A frequent conversation I have when I tell people I write a perfume blog is, “what is there to write about?” My first answer is I think perfume is art when done by creative people who share that intent. I tell them that what you find at the mall tends to be the commercial form of olfactory art. What really inspires my love of perfume is when the members of independent perfumery go for a visionary aspiration of olfactory art. There are not a lot of brands which regularly have this as a raison d’etre.
One creative director who passionately believes this is Stefania Squeglia. I have had the opportunity to be able to sit with her a couple of times. The depth of her commitment to making perfume which inspires thought about what perfume can be shines throughout her brand, Mendittorosa. It is especially prevalent in the Talismans collection. The latest release Sirio is a gorgeous example of capturing an early spring night gazing at the stars.
Sig. ra Squeglia has worked with perfumer Amelie Bourgeois on almost all the Talismans. For this most visionary of perfumery the creative director needs a perfumer who can translate an inventive brief into an equally original perfume. It is what has allowed this collection to examine the edges of what we consider perfume.
For Sirio, Sig. ra Squeglia wanted to capture the connection between the terrestrial Garden of Eden and the universe of stars above. What I experience is what happens when I step out at midnight on a moonless night in the early part of April. There is a chill to the air forming an icy crystallinity around the early plants which have just started to grow. Above are the glittering pinpoints of starlight so clearly seen they must be miles instead of light years away. Sirio captures the connection between terrestrial and extraterrestrial.
The keynote to the opening moments is something I always associate with early spring, rhubarb. As one of the earliest crops to harvest it is the harbinger of more to come. Rhubarb has become more of a perfume staple in the past few years. Here Mme Bourgeois gives it a high enough concentration, so it is the predominant scent. She then cleverly captures that chilly night with the addition of crisp apple and white musks. They come together to form that climactic iciness effect. It feels like there is frost on the spear of rhubarb. The white musks then add an expansiveness which begins to form as floral notes of rose and peony along with the sweet fruit of plum coat the chilled rhubarb. This is an enchanting accord as it feels like our garden milieu has left the earth in a transport bubble. Once we attain the stars a base accord of cashmeran and amberwood add a synthetic woodiness which also retains the expansiveness. It is here where we float in space looking back towards the garden we left.
Sirio has 12-14 hour longevity and moderate sillage.
Italian independent perfumery seems to have more than its share of members who think perfume as art is something worth pursuing. Sig. ra Squeglia made that decision from the moment she founded Mendittorosa. Five years later she can still take me from the garden to the stars.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Mendittorosa.
Mirrors are reflections of reality. Spend too much time lost in them and you will become a narcissist. Then there are those mirrors found in the fun house at the carnival. These surfaces distort reality. The distortion allows for new perspectives on that which you have seen in a normal way. I am more likely to have to be dragged out of the fun house than I am from the dresser. I like distorted reality. I like the way it causes me to think about non-reality. In perfumery it can be dangerous to create fragrances which distort reality too severely. It is a task for only the clearest eyed of creative directors. One of those is Stefania Squeglia of Mendittorosa.
Sig.ra Squeglia has shown her adventurous nature throughout the collection but it is in the three perfumes which make up the Talismans series where it reaches its apotheosis. On the website it describes the fragrances which make up Talismans as, “a concept of scents with strong message and vision”. Sig.ra Squeglia has done that. The most recent addition to the Talismans, Nettuno, is another example.
Sig.ra Squeglia continues working with perfumer Amelie Bourgeois with whom she has collaborated on all of the Mendittorosa fragrances to date. I imagine for Mme Bourgeois this partnership is freeing in its own way allowing her to push her own boundaries.
Nettuno is inspired by Marco Pesatori’s poem Il Volo di Nettuno (Neptune’s Flight). There is a part of the larger poem that I think captures the stylism behind Mendittorosa as a brand:
Through age-old planets
With an idea
That has no more ideas
It is that which Nettuno captures the sense of vast interplanetary distances filled with the chill of deep space.
Model Tresor Prijs
Nettuno opens with a cold water accord of cyclamen providing the aqueous underpinning for pink pepper and blue ginger. Blue ginger has a very pronounced pine needle scent profile. The pink pepper brings out the subtler peppery facets within this ingredient. Mme Bourgeois then creates what she calls a “complex rose accord”. I would call it a very metallic rose. I have always liked this kind of distorted reflection of rose as it feels trapped within a mirror. A very soft powdery iris provides the figurative tail of a comet as we zoom through it to find a leather accord on the other side. In Sogno Reale Mme Bourgeois’ leather accord was made more primitive. In Nettuno it is made more transparent. It feels like it is an illusion of outer space. Finally, Mme Bourgeois tunes an array of white musks into a version of icy Neptune as we have arrived in orbit; the chill settling in.
Nettuno has 16-18 hour longevity and average suillage.
I am, so far, a fan of the kind of perfume Sig.ra Squeglia is producing. These are made for the adventurous perfume lover. One who, like me, revels in seeing the world slightly distorted like a fun house mirror. Mendittorosa is slowly and surely filling up a perfumed fun house full of delightfully quirky visions. Nettuno is the latest installation.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample of Nettuno from Mendittorosa at Esxence 2016.
I love sushi and am an avid proselytizer when trying to get those reluctant to try eating raw fish to let me guide them through it. The one thing I warn all of them is my favorite final piece of any sushi outing is something only for those who really like sushi. I order sea urchin in a hand roll topped with a raw quail’s egg. The overall texture of this as sea urchin, or uni as it is called in Japanese, is very soft can be challenging. Combine this with the smell of fresh sea urchin which has a strong iodine component along with a distinct briny smell. I love the smell of fresh uni it feels like the living ocean to me. I can honestly say I never expected to find it in a perfume but now I have in the new Medittorosa Sogno Reale.
Stefania Squeglia is the owner and creative director at Medittorosa. Sogno Reale is the perfumed realization of a dream Sig.ra Squeglia had. She asked perfumer Amelie Bourgeois to create a fragrance which evoked her dream the trio of smells Mme Bourgeois had to work with was lemon, sea urchin, and leather. Sogno Reale has the feeling of a waking dream full of seeming contradictions which somehow make sense when lost in the subconscious.
Sogno Reale opens with that lemon as brilliant as you will find in a perfume. It provides stark contrast to the uni accord which Mme Bourgeois forms from iodine and ozonic notes. This captures that smell of fresh ocean and something living precisely. It is a very odd combination but it works for me. It is going to be too weird for some. If you can find something to enjoy, the next phase as Mme Bourgeois constructs her leather accord makes it worth it. First patchouli is used to lead into an unrefined leather accord. Mme Bourgeois takes olibanum, styrax, hyraceum, and sandalwood. This leather accord has a primitive quality to it. That matches the remainder of the uni accord perfectly. Very late in the drydown there is a boozy shimmering finish around rum and amber.
Sogno Reale has 8-10 hour longevity and very little sillage.
I always want perfume brands to take chances and Sig.ra Squeglia has done that with Sogno Reale. Like my finishing dish at the sushi restaurant Sogno Reale is not for those who like their perfumes safe. Sogno Reale is for the perfume lover who truly wants to try something very different. Sogno Reale is that kind of perfume. I was not able to wear it on a really hot day where I think it might be at its best. I did wear it on a trip to the beach and to the sushi restaurant afterwards. As I got ready to take a bite of my uni hand roll a slight whiff of it rose from my wrist. It was a perfect combination of two forms of uni.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Medittorosa.