In science we talk of “family trees” where the professor who you studied under is the figurative “mother/father” and the person they studied under the “grandparent” and so on. Perfume doesn’t seem to be as collaborative. I have noticed a recent trend, though, of identifying new perfumers based on who they studied under. Because of my scientific background I like this and am hoping there is more of it. Most of the ones I am thinking of are the bigger name perfumers. There are fewer examples within independent perfumery but there are some. One of those has just resulted in the first release by the student; Sammarco Yael.
I first heard about Yael when it was premiered at Pitti Fragranze but I thought I was getting mistaken information. I was being told that brand owner/perfumer Giovanni Sammarco did not make Yael. It was a graduate student designing a perfume for her thesis; Beatrice Baccon. An interview by both Sig. Sammarco and Mme Baccon given to Fragrantica writer Sergey Borisov filled in many of the blanks. Mme Baccon created a perfume as part of her Master’s Degree studies. In the interview, her thesis was not only creating the perfume but also understanding the regulatory landscape affecting how to produce it. Throughout Sig. Sammarco was by her side to teach and guide her. The result is a perfume which feels part of the Sammarco collection but perhaps the introduction to a new one, too.
Beatrice Baccon (l.) and Giovanni Sammarco (photo via Fragrantica)
Yael is inspired by all the types of kisses we receive; mother’s, lover’s and friends’. That is how Mme Baccon constructed Yael, with an accord representing each one of those kisses.
The friends’ kiss is meant to be that of young people looking forward to an evening out. Mme Baccon uses ginger for its energetic effect. The zippy ginger is modulated by a bit of pink pepper providing herbal spiciness as complement. The lover’s kiss is represented by that classic flower of romance, rose. A deep spicy rose connects back to the top accord. If there is a bit of a young perfumer’s stumble it comes in the use of raspberry which takes over at the expense of everything else for some time. I would have liked it better if the rose was given the predominant position over the fruit. Once the berry begins to recede the best part of the perfume is revealed; the mother’s kiss. Mme Baccon uses a comforting mixture of sandalwood and orris. It forms a smooth slightly powdery hug to which a few musks are swirled in, providing that human connection. The orris is a bit of a lipstick style iris, the sandalwood is like warm cookies in the oven. The musks are intelligently used to keep it comforting without becoming confrontational.
Yael has 8-10 hour longevity and moderate sillage.
Other than the moment in the middle where the raspberry is overwhelming Yael shows a perfume student listening to her teacher and finding her own way. Time will tell if this is the beginning of the Baccon branch from the Sammarco family tree. I hope it is.
Disclosure: this review is based on a sample I purchased.
I am in full agreement with the thesis that Italy has taken the lead when it comes to artistic perfumery. One of the reasons I believe this is true is there is a refreshing ideal where the brands and artists seem unafraid to make a perfume that does not try to smell like anything else. Which of course is a bit of high-wire act, easy to fall off if you lose your balance. One of those brands is Sammarco overseen by the independent perfumer Giovanni Sammarco. The latest release is called Naias which shows both the highs and the lows that can be hit.
Naias is described on the website as “not a violet perfume, you can recognize a violet aura”. It is exactly what I have enjoyed about the work Sig. Sammarco’s contemporaries have achieved. There has been an almost dedicated movement towards re-examining the cornerstones of modern perfumery. That Sig. Sammarco was going to do this with violet, one of my favorite notes, was exciting. I should have been paying attention to the phrase “violet aura”.
If I was going to describe Naias I would call it a tale of two very distinct phases. One of the most intensely pleasant fruity floral constructs which transitions into an irritating, almost painful, mixture of unpleasant woods and animalic notes. As much as I love the first few hours, is how much I dislike the final hours.
Sig. Sammarco opens Naias with an incredible apple note. I don’t think I’ve ever smelled this in overdose previously to Naias. There is probably a reason as Sig. Sammarco pushes it right up to the edge of being bearable. Just as it runs the risk of becoming annoying Sig. Sammarco plants a giant red lipstick kiss on top of it. This is a classic lipstick rose accord. It is here the “violet aura” appears. It is mostly a violet characteristic of its use in cosmetics. The lipstick rose is as luscious as a pair of lips coated in moist carmine lipstick. It leaves lip prints all over the apple. This early accord is clever, balanced, almost perfect. If only there was a way to stop what comes next. Over time the apple and rose begin to fade which allows the other ingredients to come forward. One is blackcurrant buds which again seem to be used in high concentrations. It provides a funky green stickiness which runs through the other base notes like an erratic javelin missing the mark. It unbalances everything that has come before. It makes the osmanthus and sandalwood into grating versions of themselves.
Naias has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
It is rare that once I choose to wear a perfume for the two days I use to assess it for review I regret it. On day two of Naias I had to get out the alcohol scrubs because that was how unpleasant I found the final hours. What was more tragic was there are remnants of the apple and lipstick rose which made it all seem worse. I can say for the first few hours Naias is one of my favorite perfumes of the year I wish the rest of the fragrance lived up to the “kiss my apple” top.
Disclosure: this review was based on a sample I purchased.
One of my favorite movie and literary characters is Wiily Wonka. As created by writer Roald Dahl in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and assayed on screen by Gene Wilder and Johnny Depp Willy Wonka is a genius of confection. His factory turns out the most amazing candy but chocolate is his specialty. What I enjoy about the character on either the printed page or the silver screen is despite being childlike in his desire to create sweets there is a hidden sour underneath which peeks out when provoked by poor behavior. That concealed danger beneath the faux(?) innocence creates a complex character. When I was at Esxence 2016 I met a young perfumer by the name of Giovanni Sammarco. He showed me his line of four perfumes he has released under his name, Sammarco. When he handed me the strip with Bond-T on it I was immediately reminded of Willy Wonka. Bond-T is a chocolate gourmand with hints of danger within.
Sig. Sammarco was inspired to create Bond-T by his own visit to a real chocolate factory. On his website he wrote that he wanted Bond-T to be, “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.” If Bond-T was just that it would be a terrific slab of chocolate fragrance. Except Sig. Sammarco also has a bit of a subversive side as a slug of animalic ingredients provide the hidden sneer.
From the first moments I wore Bond-T I was enclosed in a deep cocoa and patchouli chord. This has been done many times over the years except Sig. Sammarco has elicited something different. I am not sure if it is the specific materials he is using or the amount of them in the formula but together there is a rich alcoholic component sort of sweet like brandy. I like the unpredictable arising from the predictable. Osmanthus provides a fascinating intermezzo as the apricot and leather quality adds the expected and sets the stage for the unexpected. That is the leather nature of the osmanthus is but a prelude to a feral stalking castoreum. The animalic nature transforms the innocence into something with a dangerous grin you might be best advised to be wary of.
Bond-T has 18-20 hour longevity and above average sillage.
I haven’t encountered a truly great gourmand in a long while. Bond-T ends that drought. This is a fabulously complex construct from the mind of Sig. Sammarco. It is so good I am going to check for Oompa Loompas the next time we meet. If you’ve ever wanted a bit of subversive growl with your sweetness Bond-T will fit the bill.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Sammarco at Esxence 2016.