Recently I saw a video clip from one of the Italian scent fairs in Florence featuring an interview with Hilde Soliani, the proprietress of her own line of perfumes. She was asked if she ever took the tastes and preferences of her probable customers into account when creating a new perfume?
No never, she said.
Really? In the test marketed universe of the twenty first century, she never paid attention to what perfume buyers want? Well, having smelled about three of her perfumes now, I am inclined to believe her. Why? Because they are just too distinctive. When, for instance, I first smelled Il Tuo Tulipano, my impression was, oh well, this one is the Italian J’Adore. But when Tulipano took on J’Adore side by side, the result was – not so much.
They are both fruity florals on the whole, but Tulipano is much fruitier, and has a heavy freesia note in it, and a lot of blackberry to begin with, almost as much as L’Artisan’s Mure et Musc, and a dry down that is warm and more opulent than most of the concentrations of J’Adore. What is it like again? Can’t say for sure anymore. By the way, there are some more serious reviews of Tulipano, including Mals’ here.
Bel’Antonio the second one I tried, is a simple perfume really: coffee over tobacco. I wondered if it was a re-do of Amen, or possibly Navegar, but now think it isn’t. What it smells like is every Italian coffee bar I ever stepped into to order a cappuccino (if it was before 10 a.m.) or an espresso (if it was after) and what they smelled like. You can smell a good quality tobacco under the coffee. Like an un-smoked pack of premium Virginia tobacco cigarettes, and the smell takes me back to Rome rather handily.
I’m guessing that Hilde Soliani wanted something like this smell in Bel’Antonio. It is warm and it’s comforting and is oddly gourmand, but in a way that you don’t often encounter. Bel’Antonio is the smell of intimate Italian conversations, all coffee, and tobacco, on warm breath, muffled by thick woolen coats. Antonio embodies the curious calm and intimacy that accompanies private conversations in public places, whether the conversation is about a love affair or a political plot (Italians are great but largely indiscriminate plotters) or about an IT start-up is immaterial. The point is that there is a little circle of excitement and interest burning at a faster and warmer rate than that of the surrounding tepid exchanges. That is what Bel Antonio evokes so well.
They are all in their different ways really interesting and curiously wearable perfumes. They certainly lack the formality of French perfume, and they certainly have the individuality that is generally lacking in US mainstream stuff. I mean, coffee and cigarettes? Who wears that?
Well, I would.