11 agosto 2016

Maria Candida Gentile Luberon (2012)

"There are a few things that I've learned in life: always throw salt over your left shoulder, keep rosemary by your garden gate, plant lavender for good luck, and fall in love whenever you can” A. Hoffman

Last week I was so lucky to be in Carovigno for Smell Festival Estate and to spend some time talking to Maria Candida Gentile about her creative world. Travelling is an intense dimension to her where smells get impressed in mind like a travel diary: "I came to Puglia by car, loaded by the smell of hay, of the garrigue. It's already like imagining a perfume".
Then I also had the chance to smell again some of her creations among which Luberon, a beautiful lavender she imagined while travelling in South France. Lavender is rarely my cup of tea, but I have some pretty noteworthy exceptions. What I smell here is bewitching and instantly took my memory back to Practical Magic, the popular novel by Alice Hoffman, and to the review I wrote four years ago for The Perfume Magazine. Moreover now it's lavender harvest time so let me repost an excerpt here.

Luberon was launched in 2012 as part of the Exclusive Line of Extrait de parfum together with Lady Day, a lush gardenia inspired by Billie Holliday, Burlesque, a playful iris as sexy as a feathers fan and Gentile (Maria Candida's surname but also the Italian word for gentle) based on a citrus-osmantus-vetiver combo. What surprisingly won me over about Luberon is lavender, smelling round and relaxing as I’ve never smelled it since Caron Pour un Homme. Forget about spike lavender sachets or barbershop aftershaves as here it is presented in a contemporary, uplifting way.

Maria Candida Gentile at Smell Festival Estate
Luberon is named after a small area near Grasse in the South of France renowned for its lavender fields. While I’ve never been there, Maria Candida studied perfumery in Grasse and still visits the region often, to source raw materials and for leisure. The rendered olfactory landscape is a corner of Provence in bright colours. Violet fields are there, sunbathing in June’s heat and exhaling their sweet cloud of flowers and hay. There are woods far away and the breeze coming from the hills is fresh and moist, carrying the verdancy of garrigue, a mix of aromatic plants, rosmary and above all peppermint. This smell speaks to me, it recalls me when I was a child and my grandmother used to send me in the garden to pick herbs for cooking. The smell of crushed leaves and stems left on the fingers was incredible and of course, there was always a yummy reward for helping.

The empire of light - René Magritte (1953)
But there's much more in this landscape: a floral tenderness shows up wrapping everything with a mellow honey and rendering a complex texture dashed with oakmoss in the background. The brilliant minty rose explored here reminds the recent one in Rrose Sélavy, the latest introduction of Maria Candida. Her compositions though are never just canvases in a vedutista style, but surrealistic paintings like Magritte’s, where even the quiet landscape of a tidy garden whispers an emotional call. “Only what comes from the heart can touch the heart” remembers us this Gentle Lady of perfumery. In fact the beauty of this juice is touching. Here you can feel the warmth of the sun kissing your face as hints of May rose and fruity jasmine tease your nose. Just a little imagination is needed to hear bees humming through the violet rows, collecting pollen for their fragrant gold.

Luberon on skin feels like a glove, lingering with its powdery softness for hours. Inhale and you'll understand the power of this spell.

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