Violets can be pale and bitter. Unsugared, as perfumes they are often pallid and aqueous – scents such as Caron’s Violette Precieuse (reissue) that were centered around violet leaf, rather than the Parma-tastic flowers; Ann Flipo’s Verte Violette for L’Artisan; all demure and self-effacing. Even Aftel’s recent Violet Ambrosia, a delicately rounded fragrance with fuller edges, unexpectedly took the shyer, woodland route.
Mirko Buffini’s Klito’, which I picked up the other day from a discounter, is a Florentine burst in the completely opposite direction : full-bodied, sweet, slightly salty, voluptuous – an almost dizzyingly heady blend of aldehydic violets, rose, and cloves over ylang ylang vanilla and cedarwood that I bought on the spot after smelling it. I had to. Simplistic, it nevertheless has an exuberantly press-powdered heft and energy : a perfectly rendered real dose of passion and energy for a Saturday night (this would leave quite the wayward scent trail). It is the carnation and clove element that does it for me: I adore the combination of violet and spice. A whoosh to the spirits. (Have you tried any of the other perfumes by Mirko Buffini, incidentally? I have seen this line in department stores before, and D was taken with Haiku, but have never fully explored. This situation shall now be rectified.)
On the always appealing topic of florid Italian violets, last year – or rather the year before – I found myself in Florence for the opening of the Lush Perfume Library (which I couldn’t write about at the time because I wasn’t really supposed to be there). Despite the freezing cold rain that accompanied virtually every sodden footstep; miserable; it was ultimately an exhilarating experience – staying in a hotel by the Uffizi Gallery, and being overwhelmed by its treasures ; having a lunch at a very chichi high end restaurant not only with the founder of Lush, Mark Constantine, and the perfumer behind the (at the time exclusive to Florence) range of perfumes including Confetti, Nero and Sappho – Emma Dick, but also none other than Persolaise as well as some of the the head honchos at Fragrantica, Cafleurbon, The Perfume Society, and Basenotes. Exciting. It felt like a G7 summit. A little intimidating at first, but the organiser had brilliantly intuited that this particular hand-picked group of perfumisti would get along marvellously – and we did. Shots at local bars after hours, a great deal to talk about, skipping across the medieval piazzas in the moonlight, we had a whale of a time, and once everyone had gone back to their respective countries I then very luckily stayed on a bit longer – my parents arriving later on in the week as they had never been to the city before (I studied there as a twenty year old). We wandered the streets, and marvelled at the sheer magnitude of the beauty on display on every corner.
Confetti – referring to the confectionery placed on the tables at traditional Italian nuptials – is a profumo isterico ; a bizarre violet and bitter sugar almond concoction with a heart note of coffee and sandalwood that could make you retch and fall in love simultaneously : both stomach-churning and addicting. Using the same violently green and chalky violet used in the company’s cult classic V from 1995 – a perfume that is alluring in some ways yet unendurable; I remember Duncan and Michael inhaling it for the first time when we all met up of an evening in Isezakicho in a karaoke restaurant and them both grimacing with repulsion – “my god” ; some textural offness; a sharpness, like being stabbed in the stomach, that unavoidably induces brividi – the shudders; Confetti employs precisely the same violet accord – stored, presumably somewhere in the Lush vaults – but tempers it effectively with a rich, romantic rose, pear; acidic like pear drops; a strange note of coffee absolute and sandalwood and a general effect of poisonous almonds, all resulting in a peculiarly lush, velveteen, green and purple potion that I remember starkly experiencing at night as we were taken on a tour of the Palazzo Vecchio by a young English historian by the name of Rose who had collaborated with the Perfume Library on researching the relevant historical background to the perfumes..Entranced by the frescoes – interesting though the explanations were, in understanding what I was seeing- I was only half absorbing the historical details – always terrible at that subject at school – my mind wandered off, no matter the period in question – some sequestered homesick Austrian princess or other pining for the Tyrols hence the symbolism in all the beautiful wall paintings……. …..I just know that the perfume – a singular, strange scent that for some reason I now always keep next to my desk – was seared into my memory at that particular moment, forever.