An Infinite Summer


–  a review of Profumi Bruno Acampora Blu

In these dun, drab days when the hangdog brown hound days of winter stretch out in front of us as endless as the Pacific ocean, it seems as if summer is an impossible dream of heat and light. It exists only to torment those of us in the Northern Hemisphere who crave dreamier, happier alternatives to rain, to sleet, to snow and wind.

Last night, as the rain drummed on my rooftop and slithered down my windowpanes and I thought chill and rain and wind were all I would ever know, I remembered a treasure I brought back from Florence that might – you never know – banish those winter blahs to the cold, dark, dank shadows from which they came.

This little treasure and I had met before, met just long enough for me to turn my head and realize precisely just what a treasure it was, before life, literature and distractions got in the way. Yet last night it seemed I remembered it by chance, serendipity or synchronicity, who can say?

In a small sample vial this little cerulean treasure bloomed, aptly named Blu.

The Naples-based perfume house of Bruno Acampora is one of those cult secret brands so über-cool many of you may not have heard of either the elegant Bruno Acampora himself – jetsetter, globetrotter, perfumer – or the perfumes, but dear readers, I tell you… they are all of them beautifully composed, and unusually presented in their aluminum flasks with cork stoppers and wax seals, like fragrant Graeco-Roman artifacts someone encountered while strolling through the ruins of Herculaneum.

Yet Blu is neither strange nor anything less than very modern. It is a deceptively simple take on that terror of all flowers, the tuberose, but it’s not at all like any other tuberoses I know, and I know most of the tuberoses worth knowing. Not the intimidating Gothic splendor of Serge Lutens’ Tubereuse Criminelle, nor the velvet-earthy-tuberose chocolate of Exotic Island Perfumes’ Flor Azteca, nor even the wintergreen salicylate wonders of Editions de Parfums Carnal Flower.

Instead of a journey into the dark heart of tuberose, Blu offers another kind of journey, another kind of mood and another kind of emotion, all of which can be wrapped up in the happy Italian phrase:

Dolce far niente.

This is a tuberose that lives for that exhilarating moment where you find yourself in the absolute perfect place at the absolute perfect time in an absolutely flawless state of mind. This moment is not the time to do unless it’s to laugh nor to go unless it’s to dance, but simply to be whole, entire and entirely in this singular instant, when life is good, love is grand and the moment and the summer all somehow gild themselves in your memory – or your fantasy, at least.

Blu is another secret story tuberose never told on your skin and you never suspected. Somewhere in the length and breadth of all a tuberose contains lay a carefully concealed and very happy laugh just waiting to burst. Who knew?

I didn’t.

A laughing tuberose that never veers from its happy state of mind, not when it’s joined by a flirtatious wink of an orange nor even the dappled shade of sandalwood that flickers underneath Signorina Tuberose. Some long, long time later, she leaves with a wave and another girlish giggle, and only the sunshine yellow ylang ylang is left to sweeten the memories she left in her fragrant wake.

For if this tuberose is no signorina, she is at least and always young at heart and in her soul, which is really where youth matters – and is needed! – most of all.

Meanwhile back in a gray, drab, wet corner of Northern Europe, I am carried far away on an superbly elegant tuberose laugh, to the magical isle of Capri and an infinite summer as incendiary blue as the sky above and the sea far, far down below, as blinding bright as the white marble balustrade and the sparkling jewels of your sandals, when life consists only of the sweet, flawless nothings of being alive in a beautiful moment as only a tuberose moment could ever hope to be.


When the sea, the sky and the summer seems artless, happy and infinitely, perfectly blue. The statue above points the way… to Capri, to dolce far niente, to the many shades of blue below and to an exuberant tuberose laugh called Blu.

Notes: Tuberose, orange, sandalwood and ylang ylang. (Although it’s not listed, I detect a smidge of jasmine in there, somewhere. Not a bad thing.) Longevity is outstanding, but trust your local sillage monster . a little goes a long way! 

Bruno Acampora Blu is available from Luckyscent and First in Fragrance as both a perfume oil and as an eau de parfum.

With very special thanks to Sonia Acampora, who did so very much to welcome and illuminate an unknown Danish perfume blogger at Pitti Fragranze 2013.

Disclosure: A sample of Bruno Acampora Blu perfume oil was provided by Sonia Acampora. 

Fleur Moderne


–       a review of DSH PerfumesVers la Violette from the Passport to Paris Collection

Pity the humble violet. Today, violet perfumes as they were originally made have a slight bashful whiff of Miss Havisham and Victoriana, of simplicity, humility and faithfulness, as if, in other words, the perfumes made from this modest but heavenly scented flower have somehow been imbued by default with all the loaded trappings of Proust’s notorious madeleine – offering nostalgia in a bottle.

It’s hard to imagine in these anything goes days, but once upon a time in the decadent, alluring Belle Èpoque era of Paris with its equally alluring swirling, whirling, dizzying lines and mysterious femmes fatales, with its Symbolist poetry, Pointillist paintings and louche air, back in the day when all the world was perched on the brink of momentous change, that shy little violet ruled supreme in the perfume world. Ladies of distinction and easy virtue alike were so enamoured of its sweetly fragrant, verdant spring air that violet perfumes were in effect the perfume bestsellers of their day.


No matter what these mesdames and demoiselles of the Belle Èpoque might have thought to the contrary, those beloved, sweetly romantic violet perfumes did not in fact contain a single bloom, but another newly synthesized aromatic component that had recently arrived for the perfumer’s organ – ionone (alpha- and beta-ionone, to be precise). Coumarin may get all the justly celebrated press for Houbigant’s Fougère Royal and Guerlain’s equally revolutionary Jicky, but ionone was just as important, not least for the enormous bouquet of violet soliflore perfumes that began to bloom in liquid at around the same time.

Let those dandies and Des Esseintes-wannabes wear their narcotic ambers and tuberoses, their oh-so fashionable fougères, those ladies seemed to say.

‘Give me la violette and my heart shall always be an eternal Spring.’

I’m not sure about the previous statement, but it is a fact universally proven on this blog and elsewhere – I love violets. The flowers themselves are my favorite part of spring, candied violets do wonders in tandem with dark chocolate (never more so than in that great Baudelaire poem of violet, aroma M’s delicious Geisha Violet), and not a few other violet perfumes have also stolen my own fickle heart – Tom Ford’s Black Violet, Sonoma Scent Studio’s Forest Walk, the neon violet of Guerlain’s Insolence and perhaps my favorite of them all, Serge Lutens’ Bois de Violette. I also once managed to imbibe violet (violet liqueur is a thing) in the form of a virulent purple concoction known as Parfait Amour since hope springs eternal, but I didn’t find it there…


Yet somewhere in those curvilinear, asymmetrical lines of perfume, in the vibrant Pointillist paintings of Hippolyte Petitjean and the overall arc of the Denver Art Museum’s Passport to Paris exhibition now on show, perfumer Dawn Spencer Hurwitz managed to reinvent this now classic perfume trope, le parfum violette, and make it new into something that feels not at all out of place or step with the 21st century.

Her inspiration came from Hippolyte Petitjean’s painting Village from 1893. I’m not sure it’s the painting above, since Google Images was not cooperating, but if Dawn were somehow hoping to translate that hazy, sun-drenched landscape painting into a perfume, she certainly succeeded.

For Vers la Violette is never less than violet, and nevertheless as state-of-the-art modern as this day, this moment, this instant I type away on a machine not even Jules Verne could have imagined. Just as I think I can say with some justification the august Aimé Guerlain could never have imagined anything like Vers la Violette, but if anyone could understand it as something more and more audacious than the mere sum of its parts, surely he would.

In my opinion, no one in perfumery today on either side of the Atlantic can touch Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’ innate and slightly uncanny understanding of the historical context of perfumes. Whether recreating some of the fragrances of ancient Egypt or reinterpreting a comprehensive work of fashion as she did for her YSL retrospective, she not only manages to convey precisely what those pivotal perfumes meant and how they were perceived in their time, but also to refine them and improve them, and with Vers la Violette, she gives the world a violet to make the heart sing and the mind dream of purple haze over a country field, of spring and future possibilities.

Except somehow in this pale gold liquid filigree, an urban heart beats beneath it all which gives it an edge on the violet competition and takes it far away from any nostalgic memories of bashful blooms on a forest floor.

Make no mistake – Vers la Violette is also a pun – on ‘vert’, and green is precisely how it starts to sing. I detect bergamot, galbanum and lemon certainly, along with a quite a lot of violet leaf, but there’s nothing at all bashful about this purple flower. She sings a little softly underneath the orange blossom, the rose and the iris to begin with, which makes this about very much more and more multi-dimensional than simply ‘violet’, but when she finally enters the spotlight, she stays. And stays. Winding her delicate vines around that ethereal floral heart and on through a mossy, soft suede drydown with a hint of hot summer concrete splashed by a passing purple-violet thundercloud.

As much as I like violet notes, and violet leaves, and violet leaf perfumes with their grassy-green optimism, it’s this suede-y, violet-flavored wet steamy concrete thing that slays me. It takes a bit more than the mere name ‘violet’ to make me sit up and pay attention to what I’m sniffing, so I’m partial to the unusual, and Vers la Violette, for all its fabled historical associations with ionone, with violets, and with Les Femmes Modernes of Belle Èpoque Paris, is a most unusual violet. I’ve consistently called it ‘she’, but Vers la Violette is easily, breezily unisex and more modern and certainly more elegant than any mere blushing bloom could ever be.

I’m not quite sure how many more ways I can say I love it – most deeply and sincerely – except that sample vial is going fast, for give me a violet, give me this violet and I shall remain forever young…

Notes (from Fragrantica): Galbanum, bergamot, lemon, violet leaf absolute, cyclamen, orange flower absolute, ionone, orris CO2 extract, Bulgarian rose, wood violet, Mysore sandalwood, oakmoss, labdanum, suede, civet.

Disclosure: A sample was provided for review by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, for which I thank her from the bottom of my hugely grateful heart.