May 8, 2016

Antonio Alessandria, perfumer with a view of the Etna. (INTERVIEW)

Antonio Alessandria

What is similar between the light of the moon illuminating the alabaster skin of a young woman, way through the maze of the soul, the volcano throwing up lava to the frosty night and flowers turning into fireworks? All of them are stories of perfumes, pictures, that Antonio Alessandria embedded in his fragrances. Perfumer, who’s fragrances you may like, or dislike, but for sure will move you and leave an impression. Here is the interview.


You are from Catania, Sicily,and we could expect from you perfumes with a light sunny Sicilian soul, and in spite of that you surprise with full blooded complex and confident fragrances, with a clear character.

1. You studied electronic engineering, then worked in a company with semi-conductors. Where, how and under what conditions comes the conviction that perfumes will be your mission?

I’ve been always attracted from the world of senses. I like cooking, eating and drinking, but when I came across the world of artistic perfumery was a true revelation. I was astonished by the fact that behind a fragrance there is always a story. My first encounter with this world happened in a little shop in Rome. I was above all seduced by the idea of telling a story in terms of smell. Since then I wanted to deepen my knowledge about fragrances. I started to attend some perfumery courses in Italy and then in France. In 2005 I opened a shop, Boudoir 36, in my town. At first my intention wasn’t commercial at all: I wanted to satisfy my pleasure to talk about my passion and to let everyone discover the world of artistic perfumery. In this context I perceived that talking about fragrances is my own mission. The desire to create a fragrance which could tell a story has come subsequently. But formulation it’s not a simple matter. So I needed a long time to study and to explore the path of fragrances creation. In my personal idea of perfumery, creation and formulation are a way to express myself and to talk about my life and my culture.  


2. In my life, I already tried an innumerable amount of fragrances, and hardly anything can surprise me, but when I smelled Nuit Rouge for the first time, I said Wow. Such a magnificent contrast. I would gladly know your thoughts linked with this perfume (motive, process of creation, etc..)

Nuit Rouge talks about contrasts, and above all about the feeling you could have when you are at the same time attracted but also frightened by something. Catania is under a volcano, the Etna. Some nights you can stand in the middle of the main street of the town and look at the eruption. It’s not dangerous because the volcano is far away, but you can feel the power of nature. For us it’s a normal experience. But there are some cloudy nights when something special happens: you can’t see the lava fountain clear in the sky, but the sky is reddish and you can see only the gleams breaking the darkness of the night. This is quite unusual and you have the sensation that something is behind the corner, you would like to see more, but at the same time you are scared because you don’t know what could happen. So Nuit Rouge is based on this kind of contrast: green, metallic and cold like the fear, but, in its development, attracting and cocooning like an unknown call to seduction.

Nuit Rouge

3. Almost every perfumer has in his portfolio a perfume in which the main motif is tuberose. With you it is Nacre Blanche. It is as an unwritten compulsory ride. Is this material really so interesting and seductive? Is it a challenge to do the same as others, but in spite of that do it differently? In your own way?

Tuberose theme is really attracting because of its seducing ambiguity: white and virginal, but at the same time carnal and lustful. But what seduced me was the smell of tuberose absolute: green, earthy, spicy… I wanted to interpret the tuberose theme, that normally is very far from the smell of tuberose absolute, having in mind that smell. And I wanted also to push the creative process to another side: a tuberose that could wear also a man. This is the reason why my tuberose is also leathery and woody, keeping anyway the floral character of this amazing raw material.

Nacre Blanche

4. What about the flacons? Style Art-deco? What is the philosophy behind it? By the way, they are very comfortable in the palm, maybe the most comfortable that I ever held in my hand. So you have the impulse to hold them in your hand.

Art Deco is one of my favorite period in terms of architecture and decorative arts. I was naturally inspired by this style when I chose the bottle. I wanted a flacon easy to keep in the hand, something you can handle comfortably and you can almost disguise easily because your perfume is also your secret… I also wanted a “soft touch” effect for the finishing to eliminate the cold sensation of the glass and to offer the illusion of touching someone’s skin. The bottle becomes something close to a fetish object, the “body” of the fragrance, while the perfume is the “soul”.

5. Noir Obscur has rum in his ingredients. How a perfumer gets the scent illusion of rum?

You can get a “rum effect”, but in Noir Obscur I used a Rhum Absolute, a special extraction coming directly from the distilled alcohol.

Noir Obscur

6. In your first trio of perfumes Nacre Blanche, Noir Obscure and Nuit Rouge we noticed that each of them starts with the letter N, it is probably not by chance, what links them?

The first trio of fragrances was called “Hommage à la lune”. I’ve chosen this theme because in my own idea, perfumery is very close to the moon. I always say that everything is completely different under the moonlight, than during the day, as we are different when we wear a fragrance.
There is no moon without night, so this is the reason why I have chosen all the names starting with “N”, like the night.

7. Fleur and Flammes. Animalist and smoked flowers. I applaud, very nice fragrance. How long it took you to create it?

Composing a fragrance is not a linear process. It depends on inspiration and on complex mental processes of association and interpretation. You can find rapidly the way or waste your time on a wrong intuition. The creative process could take some months. After you have to refine the fragrance in a technical way. As regards Fleurs et Flammes, it has taken me about six months to create it.

Fleurs et Flammes

8. What color of flacon comes next? Blue? Green? Will you reveal it?

How have you guessed?!? Yes, probably it will be blue!

9. And now a dilemma. You have two alternatives to choose from. Create a perfume that creates a revolution in perfumery, but your name will not be linked to this perfume, meaning that you as the creator will remain in anonymity, or you will create a generic perfume that will be an average perfume, but will sell millions of flacons, and you being the author will be known. Which alternative will you choose?

No doubt! I’ll choose to create a revolution in anonymity!

10. What makes a perfume sexy?

I think that a perfume is sexy when it preserve a link with our instinctive and animal part. So I think that leather and animalic raw materials, although in very small dosage, make a perfume sexy.

Thank you for the interview. 


1 comment:

  1. I think that a perfume is sexy when it preserve a link with our instinctive and animal part.

    ReplyDelete

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