It wasn’t what I had expected to find at the New Forest Show. Weaving amongst crowds of ambling people in the Shopping Pavilion, I was irritated by not being able to walk at my usual brisk pace, and impatient to get out for air, but the display caught my eye at once.
Spartan black and white boxes arranged alternately. Classy, stylish, each bearing the Italian word ‘Casa’. A range, it seemed, of room sprays. Italian room sprays. At an English country fair.
Usually content to let my shoebox rented flat smell of little else but fresh detergent on washing days, I would not normally have been interested, but there were perfume testers on the table as well.
The gravitational pull was overwhelming. I began to test as I chatted to the young woman single-handedly presenting the range.
She told me the story of how she had become involved. Her mother had suddenly found herself allergic to her favourite scent, and was ordered by doctors in New York to avoid all perfumes, be they fragrances, soap, or even wash-powder. However, for this lady, a life without scent was simply unthinkable, so she went searching for a solution. She found Lorenzo Dante Ferro, Master Perfumer, who worked to produce a non-allergenic, and totally bespoke fragrance for her, forging a firm friendship in the process.
As if this was not enough, Lorenzo then gave her daughter, Elena, the mindblowing opportunity to represent his company in the UK, and introduce his range to as many new noses as possible. So far, Lorenzo’s delicious spice rack of twenty seven intoxicating ‘ambience’ sprays have been mainly snapped up by a select few in the know, including one Kylie Minogue, and indeed the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York, as well as other 'great' houses and names whose identities remain guarded with the discretion of a Savile Row outfitters.
So these are not just your average ‘room sprays’ such as you might find among the cleaning products in the supermarket, and smelling of a combination of plastic flowers and fly-killer, these are no less than ‘olfactory architecture’ as they are described in his handbag sized 3-fold brochure.
Water-based, and therefore safe for both fabrics - and skin if you so desire, I tried (and bought) the vanilla, or rather ‘Crema di Vaniglia’, as I was about to enter the world of the wartime 1940s for an event the following weekend, and wanted to spray the hem of my dress with it as a nod to the ‘make do and mend’ ladies who used vanilla cake essence as perfume to cope with scent shortages.
However, I also tried out the ‘Pan Pepato’ (Gingerbread) and could have fainted on the spot it’s so delicious. I don’t know about smelling particularly faithfully of edible little men with smarties for coat buttons, but it certainly gave me the munchies when I got it home and sprayed my little front room with it.
The fragrances themselves, just four that day (although there are more available from the website), were no less impressive. Indeed, it is rumoured that one Mr George Clooney has his own bespoke signature scent, personally blended and created by LDF himself...
|L-R: La Riserva, Granverde, Mantra, and my personal fave, Fior di Panna|
‘La Riserva’, probably Lorenzo’s ‘signature’ scent, is a heady oriental, with top notes of Italian Bergamot, Mandarin and Rosemary, giving way to Oriental Balsams and spice accents of Black Pepper and Saffron with base notes of Sandalwood, Vanilla, Tonka and Leather. I would suggest this could be worn be either men or women, but would be utterly slaying on the neck of a man, especially in conjunction with a crisp clean shirt.
Another good one for men would be ‘Granverde’, a steady ‘green’ scent, redolent of the colognes of past times, but much fresher, and brought up to date with new leaves, blended together with essential oils of Italian citrus fruits such as Bergamot Orange and Lemon, with Siberian Pine, Geranium Leaves and fresh, Mediterranean Basil, Lavender, Coriander, Sage and Thyme with a base of of Vetiver, Patchouli, Sandalwood and Black Pepper.
However, those looking for a good ‘wedding’ scent, complete with a goodly top of Orange Blossom, should probably plump for ‘Mantra’. A fresh citrus with a warm undertow, it’s comprised of Italian Mandarin, Bergamot and Lemon with Osmanthus Flowers, Jasmine, and Ylang-Ylang and underscored with Absolute Beeswax, Vanilla, Amber, Balsams and Oriental woods.
This was my second choice, and very nearly had me splashing the last of my ‘show’ cash, but I was stopped in my tracks by the fourth, and final scent – ‘Fior Di Panna’.
A true powdery floral worthy of an early Houbigant creation, in an extremely close-fought contest, I had to say that this one kicked them all into a bucket for me, and I had to have it. “Damask Rose, Ylang Ylang, Iris and Lily-of-the-Valley brightened by nuances of Italian Bergamot and Clary Sage on lightly powdery background that embraces you with warm notes of Sandalwood and Vanilla Absolute” says the website, but I would go further, and I did, with a post on the company’s Facebook page, in which I said:
“'Fior di Panna'....
Innocence, not arrogance.
Soft, but deadly.
This creation is a total symphony."
Elena Predonzan, the young woman I found standing alone by her stall of ‘Olfactory Architecture’ masterpieces at the New Forest Show last July, is working hard to try to bring these scents to a wider UK audience.
For the sake of perfumery, I hope she succeeds.
For further information, visit: www.venetianmasterperfumer.com
© Emma Blake – 2015