Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hilde Soliani, A Brief Encounter at Elements Showcase

Hilde Soliani easily tells stories about playing in her grandmother's lab as a child, her life as a performer, and how she immortalized her charismatic father and uncle via two of her fragrances, namely Bell'Antonio and Zio Agide. During our brief encounter I instantly felt easy around her. As we talked, she rummaged through her bag, the exact same way that my Zia's from Italy always did when I was a kid, their hands always emerged with some kind of gem, usually a caramel or a chocolate. Similarly Hilde’s hand emerged with fragrance gems that she carefully selected and placed in my hand with great assurance. Her selection truly gives an interesting overview of her fragrances and how she has evolved as a perfumer. As the fragrances progress, they embody lightness, that speaks to abstraction and modernism in perfumery. I like that.

Ti Amo Collection, Il Tuo Tulipano, 2004
With Il Tuo Tulipano I can easily imagine Hilde on her Sicilian beach with black sand dreaming of red and yellow tulips. Soliani reminded me that this is a conceptual fragrance given that the tulip flower is without scent. Fruit and flower collide here, yet there is a gourmand aspect that makes Il Tuo extraordinary. This sunny fragrance exudes depth, warmth and brings complete harmony to the table. A juicy pure peach opens the fragrance and is tempered by citrus notes, centered on bergamot. Its heart is sweet woody, a bit spicy, and focused on white florals, freesia and lily of the valley. It's base is cozy and anchored in oakmoss, vetiver, and musk. 

Teatro, Olfattivo Parma, 08, Bell'Antonio, 2008 
Named for her handsome and elegant father, Antonio. Soliani told me Bell’Antonio has many meanings: her love of smoking toscano cigars, these have coffee aroma inside them, and the smells and emotions she encountered while waiting on the ticket line in Parma to see the opera as a child. I am struck by the initial gorgeous hay note that bursts open to a sweet spicy star anise that is quite pronounced on my skin, and this fragrance continues to bloom with its richness of espresso, tobacco, and smokiness. This is a modern Tabac Blond. It's a compliment to be compared to a classic, no?

Il Tuo Tulipano, Giallo, 2011 
Here is the yellow tulip that she dreamed of. A bright transcendent fragrance whose focus is bergamot, rosemary, and basil. Here is Soliani’s contemporary interpretation of a old cologne acqua di Parma. Soliani says, “Parma is very sophisticated for the sophisticated Human being.” 

Gli Invisibli, Zio Agide, 2012
There's a classic Fougere in the house, with a bit of a twist, and it wants to go out into the world.  A herbaceous top leads us to big player notes of Lavender and Cedar Moss, yet there is a green sweetness that lives, perhaps fig, perhaps rose. This makes this a delicate fragrance that a woman or man can wear. Hilde's uncle, Zio Agide was a young man who knew how to walk the walk, just like this fragrance.

Thanks to Hilde Soliani for her thoughts and time, and I look forward to seeing you again next time. Valerie

See Resource Page
Photo Still:  
Mamma Roma,  Anna Magnani and Ettore Garofolo.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Aiyana by Tallulah Jane and A Fragrance Journey

This month I experienced  Aiyana, Tallulah Jane's latest, 3 ways. I also got to reflect on my niche fragrance journey that began with a good friend and a bottle of perfume that I almost forgot about. 

Read them both on CaFleureBon.


photo credit:  Taking inspiration from Joan of Arc, Chicago-based designer Grace Duval transformed a slew of old bicycle inner tubes 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

An Email from Christophe Laudamiel

Hi All,

I wanted to share an excerpt from a lovely email exchange with Christophe Laudamiel clarifying my post on his and Christoph Hornetz Air Sculpture® scents at the Setai Hotel in NYC. 

My impression of the Setai is here: 


Dear Valerie,

Thanks a lot...  Those (articles) are still rare in what we have endeavored to focus on uniquely: ambient scenting.

Regarding the Setai, here are the facts.  The scent design of the hotel was made by Christophe Laudamiel and Christoph Hornetz , perfumers at DreamAir.  It contains 5 Air Sculpture® scents:
- Lobby and bar/lounge area scented with Grand Arrival, the signature scent of the hotel.
- Bar area scented with "Jazz Club on Fifth" automatically everyday from 8pm till 11pm as a jazz trio performs live.
- The corridors of the hotels are softly scented with Moonwood (that's 24 floors).
- The reception area of the Spa and common dry areas are scented with Lavender Fields.
- The wet Area of the Spa is scented with Nice New Ovo.
- The restaurant on the second floor is NOT scented, as most people are often not ready for scent design in restaurants, although, if you notice, restaurants often smell as not-really-intended, and could take a bit of scent design (doesn't mean perfume design necessarily).
- True, all scent players are modulable and reachable 24/7 by staff if need be or on demand, just in case.  But all is programmed 24/7.

Voila, thought you would be interested in knowing what is going on backstage or in case you would like to amend your article.

Thanks a lot for your interest, curiosity and excitement,

Kind regards,


Saturday, October 6, 2012

Snapshot #6, Valeria Picerno, Costume Designer & Personal Stylist

Valeria's photo of Prospect Park

Valeria in Pompeii

Valeria is unforgettable, her intensity, charm, sense of style, and wit. Here I share an email exchange. VV

Just to help frame things for the readers can you tell them in your own words how we met?


We met at a Fragrance Evaluation course at FIT in New York City. 


What was the best thing about the FIT class, other then that incredible lab?


I always thought I had a pretty good sense of smell, but in the first class I remember feeling like I couldn't smell anything at all. The instructor was asking us to list the olfactive notes of the first fragrances, and I really couldn't recognize any. For a second I thought I overestimated my possibilities. The best part for me was suddenly realizing that already after a couple of hours I could smell so many different notes, and visualize them in my head. It felt like the first time in my life I was actually using my nose!


I keep thinking about a dress that you talked about in class, I think it was made out of paper or some strange material, do you recall it and why we were talking about it? I think you told us your mother packed it for you and sent it here to the states?


I have no idea how I ended up mentioning it! It's a Space Age dress by Paco Rabanne made of aluminum plates linked together that I found for very little money in a vintage shop in Antwerp, Belgium.The woman who sold it to me showed me a picture of the original owner, wearing it at a party in the mid 60's. I have actually never worn it. If one day I will find the right occasion to wear it, I have to make sure I am wearing comfy shoes because it's impossible to sit in it without cutting yourself!


What are you up to these days?


I work as Costume Designer for Film and Theater. I am currently starting working on a new film. That's the most exciting part: new script, new story, new characters to define. Before even getting to the clothes, I start imagining what the character has for breakfast, what kind of media is it exposed to, what kind of people is it surrounded by. That helps me define styles and color palettes, and I often associate fragrances to it too!


There are not many people who are deeply versed and opinionated about their olfactive world, I count you as one of them, what do you attribute this to?


My whole life I have been both very curious and picky. As a kid I would always smell any food before even considering the idea of it entering my mouth. I would definitely say being a very picky eater as a kid helped me categorizing many different smells in my head. Food was the first source to build my personal olfactory library. Later on I got closer to the fragrance world thank to my dad, who is a chemist, and in his younger days loved to experiment creating cosmetics and perfumes. I have a perfect memory of the day he revealed me an old wooden box filled with amber glass bottles with a lot of different essential oils. I was about 5, and I created my own perfume mixing anise and orange blossom.


Where were you born? Is this where you grew up? 


I was born in Milan, Italy. I grew up there. 


What was the landscape like where you grew up?


I've always lived in the historical center of Milan. 
As a kid, my everyday playground was a mix of grey buildings, small streets, orange trams, Roman ruins, Leonardo Da Vinci ceilings, secret courtyards and family-owned stores.


Is there an olfactive experience that resonates and stays with you?


There are many. One of my dearest and favorite is the smell of a bakery on my way to elementary school in Milan. I would walk by in the morning, and then stop there in the afternoon when school was over to get a slice of focaccia or a chocolate egg.


Do you have any daily rituals that you can share?


I like to start my day with a cup of Earl Grey tea with vanilla coconut milk. TWG Earl Grey Gentleman tea is an absolute favorite. Strong rich sophisticated bergamot and flower petals. I usually read my daily horoscope while I drink it hehe.


What perfume have you been wearing lately and could you share your signature fragrance (s) and why it is your signature fragrance?


I am daily fascinated by new scents, but truth is, I am very rarely able to wear any. Many are pleasant to smell, but just don't seem to blend with my ph and personality. I had an epiphany when I first tried Frederic Malle's Portrait of a Lady. I wore samples of it for weeks before deciding to commit to it. For the first time I feel that a fragrance is totally blending with me, and I am not just wearing it. My first thought about it was that I want people to remember me associated to this smell. The results have been quite incredible, since I hardly ever received comments or compliments on the scent I was wearing in the past, while now it's almost a daily thing. I use it in a very small dose, since it's incredibly powerful and long lasting. What keeps on surprising me is the way it evolves throughout the day, and creates almost a little soft cloud. The only part I don't like is people asking me what am I wearing. "Ehm, it's called Portrait of a Lady...". So pretentious!


Any travel plans?


I would love to return to Marrakesh. My memories of it are infused of Moroccan mint tea, orange blossom pastries, rose water, almonds and pistachios. 


Do you have a favorite flower?


I love peonies, green tulips and antique varieties of english roses. I used to love violets, but I once received a jar of candied ones as a gift, ate them all in one day, and now I can't even think about them!