401 È Amatrice

Perhaps one of the most tender stories told through scent we’ve ever heard, Lorenzo Dante Ferro pays homage to the strength of an entire nation with his fragrance, 401 È Amatrice – meaning ‘come back’ or ‘rebirth’…

The fragrance was made in collaboration with RIFLESSI – the Serafini family’s perfumery – and the perfume is to capture the memory of their perfumery, which was sadly lost in a monumental earthquake. Lorenzo wanted to pay tribute in the best way he knew how.

One of only a hundred perfumers who’ve earned the title Master Perfumer, yet stoically remaining a private figure, Lorenzo Dante Ferro is a name revered in the industry for his exquisite creations – quietly providing bespoke olfactive décor ‘to private homes, historical estates, luxury hotels and numerous private and public establishments in Europe’. And yet we realise not everyone will be familiar. There’s nothing we love more at The Perfume Society than introducing your noses to something beautiful, and houses we think you’ll love. And when we heard the inspiration behind the latest fragrance, we just had to share it with you.

‘The Essence of Life, between the skies and the lands of Amatrice, is rich in history and poetic art, made strong by new energy and life blood, like the newly sprouting plants and a heart that goes on breathing…’

Poetic words, indeed, to describe this perfume, and no wonder when you hear the story behind its creation. This time last year, the citizens of Amatrice had no idea they were just days away from devastation. An earthquake shook the historic town, leaving hundreds dead, dozens more injured and the whole of Italy reeling from the news. At the time, The Guardian reported that ‘Amid the rubble of a town that seems almost to have toppled on to its hillside, it is, miraculously, still standing. But the clock on the 13th-century bell tower in Amatrice is stuck at 3.39 – three minutes after the earthquake struck.’

As the RIFLESSI website explains, the family are, ‘A family of shopkeepers who run one of the oldest perfumerie shops in Amatrice. Marina and Roberto, along with their daughters, Alessia and Domiziana, luckily have a story to tell. Yes, luckily, because only thanks to fate and luck were they saved during the night of the 24th of August 2016. They survived while their town collapsed around them.’

Since then, the town has struggled hard to overcome their loss and rebuild the wreckage this natural disaster wrought, but the resilliance of people’s spirits has been nothing short of miraculous. Created by the Serafini family, once owners of that fine perfumery in Amatrice, and with the help of Lorenzo, the entire story of the scent is carried within the name itself. The heart of the perfumer resolutely beating for the nation he so loves. The Serafini family say:

‘We created this perfume, as an authentic scent that represents our culture, where people have always lived with age old wisdom in harmony with Nature.

401 is the code assigned to the creation and beyond being a primary number, it revealed itself to us with all its naturalness, much like its perfume. Rich in numerical symbolism, 401 is citied in ancient scripts as the equivalent of the Alpha and the Omega – the beginning and the end – and the beginning once again…’

There’s a sense of soaring skywards, of great space and bouyancy somehow, from the very first spritz. Over 140 essential oils and aromatic raw materials were carefully selected, which in the hands of a lesser perfumer could have become muddled, but experience will always show through, and there’s no loss of clarity here. Zesty and timeless, with a nod to a traditional Cologne style, you feel a salty breeze caress your skin, a mineralic haze that could descend into mist, but instead carries you ever upwards to a harmonious crescendo. It truly feels like flying, and is fresh without falling back on the streotype of citrus scents.

Even without knowing the back story, this would feel like a wonderfully reviving fragrance at any time, and for anyone to wear who appreciates the subtlety of a master perfumer’s restraint at work. But when you do know, it becomes even more special. A fragrant revery to escape in when times feel tough, when the world seems impossible to cope with, perhaps…?

Lorenzo Dante Ferro 401 È Amatrice £115 – free UK shipping with code: FREESHIPPINGUK
Buy it at venetianmasterperfumer.com

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Dominique Ropion receives IFF’s ‘Master Perfumer’ status & shares his scent secrets…

Dominique Ropion has long been thought of as a Master Perfumer, but now can officially add the title to his name having been bestowed that honour by IFF (International Flavors and Fragrances) – incredibly, only the second perfumer to be recognised with this title since 2013! It shows how seriously they take this award, for it’s a title that’s bandied around by many but truly earned by few.

‘At the heart of IFF are the people who consistently go above and beyond to passionately pursue their art and by doing so, revolutionise the industry,’ IFF chairman and CEO, Andreas Fibig enthused. ‘In his 17 years with us, Dominique has consistently achieved this outstanding level of creativity and passion for his art and our customers. We congratulate him on his many achievements – as we look forward to his future successes.’

‘Many achievements’ in fact seems something of an understatement when you see the panoply of perfumes he’s been responsible for – composing or co-creating fragrances for so many brands across the board it begins to look like something of a directory: from Frédéric Malle, Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, Thierry Mugler, Lancôme, Givenchy, Issey Miyake, Paco Rabanne and through to the Body Shop, to name but a few.

Many of these creations have gone on to be global best-sellers, and we’ve certainly had the majority on our dressing tables over the years, so which of these (now official) five masterpieces have you tried so far…?

Absolutely deserving of the moniker ‘modern classic’, a scent that makes you smell instantly put-together and somehow even stand taller. The decadent Turkish rose is rippled through with blackcurrant, raspberry and clove, nestling on a bed of patchouli that sighs into silky sandalwood punctuated by wisps of frankincense. Sublime, a must-sniff!

Frédéric Malle Portrait of a Lady £158 for 50ml eau de parfum
Buy it from fredericmalle.co.uk

Exotically seductive, this huge-hitting oriental helped define an era with spicy clove dappling the heady jasmine, ylang ylang, Egyptian rose and iris bouquet, and an amber-speckled, Tahitian vanilla base that leaves a trail ensuring you’ll never be forgotten.

Givenchy Ysatis from £26.99 for 30ml eau de toilette
Buy it at theperfumeshop.com

In this recently released third opus for the house, pear, rose (something of a signature for Ropion is his exquisitely refined handling of roses) and an aquatic accord melt seamlessly to a fluffy base of cashmeran, amber and sandalwood. Utterly wearable and quietly perfect for every day.

L’Eau d’Issey Pure Nectar de Parfum £62 for 50ml eau de parfum
Buy it at boots.com

A stunner of a scent, it’s buxomly bold enough for the original Alien (also a Ropion creation with Laurent Bruyere) fans, but with oodles of creamy wooziness amidst the jasmine, heliotrope, myrrh and cashmeran wood. Even refuseniks of the fabulously rambunctious Mugler creations have been converted.

Thierry Mugler Alien Essence Absolue £56 for 30ml eau de parfum
Buy it at mugler.co.uk

 

Ropion collaborated with fellow IFF perfumers Anne Flipo and Loc Dong for this sheer and salty swoon of ‘your skin but better’ type scent, with juicy, green citrus sashaying its way from a zip of ginger to the unctuously addictive salted vanilla base.

Paco Rabanne Olympéa £44 for 30ml eau de parfum
Buy it at superdrug.com

If you want to explore more of Dominique Ropion’s creations, have a browse through some of our previous interviews with him, and search our huge database of scents to learn more…

But how did a childhood convalescence in the mountains lead to Ropion becoming one of the greatest ever perfumers? Read on to find out if not all his scented secrets, then at least to gain a very good idea as to what makes this Master Perfumer tick.

What is your first memory of fragrance?

Dominique Ropion: ‘When sniffing chalk, my childhood school opens its door again. I smell ink, or paper glue, typical scent memories of French lower class schools, and my school playground appears, the games… My memories are scents. It is with the scents of guimauve (a typical French marshmallow) infused with lemon or orange flower that I took my first steps. They bring me back to the mountains, a landscape where I was reborn when I became conscious of my need to smell. I was 7 years old, was a young city boy exiled in the mountains as I had gotten very sick. I would stare at my bedroom ceiling looking for comfort, and spent the rest of my time inhaling mountain air and fresh field scents. I had been advised to breathe in as much as my lungs could take it, I did so, breathing in scents of heights. That’s how I became accustomed to smelling the world as if my life depended on it.’

 What was your first job in the fragrance industry and how old were you?

‘I owe my education in fragrance to luck, which found me an internship at Roure as I was studying physics at university. I started with a 3 year academic training followed by 3 years of on the job training to become a perfumer. I will always remember my perfume “first time”. As I was a very young perfumer at Roure, one of the ideas I had been working on was selected to be presented amongst other works to the then President of Givenchy, Jean Courtiere. My fragrance was selected, and in 2 weeks, it was finalised. This became Ysatis. I call it beginner’s luck.’

Aside from becoming Master Perfumer at IFF, tell us about another career highlight…

‘Each new creation is a career highlight. I’ve been very lucky that I’ve worked for many prestigious brands, as well as for small and unknown brands or projects. Each time, I find an angle to spike my interest.’

What fragrance did you enjoy creating the most at IFF and why?

‘All of my fragrances are journeys, encounters, adventures. I can’t say there’s one that I enjoyed more than others. Each new creation teaches me something: about myself, about the ingredients I use, about the people I meet when creating. Of course I’m proud about the market successes I contributed to creating, but it’s definitely not my only criteria of “enjoyment”. Some of my creations I did alone, some with colleagues, some lasted years to finalise, some just a few months…’

When you begin designing a fragrance, where do you start? What process do you normally follow?

‘Since I left perfumery school, I’ve been obsessed with finding the perfect balance, like a tightrope walker. For each creation, I look for the perfect balance between each ingredient I carefully select to combine. This tightrope walker number may seem absurd, but I genuinely believe this is how I create, risking a fall with each new ingredient I add to the formula. To combine them, the perfumer has no alternative: he needs to start walking on the rope. It’s a very hands on job: a perfume requires hundreds and hundreds of trials… It’s a precision job.’

Where would you recommend a person begins if they want to become a perfumer?

‘At IFF, we have an internal perfumery school. Training the perfumers of the future is one of the aspects of my job I’m particularly passionate about. Some of the perfumers I have trained have become recognised and highly demanded ones, some are just starting their career. They all have very different personalities, but what characterised them all is of course their passion for scent, their curiosity for all ingredients, and some necessary qualities: resilience (bordering obstinacy), patience and a sense of details (borderline obsessive). It also requires very good listening skills, necessary to understand what brands desire, as we perfumers don’t create for our own sake, like artists would: we create in the world of brands, and all our creations are an encounter with the brands developers.’

What are the next big trends in fragrance in your opinion? 

‘The next big trend really depends on the next big success… I can never explain the success of a perfume, I can only witness it. Each step of the way, I always feel like I’ve achieved a perfect balance, but I can never guess the public’s reaction. The success of a fragrance is always unpredictable. My next fragrance may set a big trend… or may not! Of course I’m always happy when it does, but I can only humbly say that there’s a perfumery magic I cannot explain.’

 Original interview supplied by IFF, written by Suzy Nightingale

Nose to nose with the best perfumers in the world – can you guess who said what?

Being in the privileged position of interviewing some of the most famous perfumers in the world about their lives, inspirations and perfumed preferences; we like nothing more than getting to share that with you – the people who actually fall in love with and buy their fragrances.
We believe their talents should be recognised and celebrated – just as composers, artists and (more recently) chefs are acknowledged for their gifts, and the enormous pleasure they bring us.  Until lately, almost all perfumers worked behind the scenes, anonymously.  Now, noses are emerging from their laboratories, starting to talk about their creations, and what goes into them.
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We’re lucky enough to have met some of the very best perfumers working today, and love nothing more than finding out their history, inpirations, personal favourite smells and sharing them with you on our Noses page. But can you guess who said what? (Click on their answers to find out…)
What is your first ‘scent memory’?
‘Traditional Christmas Cakes that smelled like Anis and Vanilla, made by the Carmelite nuns in my town, we would order these cakes from Christmas and pick them up at the convent, this smell is imprinted in my memory.’
If you could have created a fragrance for a historical figure, who would it be?
For Napoleon! I would have created the best Cologne ever for him!’
What are your five favourite smells in the world?
‘I love the scent of a Pierre de Ronsard Rose and the scent of asphalt just after a pouring rain.’
What’s the worst thing you ever smelled. (Honestly!)
‘Dead Amardillo, road kill in Texas, US.’
What can each of us do to enhance our appreciation of fragrance?
If you want to better appreciate a fragrance, learn how to verbalise the emotions that the fragrance arouses. You have to smell and describe, smell and describe…’
Written by Suzy Nightingale