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.
29 responses to “TWO SEMI-HYSTERICAL VIOLETS: : : CONFETTI by LUSH (2019) + KLITO’ by MIRKO BUFFINI (2014)”
All of my fave perfume writers were in Florence having fun! This makes me so happy!😀
It WAS fantastic…
What a wonderful post and great memory for you! I could picture Florence again and smell the different smells emanating through that beautiful little city.
It’s a gorgeous place : magical, but to visit, maybe not to live.
Years ago I went there quite a few times and got to know some natives. Most of them were not happy about living in Florence and would have rather lived in other towns of Italy. The majority thought it was too commercial and I tend to agree. But there is more art there than in the rest of the world put together.
I would die of boredom for a number of reasons if I lived there: in many ways it is stultifying and just too borghese/bourgeois. And all the street signs, for the pizzerias, etc, are IDENTICAL in terms of lettering and design, which I can’t accept. It definitely is too touristy. And yet, you can be there at night when everyone is in bed and you are wandering the streets alone next to the duomo and feel a genuine magic, as you know – the BUILDINGS
The photos are beautiful as always!
I was trying to upload a video of Ida Meister singing opera to me but it isn’t having any of it. Maybe the memory is meant to be private.
What a blast, to be with all of them and hang out together in Florence. “Skipping across the medieval piazzas in the moonlight.” Hard to think of much better.
Love the images and descriptions, N. I don’t know either of these scents, but I think I’d like to. (I do like violets, especially in harmony with lots of other notes, the darker ones. Right away, I think of Jolie Madame and Je Reviens.) Can’t really say whether I’d prefer Klito’ over Confetti. I can imagine the Confetti, in that context, would be quite intoxicating. I mean, damn: Britney Spears Curious would have smelled great that night. Happy you had that Italian getaway, back when the world was a different place.
Curious is good though : I really like it !
Confetti is freakish. I sometimes spray a few times into the cap so that when I come home the study has an air of it ( truly odd, honestly). The Buffini is not poetic but is thick and immediate. Fun. Perhaps a little sickly like the confetti – but brain-saturating, which in winter is just what you need.
( This WAS a very vivid trip ..x)
What a lovely picture of Judy and Roger. So happy. I last saw them with my parents a few years ago.
Is this THE Lucas, born three days before me ?
How fantastic to see you on here x
I own a bottle of Saba from the Buffini line. It is a coffee herbal mix with more vanilla in the dry down. It is a strange take on a classic men’s cologne. I seldom wear it as it seems overbearing. I purchased it in the Middle East and even though the heat can be ferocious there, I often bought darker and spicier scents when I visited.
This has quite strong vanilla in the base that eats up everything else as well eventually – perhaps the house is known for punchy numbers that make an instantaneous impression?
I will definitely enjoy and use this one though. It has a drama overall that I have been craving.
What did it smell like to have so many perfumers in one gathering?
Fairly restrained ! No one was reeking if I recall ..
You are so right. I remember the night times when the streets were mostly empty and quiet, there was definitely a magical aura in the piazzas.
I want to go back with D and wander the back streets away from the centre. I went to an amazing Sri Lankan restaurant when I was there.
I have never been to Florence & am sad to hear it is so touristy.
Sounds like a blast to go anywhere with so many perfumers though!
I like my violets simple & unsweetened. The Cuban baby cologne Violetas Francesas is a favorite post-bath bedtime scent for me. The actress Victoria Principal did a beautiful celuscent in the 80s called White Violet which was a lovely soft realistic violet underscored with vanillic heliotrope and a silvery white musk.
Love the sound of it.
Re the turisti, I am sure Kathmandu is similar, as is Kamakura ( and as definitely was Cambridge). I think with beautiful places, something shines through no matter how many people are there. I still really really want to go to Venice – and get lost down wet alleyways …
Venice is unique…nothing like it in the world!
Kathmandu is an ugly, gray, traffic clogged, dusty, charmless, overcrowded, 3rd world nightmare of a city filled with the usual concrete boxes with corrugated tin roofs. You can see bits and bobs of the grandeur of the old city buried in the detritus and hideousness of the 20th century, but that’s about it.
If you want to see what old Nepal looked like before modernity devastated it I would suggest visiting Bhaktapur (or what is left of it after the 2015 double earthquakes) where the film “Little Buddha” was filmed or Bandipur (an antique ridgetop trading town with fully intact slate paved streets and gorgeous Newari brick & terracotta architecture.) Earthquakes play absolute hell on masonry, and bricks are a staple in traditional Nepali architecture – what few examples there are left of this tradition are dwindling.
Re Kathmandu and Bibi Maizoon‘s description: it makes my heart break.
I lived in K. for 3-4 yrs as a teen (pretty awful time at the US Lincoln School) — it must have been 1973-1976 or so.
It was a lush green valley with a couple of towns situated in between green paddy fields and cauliflower patches. The air was clear, one could see the mountains, everything was incredibly dirty and medieval, but in hindsight absolutely spectacular! A trip outside the valley was mind-boggeling and the children ran away screaming when they saw „white“ kids — which were then termed „mouldy“ 😃
I feel an ancient foggy writing this but it was a completely different world.
As a Dallas fan, you are making me Officially Crave Victoria’s Violet
Parma violets!! Yuk.
Some people love it, but I find floral tasting food does not sit well with me. Floral gums, lavender scones? No thanks. 🙂
There is definitely an anti-intuitive oddness, I agree, particularly about parmaviolet sweets. Part of me enjoys it. Lavender is more problematic to me as a culinary note: I don’t even like it as herb tea.
I didn’t know about it as a herb tea! Y u k !
It is very strange. Believe it or not, I used to mix it with lemongrass (!) and it totally worked as a ‘new’ flavour where you couldn’t distinguish either particularly – delicious.
I then found that exact combination in a perfume I quite like.
I have never had lemongrass. I can see how flavours would cancel each other out. How intriguing. Thank you. I should imagine the perfume smell to be quite refreshing. I will read the article later.