Filippo Sorcinelli has been called “a Renaissance man,” and the term seems fitting. He is not only the force behind Unum Parfums and the LAVS Atelier that makes vestments for the popes, but he is also a painter, photographer, musician, and conceptual post-modernist artist whose work has been praised by the Louvre.
Words are no substitute for actual experience. I’ve tried to give you a small glimpse into the wide range of topics and olfactory experiences involved in AbdesSalaam Attar’s Italian perfume seminar but they are, ultimately, mere words and abstractions. It’s not even the whole picture. I’ve omitted several subjects, partially by request in order to maintain the impact for anyone who decides to take the course for themselves, and partially out of my own concern of boring those who are not interested.
There are two topics, however, that I’d like to briefly cover before concluding with some thoughts on the class as a whole and information on the upcoming sessions: 1) psycho-aromatherapy and the neurological impact of scent; and 2) distillation.
Bring on the animals! In perfumery, “lions and tigers and bears, oh my” turns into “deer and beavers and furry rodents,” with a strong whiff of goats and horses as well. It’s quite another world, one where the materials in their concentrated or raw state smell very different from how they end up in a fragrance bottle on the store shelves. This is Mother Nature in her stinkiest, most feral, most natural form, though the skank sometimes feels like Mother Nature is on steroids.
What was so special about AbdesSalaam’s perfume course was the opportunity to smell some truly rare materials, to actually hold them in our hands, smear them on our skin or, in one rather disconcerting incident, even taste them on our tongue. From fossilized African hyraceum to Ethiopian civet anal sac paste and muskrat genital glands, each bore a scent that was truly like nothing that I’ve ever encountered in perfumery. Their aroma was so alien from my every day existence that I lack the olfactory vocabulary to convey the full extent of their aroma, but I shall try to do my best. Ultimately, like everything else in AbdesSalaam’s perfume course that I’ve written about so far, there is no substitute for personal experience and my posts can only convey one-tenth of what it was like. The animalics are just one part of why his perfume course is so unique, as well as why it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you should experience for yourself if you have the time, means, and opportunity.