If you look up Antonio Alessandria’s fragrances in Michael Edwards indispensable database, you will encounter an apt word used again and again to describe them: opulent. If I were —heaven forfend— an aromatherapist, I would prescribe them all, taken twice daily in rotation on a smelling strip, as a cure for melancholia. When the world seems drained of color and light, call AA and all will be well.
Many artisan firms are (knowingly or not) engaged in an adolescent revolt against “Mom’s perfume” and go for the sort of high-gothic fragrances you’d expect Game of Thrones characters to wear to work. Antonio Alessandria heads in the exact opposite direction, towards an empyrean region inhabited by Proustian, ideally glamorous mothers, drowning in chartreuse-colored silk faille and feathers, ready for a gala evening at Naples’ San Carlo opera. If I may reach for yet another musical analogy, his perfumes have a specifically South Italian impetuous innocence that reminds me of fin-de-siècle composers like the great and largely forgotten Giuseppe Martucci.
Alessandria sent me samples of four of his fragrances, the Hommage à la Lune trilogy of Nuit Rouge, Noir Obscur and Nacre Blanche. They are all richly satisfying, beautifully constructed fragrances. My favorite is the fourth, Fleurs et Flammes, one of the most beautiful florals I have smelled in a very long time. This is a composition which manages the difficult balancing act of being both a celebration of great raw materials, and a sleek man-made sculpture. It appears to be intended as a unisex fragrance. The brave man who wears it will first need to acquire one of those miniature silver vases worn behind the lapel that dip the stem of a gardenia in a little water to make it last out the evening.
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Categories: niche houses