23 marzo 2012

Fresh&Simple Beauty: Claus Porto and some reflections

"What is elegance? Soap and water!" - Cecil Beaton

Some time ago, I happened to spot in a perfume shop some Calèche soap bars together with their beautiful tortoiseshell box with the Hermès logo engraved. Of course these are treats they used to do till the '90s supplied with very elegant boxes aimed to make even more enjoyable the fragrance experience. Experience a fragrance, exactly. The launch of a new fragrance was the result of some years of work focusing of excellence and extreme luxury. Likewise chosing a perfume, one surrounded himself with this luxury rejoicing at the scented gesture more and more even in the simplest moves of the morning routine.
Unfortunately nowadays we lost all of this because the turnover of pret-à-porter fragrances and the flankers following one another now doesn't allow such a refined approach and the few exceptions try hard to survive. What a pity!
Later I was thinking how soap bars, the solid ones used by our grannies have been replaced these days by liquid soaps ready to slide on our body leaving us clean in a while and it was like comparing slow food and fast food, above all in terms of time spent for themselves. That's why I miss soap, the slow moves using it, drenching it in water and lathering well and letting the fragrance expand all around.

Being at Marie Antoinette in Paris made me longing for soaps. If you've never been there, you can't miss it in your next scented raids. Marie Antoinette is a lovely gem set in the setting of one of the typical small ancient market squares in the Marais. Antonio, the owner is a refined person and passionate about perfumes and about his franco-portuguese roots. It's not by chance in his realm crowded with lots of amazing perfumes he keeps a magic corner that took me in (you can see a picture here aside). An old wooden sideboard where are shown dozens of Claus Porto soaps wrapped in their coloured liberty papers with the beautiful different ornaments according to the fragrance. He tells me he discovered this brand while he was looking for the cologne used by his paternal grandfather, a portuguese cologne. One day looking at the packaging of Musgo Real he realized it could be that one. Smelling it instantly racalled all his childhood memories so brigh that speaking about it still puts a smiles on his face. Claus Porto also crafts nice scented candles but what made them famous are soaps rich in vegetal oils and nourishing supplies scented with a range of fragrances going from the classic citrus colognes to the more modern ones like the one I couldn't resist to buy, sandalwood&pear.

I believe artistic perfumery has been running faster and faster in the last years and where some were launching a scent per year, now they are launching a whole line every year eventually. All of this aping the urge of commercial perfumery to try to exploit the boom of the business prevents customers to get to like a scent. This knoks the development of bath lines flat unlike it used to be in the commercial till twenty years ago. I wonder why to lose all of this magic in the name of money?
Fortunately there's a countertendency to revive the old habitudes like using the concretes (do you remember that lovely little perfumed creme jars our moms used to keep in their bags?) or again the revive of extraits de parfum with their elegant and ritual application in spite of the wildcat yankee-style spray. Here we go, I'd like everything to slow down in the niche getting back to times where the slowness of a creator in making a perfume was a value. Meanwhile we could delight ourselves with our beloved juices and their soaps, concretes, scented powders, everyday small treats to enjoy even more scents.

4 commenti:

Bettina ha detto...

From what I heard and read the Claus Porto soap is supposed to be excellent. I like soap bars even though they are no longer "in" and like you mentioned, are replaced with liquid soap. Back in the old days a nice bar of soap was an appropriate present on several occassions as well. seems these times are tempi passati too. I do remember that I received a bar of soap scented with Janine D 35 years ago. It smelled very nice. Roger & Gallet soap was an often handed present too. I do buy handmade soap that a friend of mine makes. Very nice soap that turns the daily ritual into a pleasure One soap that I am really really curious about is the one that Andy Tauer has in progress. I will get myself a bar or two of the Loretta soap.

Bettina ha detto...

for some reason the computer did not load the full article you posted. However, being on a different computer I could read it. I agree, it feels that even artistic super niche perfumery is on the fast lane. This results to me personally (as a consumer) in less purchases. It is just one new launch after another. I am aware that there is a lot of revenue that can be generated and has to be shared. And of course each and every company wants their share from that cake. So not only is there one launch after another but also the expansion into other countries. Which is fine with me. We are all living in capitalism and heck if I would have to life off what I make (as a perfumer or manufacturer) I would try to launch as many as possibly. On the other side how long can you be true to yourself and your principles and your values as a real niche perfumer if you launch like the Americans at Kennedy Space Center. One after another? I think to be cherished and appreciated among the perfumer lovers the perfumer needs to be true to himself or herself and be real. Vero Kern, just to take one example, to me is one of these very few artistic perfumers who does not launch one after the other and turns niche perfumery and niche perfumes into a mass market. So the next question is: where (given all the launches) is a clear line between niche and mainstream?
anyway. I concluded to myself a while ago to enjoy what i have. Break into the vintage ones that are still sealed. Just like myself they tend not get better with the age so better enjoy them now while they are still fresh.

Magnifiscent ha detto...

Good points Bettina! I like very much Vero for what she expresses and for the ways she expresses it. She takes her time to create perfumes and her perfumes reflects this I think. They are contemporary classics made to last and this is a lesson for everyone.
About soaps you're so true! I remember very well the times when a nicely packed set of soaps was an appropriate gift for many occasions! Now you've given me an idea for future gifts, I think we need to rediscorver some good things from our past.

Bettina ha detto...

Mags, I agree. I think it is a good thing to rediscover things from the past and slow down in general. I know this is two things in one sentence. Just look at the packaging of the soaps by Claus Porto. It is almost a sensual experience to unwrap them. My mom would say "the wrapping is so nice it would be a sin to take it off" and she would keep the one or other soap bar, place it among clothes and enjoy the smell that way.

True, very true what you say about Vero. I can see her extraits made to last and I can see that perfume generations in the future will talk about them the way we talk about the good old classics nowadays. It would be very well deserved.

In general I think, but that is solely my opinion, the artitistic perfumery (or those who claim to be in that league) should slow down. For their own sake in order to be "truly artistic" and for our own sake.
But that is just my 2(s)cents here.

Just imagine van Gogh would have painted like being on an assembly row. One after one after one
Heck, would we think that many paintings would be art or rather mass production?

And yes (this is directed to people from the industry who may read here) I am fully aware that we live in a capitalistic society, you all are not out there to function like a welfare organization, you got shareholders or are owned by individuals who wanna make a living and generate revenue. I know!

In this sense: Happy Sunday

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