1.5.16

Masque Romanza & L'Attesa: The Wait Is Over.

Today's fragrance market seems splitted between brands creating new trends and others following them with way too often terrible results. Between blingy and vulgar luxury versus pretentious artsy characters with little substance. Between the so called insta-lines (brands launching 15, completely irrelevant, new fragrances at the same time) and mysterious people resurrecting mysterious brands from another era with *ancient* formulas found in lost apothecary shops around the globe. In this sad and pretty pathetic scenario, Masque is doing its own thing by simply delivering pieces of outstanding perfumery as opposed to ephemeral fashion items and shallowly consumerist luxury products. 

I've been a huge fan of Masque since day #1 (make it actually day #2 because I've never had the chance to smell their original two launches from 2012 Dolceacqua and Petra) and I've to say they have never let me down.



L'Attesa

This time it's the turn of L'Attesa. An iris-centered composition that despite sounding a bit trendy because of its main player (iris seems to get all the rage from quite some years now), it strikes as a timeless piece of classic perfumery. Whereas most iris fragrances feel either too thin by relying on a temporary green / carroty / leathery / rooty effect to then basically turn into cardboard or go totally lipstick / cosmetic, L'Attesa starts with a unique and yet familiar accord of rooty  iris and something I would classify as green and kind of sour (the champagne accord?). The iris becomes more classically powdery while the introduction of an extra floral component preserves the fragrance from falling into the usual *woody* whisper we generally get from modern iris perfumes. it's a full bodied iris that keeps all of its iris-y aspects all the way through its evolution. It's powdery but also leathery, rooty and yet floral, buttery and decadent. A grown-up kind of approach to the main theme or something you would expect from the most classical french perfume brands such as Chanel or the likes. Something that won't make any pants drop or won't make you feel any cooler while wearing it. Something only people who actually like fragrances will probably appreciate in its complex sophistication.

L'Attesa is the proof that perfumery is still alive and that it can be something completely unrelated from fashion. Something that lasts over a single season until the next buzz is build around the next *product*. L'Attesa is perfumery. One of those fragrances that has all the characteristics to become a pillar and jump up there with the monsters of yore of this genre.

Outstanding.

Rating: 9/10

Romanza

Don't expect something easy to like or easy to wear because Romanza is quite an imponent and ambitious composition that takes the best of two worlds and pair them together. On on side there's a somewhat canonic style of perfumery. A certain classicism that's generally inherent to officially trained perfumers while, on the other side, there's an overall artisianal vibe and (more or less) calibrated roughness that's definitely more typical of indie lines and self-taught noses. These two aspects paired together give birth to a decadent and humongous green floral which, either you'll like it or not, won't leave you indifferent.

The fragrance opens extremely green and bitter with a mix of angelica, absinth and florals such as jasmine, narcissus and hyacinth. The florals are so vivid and in your face as in the most classic compositions of the past while a rough edge and a healthy dose of "ugliness" provided by a massive amount of civet preserve the fragrance from feeling pathetically nostalgic and driving it instead towards more artisanal / indie territories. What stylistically comes to mind are some florals by Abdes Salaam as well as Papillon and Bogue but also certain post-Dior-esque florals made in Roudnitska. In this phase Romanza feels incredibly striking, adventurous and creative by continually crossing the boundaries between official perfumery and a more typically-indie style. 

A classical, somewhat kind of mainstream base starts lurking in the back introducing a woody vetiver / amber combo to round everything up while paradoxically providing even more decadence. As the base takes over with time, the florals merge perfectly with the rest to turn the composition into an endless and humongous floral of immense beauty. 

Now, if you're not after something that's easy to like, if you prefer to seek for beauty instead of having it slammed in your face, if you like complexity as opposed to pop, check this out. Top quality stuff all around.

Rating: 8/10

7.2.16

Is Guerlain Losing The Plot?



This short message to let you know that with much of my surprise all of the Monsieur Guerlain fan pages have been shut down. LVMH / Guerlain's marketing and digital departments asked Facebook and Instagram to close Monsieur Guerlain accounts, allegedly because they violate the brand's trademark. As a matter of fact, all others Monsieur Guerlain related pages and channels have been closed as well.

I find it completely ungrateful and irrespectful from Guerlain to act this way towards the man who showed such a deep and enormous passion for their brand. A man that for thousands of Guerlain fans have always been a point of reference given his vast and incomparable knowledge about the history of the french firm. This was surely the opposite of a class move from a huge colossus that seems to have become more and more interested only in greed and mere profit.

I've always been a huge fan of the house but this move is seriously making me question my passion towards them.

Long live Monsieur Guerlain and hope to see him back soon!

Alfarom





21.9.15

Dior *Sausage*: A New (?) Fragrance.

I don't know where to start with Sauvage.

let's start with this:



For unknown reasons, I really wanted to like it. There's something about most Dior's mainstream masculines that's never *too banal* or *too cheap* and, on top of that, the association between the words Dior and Sauvage must have played some mental tricks on me and made me think about Roudnitska's classic Eau Sauvage. Ok, we all know this is not an Eau Sauvage flanker and as a new, massively advertised, delivery from Dior, I thought I couldn't have skipped it.

For starters, this is not as bad as I expected. It's not even as bad as a rushed test might lead to think….but it's bad anyway in the end.

I won't go through a proper note breakdown because there's really not much to mention here. The opening it's the most generic peppery-citrus combo you could expect from a whatever modern woody-citrus fragrance. Slightly aromatic, zingy and metallic.The first hour in, I was really this close to dismiss it but then a smooth mineral amber base (ambroxan) broke in together with vetiver and things slightly changed. The fragrance plays in the same league as other *depersonalizing*, post-disinfectant fragrances such as Bleu de Chanel, Guerlain's L'Homme Ideal and before these, D&G Light Blue Pour Homme and L'Eau D'Issey but it takes the distance from the aforementioned perfumes by skipping that certain synth-y stickiness and / or loud volume that made all of them completely annoying to me. The Dior has a certain *raison d'être* provided by an elegant restraint and a class that is completely missing in most similar fragrances available on the market. It wears smooth and velvety with nice dark-ish facets in the base. It's extremely simple but, at least, they got right one of the two accords from which it is composed.

Do I like it? Let's put it this way: It doesn't completely suck. In the end, while I surely believe Sauvage is by far the best fragrance in this post Bleu De Chanel-phase, I still wonder if we really needed a post Bleu De Chanel phase. It feels deprived of any emotional aspect but not in a creative kind of way. It's unemotional without that certain sparkle that makes the difference between the words *aseptic* and  *aloof*. It feels devoided. It's carb free, gluten free, peanut free, allergens free…it's too politically correct. Ok, it's well done but for me it's not enough and, in the end, I guess it's just another fragrance for people who actually don't like fragrances. 

Last but not least, I'm not the biggest fan of the Dior Homme saga but compared to this, they're completely on another level. Like completely.

Rating: 5.5-6/10

31.5.15

Slumberhouse Kiste: More Lobbs and Less Bull****.

I've been a huge fan of Slumberhouse since day number one when I originally interviewed Mr.Lobb for both my blog and Basenotes but, admittedly, it took me a while to warm up to Kiste. Not because it's challenging but because it includes a bunch of my most despised notes in perfumery. Well, with much of my joy I've to say Josh Lobb nailed it once again and made me like something I would have never thought I'd do.

Kiste is probably the more *friendly* Slumberhouse to date. I've read people consider it almost mainstream but I've to disagree here. It's surely one of the *easiest* in the house's range but it's still way far from being a simplistic department-store kind of fruity thing or a tonka bomb for sweet-tooth kind of fragrance bros. It still shows several of the house's hallmarks including a certain post-Lutens sirupy quality,  the deepness of Lobb's best works, a certain sweetness that never really borders into gourmand territories. All of these aspects have been mastered through several fragrances that have undergone countless tweakerings during the past bunch of years and Kiste smells like the result of all this work. It basically takes all of the best elements that made Lobb's style of perfumery popular amongst fragrance-aficionados and paired them together in a little masterpiece that speaks of maturity, wisdom and, finally, self-awareness.

From the addictive boozy-peach opening to the patch-driven, tea-infused woody tobacco base, Kiste never relies on weirdness or over the top accords. It feels effortlessly exceptional more than for its originality, for how it behaves on skin and how it wears. It constantly claims the wearer's attention without feeling intrusive or overly complex. It's easy to wear without giving up on complexity and in this context it feels easy just like a master musician makes the most complex Stravinsky's piece look like it's easy to play. Slumberhouse's style is becoming pure and if Kiste is the next step, I can't wait for what's next.

My support for lines such as Slumberhouse will never end. A natural outsider that have been able to create one of the most innovative and exciting range of fragrances of the last couple of decades without selling out to the market pressure.  A range that, without following any trend, has reached an incredibly coherent aesthetic and now reeks of perfection. Again, contemporary perfumery needs more *Josh Lobbs* and less pretentiousness and bullshit.

Highly recommended.

Now please, Mr.Lobb, do something for the overseas distribution.

Rating: 8.5/10

27.5.15

UNUM: An Interview With Filippo Sorcinelli By Alfarom.



As an artist, you have quite a relevant biography which includes collaborations with big museums such as the Louvre, you’ve been the official organist of some relevant Italian cathedrals, you’re a painter, a photographer, you organize music festivals and you’re the founder of Lavs, an atelier which focuses on studying, projecting and manufacturing religious vestments and regalia. How did you get to perfumes and decided to co-found together with Marcello, UNUM?

At this point, my activity concerns all of me, my background. Things who fascinate and trouble me become a language, everything I do is all about myself and my life. I don’t allow anymore people threatening my artistic freedom, which is also my private one and my personal life’s mirror. In this evolution process there are no compromises. UNUM is the result of it, an exigence. At first it concerned LAVS, the excellence robes and vestments atelier. Marcello is by my side since the beginning of LAVS, he is a perfect right hand man and put my visions into practice. We use to add perfume to the vestments. Here came the idea of a scent able to make our work even more unique.

What’s the main concept behind UNUM? Do you have a general theme you’d like to explore within your line of fragrances?

UNUM world embrace arts, truth, Spirit, reasons of life. It has roots in the intimate universe where the most contrasting sentiments dwell. A painful mysticism, a sort of madness that fuels beauty, through forest sounds. UNUM concur to create Music, writes painting and paints poetry. Into the most fruitful silence uproar, from the deepest world.. UNUM is the bright light of a new Middle Age, maybe it is a wrong word, but is into this that I draw part of my sensibility. A restless heart who emits archaic sounds, a mystic geometric symphony.

Unum is an intelligent and cultured mix of avant-garde and classicism. How these two elements interact in your vision as an artistic director for a line of fragrances?

The artist’s task is to go towards the dark side of reality, always evoking hidden drives and releasing secret potentialities of the self. Not the unexampled , not the selfish, the individualist, but the one who is also plural, formed by many faces. Perhaps this is the possible turn, in the artistic fragrances world. We are artists , children of this time and researchers outside of power games, without commercial interests, without academic ambitions, without critic acclaims, out of the worldliness who put fake artists into golden cages. Avant-garde allows to act rapidly, without soppy romances, catching what lies beyond things. The energy is strong and it hurts, creating blood dashed images. It ’s like digging with his hands until the centre of the earth into a symbiosis between substance and our own unconscious. here is the idea who scratches the page, engraving the material.

One of your fragrances is called LAVS which is, as far as I understand, both the acronym of your atelier’s name Laboratorio Atelier Vesti Sacre and the latin word Laus. How this fragrance is related to your work as an ecclesiastic tailor and how is related to the word Laus (latin word for praise, glory, fame)?

This question contains his answer. LAVS (laus) means laud, praise in latin. We wanted to strengthen the bond between the latin word “laus“ and our work. The Atelier concurs to the praise to God through the expert works of ours hands. This is the base of sacred art. That ‘s the way UNUM chooses to celebrate The Atelier with LAVS at first, LAVS is synonym of enchantment, incense, a real hymn to the Spirit of Bois de Rose, Rosewood and Tonka bean, all tied together by a Opoponax base, the golden resin‘s sweet myrrh.

Opus 1144 is conceived to celebrate the gothic style from it’s very early days in year
1144 to nowadays. In you personal vision, how the final result translates this artistic style into olfactory language?

In my opinion, the St.Denis foundation is not a stone, is like a blade producing sparks from where precious clouds spread all around and persist in the centuries. Gothic is a vertical flower, is a light out of the substance’s darkness, an infinite and uncertain perfume, a sort of music which is not here, it is an ecstatic journey, is the way itself.

It’s a lyric who has to be silently listen and throw us into a non ordinary dimension. It is very close to the pain : when men suffer interrupt rough things and go beyond. Only sounds and perfumes who comes from horrible depth can be true witness. We, the artists, the musicians, we live a suspended life, out of the common time, we touch just for an instant something similar to eternity and we naturally think about our work the same way as religions think about “glory“.

The gothic vaults carry you into an other dimension, raise the spirit and perfume the infinity.Opus 1144 is the sky, the scented leaden grey of Normandy, is stone and Music, thick and delicate, pure energy. Concerning OPUS 1144, we have White Musks “in concerto“ with Grey Amber, Leather, Vanilla and Sandal, and then Cashmere Wood, finishing with Elemi’s resins and Jasmin fantasies… we also feel Tangerine and Bergamot’s acute archs . Like gothic cruises they cross each others,and generate the extrait spiritual composition’s harmony.

One can feel the scented grey, one can listen to the stone and to the intense but delicate Music.

The disturbing charm of Gothic.

Your general aesthetic both as an artist and as an individual seems pretty far from what you’ve done with your atelier LAVS. How did you decided to start LAVS and how did you get to dress two Popes (Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis)?

The commonplace : “Never judge a book by its cover“ doesn’t belong to me nor should belong to any other artist. Art is free spirit. Without freedom there is no truth. Sometimes ago someone had identified a “watershed“ event in my life. I was 38. This number always walk with me. Recent facts trigged strong changes in my life .today I ‘m a new person, aware of receiving many incitements that have been reason of renaissance. I think that freedom is the noblest feeling one can get. I thank all the people who tickled my inner torment, because ,unawares, they pushed me to change , certainly for the better. To be an artist is not a job. One born artist, and to be aware of being one embody the capacity to absorb everything is around you. Artists are alive , always able to change , until the end. Painting, sculpture, photography, music..people, friends, enemies. I didn’t know of the existence of this figure : the sacred clothes designer ! LAVS is born during the years of my musical studies in Vatican. At the end of my studies, going back to my hometown I asked to myself : ‘ And now ? What have I to do ? “ I studied, drawn,I was inspired, I choose. My mom always said to me : no matter what you will do, do it aiming at the top, we always have the possibility to go down, eventually.. That’s what I have done. LAVS is also a fruit of this thinking. One day I received the call from the Papal Liturgicals Celebrations’ office.

Yohji Yamamoto once said: “Black is modest and arrogant at the same time. Black is lazy and easy - but mysterious. But above all black says this: I don’t bother you - don’t bother me”. One of the first things immediately noticeable about Unum is that it relies a lot on the color black. What’s your relationship with this color?

Yamamoto was right, and UNUM will have reason to exist if its character will remain black. Black as divorce from society, even being part of it. Black as an underground life, without roots, a mysterious journey into the self ’s subversive imperatives . One can love this way, too. Alone. ten steps forward, going through the existence and trying to avoid pain. But you can’t . You can’t avoid pain. Free. Black. This is the true aristocracy.The real achievement: decide what to do tomorrow, in spite of everything. A black wind that move one only soul. UNUM is the traveler’s bag, a traveler who is nomad and free . I hope that, in spite of his packaging, UNUM could keep talking about Black, that is the summa and the rejection of every colors. As well as my life: summa and rejection.

What influenced you the most when it comes to fragrance?


I’m always struck by what is new and by the desire to get involved. As I already said, the perfume was a need, and everything developed as the will to embrace a new public, elitist, but certainly wider. A public who shown interest in our history, in the bravery to have told it . We are happy, we didn’t expect such a clear and positive response, such a beautiful response. So..now, perfume is part of our lives, too. It is among arts, one of the most complete sensory, mystique and spiritual experiences.

What’s next at Unum?

We are working on others ambitious and beautiful projects. During the Esxence days in Milan we announced the closure of the three fragrances project and the entry, next September of environment fragrances. At this moment I just finished writing a news having Music as leading actor. I’ll cooperate with people able to get even closer to me.We’ll talk about free spaces, Gothic again, meetings, nights,but also about life.. Only the Music produce metamorphosis of thought. Because the sound is untouchable and shapeless , I decided to juxtapose it to UNUM . I believe that perfume and music are strongly tied and connected to the nature. The work takes shape like a tree (I know trees very well…people who look at my pictures know that..) an object able to create his form by itself. I will let myself go towards this Nature, into a black sand desert, between the rocks, in solitude, looking for surviving,the mine and the art’s one , that live of its own strength.

By Alfarom.

To find ou more about Unum, check their website here.

This Interview Originally Appeared on Basenotes.

20.5.15

Sammarco: A Sotry Of Craftmanship With No Frills

Only one word to describe me: artisan.

"All my perfumes are hand-made and hand-bottled. The artisan behind the logo is myself.

I moved to Switzerland to make perfumes, because I love Switzerland and because it’s a great place to live and be an independent perfumer.

All raw materials used in my perfumes are carefully chosen by myself from a selection of the best quality raw materials produced around the world.

I love Switzerland, I love raw materials, and I love to make artisanal perfumes". 



Alter

"Alter is the jasmine of sensuality and seduction.

Sambac Jasmine with rose and incense create a secrete mix of old fashioned beauty.

A little bit of mimosa and an hint of animal mystery.

A perfume for woman, for man and for woman and men together".

Sammarco is all about the juice. No verbose backstories, no fancy packagings and, most of all, no hype and no cheap-poetry. A bunch of extremely high-quality ingredients effortlessly blended into little masterpieces that are way more complex than an initial look might suggest. A great example of a lost kind of perfumery that relies on the main player: perfume.

Alter is basically a massive indolic jasmine of rare beauty enriched by a subtle and yet quite remarkable civet note and something bitter and kind of almondy (mimosa or maybe heliotrope). The opening is extremely vivid and portraits the main ingredient in all its natural raw quality. Indolic, unprettified with a sort of freshly-cut mushroom facet and obviously very floral. The pairing with civet is perfect and instead of enhancing the potential challenging aspect of the combo, it provides a warm and carnal vein while other smooth yellow florals serve as refinements. It's a striking fragrance that doesn't need to rely on volume to make its statement. Instead it's calm, close to the skin and yet somehow, dangerous and daring.

If you're up for a *pretty* jasmine, you should probably look somewhere else. Instead, if a true to life, high-end quality white floral is what you're after, Alter will most definitely fit your bill. A fragrance that's fascinating, visceral and educational at the same time. Think about some of the best JAR minus the pretentiousness and you're there.

Sammarco doesn't need to promise, it just delivers.

Rating: 8.5/10

Bond-T

"Bond-T is a perfume born in Pisa, during a tour in the chocolate factory of the best Italian Maitre Chocolatier.

It is the smell of the chocolate factory, it is a smell of exotic place, the cocoa absolute with patchouli and a touch of osmanthus.

A gourmand dark perfume for anyone who want a powerful and dark perfume".

Sammarco's fragrances are great examples that you don't need much complexity to deliver something noteworthy. None of their offerings is particularly complex as they all revolve around very few accords and essential notes list. This doesn't mean they're simplistic…au contraire.

Bond T makes no exception and deliver a top quality earthy patch paired to a dark, unsweetened cocoa note. It has an overall headshop-vibe and yet, somehow, it avoids speaking of bongs. The pairing with the cocoa, despite not being very original, is handled with class and avoids the gourmand aspect of this combo by enhancing the general darkness of this fragrance. Subtle and yet remarkable animalic notes serve as an essential element of disturb while the fragrance shines in all its brooding earthiness.

Think about a unlimited budget, high-end version of Borneo 1834 minus the opening and with smooth leathery animalics thrown in the mix and you're there.

Very good.

Rating: 8-8.5/10

Vitrum

"Vitrum is a perfume made for a journalist: Federica, who loves vetiver and ask me to make her bespoke vetiver.

It is based on an extraordinary vetiver oil mixed with rose to give a touch of softness and black pepper to give power.

Very smoky, very gentle.

Federica likes it".

Vitrum reached me during a personal phase in which I thought I was seriously getting bored by vetiver-centered fragrances…and it proved me wrong. It made me realize I was probably bored by average quality vetiver essential oils diluted in alcohol and sold as a *compositions*.

Yes, Vitrium is still quite a simple fragrance but the outstanding quality of the ingredients sets it apart from most other similar offerings available on the market. It's basically all about a tremendously multi-faceted vetiver note that ranges from smoky to fresh, via salty, earthy, woody and even mossy undertones. The opening is quite straight forward but the fragrance unveils soon an incredibly elegant and sophisticated essence when the rooty note is paired to a never overdone rose which enhances both the dark and the fresh sides of the main player providing quite some movement. There's something really special about Vitrum, something simple and yet so striking which I guess is that certain *je ne sais quoi* that makes the difference between something good and something really exceptional.

Fantastic. Surely a must have for anyone into vetiver but also highly recommended to people more simply interested in great quality fragrances. Reference type of stuff in my book.

Rating: 8.5-9/10

Ariel


"Ariel is the most feminine perfume of my collection.

It could be called a green floral poudré.

The key of Ariel is the angelica-tuberose heart, enriched with luxury flowers as jasmine, osmanthus, violette and rose, a creamy base of sandalwood, a top of mandarine and ginger, a little bit of tobacco and davana and an hint of orris concrete.

A romantic and sensual perfume dedicated to redheads".

From the notes I expected Ariel to be my least favorite in the Sammarco's range but it comes out I was wrong. Another extremely good fragrance and probably the most complex out of the four from this line.

The opining is a juicy citrusy-fruity thing pervaded by a sweet tobacco note. It quickly moves into a magnificent floral middle phase in which smooth white florals are paired to rose. There's also a soft powderiness going on, probably provided by the orris / violet combo, but nothing to worry about for me. Again, the overall quality is honestly undeniable and while I'm generally not drawn to these kind of fragrances, there's something so nailed about Ariel that makes of it something noteworthy. It's a familiar, classic accord that, at the same time, doesn't rely on nostalgia or old-fashioned themes. The white florals are plush and devoided of any angular facets but they still feel rough and visceral as opposed to overly polished and prettified. 

The base breaks in pretty soon unveiling a sweet-n-dry sandalwood that I find completely intoxicating. Ariel strikes as an ageless fragrance, something that doesn't follow any trend or style, something that goes beyond genres while maintaining a relevant perfumey allure throughout. In this context, it's quintessentially perfumey and kind of a textbook-type woody-floral. My only complain about Ariel is that it gets pretty calm a bit too soon. Projection is really moderate after the initial phase even if longevity is decent, especially considering it's apparently an all-natural composition. With that said, I still find Ariel completely noteworthy and, composition-wise, probably my favorite in the whole range.

Note: It does miracles on fabric.

Rating: 8/10

For further infos about the brand, check their website here.

18.5.15

An Interview With Angela Ciampagna by Alfarom

One of the hits at the recent Esxence in Milan was the fragrances of Angela Ciampagna. Alfarom speaks to the founder.



Angela Ciampagna has a quite striking aesthetic as a brand. A fascinating mix of post-gothic imaginary, a rustic / artisanal design which is quintessentially Italian and a strong mediterranean vibe. Can you explain your concept as an artisanal line of fragrances?

The artisanal mindset is something we have to deal with everyday. We work in the fire-line… I mean that Enrico Maraffino and I concretely and straightly work with the raw materials, everyday. Our perfumes are the result of the combination of my creative effort, I work with the formulas, and Enrico’s technical effort in developing the laboratory procedures. We study the formulas, we choose the suppliers of the raw materials, we build the tinctures, we follow the ageing out, the mixture, filtration, packing, etc. Everything has a unique handmade feeling, but using innovative processes, prepared ad hoc to have “faded” fragrances. For this reason we have made our debut conveying an appearance with no misunderstandings. Not a glowing perfumery, full of redundant luxuries. Our style of perfumery is the result of a genuine passion, research, tests, work and the will to constantly improve ourselves.

We live in Atri, a small town in Central Italy, and we have chosen the rose window of the cathedral of Atri as the symbol and signature of our perfume house, because, in Italy, everything happens in the shade of the rose window, or the campanile. And the genuine craftsmanship is often hidden in the web of pathways, typical of every ancient Italian village, just like a treasure covered with dust, waiting to be unveiled. In our fragrances, you can find that treasure, concealed by dusty bricks, mouldy woods, smoke and fog, and the majestic but quiet nature. The excellence of every batch is guaranteed by our small-scale manufacturing process, so you can have your own numbered perfume,with its serial number exhibited on the bottle and box, because each and every single perfume is a unique piece.

How did you get involved with fragrances?

The history of our perfumes is the history of our workshop, Label Laboratorio Artigianale di Profumeria. When we decided to professionally devote our life to the perfumery we started from ground zero… Before opening a production workshop, in 2011, we had taken the first steps making perfumes for third parties or creating custom-made perfumes for clients that were simply niche perfumery lovers. Every and each project was very important to improve our skills. For example, we have created long lasting perfumes for clothes, committed by some leading international fashion brands together with olfactive set-ups, scented candles, etc. That’s school! Practice is a very good teacher.


Your line is run by Angela and Enrico. Are you both perfumers or do you cover different roles?

Enrico and I are “partners in crime”. We are husband and wife, we’ve been living together since we were both 23 and now we’re 37. “Fortunately”, we spend a lot of time in the workshop with the mask on our mouths, so we don’t have many chances to argue… seriously, our roles are rather different and precise, even if we could intervene in the tasks of the other. I create the compositions, he follows the laboratory techniques and then the production processes. We work together during the ageing and maceration steps, when we have to check the performance of the fragrance. If everything is ok, we can finally say “we’ve got it!”. Anyway, I often ask for Enrico’s opinion during the study of the essays: if he embraces a certain facial expression, it just means “throw that stuff away”. If he says nothing, that usually means he approves.

Your fragrances are clearly and by all means artisanal but they never feel rustic or
overly unpolished as many artisanal perfumes often do. What’s your training when it comes to perfumery?

No industry schools. I was lucky to have the occasion to develop my own production techniques with an important Italian industrial chemist, that has in part designed our manufacturing processes. But, beyond the procedures, I think that it’s equally essential to know carefully the raw materials, their “behaviour”, alone or mixed with other materials. That requires dedicated practice and research. I have paid special attention to the smells since I was very young, collecting and memorizing many smells and scents, so I have spontaneously enhanced this feature of mine. I remember that when I was just eight I paid my aunt a visit in a small village of the Veneto region. It was fall. The landlady of the flat, that we had taken for rent, guided us to the upper floor. Well, for the first time I had a kind of “Stendhal syndrome”, when I met the smell of the bedroom where I had to sleep: mothball, dry flowers, dust, clean sheets and a woman with her violet perfume that opened the riverside window. Oh my God! It was neither good nor bad. It was lively… It’s my pleasure to create perfumes that are able to tell a story, just like the scents in that bedroom. Perfumes shouldn’t be good or bad, they should be a fist to the breastbone.

You could say that I learnt this job in an odd way, and it’s quite true, because I wasn’t in a school or in a corporation, that’s why you can find a “dirty” track in my own way to create a perfume formula. I don’t want to loose that track. Enrico is the chemical side of the workshop and he’s an excellent working partner. We have a similar approach and even in the production steps we look for innovative solutions to accentuate the “imperfect” tone of every composition. The brand is not only the outcome of my creativity, but also of our laboratory experience. For both of us, “imperfection” is something the always has a story to tell, something that wants to show exactly what it is. And our products want to show our genuine artisanal excellence.

How do you source your ingredients? Do you create your own extraits and absolutes or you just buy them from bigger suppliers?

We follow the extraction of several raw materials, but many more are produced in different locations: Vietnam, Africa, India, etc., even Europe, of course. Acquiring premium raw materials is not so easy, it requires a great competence and too much money… this is one of the reasons why we have decided to work even on olfactive projects for third parties designed for the selective market.

For how long have you been working on your former range and how did you assembled it?

When we started to work in Label we had just one purpose in mind: to launch our niche perfumery brand. Since then, together with the third-parties projects, we have worked to build what the Angela Ciampagna brand is now. And we have two more fragrances, we created during the last years, that we are going to introduce in the near future. Why too many years before launching our own brand?
We struggled to get our deserved credibility. We had not partners, agents or big distributors that supported us. We are not well-born. Our everyday work supports our everyday work. Diligence is our sole ally.

I find most of your fragrances to have an incredibly solid bone-structure which can only be achieved via objective skills but mot of them are also competently twisted to introduce an element of ‘disturb’. What does this element mean in your way of creating perfumes?
Life is made of imperfections: the train is late, you punctured a tyre, your pizza is burnt, that special date was a failure, your daddy is going to die… that’s life. When I deal with raw materials, first of all, I give them my respect, it doesn’t matter if they are natural or synthetic. Only after I listened to them in depth, I’m able to find the best way to let them speak and to let them tell people my story. Every composition is then scratched, blemished and covered with dust, so it’s made really lively, more true, just like all the imperfect things.

Is there a common theme in your line?

Imperfect is perfect.

How living on the italian countryside influenced your way to conceive and create fragrances?

Enrico and I move many times. At the moment, we live in Atri with our two daughters, Blu (8) and Era (3). A tiny village on the hills, located very few kilometers away from the Adriatic Sea, is the perfect place to raise your kids and company. Living there surely helps us to focus on easy things and to look at the sky. You should have enough humility and moderation to do this job, to do every job actually, so it’s better if the sky is at hand.

What’s next at Angela Ciampagna?

To have the favorable opinion of the fragrances lovers. To convey that there are hardworking people behind this brand, there are study and research, and we offer the outcome of all this work in some tens of ml.

You can find out more about the company at their website here.

This interview originally appeared on Basenotes.

by Alfarom