Maria Host-Ivessich and Alessandro Gualtieri Talk Extremes in Perfumery

In Nowfashion's newly-minted column on scents, self-defined ''perfume-nerd'' and director Maria Host-Ivessich delves into the role of perfumes in this decade and 'socially-acceptable scents' with anarchist Nasomatto master perfumer Alessandro Gualtieri.

Alessandro, you are known for your genuine inclination to push towards the edge, to be and without being defined. Our noses are (now more than ever) lazy and scared, addicted to the smell of nothing and aseptic: how do you see the role of perfume in this decade? And in the future?

Perfumes are an expression of your character at that moment. As long as people feel the need to follow and be part of the mainstream, the lazy and scared will thrive. As a Nose, I create works I feel like wearing and sharing with the world. The overall role of perfume in that sense does not matter to me. It is up to the "noses" of our time to be monotonous or be more creatively expressive. 

What is the limit between an unpleasant and a pleasant smell? How much does the role of the socially acceptable influence this?

The worst kind of smell to me are detergents and deodorants. Chemical creations that are meant to make a place or person smell better, fresher, but in my opinion, ruin the natural aura of authenticity. However, for example, it is entirely socially acceptable to use it on a restaurant table before seating new customers. Similarly, people are disgusted by excretion. However, excretion is altogether natural. Excretion is an essential ingredient in perfumery. There is no limit to smell. The best and worse smells have their intricacies that can be manipulated and benefitted from. 

To what extent can you go in this regards and what pushes you to poeticise this concept? In your opinion, can it be done with anything?

I don't poeticise anything with my work. Through my perfumes, I hope that people will want to explore their olfactory preferences beyond fake vanilla and jasmine. And if people's creative, and personal development evolves further in different pursuits than the smell, that would only be positive. 

One thing that fascinates you in the ugly, and one that you reject?

"Ugly" is a vital part of our society. ''The good the bad and the ugly'' would not have been such an iconic movie if it were just ''The good and the bad''. Often, the most inspirational works come from an ugly place. Only because something is considered ugly does not mean it has less value. There would be no beauty if there were no nasty to compare it with. Beauty, in a sense, is boring. It has no reason to change or develop. It is already beautiful.

What makes you feel free?

Being completely independent, creatively and productively to do and make what I want. 

Can you leave us with any phrase that has inspired you lately, either found in a book or on a wall, or one mentioned by a loved one?

"A shift from illusion as make-believe to fantasy as olfactory pleasure.”

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