As someone who writes about perfume regularly I try to accompany my words with images that help me make my point or add another meaningful dimension to my reviews. Many perfumers are inspired by visual art. Some of them also create it right along with their fragrances. California-based Bruno Fazzolari is one such artist perfumer. He writes, paints, and makes perfumes that go with his visual art exhibitions, and are sometimes part of them. Bruno Fazzolari is also half French and has spent his summers in France, taking in the sights, the smells and the French perfumes of his mother and grandmother. I was sent a sample pack of the five Bruno Fazzolari perfumes. Here are my impressions. There are at least a couple of them that will get a full review soon.
- Au Delà. Notes: Coriander,Neroli, Jasmine, Oakmoss, Orange Flower, Amber, Fantasy note: Immanence. Au Delà is a gorgeous chypre that makes you sit a little straighter and hope you're wearing good shoes. It has an elegant vintage feel, the kind we thought was lost forever. Not surprising, considering Bruno Fazzolari tells us that his mother used to wear Hermes Caleche while his grandmother's perfume was Éclipse by Jacques Fath.
- Five. Notes: Lemon, Sweet Orange, Rosemary, Petitgrain, Sweet Woods, Minerals, Fantasy note: High Altitudes. Five is actually part of the art installation you see above, Mirror 5, which includes five elements: The first four are paint on canvas, and the last one is the fragrance. The citrus and herbal top notes in the fragrance parallel the colors in the paintings. Five is an herbal lemon scent with a metallic tinge that dries down sweeter and a little musky. I like the dry-down much better than the beginning, but then again I'm not the biggest citrus fan.
- Jimmy. Notes: Ylang Ylang, Rose Otto, Geranium, Violet Leaf, Heliotrope, Sandalwood. Fantasy note: Daylight. Jimmy is a delightful rose-violet fragrance that feels like a happy smile. It's sweet and easy to wear with a smooth and creamy dry-down. Jimmy is girly and summery, like a floral sundress.
- Monserrat. Notes: Pink Grapefruit, Green Leaves, Carrot Seed, Apricot, Jasmine, White Musk. Fantasy Note: Wet Plaster. Monserrat is named after an oil color, Monserrat Orange, and was created to go with Bruno Fazzolari's exhibition New Work. It's a musky fruity fragrance, in theory decidedly not my thing, but the hints of green and spice make it much more interesting than it sounds. I suspect that I'm anosmic to most of the musk of the base, because it disappears on my skin mid-development. But who can resist a fragrance described by its creator in these words: "The paintings feature grounds that include tints of off-white or pale luminous green and the overall palette employs dusky oranges and ochres. I was thinking of worn and repainted urban walls; I was also thinking of fresco painting—which is the origin of the fantasy note "wet plaster." "
- Lampblack. Notes: Sweet Orange, Black Pepper, Bitter Grapefruit, Nagarmotha (a vetiver like grass), Benzoin, Vetiver. Fantasy Note: Shadow. Do you remember how every brand and perfumer released fragrances named Noir This or Noire That, while none of them were all that dark? Bruno Fazzolari got it right. Lampblack was part of an exhibition under the same name that featured a series of ink paintings made on paper from fashion magazines using a dense, French-made India ink. Lampblack is stunning, emotional and evocative, but not depressing. The tarry scent is elevated by luminous citrus that feels like the opening of a long tunnel.
Bruno Fazzolari Perfumes ($65, 1oz EDT each) are available from the artists's website, brunofazzolari.com, where you can also purchase a sample set of all five ($28). The samples for this review were sent to me free of charge by the perfumer.
All artwork in this post by Bruno Fazzolari.