In Nowfashion's newly-minted column on scents, self-defined ''perfume-nerd'' and director Maria Host-Ivessich and Italian Master Perfumer Lorenzo Villoresi explores the role of poetics and emotionality in scents.
One could say that what distinguishes your style as well as being a reason for your fame could be your poetic vision. How do you keep it active in everyday life?
I don’t do anything special: it’s always active! I just need a bit of solitude sans isolament. It’s inexhaustive, variable and limitless at the same time: Alamut and Teint de Neige belong to a particular mindset, to dreams in specific moments, like Kamasurabhi and Atman Xaman belongs to more recent visions. Everything starts from what we call “inspiration”, which is nothing more than a desire- a vision to translate into fragrance, accompanied by a series of emotions… What is true for each case is that when I leave any kind of “day to day life”, routine, my “poetic vision” opens up and activates itself towards new worlds and dimensions.
What do you think of the role of a “muse” in our era, do you have any?
Honestly, no. Also because real “muses” from once upon a time had an entirely different profundity, presence and intensity about themselves, from Cleopatra to Mata Hari, from Madame de Pompadour to Catherine of Russia and the Countess of Castiglione.
People must tell you quite frequently your perfumes make them emotional. In your opinion, besides the beauty of the composition, why do they have this particular effect?
The ensemble of name, fragrance and packaging create a synergy between them, creating pleasure and emotion… some can be intensively suggestive for certain people but not for others.. the name evokes a world synonymous to the fragrance. And the fragrance, composed of proportions corresponding to the idea, to the dream, it only “sounds” in that instance, like a crystal glass only sounds when it is made properly.. And besides, what is a perfume if it doesn’t generate emotion? A landscape painted with a distance? With no passion? Emotion and fragrance are two sides of the same coin. Each aspect, each detail conducts in the same direction…
Have you ever tried to transform a precise emotion into a perfume?
Not directly but certainly through a vision. A magical, legendary place, like the Hyperborean world, “Hyperborea” isn’t a physical place, but a collection of emotions... and perfumes that arouse them... The sublimation of a vision…
Is there anything you believe you still haven’t crystallised in an essence?
Yes: the perfume of the desert… sooner or later I will have to isolate myself to create it… it’s such a fulfilling vision… waiting in the draw of latent desires… in wait of becoming…
We know you personally and carefully select the names of your perfumes. How and to what extent does this influence how the name, lending itself to something and perfume, in particular, is perceived?
It can have a great influence, especially if the name, the packaging and the perfume are three aspects of the same collective that correspond between each other. Sometimes, realistically, the name has already been used by someone else. And in that case, another name must be found, and it must be equally as fitting to the imagined fragrance, even if it is different from the initially conceived idea. Like in the case of Kamasurabhi…
What are your favourite words? And in the case, obviously without telling us, are there words you favour that are reserved for perfumes that still need to be made or is the process the opposite?
There needs to be something behind the word… a word on its own isn’t enough... but if it evokes a world, a myth, a rite, a fable or a legend, naturally it is completely different: Teint de Neige is a world, an era and a dream… and Theseus is a myth.. the same goes for Yerbamate or for Dilmun: they aren’t just words… So certain words- concepts- ideas- dreams - visions- can be waiting to be freed, to become fragrances… In other cases, certain imagined fragrances are longing to have a name, which duly arrives… and arrives when it is time…
A sentence that has inspired you lately, either from a book or from a wall or said by someone you love.
Recently I read this sentence by the Dalai Lama: “An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backwards. So when life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means it’s going to launch you into something great. So just focus and keep aiming”.