works quite… December 12, 2019 at 10:13am

  • Hannah in Vetiver Mist: I think water and essential oils don’t mix, and therefore it is not the best idea to use water/hydrosol + eo and spritz that in your face. On textiles, maybe,… December 12, 2019 at 9:49am

  • Carolyn Middleton in Michael Edwards’s Perfume Legends II: He certainly wouldn’t have risked buying me perfume he chose, would definitely have asked me for a few options! Saying that, when we met, I was wearing the original Oscar… December 11, 2019 at 8:08pm

  • Victoria in Michael Edwards’s Perfume Legends II: I hope that you enjoy it! December 11, 2019 at 9:26am

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