November 11, 2014

Bruno Fazzolari Lampblack and Au Dela Narcisse


Bruno Fazzolari is an indie-perfumer who was lured into making perfume through his other artistic pursuits,  as a natural outgrowth of making visual art, writing and a lifetime of travel and eclectic self-directed creativity.

He owns a rare form of sensuality in that he has the ability to experience synesthesia, a form of perception that crosses over taste, sound, smell, touch, sight and very likely memories and words, receiving different senses simultaneously. 

I think this trait is a hyper-sensitivity to beauty or a strong emotional tie to sensual experiences that in turn trigger vivid memories of other sensual experiences.

He explained at his recent event at Twisted Lily in Brooklyn that he is a self-taught perfumer but as a self-confessed process 'nerd' delved obsessively into all the technical information he could find.  

Since he grew up in France he naturally assimilated respect and love for perfume and brought that into his later creative work. Moving to the U.S. as an adolescent he was steeped in modern American culture too, and expresses the energy of experimentation over that core of traditional French culture.  

There's a strong spirit of the 20th Century Modernist era within these two perfumes, a time that I believe were those last few sensualist decades before our own present day dive into a more virtual reality. 

For me the two perfumes Lampblack and Au Dela Narcisse hit both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, during that time period, ranging from restrained modernist elegance,  referencing the smell of sooty black ink (Lampblack, exhibited beside his ink drawings), to the capture of the vintage French perfume spirit in the classically ornamental feel of heady spring flowers and animal spirits in Au Dela Narcisse (for which BF made a print that gives a shout out to the style of late Matisse, see above image).

Lampblack has been well-reviewed already, and received the imprimatur of the Emperor of Scent Luca Turin. So noted, but personally for me it is an affectionate and accurate rendition of what good black ink smells like as it dries, as I recall it myself from my printmaking days.  It recalls too what it was like to read the paper version of the  Sunday NYT,  notorious for its soft fresh ink that rubbed off on your hands or clothes or anything it touched.  Those who know this on-the-cusp of old-fashioned smell will get a true kick back into that not too distant past, and  recognize the core scent of this perfume. There is also a wood paper pulp tone reminiscent of soft newsprint, and a lightness and grace once the ink settles down into the skin's pores and the surface throws up a fresh citrus air beside an edge of dry hay like vetiver.

Truly this has become a nostalgic smell, as the days of real ink are quickly passing by, so in that regard lampblack, an ink made of carbon soot has become  a reference to all kinds of glamorously antique things, like Japanese brush painting, books and newspapers, even the soot of air pollution from big old cars drifted onto windowsills, and hits those buttons that connect to those experiences, or if you are quite young perhaps make the only connection to these things that you will ever know. Lampblack could give the tech-savvy at-risk youth a reference point for  film noir featuring hard boiled newspapermen, or even an awareness of the physicality of ink-brush calligraphy paintings from Japan, or the handwriting that once pervaded daily life, or the typewriters that novels were drafted on, before the days of word processing.

The mid-Century Modern vintage feel is also evoked in Au Dela Narcisse.  It smells like a French vintage perfume, in that there is a head and a tail, with the fresh breath of a Spring floral seamlessly grounded and bound to an earthy body-conscious base.  This is a school that holds a well-made perfume is one that creates a beautiful atmosphere rather than a skin scent, one that is so well-balanced that no particular note can be picked out, with the aim of creating an impression such as sophistication, or innocence,  romance or elegance, to envelop and associate with the person wearing it.  Here I think of the May perfumes of France, the heady early spring flowers Narcissus and Lily of the Valley, encapsulating the warm sunshine after a long grey winter, and a tradition of youthful beauty and energy growing into sophistication and elegance.

Perfume evokes our memories and moods but I think that sometimes perfume allows me to enter into someone else's. 

These two perfumes bring me into this perfumer's experiences and associations, ones that I in turn think of as The Good Life of a certain period of time past in both France and the America.

Disclosure: Twisted Lily provided samples to me, and also provided the opportunity for me to meet the perfumer at his event there.

Copyright 2014 Lucy Raubertas, All Rights Reserved.
Above image from the Bruno Fazzolari site, of his hand screened poster for Au Dela Narcisse.
Perfumes available in NYC at Twisted Lily.
Please also see the perfumer's site for more on his art and perfumes and ongoing projects.