New Perfume Review ALTAIA Ombu- A Tree Grows in Rome

There are all kind of fabricated romance in perfume PR. It is nice when you meet the real thing and it leads to beautiful fragrance. Since 2004 Marina Sersale and Sebastian Alvarez Murena have been the creative directors behind the Eau D’Italie brand. That collection successfully goes for landscapes as perfume. A year ago, the two of them started a new line ALTAIA which stands for “A Long Time Ago In Argentina”. Doing a bit of genealogical digging Sig.ra Serale and Sig. Murena learned there were connections going back a few generations where their families connected in Argentina. The first three releases covered each of the great-grandfathers in Argentina and the early days of Sig.ra Sesale and Sig. Murena’s romance. The fourth release has just arrived, Ombu, and it is a love letter from Sig.ra Sersale to Sig. Murena.

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Sebastian Alvarez Murena and Marina Sersale

When I met Sig.ra Sersale in Florence at Pitti 2015 as she was introducing ALTAIA I asked her how difficult it was working on such personal stories with a perfumer. Her response was that perfumer Daphne Bugey understood the emotion behind the briefs immediately. In the first three releases and now with Ombu, Mme Bugey is in full understanding of what is wanted in these fragrances.

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Daphne Bugey

Ombu is the name of a giant spreading evergreen found on the Pampas of Argentina. It is underneath these shade trees where working Gauchos escape the sun. In another coincidence, there is a single Ombu growing in their hometown of Rome, Italy at the foot of Capitoline Hill. Ombu is a giant shade tree of a fragrance capturing the wide-open spaces of the Pampas, the spirit of the Guachos and a man who represents both to Sig.ra Sersale.

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Ombu Tree

Pink pepper has become one of those almost too ubiquitous notes over the last year or so. It also gets used unartfully, often in overdose. For the beginning of Ombu Mme Bugey uses pink pepper which she pairs with sage. This forms an open grasslands accord. The sage provides most of the structure but the right amount of pink pepper creates a more expansive green. A springy Virginia cedar is the trunk of the tree. The soft earth at the base of the tree is re-created with amber and benzoin. A place to take a soothing nap to escape the midday sun.

Ombu has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

ALTAIA is a departure from the Eau D’Italie line because it carries more authentic humanity than a lot of perfumes. Sig.ra Sersale and Mme Bugey have made a fitting representation of Sig. Murena. Now turnabout is only fair to expect so I hope Sig. Murena and Mme Bugey are capturing Sig.ra Sersale for the next release.

Disclosure: this review was based on a sample provided by ALTAIA.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review ALTAIA Yu Son- Love Among the Oranges

Two of my favorite people in perfume are the husband and wife team behind Eau D’Italie; Sebastian Alvarez Murena and Marina Sersale. As the owners of the hotel her family founded, La Sireneuse; they have created perfumes which capture the history around their property. Because they are interested in the past Sig.ra Sersale decided to dig a little bit into her ancestry. When she finally traced back her lineage to a great-great-grandfather who was in Argentina looking for business opportunities she found something extremely interesting; the great-great-grandfather of Sig. Murena was part of their story. In a perfumed version of the television show “Who Do You Think You Are?” they decided to make perfumes to capture not only the history of both families but the contemporary love of the two people who met all these years later.

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Sebastian Alvarez Murena and Marina Sersale

The line is called ALTAIA which is an acronym for “A Long Time Ago in Argentina”. There are three fragrances in the inaugural releases. By Any Other Name is the story of Sig.ra Sersale’s ancestors and is a lovely rose themed perfume. Don’t Cry for Me is the one for Sig. Murena’s family and it is a beautifully fresh floral. The one which captured my attention from the first moment I smelled it was Yu Son which is meant to evoke an early moment in the relationship of Sig.ra Sersale and Sig. Murena.

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Daphne Bugey

All three of the ALTAIA perfumes were composed by Daphne Bugey. When I spoke with Sig.ra Sersale at Pitti Fragranze she said it was clear Mme Bugey really felt the inspiration behind the briefs she was given. I definitely agree that the perfume she produced has plenty of emotion behind it. Yu Son represents that moment in a relationship when you feel sure you’ve found your lover and your best friend. For our lovers this took place in an orange grove in Italy and Yu Son is meant to capture that evening as the air cools in the orange grove.

Mme Bugey uses mandarin as the source of her orange in the top notes. Paired with it is a lilting green tea accord which is almost like the lovers sitting on a cloth underneath the trees sipping cups of tea. It is a lovely fragile opening. It evolves into a passionate mix of orris and orange blossom. This is what sold me on Yu Son. Mme Bugey uses just the right concentration of orris. The orange blossom also stands up a little more than it might against a note like orris. Together there is the partnership of two halves forming a fabulous whole. Mme Bugey again keeps it light in the base as gaiac and amber provide a very simple frame to contain the floral duet in the heart.

Yu Son has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

Orris and orange blossom are a not unheard of combination but there is something special about the particular balance Mme Bugey struck. I really feel the combining of two different influences into something new and greater than either. Very much like the life, and perfumes, Sig.ra Sersale and Sig. Murena have produced over the past eleven years.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample from ALTAIA I received at Pitti Fragranze 2015.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Eau D’Italie Morn to Dusk- A Lazy Day in Positano

There are a few perfume brands which are attached to a specific place. As I sit here in the dog days of summer dreaming of vacations in places not here it doesn’t take much to let my mind wander. One perfume brand which always has me imagining the place where it comes from is Eau D’Italie. Co-Owners and Creative Directors Marina Sersale and Sebastian Alvarez Murena have produced a line of perfumes which have made the hotel which inspired it live in my mind. That hotel is La Sireneuse in Positano. The perfumes have always sparked my imagination of what the hotel looks like. The latest release called Morn to Dusk is an evocation of a day on holiday from morning until getting ready for the evening.

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Sebastian Alvarez Murena and Marina Sersale

For Morn to Dusk the creative directors chose Annick Menardo to work with for the first time. Mme Menardo is another of those perfumers who spends most of her time on the more mainstream releases. I always look forward to the time she will take on a niche project. One common theme to her niche compositions is her ability to choose high quality raw materials and display them like fine jewels on black velvet. In Morn to Dusk she chose notes to represent the morning, mid-afternoon, and twilight.

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Annick Menardo

The morning notes start with a sunburst of bergamot. Mme Menardo rapidly follows that up with the green floralcy of muguet. Lily of the Valley is one of those floral notes that seems so green while also containing a pretty floral character. Here Mme Menardo displays it as an early morning bloom as the daylight glitters off the petals. For the afternoon it is time for a treat as she uses vanilla as her heart note. This is a confectionary vanilla. It could represent a vanilla macaron or gelato. The muguet sticks around and that has the ability to pick up some of the deeper buried green facets from underneath the sweet in the vanilla. By twilight the day has left us ready for a shower before the evening. Mme Menardo uses a cocktail of synthetic musks to give that accord of warm skin to finish our day.

Morn to Dusk has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

Morn to Dusk really did evoke a lazy day on holiday for me. It makes it one of those deceptively easy to wear fragrances that you can some time erroneously dismiss for that ease. It asks nothing more of you than to enjoy the day. Sometimes that is everything a perfume should ask of the wearer.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Eau D’Italie Graine de Joie- Vivacious Pomegranate

It seems like every trendy thing eventually finds its way into fragrance. For that reason it should be no surprise that pomegranate seems to be showing up in a few 2014 fragrances I’ve tried. There’s nothing wrong with that and it is interesting to see how different perfumers choose to use it. For the eleventh fragrance from Eau D’Italie, Graine de Joie, the creative directors Marina Sersale and Sebastian Alvarez Murena asked perfumer Daphne Bugey to create a fragrance to “conjure(s) up the irresistible light-headedness of when you fall in love.” Mme Bugey decided that pomegranate was the keynote to create this feeling.

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Sebastian Alvarez Murena and Marina Sersale

I always hesitate to describe a fragrance in terms of age but Graine de Joie seems like a bubbly ingénue laughing at the world and joyous at having found love. Mme Bugey assembles an array of fruits along with a critical linchpin of praline before ending on a soft sheer white musk. Graine de Joie is effervescent in its joie de vivre.

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Daphne Bugey

Mme Bugey trots the pomegranate out right away but in truth pomegranate does not have the heft to really carry off a fruity opening by itself. Therefore Mme Bugey adds apple as a framing note to help define the unusual fruitiness and to add foundation. As the fruitiness attenuates a breezy, slightly watery freesia arises to combine with the pomegranate. The combination is like a sunny smile and it here where Graine de Joie really comes together. The next transition is really the most interesting part of Graine de Joie. At first I think I’m detecting wood but then it turns into a nutty quality and then there is a dusting of cocoa. Finally it all coalesces into a praline accord as Graine de Joie takes on a very unusual gourmand aspect for just a short period of time. Eventually it ushers in cedar and a collection of white musks to impart a soft sheer musk accord to the final moments.

Graine de Joie has 6-8 hour longevity and below average sillage.

For most of the first fragrances of Eau D’Italie there was almost a seriousness that belied the passion behind the brand. Starting with 2012’s Un Bateau Pour Capri there has been a noticeable lightening in tone. Graine de Joie is the most ebullient example of this lighter tone and it is that which makes it so easy to wear. I think when one says a fragrance is easy to wear it also becomes easy to dismiss and in the case of Graine de Joie that would be an error. That praline transition in the heart definitely rises above a fragrance that just wants to smell good. Mme Bugey’s skill at adding that into a fruity floral construction without making it intrusive was more impressive each time I wore it. I know for me I experience something much larger than a grain of joy every time I wear Graine de Joie.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Eau D’Italie at Esxence 2014.

Mark Behnke