1 febbraio 2011

"Huitième Art-Parfums" by Pierre Guillaume

I must admit at first I was a little upset by the bottles, which aren't particularly appealing to me; however, touching them “live” gave me a better feeling than seeing them in pictures; the frosted mat glass feels comfortable and has perfect proportions, but the stopper still felt a little "cheap"... But fragrances, instead, are something different. They show a completely new direction in Pierre Guillaume’s artistic life: "If I had to make a patchouli-based scent today it wouldn’t be like Aomassai (by Parfumerie Generale, Pierre’s first line): my feelings and my technical skills have grown a lot in recent years."

Great blogger and perfume historian Octavian Coifan, in his much followed blog 1000Fragrances, repeats daily that “Perfume is the 8th Art". Since Pierre strongly agrees with this opinion, he felt this concept had to be taken up again and again, this is why his new line is called "Huitième Art-Parfums" (this idea is shared by many people: the title of my book sounds the same way, "L'Arte del Profumo" translates "The Art of Perfume").
To create accords featured in his new fragrances Pierre used a technique that was proposed to him because he’s got the “pioneer” reputation, but will soon be available to any composer. This kind of molecular extraction results in a sort of "chemical photography" of a smell, which is then faithfully reproduced in labs. This technique allowed, in recent years, the creation of some nice fruity scents (fig, for example) and will soon make available also blueberry, mango, pear, honey and other notes, all with a particularly fresh and natural feeling, instantly recognizable.
So, for example, the pear note in his new Ciel d'Airain is fresh like if just picked up and put under your nose: not romantic or confectionary like Annick Goutal’s, nor metallic and cool as in Higher by Dior. Here you’ve the fruit, ready to bite. Vohina is based on the interaction of hay, peach flower and lavender honey;  Fareb shows a fresh, pungent accord of immortelle and ginseng, while Naiviris features a note of African Kigelia, a flower looking like a red orris (wood, benzoin, and kigelia suggest the powdery effect of orris, even if orris isn’t present at all), and Sucre d'Ebene is characterized by brown sugar, hamamelis and benjoin and Ambre Cerulèen  features an accord sandalwood-opoponax-tonka bean.
What I appreciated, more than the novelty of the accords, is Pierre’s new “olfactory calligraphy”; there’s nothing of the “great classic” composition, here; structure and development are different form those we’re used to; here I get an idea of “everyday life", a fleeting image of me in a garden, in an orchard, myself under a leaden grey sky... a sort of impressionist scents, nice because instantly recognizable as what they are. Huitième Art- Parfum is able to read reality and reproduce it with an artificial device making it more real than reality itself, in a sort of hyper-realist painting.
I even came to appreciate the bottle, or at least to understand it: perfume, being Art, is no more something exceptional, reserved for special occasions, but something which must permeate everyday life. Thus bottles must look as "everyday design" objects, just like a chair with an ink drawing on it, or a lips-shaped sofa.
"I felt the risk of being labelled forever for what I'd done until that moment. I started feeling a little tight under that label", Pierre told me. Indeed, those who have never smelt his "Parfumerie Generale" perfumes and meet Aomassai or Cuir Venenum for the first time, may still get very impressed by his originality; but that which was a novelty a few years ago, no longer expresses what Pierre is today. I appreciated a lot his new approach to perfumery (more than the scents in themselves), because it shows intellectual freedom and the wish to find new directions and unexplored paths.

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