Celebrating ‘the infinite possibilities of art through perfume’ the stunning house of D’OTTO explore the deep emotional links that entwine fine art and truly beautiful fragrances…
We have long championed the notion of perfumery as a true art form here at The Perfume Society, believing it to be just as true an expression of an artist’s emotions as a piece of music, the chords of which can immediately (and literally) ‘chime’ within us; or how when we see a painting something of the colours, the brush strokes themselves can seem to work their way into our souls. These connections go beyond logic and reach an older, deeper part of our brains that is understood instinctively, and our sense of smell is the most outwardly-facing part of this process – the closest our brain comes to being outside of our bodies, being directly linked from within our noses to limbic system. This is the part of our brains that stores memories and emotional triggers, and it’s why when we smell a scent it begins an instantaneous chain reaction of those emotional responses without us even realising it’s happening.
As D’OTTO so meaningfully explain it: ‘Visual artists express themselves through shape and colour, free from rigid boundaries and expectations. Musical artists express themselves through chord progressions and note expressions. Perfumers transmit emotional messages by composing fragrances with olfactory notes and accords. These approaches in both art and perfumery are inextricably linked – forms of communication and powerful sources of human emotion that speak to our inner child, bringing memories to the forefront of our minds in an instant.’
We’ve also long been fascinated (and written an award-winning article in our magazine, The Scented Letter) about ‘Synaesthesia’ – the crossing-over of synapses which produces in some people the ability to ‘smell’ colours, words, or musical notes. Indeed, many artists through the centuries have reportedly been ‘synaesthetic’, and it is in this spirit of interconnected and emotional responses that D’OTTO considers perfume ‘liquid art’ because, they tell us, ‘Like air, ethereal and rarefied, effusing a trail of beauty throughout the world with every gesture, art causes emotion. As with perfume, art wraps and captivates all our senses.’ All art is a form of human connection and communication, after all, and what D’OTTO does so perfectly is to express this through their fragrances – each of which has been directly inspired by an iconic artwork.
For their debut collection, D’OTTO chose to express abstract art in fragrant form, with talented third-generation Italian perfumer, Paolo Terenzi, picking his favourite artworks to translate. Paolo is the perfect ‘nose’ for such a task, being an ‘unconventional storyteller’ and musician himself, and with a professional background that also includes a degree in law and philosophy, studies in chemistry and physics and a lifelong passion for poetry. Truly a modern Renaissance man, Paolo can trace his artistic inclinations back through his family’s bloodline, to 15th Century Rimini and ‘the nobleman Gabriele Terenzi, lover of art and alchemy, who died around 1450.’ For D’OTTO, Paolo chose artworks that held the deepest meaning to him, personally, and thus ‘Specific creations from Pollock, Mondrian, Kandinsky, Malevič, and Klee, were chosen for their emotional resonance and untamed creativity.’
Each fragrance expresses the feeling of the painting itself, translating colour, shape, texture and the emotion into a wearable art form. For 1+7, Jackson Pollock’s Number 31 painting is imbued through a distinctly aquatic fougère, which Paolo describes as a ‘the expression of the harmony of chaos in a drop of perfect emotion.’ Citrus notes depict white paint flecks while Lake Garda lavender and sage bring natural tones of green, Cambodian oudh and ambergris pick out the darker splashes. Within 2+6, Kazimir Severinovič Malevič’s revolutionary painting, Black Square fuses spicy warmth via black pepper and carnation, red sandalwood and Bulgarian rose plunging to the plush, velvety darkness of Indian oudh and an addictive sweetness. Joyful floral notes, meanwhile, are utilised for the translation of Klee’s abstract Red Balloon within 3+5, ripe apricot and plum atop sparkling jasmine and tuberose, grounded by creamy vanilla and smooth sandalwood. Piet Mondrian’s painting Composition II in Red, Yellow and Blue is evoked in 5+3, using honeyed tobacco, Florentine iris and delicate florals juxtaposed against dark birchwood and black flecks of vanilla; while 6+2 takes Vasily Kandinsky’s painting Yellow, Red, Blue and throbs threads of golden balsam through smoky swirls of intense woods on a complex amber base.
With a sustainable ethos that ‘nothing can be beautiful if it harms nature’, and their stunning flaçons refillable for life, no wonder Selfridges took the opportunity to be the exclusive stockist of this artful (and thoughtful) house. It only remains for you to discover which of the ‘liquid art’ perfumes you are most emotionally linked with, and to wear your fragrant art piece with pride…