New Perfume Reviews Rubini Tambour Sacre- Africa Via Italian Creativity

When my mailbox begins to fill up with commercial fragrance all vying for a similar demographic it is easy for me to worry about the state of perfume. There are pockets of artists who are working to make things which come from an inner vision instead of a focus group. One of the most vital group of creatives come from Italy now. There is a willingness by the Italian brands and creative teams to make perfume the consumer has not encountered before. It is not perfume for the lowest common denominator it is perfume for the connoisseur. One who sees the art in something most see as functional. As a self-titled colognoisseur it is those perfumes which make writing about fragrance so gratifying. Rubini Tambour Sacre is another triumphant release from an Italian team of passionate artists.

Andrea Rubini

I met Andrea Bissoli Rubini almost four years ago at Esxence in Milan. He was introducing his first fragrance. The first words he said to me were, “I was born into a family of perfumers.” As I tried that first release, Fundamental, the proof was in the bottle. Sig. Rubini believed in the power of perfume to be more than pretty. He assembled a team of fellow Italians to achieve his vision; perfumer Cristiano Canali, writer and perfume historian Ermano Picco, and artist Francesca Gotti to create a memorable package. It is a team of like-minded people who all added their piece to the creation of Fundamental.

Ermano Picco

When I was told by Sig. Rubini a new fragrance was coming my first question was if the same creative team was working with him. As soon as he said “yes” my expectations grew. I waited somewhat patiently for my sample of Tambour Sacre to arrive.

Cristiano Canali

Sig. Rubini wanted to translate the rhythm of the African drums he heard on his trip to Somalia into a fragrance. Africa has been a fertile inspiration for perfumers which allowed Sig. Picco the opportunity to provide insight into the paths less taken by others. Sig. Canali is another of the young star perfumers of his generation. His desire to find contemporary applications of the original building blocks of modern perfumery creates a bridge between the past and the present. Sig. ra Gotti’s contemporary sandwich of materials encasing the bottle provides the visual piece as she uses the native iroko wood used to make the African drums which inspired the perfume. Full circle.

Francesca Gotti

Tambour Sacre opens with a spear of spiced sunlight as orange and cardamom come together. The drum beats begin in the distance as white pepper thrums with a sharp piquant slap. The heart is a fabulous alternating rhythm of coffee, tuberose, and cinnamon. The coffee is that fresh-roasted scent of beans which exude a hint of bitterness underneath. The tuberose is the greener version which has become a staple in recent years. This is where Sig. Canali calls back to the past with a modern ingredient. The roasted coffee and the green tuberose form a sinuous cadence around which the cinnamon wraps itself. The heat of the spice creates an expansiveness within the tuberose and coffee which builds to a crescendo. The base uses the resinous mixture of benzoin and myrrh on top of a tonka bean-sweetened sandalwood. This is what remains after the drummers have finished; a sweetly sacred woodiness.

Tambour Sacre has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

Fundamental was such a singularly beautiful piece of artistic perfume it wasn’t obvious it could be replicated. Tambour Sacre proves that the right team with the requisite care can find that kind of success again. The Rubini team of Sigs. Rubini, Canali, and Picco with Sig. ra Gotti took me to a drum circle in the Horn of Somalia via Italian creativity. It is what Sig. Rubini was born to do.

Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by Rubini.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Rubini Fundamental- Faith Restored (Part2)

Every year when I attend Esxence I wait for that moment. It comes when I am introduced to a new brand and it just captivates me from the first moment I smell the strip. This year that moment occurred when I heard the first words out of the young founder’s mouth. When I stepped up to the booth at the beginning of my third day Andrea Bissoli Rubini looked me in the eye and said, “I was born into a family of perfumers.” The earnest passion with which those words were spoken let me know that something special was on the way. The perfume called Rubini Fundamental lived up to every bit of the promise in those words.

Andrea Rubini

Andrea Bissoli Rubini

As I was smelling the strip Sig. Rubini told me his story. How he wanted to assemble a “Made in Italy” team. He asked nose Cristiano Canali to help design the perfume. He asked fellow blogger Ermano Picco to help refine the brief. He asked designer Francesca Gotti to create an unforgettable package to capture the past and the future. Each member of this team executed their task brilliantly.

Sig. Picco imagined Verona in 1937 as the small perfume shop in town serves the ladies in their iris-scented face powder. The actors still wearing their greasepaint. The alluring smells of the denizens of the local house of pleasure. Finally the smell of ripening Soave grapes on the vine ready to be harvested. These are the fundamentals of Fundamental.

Sig. Canali took a mix of great natural materials and combined them with modern synthetics which creates that Retro Nouveau vibe I like so much. Many attempt this but very few pull it off as well as Sig. Canali does in Fundamental.

rubini side view

Side View of the Rubini Fundamental packaging

Sig.ra Gotti has a very unique perspective when it comes to packaging. She took this new material made from recycled Fiberglas, from boats, called Glebanite. Like an olfactory Oreo she sandwiches the bottle between two slabs of Gelbanite. When I saw it, and touched it, it felt like old stone. It wasn’t until I picked it up and saw how feather light it was despite looking so solid that it struck me that again the future was inspired by the past in Sig.ra Gotti’s design.

Above it all Sig. Rubini conducted his team of impassioned Italians to realize his vision.

Fundamental opens on a Hesperidic accord of bergamot, tangerine, orange flower, and a couple of synthetic citrus notes which add nuance and texture. The orange blossom in particular carries the early moments. Then we get the powdery iris as it floats above the top notes. The Soave grape accord also comes in with the powder. Sig. Canali finds the balance between crisp fruit and slightly alcoholic. It is as light as the iris making it the right partner for the heart of Fundamental. The thicker unctuous smell of the greasepaint also comes to provide the contrast to the pretty notes with a bit of bohemian insouciance. This is made up of vetiver and another set of synthetics which adds an olfactory thickness to Fundamental. We head further into the base with sandalwood and leather providing a carnal promise if you are just willing to take a step towards it.

Fundamental has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

Everything about Fundamental makes me elated, and renews my faith, at the state of independent perfumery. Sig. Rubini assembled a group of like-minded visionaries. Together they carried themselves to the heights of creativity. I could wish that this was fundamental thinking for everyone making perfume. As long as Sig. Rubini can keep using his heritage to fuel his future I am sure that Fundamental is only the beginning of something quite marvelous.

Disclosure: this review was based on a sample I received at Esxence 2015.

Mark Behnke

Colognoisseur Esxence 2015 Final Wrap-Up Part 1- The People I Met

This was a very different Esxence for me than any previous one that I attended. One reason for that was I spent a large portion of my time in The Mall in Milano with a microphone in my hand and in front of a camera. It is a different perspective to be sure and I want to thank every one of my interview subjects for making it so easy for me. I hope those watching at home on the web viewer could feel my excitement.

One oddity of every Esxence is I have to travel across an entire ocean to meet someone who lives in the US. This year that dubious honor goes to Saskia Wilson-Brown of The Institute for Art & Olfaction (IAO). On the first day of the show she revealed the five finalists in each category for the 2015 Art & Olfaction Awards. The simple creation of the IAO and the awards which carry their name already let me know what a great person she was. The opportunity we had to chat over all three days confirmed that. After spending this time with her I am more sure than ever that the Art & Olfaction Awards are going to be one of the premiere awards in all of perfumery sooner than later.

Andrea Rubini

Andrea Rubini

If there was one person I met who radiated the passion of doing something you love it was Andrea Rubini. I started Day 3 standing in front of his stand and told him to tell me about his perfume. Instead of business plans or sales strategies he started with a smile and the phrase, “I was born into a family of perfumers….” From there he proudly displayed the perfume which carries his name and he was equally as excited when describing the other members of the team behind Rubini Fundamental. In a show of 150 different brands it might have been the tiniest which had the largest emotion.

Another feature of every Esxence for me is I spend time with perfumers with whom I have not had an opportunity to meet previously.

Luca Maffei of Atelier Fragranze Milano was tapped by brand Jul et Mad to do two of their new “Les White” collection. Sig. Maffei was so joyously animated when speaking with me about the creative process behind Nea and Garuda it was infectious. He has a joie de vivre which translates to his perfumes.

The other perfumer I spent some time with was Stephane Humbert Lucas. I have been a big supporter of his work in the past but we had never had the opportunity to really talk about perfume for any length of time before. As he showed me his new Mortal Skin and Harrod’s Limited Edition there was a noticeable smile on his face as he watched my reactions. I think perfumers know when they have made something special and he seemed happy as he watched me connect with his new creations.

Believe it or not I had never met Bertrand Duchaufour prior to Esxence. He showed me his new I miss Violet for The Different Company. That a perfumer as prolific as M. Duchaufour also still displays the delight of creation is testament to his longevity.

If there was a rock star of this year’s Esxence it had to be Michael Edwards of the Fragrances of the World reference book. He was seemingly everywhere on the floor as I worked my way around. His SRO talk on how oud came to be part of western perfumery was one of the highlights of that part of the Esxence program.

Oh yes there were perfumes to be sampled and tomorrow in Part 2 I’ll call out the top 10 from Esxence 2015.

Mark Behnke