By Carla Seipp
As far as inspirations for a perfume line go, Breaking Bad is pretty much the pinnacle of badass-ry. And just like its source material, the Les Potions Fatales collection by Parfums Quartana is highly addictive and undeniably captivating. “I was watching an episode of the show, and in it the protagonist Walter used lily of the valley to poison Jessie’s girlfriend’s son, Brock. A lightbulb went on in my head. I thought to myself, why hasn’t anyone done poisonous flowers in perfumery yet? That’s when the eureka moment happened,” Joseph Quartana explains.
Packaged in psychedelic original artwork by Aersoyn-Lex Mestrovic, each of the range’s nine eau de parfums explores the folkloric, mythical, and biological traits of its namesake flower. “The notion of deception is the concept that runs through the entirety of the collection. Things are not what they seem,” Quartana adds. In the following text, the brand’s founder depicts the narrative behind each scent.
“We wanted it to be straight-up super slutty and seductive. Firstly, venetian belladonna was equated with aggressive female sexuality. Secondly, it was used by the witches of Italy to put seduction spells on men. So we put plum, honey, all of these feminine notes into it. The witches would also drop it into their eyes, partially because it was considered cosmetically attractive to have blown out pupils, but also to have black masses. They were putting a hallucinogen into their eyeballs, so we made the scent psychedelic in that way too. Styrax progeny, which smells like something is on fire, was added into the dry down. The idea is that once the witch seduces you, she burns you with her hellfire. It’s also a symbol for the fire of passion. There is both the literal aspect of hellfire, and then the symbolism of passion.”
“Each of the fragrances vary in a spectrum of being very loyal to the folklore all the way over to being completely imaginary, like in the case of the Bloodflower. For me and the perfumer Alexandra Carlin, the first thing that came to mind is the album Bloodflowers by The Cure. So we went into a gothic direction with it. Our concept was to make it really vampiric. We had to add a blood accord, but had to make it more palatable. I was back home for the holidays in Jersey with my very Italian family and what we drink after the meal on Christmas Day is black sambuca. It smells like licorice and anise. I thought, let's try throwing it into the Bloodflower recipe and see what happens. It turns out it really blended nicely with the clove, orris and rose. Suddenly it all harmonized. It transforms the blood accord into sweet blood that you want to lap up. You, the smeller, become the vampire."
“One of the fascinating things about bloodflower as a flower is that it's eaten by the monarch caterpillar before it transforms into a butterfly. This notion of metamorphosis is why the fragrance transforms so quickly into this very sweet drydown. And so the accompanying film is really about that metamorphosis, the idea of spiritual ascension, shedding the body and finding the white light.”
“It's also said that if you mix mandrake with milk and verbena you can summon a demon. The creamy gourmand wood aspect is the milk, and then the aromatic aspect that also simulates the scream is the verbena. It's a sexual male fragrance. And to really emphasize the root aspect we added birch leaf and root, which, combined with the creamy gourmand wood, captures the effervescence of root beer. Mandrake itself also smells like apple. It's one of the only poison flowers we really liked the smell of, so it became the essence of a heart note and we reinforced it with pomegranate and rhubarb.”
“Poppy Soma was done by Emilie Coppermann, who was the understudy of none other than Jean-Louis Sieuzac, who co-created Opium for YSL in the late ‘70s. She wanted reinterpret her mentor's original vision and update the concept for 2016. Our version is vastly different. Poppy Soma is the sweet white sap that bleeds out of the bulbs, which is collected and refined into black tar opium (that is then smoked). Ours is just that, the before and after of the nectar, its sweetness, and the pungent smoke that is then consumed as a drug. It's dream inducing, literally narcotic, and as the Chinese used it for sex, we wanted to impart a warm sensuality to it as well.”