One of the most appreciated independent perfumers in Italy, Antonio Alessandria creates his scents by drawing from tales and memories connected with his past and his native land, Sicily.
His ability to evoke olfactory stories linked to these real yet emotional locations, to make them fly toward the unexplored, inspired the title chosen for his speech at the Smell Festival on Saturday, May 27, Roots and Wings. Born in Catania, in a family environment permeated by fashion and music, Antonio followed his interest in science and became an engineer. But his encounter with artistic perfume sparked his true love. In 2005 he decided to open his own artistic perfumery house, Boudoir 36, in Catania. Nearly ten years later, he began to compose and sign his own line of fragrances.
As we await his presence at Smell Festival, we had a conversation about his way of understanding and conceiving fragrances. Surprisingly, Antonio revealed to us a small secret hidden in the name of his first scents.
Perfume as freeze-frames of real and fantasy tales that blend together in the memory of the past lived, yet imaginary. Do you agree with this description of your scented evocations?
Since my first contact with the world of artistic perfumery, what struck me and fascinated me the most was the possibility of telling stories through smells, recreating ephemeral settings starting from olfactory perceptions. This discovery bonded with my pre-existing passion for narration. Blending these two, my vision of perfumery has taken form: a non-verbal art devoted to a sensory, perceptual and, above all, imaginative and subliminal transmission.
Sicily, your mother’s tailor shop, «Boudoir 36 artistic perfume house»: these are just a few of the physical and mental places in your life that have had a strong impact. Which one or ones can we define as your roots? Or are they sunk into other places?
There is no doubt that my roots are deep in culture of the Sicily. Ever since I was little I have been fascinated by stories and legends of the places and cultural layers of my city that are certainly countless, from the Greeks to the Romans, from the Arabs to all subsequent dominations. However, I am convinced that each of us finds a personal manner of re-reading our roots, grafting with other cultures, with new elements that vary according to our individual tastes, and level of curiosity, which is intrinsic to man.
What was the spark that pushed you to transform your life completely, leaving behind a well-established engineering career, turning you into a perfumer?
I am the type of person that is engulfed by the flames of what I like, so I would say that the driving force of my choices were the passion for the world of perfume and the desire extol its beauty.
Are there fragrant fragments that better represent who you are more than others, chords you might consider as the rêve recurrent of your creativity and which are your olfactory signature?
The first trilogy was characterized by the constant presence of leathery and animal notes. I would say that the notes that most fascinate me are rich, deep and dark. Speaking of olfactory shapes, I definitely love complex and multifaceted scents.
And, finally, out of curiosity: Nuit Rouge, Noir Obscure, Nacre Blanche, your first three creations begin with an N. Is there a reason or is it just a coincidence?
In fact, the first trilogy was named Hommage à la lune. It was dedicated to the moon because it represented my idea of perfumery. Since there is no moon without night, I choose names all started with N.