As my first perfume in The Sicily Quartet is about to launch, I thought I’d introduce the range and explain the vision of Parfums Clandestins as a creator of luxe natural perfumes. This post explores the muse for the Sicily Quartet as it finds a place in the vast, dynamic and also increasingly natural perfumery market.
I am writing this just a few days before I head to one of Europe’s most prestigious perfume fairs, Pitti Fragranze, in Florence. It will be both humbling and exciting to discover the possibilities perfume offers up in 2019 and to explore the new arrivals.
According to Euromonitor International, premium unisex fragrance was the strongest fragrance category in 2018, with global sales up 7.5%. The Sicily Quartet is gender unspecific so I take comfort from the statistics but know fragrance is one of the most fickle and competitive sectors to be entering. Where might my luxe natural range sit one day? A month off decanting Eresia into its final livery, I dare to dream.
Parfums Clandestins’ Ethos
First, a recap on the overall mission and vision of Parfums Clandestins. We are a niche perfume house on the Mediterranean island of Malta creating eco-luxe, mainly natural perfumes. I strive to use ethically- and sustainably-sourced fragrance materials and carry this ethos through to packaging and marketing materials and in the manufacturing processes as far as possible. Sustainable perfumes will always be work in progress as I grow the business. The main thing is to be mindful of my decisions from the start and be clear about my choices. I know that natural does not mean that a product is sustainable.
I find naturals are beauty incarnate and complex, vicarious beings. But while the launch Sicily Quartet perfumes are to date composed of natural raw materials, there may come a time when certain natural ingredients are no longer sustainable or I discover they are harvested with unethical practices and I need to reformulate a fragrance perhaps including some aroma chemicals.
Our Perfumery Style
Our eaux de parfum are clandestine, seductive liaisons between scent and skin. This is a poetic way of saying that as natural perfumes, they are more intimate experiences as do not create the vast trailing sillages of most synthetic ingredient-dominated fragrances.
In an age when fragrance is being limited in use in public spaces and places, this seems to me however a positive and a benefit of naturals. Why not enjoy the perfume yourself, sensing how it evolves on your skin rather than invading other’s spaces?
So, Parfums Clandestins luxe perfumes are designed to create a unique scent aura for each wearer to be shared alone or with those intimately close. That said, they do have impact at close quarters as The Sicily Quartet amply demonstrates.
The Sicily Quartet EDP Story
The Sicily Quartet eaux de parfum draw inspiration from the novel ‘The Leopard’ (Il Gattopardo) by Sicilian aristocrat Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa and evoke sensual scenes from Visconti’s 1963 film of the story. The novel is set in late 19th century Sicily and recounts the fate of the noble Salina family, one of the island’s old aristocratic dynasties. The era is one of changing fortunes as Garibaldi enters the stage ushering in the Rinascimento and the aristocracy’s slow, painful demise.
Visconti’s film portrays this period vividly. The scenes speak of faded grandeur, soul searching, of resignation to fate and yet also a striving, if a futile one, to hold on to the past through routines and rituals. The film depicts the stark contrasts that are Sicily and which are still evident on the island today.
There is darkness and heaviness of spirit in the family home – the decaying and partially closed-up palace of Donnafugata (pictured above). But there is the gaiety and opulence of exuberant balls in grand Palermo palaces and the lightness of being of young lovers of the next generation who will live the new Sicily that was promised with the death of the ancien regime – the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.
The chiaroscuro – the sharp contrasts from light to dark – in both the scenery and psyche of the protagonists is where I found my inspiration for The Sicily Quartet. I studied the novel while reading Italian at university and it has had a hold on me since; as has Visconti’s film that fleshed out the key characters with Burt Lancaster as the Prince of Salina and the Claudia Cardinale as the seductive Angelica Sedara, the local mayor’s daughter who represents the new rising middle class and who married into the family.
What to Expect as a Wearer
From The Sicily Quartet Eaux de Parfums expect opulence and depth, richness and the juxtapositioning of lightness amidst smouldering underbelly notes. There is plenty for the devout lover of niche perfumes. Just as Sicily doesn’t open up itself immediately, even to today’s travelers armed with the likes of Tripadvisor, The Sicily Quartet takes time to get to know. Each scent evolves and is more classically constructed eschewing the trend for linear perfumes that are the same from first encounter to dry down.
But when you do encounter them, I hope you find traces of the Il Gattopardo story in the perfumes and feel transported to Sicily, this largest yet still misunderstood Mediterranean island, whether of today or yesteryear.
Sicily Quartet Launch
Eresia, Devoto, Sussurri and Illecito luxe natural perfumes are being released in sequence from autumn 2019. The four eau de parfum echo the seasons: Eresia with its smokey woods is reminiscent of late autumn into winter; Devoto is redolent of the heady floral scent of a warm Sicilian spring night; Sussurri is a cologne-style scent bringing a Mediterranean coastal summer breeze; and Illecito is a floral-leather perfume recreating the last scents of summer and first days of a Sicilian autumn.
Eresia: Sicily Quartet EDP Nr 1.
Eresia – heresy – is the first EDP of the Quartet and draws inspiration from an opening scene in the novel late one afternoon when the Salina family gathers to say the Rosary. The heresy lies in the wandering thoughts of those who dutifully attend the ritual, but whose minds are elsewhere on more fleshly pleasures.
“The daily recital of the Rosary was over […]. A lilting hum from which would chime some unlikely word: love, virginity, death.”
Excerpt from Il Gattopardo by Tomasi di Lampedusa.
Eresia, is an opulent Sicilian-oriental perfume with accent notes of damask rose, ylang ylang and aromatic woods of white oud, sandalwood and guaiac wood. It starts with a frisson of bergamot and pink pepper before evolving into a smooth smokiness. Sweeter notes of cherry vanilla and tobacco marry with Peru balsam, santal and vanilla oleo resin to usher in a velvety, almost powdery woody drydown.
‘It smells like churches but not an English church, a church in a hot country.’
‘It reminds me of fallen rose petals left in the sun.’
Eresia Eau de Parfum, special launch ‘Limited Edition’ flacons should be available from December 2019*. Sign up below for our VIP list for news of pre-launch offers.
*We are limited on launch in 2019 to customers residing in Malta and Gozo. Worldwide shipping will be available in early 2020. Please feel free to contact us to find out more about how to buy.