4 dicembre 2009

Meeting with James Heeley

The other night I met James Heeley. He'd been invited by Mariangela Rossi, journalist, writer (Il Libro del Profumo), lover of the fragrant world, to present his line now available in the “Caleri” store in Genoa (lately, Caleri is very involved in spreading the artistic perfumery jewels: see previous posts to get an idea).
Whenever I meet James I’m always struck by his calmness, his sophisticated yet easy and direct ways, but this time, I finally saw him "light up" with enthusiasm. After half an hour of questions he answered in a polite and poised way, he decided to play with the audience, so he sprayed his three most famous fragrances (Cuir Pleine Fleur first, then Cardinal and then Esprit du Tigre) and each time the audience had to guess at least three notes in each composition.

And since the public was participating with great vivacity, there I saw him talking to people, laugh with them, have fun, I just saw him –really- "light up" in a way that I liked very much. It’s been a very enjoyable moment.
Then I went to greet him and asked him what he's doing now.
And … he’s working in parallel on a pair of fragrances at this time but I’m not allowed to anticipate anything. Mainly because he doesn’t know yet when he’ll be able to present them, as they’re still in process. But in fact I can tell you one thing: each work revolves around a single note, and a couple of them are notes not too used, and I happen to be in love with them. I keep thinking about his way of turning any raw material he touches into slivers of light and look forward to smell them!

One question that was addressed to him concerned the topic of "natural vs. synthetic" scents. That is, if a natural scent is any better than a synthetic, and how. I liked his answer very much, and I point it out because he started from the concept of "better".
"Better for the environment” means not to stress the environmental and hydro system with excessive demands: certain plants are disappearing while the demand is increasing, so it's “environmentally better” to replace them synthetically before they vanish forever from earth.
Also, do you know how much water is needed to get a 1L bottle of Bergamot essential oil? 1 tonne. An enormous amount, and if we think of water resources problems in some countries, it’s questionable whether it makes sense to continue using the natural one.
"Better to our taste” means something not flat but dynamic, interesting, multifaceted and with adequate persistence. And these effects are achieved mainly by using synthetic materials, alongside natural ones. Sure, musk, civet etc. are incomparable fixers but ... we must kill animals in order to empty their perfumed pockets, and today no one would accept something like that.
So, synthetics are positive both for the environment and the creativity. Sure, you have to know how to use them properly, otherwise the result will smell “cheap” or absolutely crap.

2 commenti:

Michael Mattison ha detto...

Thanks so much for your "Nasomatto" comment on my blog the other day. (Yes, "Black Afgano" is superb.)

And isn't James Heely the guy that does that wonderful Fig scent? If yes, it is divine...

Have a great day!

Bergamotto e Benzoino ha detto...

Yes Michael, you're right, his fig scent (Figuier) is one of the best I've tested this far: together with Olivia Giacobetti's Premier Figuier and Pierre Guillaime's Jardin de Kerylos, for me it's the top of the "figue cathegory"!