May 27, 2013

Fueguia 1833 Patagonia - Perfumes with a Sense of Place

This small independent perfume laboratory is creating perfume with a strong sense of origin and ancestry, to bring us the distinctive fragrances of a location that shaped unique experiences and perceptions.

Based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, they reach across South America all the way down into Patagonia to sustainably source their aromatic materials, as well as the stories that inspire the perfumes. While the modern culture of Argentina is overwhelmingly Euro-centric, it is situated in a place that is much more closely connected to the wildness and mystery of deep nature. You get both sides in these perfumes, the French classical tradition presenting the wilder varieties of nature’s energies.

This perfume house works along the line of themes, some inspired by the exploration of the most remote areas such as Patagonia, some by its native writers such as Borges and important personalities of regional influence such as Darwin and Magellan.  There are perfumes inspired by the spectacular native flora and fauna, and by womanly beauty. I very much admire their  extensive catalog with details and photographs of their process and inspirations.

These are coolly elegant yet dreamy perfumes referencing vast spaces that hold wild contrasts, as processed by a rationally educated European-American mind. They incorporate pieces of a place of deep impenetrable greens,  all aromatic with the scents of clear mountain and humid tropical air, fragrant forests, and European-style cities redolent of the 19th Century, that arise in the midst of dramatic landscapes. 

I attended an event at Aedes de Venustas introducing 20 of the perfumes (the line has about 50 at this time). Three of my favorites were Bibliotequa de Babel, Agua Magnolio and Xocoatl.

For me the most distinctive thing about these perfumes is that they incorporate unique and exotic materials from the Western Hemisphere within a classically elegant French manner.  I also appreciate that they promise to use these precious resources sustainably. Only the main three or four notes are listed for each perfume in the beautiful catalog.

Bibliotequa de Babel represents the fragrance of an old library. The main notes are several different forms of native South American cedars as the anchoring center, cabreuva (similar to Peru Balsam) for its woody roundness and subtly floral sweetness, and cinnamon. There is also a quietly inky tone at the opening. The perfume stays stable throughout wear, made as it is primarily of wood notes.

This perfume is one of a cool dignity that is the essence of elegance, while referencing the romance of old stories and esoteric information, as an ethereal influence. This could be the result of the cabreuva with its round floral woody qualities creating a balmy air to hold the lightly mentholated bite of the cedar woods.

Agua Magnolia is centered on both Amazonian and Fragrantissima types of Magnolia, an ancient anchoring native tree species of the South American rain forests. Jasmine Grandiflorum and Santalum Album bring out the greenly sweet and soothing aspects of the magnolia’s fragrance. It has a balmy mildness, while the distinctive magnolia floral tone is held throughout the life of the perfume’s wear.

Aesthetically it acts like a cross between a perfume and an eau de toilette, in that it feels like something you'd drench yourself with without becoming an intrusively loud olfactory presence, while it holds on with the stability and longevity of a perfume. It could be worn by both sexes as its charm lies in the energy of a lively green floral without any cloy.

Xocoatl, (pronounced “sho ko lah tuhl, the Aztec for chocolate) is a warm and floral vanilla orchid over bitter cocoa and rum, as was used to flavor the precursor to our liquid chocolate drinks. More similar in fragrance to the original way chocolate was given to Aztec warriors and used in sacred ceremonies than to the familiar hot chocolate, it dries down to a lightly orchidaceous vanilla with a black chocolate astringent base. Vanilla is always a warm comfort but this one is more sophisticated than domestic, due in part to the hints of rum and orchid, and that there is no sweetness or cream  whatsoever.

I recommend a download of the intricate and extensive catalog, which has beautiful illustrations from the early 19th century era of exploration and detailed descriptions of the themes behind the perfumes, as well as a price list.  The perfumes are available in New York at Aedes de Venustas and their site has a question and answer session with the perfumer Julien Bedel.

An interesting if melancholy story of Tierra del Fuego natives and the early British explorers, including Darwin: A True and Sad Story of Fuegia Basket and Captain Fitzroy.

Copyright 2013 Lucy Raubertas, All Rights Reserved.
I received samples from Aedes de Venustas.
First photo: I could not find a credit, if it is yours please let me know.  
Second and third photos fron

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