Some of my favorite independent perfumers have come to it from a beginning in the visual arts, particularly painting. I have known about San Francisco-based artist Bruno Fazzolari for over a year but I only really had a chance to sniff the one of his early perfumes, Lampblack, which has garnered the most press. Mr. Fazzolari contacted me just after the beginning of the year and subsequently sent me four samples of his creations and I’ve now had a real opportunity to live with them. All four of them have a fantastic “visual” component to them as he creates perfumes which drew me into a world of color and texture. Over the next two days I’m going to review all four. Today I’ll start with Monserrat and Lampblack.
All of Mr. Fazzolari’s perfumes match a painting with the fragrance. Monserrat came from a painting which was exhibited at the Jancar Jones Gallery in Los Angeles. Mr. Fazzolari was “thinking of worn and repainted urban walls and the matte surfaces of Italian fresco painting”. He was also inspired by the paint color Montserrat Orange which is an orange with a distinct pink quality to it. I consider it a skewed orange not pink nor orange but something in between. Mr. Fazzolari seems to be working towards that kind of marriage of influences looking for something like a fruity floral but not really what we think of as a fruity floral.
Monserrat opens with a burst of tart pink grapefruit sweetened with carrot seed. The carrot seed has a really pleasant balancing effect with the grapefruit. This moves into a jasmine and osmanthus floral heart. Here Mr. Fazzolari uses the osmanthus to make the jasmine less indolic and floral and something with more prominent fruity aspects. The apricot and leather quality of osmanthus is very evident. The base is the smell of plaster walls or wet dry wall, whether classic or modern this accord provides a distinctly grounding aspect as Mr. Fazzolari primarily uses a mixture of white musks to produce his accord for his fruity floral color to settle upon. Monserrat has 8-10 hour longevity and moderate sillage.
If Monserrat is an affable fruity floral, Lampblack is a deeply threatening meditation on inky darkness. Mr. Fazzolari describes his goal with Lampblack to “create a transparent, colorful darkness.” He succeeds at those diametrically opposed goals by using nagarmotha in one of the more unique applications of the note most usually called “oud” in other fragrances. Here he takes that faux-oud and gives it its own distinct identity.
Lampblack opens on a citrus and black pepper duet. The pepper is more forward as it should be the citrus adds interesting contrast. Mr. Fazzolari then begins to assemble his fast moving shadows as nagarmotha, benzoin, and vetiver ghost through my consciousness like wraiths in the night. There are times that it seems one surrounds me only for another to chase it off. The whole construction of Lampblack feels like an exercise in chasing shadows in a dark alley. There is a reason Lampblack is so acclaimed because it has a unique layering of textures not often found in perfumery. Lampblack has 8-10 hour sillage and moderate sillage.
Tomorrow I’ll review Au Dela and Room 237.
Disclosure: this review was based on samples provided by Bruno Fazzolari.
All paintings by Bruno Fazzolari.