Stefano Canturi has joined the list. He recently opened a New York location on Madison Avenue for his jewelry and launched a perfume that relates to his lifelong affinity to a certain type of modernism. He worked very closely with perfumer Kevin Verspoor basing this perfume, as he has a jewelry collection, on a strong sense of connection to the early modern art movement of Cubism.
Early modernism had a sense of confidence in the future and the energy of invention. Cubist painting translated and distilled the world into abstract forms, simplified depictions of reality that built into complexity because of its desire to show all sides of everything and everyone, simultaneously. This sense of wanting to know and explain everything and experience everything at once relates to our own time, through our desire and ability to research and connect to the full background and information about people, places and things. Cubism showed that the history and possibly even the future of all things show themselves in the present moment, and that it is primarily the attitude and style of a perceptive vision that creates and appreciates personal forms of beauty.
Cubism is associated with a certain disciplined, clean yet still hand-made form of modernism, in its typical colors of gray, pale yellow and taupe, black and white lines and collage, textures and references to real materials like straw and tobacco and wine and coffee, translated in a graphic way. Chypre has that same astringency and clarity, a bracing presence of crushed herbs and grass drying in the seaside sun, and evaporating alcohol coolness.
This oriental woody chypre perfume has warmed up the classical formula of chypre. The composition lists notes of bergamot, mandarin leaves, neroli, rose damascene, night-blooming jasmine, iris, lily of the valley, white pepper, cardamom, patchouli, red cedar, oak moss, amber, musk and vanilla. This extensive list sounds like it would make something dense and complicated but it results in a softened smoothness laid over an astringent chypre that provides the armature holding it all together. So it has a cool warmth, a tart smoothness, a relaxed but upright posture, a number of its sides and facets are revealed at the same time.
Even with the smoothing, calm notes of amber, vanilla, jasmine, musk and rose the scent keeps a chypre’s bracing, serious quality in the dry down, being well grounded by the red cedar, oak moss and the coolness of iris. I find it has the quiet clarity of hot sun evaporating cool water, an ethereal lightness that feels smart (in all senses of the word).
I like to think of it this way, in the heat of these recent summery days the Cubist reference connects to that period of time when the Riviera was still an undiscovered artists’ getaway. These scent notes can bring you back to those summers when the Cubists gathered where the heat of the sun brought out the scents of nature well into the warm night, and heated bare skin was cooled by rising ocean breezes at the café tables collecting glasses of strong local wine, while aesthetic debates and drawings were carried on as fluently and naturally as breathing.
Above, Braque painting, Woman with a Guitar, 1913
Canturi perfume bottle based on Stefano Canturi design