The Holidays are all about the traditions. In other words the expected. In my family if there is something missing it can cause heartburn. Additions are welcome though. Holiday traditions can grow bigger just don’t make them smaller. There is a comfort to those things we are used to. The same is true of perfume. I generally am happy to see a perfume which shows me something different. There are fragrances which just want to execute a classic style; Ciro Columbine is one of those.
Ciro is another of those resurrected heritage brands from the first half of the last century. Overseen by owner-creative director Rainer Diersche it is choosing the path of new perfumes with heritage names. Since only a charmed few will have ever heard of a brand which stopped making perfume in 1961 those names shouldn’t carry too much weight. Hr. Diersche is not new to the fragrance game. He has also been the creative force behind Linari since 2008. He began Ciro last year with an initial collection of six. Columbine is the first I’ve tried but based on it I am going to seek out the others.
When I saw Columbine I was thinking the flower. Hr. Diersche was thinking about the heroine of Italian Commedia dell’Arte. The lover of the more well-known Harlequin. Hers was to provide honesty through lines which pierced while also engaged in the seduction of Harlequin. She was beloved for her truth and beauty. Hr. Diersche collaborates with perfumer Alexandra Carlin to capture this multi-faceted character.
Columbine opens with a mixture of genial mandarin and acerbic tagete; capturing the playful sharp tongue of its inspiration. Baie rose and neroli come next. The neroli creates a floral version of the mandarin while the baie rose finds the tagete and gives it an herbal contrast. Columbine begins to shift as tobacco and osmanthus provide the next layer. This is a balanced pairing as the leatheriness of the osmanthus and the narcotic sweetness of the tobacco find an amplified richness. It gives way to a straight suede leather accord which gives a slight animalic tinge to things. Musks give that tinge a deeper shade. The sweetness of benzoin provides the finishing touches.
Columbine has 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.
I like the idea of a heritage brand making contemporary versions of classic styles. Columbine does a great job of this. Sometimes I just want a perfume done well. Columbine exceeded my expectations.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.
As I was walking back to my hotel room in Milan during Esxence 2016 I ran into Joseph Quartana in the lobby of the hotel. Mr. Quartana was co-founder of one of my favorite independent brands Six Scents where they took up-and-coming fashion designers and paired them with perfumers. The results were never less than fascinating as the fashion designers and the perfumers came up with their olfactory designs. I asked him if there was going to be more. He shook his head negatively. He told me he was doing something else. I stopped to sit down and hear about it. Mr. Quartana told me he was developing a line based on poisonous flowers. He had some for preview in Milan but I just couldn’t make it over to the hotel where he was at during the show. I followed up on our return to the US and received sample of all nine of the new line called Parfums Quartana Les Potions Fatales.
Mr. Quartana decided to work with the very deep roster of perfumers at Symrise. Each of the nine has a different perfumer. This is in keeping with the way Six Scents also operated. I am a big proponent of the idea that a single collaboration between creative director and perfumer produces the best results. Except Mr. Quartana keeps providing me with data points which are in conflict with that hypothesis. For Les Potions Fatales it makes each one of these first perfumes feel like its own discovery with the concept being the connective tissue rather than an aesthetic or particular style. I am going to spend most of this week introducing you to this very good collection of perfumes. Today I start with Bloodflower.
Bloodflower is most known as the preferred food of Monarch butterfly larvae. In the places where bloodflower grows its sap is used to poison the arrows of the indigenous primitive peoples who live there. I knew this history so I was surprised that the perfume based upon it was something quite different. Perfumer Alexandra Carlin and Mr. Quartana wanted to go for a “haute Goth” style of fragrance. The nod to the plant was to mimic the transformation of the larvae into the butterfly having a metamorphosing style throughout. It does capture what they wanted.
Bloodflower opens with the first syllable, a blood accord. I have always loved the description of the smell of freshly spilled blood as smelling of freshly sheared copper. That imparts the concept of a chilly metallic accord. Mme Carlin assembles just that. The early moments have a clean metallic edge to them, almost like a used scalpel would smell like. The first transformation occurs as the blood changes into a licorice laden mix meant to emulate Sambuca liqueur. As with the top accord Mme Carlin also captures the sugary sweet quality of the liqueur as well as its viscosity as it feels like this oozes over the blood accord. In the base the flower part shows up as a very deep rose is made even deeper with clove and patchouli. This is a Goth black rose to finish upon.
Bloodflower has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage.
I will be repeating myself a lot over the next few days but Mr. Quartana did a fantastic job as creative director. Bloodflower shows how he was unafraid to move away from slavish devotion to the name of the collection with a willingness to end up someplace different. Bloodflower is a great example of everything that is good about this collection.
Tomorrow I am going to review Venetian Belladonna and Midnight Datura.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Parfums Quartana.
Editor’s Note: Mr. Quartana plans on producing and directing original videos for all of the perfumes within the collection. Bloodflower is one of the ones which already has one. You will see Mr. Quartana has a similar adventurous nature in his filmmaking as in his perfume making. The link is here.