6 aprile 2010

Esxence - Meeting the Osmothéque (3)

The last two fragrances explored with the guidance of Patricia de Nicolai were Nuit de Noel (1922), by Ernest Daltroff (Caron) and Iris Gris by Vincent Roubert for Jacques Fath. Nuit de Noel contained mousse de Saxe (a specialty by De Laire, a raw material lab located in Paris) and a synthetic molecule that was often used in the following decades: isobutilquinolin, with its leather and smoky, harsh note.
Iris Gris instead is very fascinating due to a superb quality of Florentine orris; todays’ fragrances no longer contain such a concentration of it because it costs 60 thousand euros per kg, and none could afford it in that marvellous concentration. The gentleness and delicacy of this perfume caused Lady in Black, one of my dear friends, with a monumental experience in perfumes, to shed tears of emotion. I felt lucky to be there with her because I know how it feels when a perfume causes you such emotions…
Madame De Nicolai then answered some questions, mainly focused on natural raw materials and the restrictions they’re now subjected to. I’d have kissed her in the forehead (Italian way of expressing joy): she basically said things we often say here, but she said them with the full weight of her experience, of her successful company, of her lineage (she is from Guerlain family). Her view is that protecting consumers’ health is essential, and to do this, clear guidelines are needed, but the legislation is now going too far: it seems that using scent may turn into a deadly fashion! Yet, no one has ever died of perfume, so far. So much so that after several decades in laboratories handling essential oils, she is still alive and kicking! ;-)) It’s impossible to protect anyone from anything, and perhaps it would be more sensible from us to devote more attention to what we bring to our tables and the quality of the air we breathe, just to begin with.


I wish to thank once again Patricia de Nicolai for letting us into this extraordinary journey across two centuries of scented art. And thank you also to Esxence organizers, who invited her to Italy. Learning the classics is essential to get an overall picture of modern perfumery. Widening the culture around fragrances, expanding the discussion to include also the classics, allows people to refine the taste, to learn differences and lineages and ultimately will lead to good results for everyone.

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