What’s in a nose? Luca Maffei explains
While I’m an absolute beginner to the world of scent writing, I’ve loved perfume my entire life. I remember going with my Mom to her favorite beauty shop in Florence, when I was as young as four probably, and while she bought what she needed for primping, I was entertained by the shop ladies who bestowed upon me dozens of “campioncini” — little sample-sized bottles of perfumes by Dior, Saint Laurent and Estee Lauder. I’d take those little treasures home and add them to my collection, which at the time was cooler than I thought because the fragrance houses made miniature bottles, not the glass vials they give as samples today.
Those days in the perfume shop, going home to discover all the samples, smelling them, running over to show them to my Mom and maybe run down to Granpa Hans’s house to show him, those are memories that are as ingrained in me as that of my first cat, my first kiss and even the day I left Florence for good, for Los Angeles.
So it’s no wonder that all memories for me carry a scent-equivalent, probably as a result of those trips to that shop. The wonderful feeling I felt looking at the loot, the glass noise those tiny vials of wonder made clicking together, the joy of unwrapping the samples from their boxes and playing with them! What is that Coco Chanel quote? “A woman who doesn’t wear perfume has no future.” Yeah, I live that quote. Every day. In fact, not a day goes by that I don’t plan on what scent I’ll wear with what, where and with whom. And what/where to buy my next one.
Recently, thanks to Pitti Fragrance, which is like my perfume shop experience as a child but magnified by a thousand and one I can live as an adult, I discovered a nose. Luca Maffei is a handsome, quiet, sure of himself and quite well-known perfumer who comes from a long tradition of perfumers and is based in Milan. An excerpt of his interview follows but you’ll have to read the whole thing onThe Huffington Post.
Of course, I couldn’t resist a photo with the lovely Maffei. Here is a bit of the interview, to tease you on.
What inspires a person to create a new perfume?
Luca Maffei: This is a beautiful question. Everything is inspiration. The passion that people have who work in this art, is the passion to communicate through the olfactory sense. The nose is like a translator, an interpreter, so we rarely create for ourselves, rather we make our capacity available to those who wish to create perfume and communicate something. It can be the wish to communicate an image, a feeling, a film, a memory or a landscape.
How is a new perfume created? What starts the process?
Maffei: It starts from an idea. And that idea can be associated to a memory, a moment, a trip, a recollection that lights up this desire to transform it.
At which point does the name of a fragrance come into play?
Maffei: I believe that often the name comes beforehand. It is the starting point, because there must be a continuity between the perfume and its name, the message it wishes to send out.