July 31, 2016
As I was walking back to my hotel room in Milan during Esxence 2016 I ran into Joseph Quartana in the lobby of the hotel. Mr. Quartana was co-founder of one of my favorite independent brands Six Scents where they took up-and-coming fashion designers and paired them with perfumers. The results were never less than fascinating as the fashion designers and the perfumers came up with their olfactory designs. I asked him if there was going to be more. He shook his head negatively. He told me he was doing something else. I stopped to sit down and hear about it. Mr. Quartana told me he was developing a line based on poisonous flowers. He had some for preview in Milan but I just couldn’t make it over to the hotel where he was at during the show. I followed up on our return to the US and received sample of all nine of the new line called Parfums Quartana Les Potions Fatales.
Mr. Quartana decided to work with the very deep roster of perfumers at Symrise. Each of the nine has a different perfumer. This is in keeping with the way Six Scents also operated. I am a big proponent of the idea that a single collaboration between creative director and perfumer produces the best results. Except Mr. Quartana keeps providing me with data points which are in conflict with that hypothesis. For Les Potions Fatales it makes each one of these first perfumes feel like its own discovery with the concept being the connective tissue rather than an aesthetic or particular style. I am going to spend most of this week introducing you to this very good collection of perfumes. Today I start with Bloodflower.
Bloodflower is most known as the preferred food of Monarch butterfly larvae. In the places where bloodflower grows its sap is used to poison the arrows of the indigenous primitive peoples who live there. I knew this history so I was surprised that the perfume based upon it was something quite different. Perfumer Alexandra Carlin and Mr. Quartana wanted to go for a “haute Goth” style of fragrance. The nod to the plant was to mimic the transformation of the larvae into the butterfly having a metamorphosing style throughout. It does capture what they wanted.
Bloodflower opens with the first syllable, a blood accord. I have always loved the description of the smell of freshly spilled blood as smelling of freshly sheared copper. That imparts the concept of a chilly metallic accord. Mme Carlin assembles just that. The early moments have a clean metallic edge to them, almost like a used scalpel would smell like. The first transformation occurs as the blood changes into a licorice laden mix meant to emulate Sambuca liqueur. As with the top accord Mme Carlin also captures the sugary sweet quality of the liqueur as well as its viscosity as it feels like this oozes over the blood accord. In the base the flower part shows up as a very deep rose is made even deeper with clove and patchouli. This is a Goth black rose to finish upon.
Bloodflower has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage.
I will be repeating myself a lot over the next few days but Mr. Quartana did a fantastic job as creative director. Bloodflower shows how he was unafraid to move away from slavish devotion to the name of the collection with a willingness to end up someplace different. Bloodflower is a great example of everything that is good about this collection.