Caterina Catalani

BIOGRAPHY: Caterina Catalani is a perfumer based in London. She honed her expertise at the renowned Grasse Institute of Perfumery with a degree in Fragrance Creation and Sensory Evaluation. With a family legacy stretching back over four decades in the fragrance industry, including her grandparents managing the Vatican City pharmacy’s perfumery for over 20 years, she brings a wealth of inherited knowledge and experience to her craft. Growing up surrounded by the scents of her family’s trade instilled in her a profound appreciation for the artistry and intricacies of perfumery.

Now, as a Perfumer for Floris London, Caterina continues to craft scents that blend tradition with innovation.

 

 

 

 

PERFUME SOCIETY:  PERFUMER Q & A

 

What is your first ‘scent memory’?

My earliest scent memory is the smell of my grandma’s skin. During her three-month stay in Italy, the memory of her smooth, silky, and musky scent creates a positive and comforting flashback to the safety and warmth of my youth.

 

When did you decide you wanted to be a perfumer/create your own perfume?

My journey into the world of perfumery began at a very young age, with my grandparents managing the perfumery of the Vatican City Pharmacy in Italy. I inherited their passion for fragrances, and I remember the smell of the corridors full of a specific liquor the friars were making in the basement. A liquor my family still drinks today! I decided to pursue my studies in Fragrance Development in Grasse, the epicenter of perfume craftmanship before starting my career in this Incredible Industry.

 

What are your five favourite smells in the world? 

Italian and Colombian coffee bring me comfort and joy; orange blossom reminds me of my childhood in Italy. Fresh cut grass, orris root, and cardamom take me back to cherished moments in Grasse.

 

What’s the worst thing you ever smelled.  (Honestly!)

Definitely an overdose of Calone in fragrances. Whenever I smell this note in a scent it instantly wrinkles my nose. I find that marine fragrances are one of the most polarizing areas of perfumery.

 

What is the fragrance you wish you’d created?

I wish I’d come up with “Fidji” by Guy Laroche. It’s got this fresh, elegant vibe with floral and green notes that I absolutely love. Plus, it used to be my mother’s favorite scent!

 

Do you feel (like us) that this is one of the most exciting times in fragrance history, because of the creativity being expressed by perfumers?  Why do you think that is?

Absolutely! It’s an incredibly exciting time for fragrances. Perfumers are truly pushing the boundaries of creativity. With advancements in technology and a growing interest in niche scents, there’s a whole new world of possibilities opening. People are craving unique experiences, and perfumers are rising to the occasion, blending the worlds of perfumery and art to create innovative scents that inspire like never before.

 

If you could have created a fragrance for a historical figure, who would it be?

It would undoubtedly be Cleopatra. Imagine a scent that embodies her charm, blending Egyptian spices and florals like jasmine and rose. Maybe add a touch of musk and incense for that opulent and ancient court vibe!

 

What’s the first fragrance you bought.  And the first bought for you…?

Having had my grandparents and parents working in the industry for decades, I was lucky enough to be able to continuously smell fragrances they would distribute for the Italian market. One vivid memory I have is my mother gifting me Petits et Mamans fragrance by Bulgari. I remember it being such a comforting, warm, sweet fragrance! It always takes me back to my childhood.

 

Do you have a favourite bottle design, from those that have been used for your fragrance creations?

I adore the Floris fragrance bottle design. Its blend of heritage with sharp edges and modernity with a golden cap and embossed logo is stunning.

 

How many perfumes might you be working on, at one time?

I often manage multiple projects simultaneously. Some days, I immerse myself in perfecting a single fragrance, while other days, I hop between two or three different projects. It’s the dynamic nature of perfume making that keeps it exciting!

 

Does your nose ever ‘switch off’?

My nose never switches off, but sometimes I wish it had a snooze button!

 

How long, roughly, does it take you to create a fragrance?

I strongly believe time in perfume creation is very subjective. It all goes down to inspiration.  As an artist, I find that the process unfolds naturally, without rigid constraints. Each fragrance evolves at its own pace, of course sticking to deadlines!

 

Is creating a fragrance ‘visual’ for you, as well as something that happens in the nose/brain?  If so, in what way…?  Is a mood-board helpful?

Crafting a fragrance is a deeply visual process for me. I begin by creating vivid images in my mind, capturing scenes rich with colours, light, and people. Each detail is then translated into ingredients, carefully chosen to embody the essence of the envisioned image.

 

What can each of us do to enhance our appreciation of fragrance?

To truly appreciate fragrance, embrace smelling. Take in the everyday scents, from morning coffee to your favorite dish. Give importance to your sense of smell; it’s a powerful memory trigger! Don’t underestimate its impact, it holds the key to unlocking vivid recollections and enhancing your overall sensory experience.

 

What is your best tip for improving a person’s sense of smell?

Smell smell and smell! The nose is like a muscle, the more you smell the more you train your nose to get used to smelling a lot in one day. Nature gives us the most incredible botanicals to smell; Always take time to stop and appreciate its beauty!

 

If you had one fragrance note that you love above all others, what would that be?

If I had to pick one, it would be cardamom…warm and cool. I love the perfect harmony of warmth and coolness of the spice! Also, it reminds me of my first perfume project.

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