Alessandro, the Nose
Alessandro Gualtieri is a man of character; his name is well known among those who treasure the art of perfumery. He’s worked with fashion giants like Valentino, Versace and Helmut Lang to name a few.
Alessandro Gualtieri is a man of character; his name is well known among those who treasure the art of perfumery. He’s worked with fashion giants like Valentino, Versace and Helmut Lang to name a few. His latest work Orto Parisi was launched at a lavish party at a boutique store Villa 515 in Dubai, where, aside from his latest line, visitors can purchase the smash hits like Nasomatto and MariaLux lines.
It was a chilled afternoon as I found myself sitting in a wooden room full of perfumes waiting for the man of the hour to meet me. Upon the first glance, it must be said, I was surprised to say the least; Alessandro walked in wearing an outfit reminiscent of the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland.
“Oh finally! A man” -said Mr. Gualtieri, “I’ve been interviewed by women the whole day, I started to wonder if there would ever be a man today.” I was caught a bit off-guard, but soon the room filled with a conversation that was inspiring and artistic to the core.
First I asked about his creative work process, and Alessandro said he has to “feel” with his stomach. “First it’s a feeling, emotion, and then it’s a lot of things, where I can change direction in the process. A lot of joy and suffering -it’s like a relationship.” He then proceeded to tell me on how he was fascinated with Arabic perfumes at first; how he had taken multiple trips to the region in the 80’s to discover that Arabic perfumes are “a lot about rituals. I was triggered by the way they used raw materials.” He’d spend countless days with the beduins and simple people in the desert, “smelling like sheep” and then go back to his lab and work from there.
When I asked Mr. Gualtieri about his favourite scent, his reply was, “I don’t know. I don’t wear what I work on. Do you read what you write more than a couple of times?” It fascinated me how an amazing perfumer of his stature could walk out of the house wearing nothing and then collect different scents on his skin as he works in the lab. “This is how it works for me,” said Alessandro.
I was interested in knowing more about how Alessandro started his carrer, “I have worked in the industry for a very long time, and I just kept on learning. Then I saw a lot of things I didn’t like and was upset about, so by 2006 I created the Nasomatto line. I made 80 bottles and then I went around with my plastic bags to the stores and they took it on consignment basis in Italy and Germany. They wanted more after a week. I made more and more. It is still very small in dimension as I only do one production a year, because it is a hell of a headache. Some are sold more, others are a flop. In the end people started to talk and now it became a brand!”
When speaking about Orto Parisi line Alessandro went deep into discussion on bringing in the feeling of freshness, which to him was the moment that’s unexpected, “when someone slaps you and you don’t expect it, that’s fresh!”
To wrap up the interview, I wanted to get advice from the perfume genius on how would one go about starting a career in perfumery. “It’s not enough to just want to make perfumes. I mean, if you feel the urge to write, fine, stop talking and start writing. I have many people asking to be my assistants and I always ask them to show me their work. To me, you start because you have certain energy; it doesn’t matter if you have experience or not and at the end it all comes down to an idea. For a lot of people, they would never be able to put their idea in practice. They really have to get their hands into doing it. First, you get in touch with the material. There are things that smell; you build your little collection and then see what you like and what you like about it. It is a little bit like music. If you’d like to play music, get the instrument and play it. Anybody can become a perfumer, but it is a lot of errors, trials and disappointments. There are a lot of people in the industry who have no clue about the industry.”
As I was leaving, Mr Gualtieri sprayed a few of his perfumes on me and said, while spraying one on my neck, “If nobody compliments you on this one, then I failed.” Later that day, I got compliments, I couldn’t stop smelling myself in awe and I ended up getting the perfume a few days later, which was Nasomatto “Black Afgano”. Alessandro Gualtieri’s three collections are available exclusively at Villa 515 in Dubai.
by Anton Rodionov