FRAGRANTICA: Parfums Quartana: The Dangerous Beauty Of Poisonous Flowers

June 20, 2016


In June, a new project named Les Potions Fatales was launched by Joseph Quartana, who was previously famous for his numerous limited perfume collections, united under the brand Six Scents. In Milan I came across great examples of his work, perfumes born in collaboration between fashion designers and perfumers.

Les Potions Fatales explore the treacherous beauty and intriguing lore of nine of the world’s most poisonous flowers. Appealing and perilous, these lethal flowers have been used to nefarious deeds. You can't do anything but surrender to this floral femme fatale — seductive on the outside but ultimately dark, sinister, and dangerous on the inside.

Joseph Quartana, the founder of Six Scents Parfums and the modern boutique Seven New York, has introduced PARFUMS Quartana which are produced in small quantities and sold online and in his boutique. For the new Les Potions Fatales,Joseph worked for  two and a half years with perfumers from Symrise. Part of the revenue will be donated to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. The artwork on the outer packaging was designed by Aerosyn-Lex Mestrovic. Based in NYC and Tokyo, Aerosyn-Lex Mestrovic has exhibited in MoMA, The White House, Art Basel, and his works are also part of the Smithsonian Collection.

Bloodflower starts with a fresh and green, sappy olfactory illusion. At the moment you focus on it and confirm this impression, its friendly greenness hardens with metallic nuances, they become more and more obvious until you realize that you taste blood in your mouth. I haven't seen the bloodflower in nature and can't compare the scents, but I remember how blood feels in your nose and mouth after a full strength run during my workout. It was a tough and very memorable experience. Perfumer Alexandra Carlincomposed the blood accord very skillfully and true to life. It could have adorned theBlood Concept collection in its best years (which have passed). I remember another impressive blood accord representation in Yohji Homme by Yohji Yamamoto. Alexandra Carlin managed to extract bloody poison from sweet pastries and classical rose. I can sense the similarity with Yohji Homme after aproximately 30 minutes, when the poison starts slowly spreading and the perfume settles into a comforting sweetness. Although I try to pull out some perfume memories, this beautiful perfume is surprisingly unique. Smelling it, I understand what we call niche perfumery.

Digitalis represents fougere perfumes in their most classical interpretation. You can find one in every perfume brand, because there is a great population of male consumers who wants perfume to accentuate their hygienic perfection and fresh appearance, more than actually smell a perfume for itself. The perfumer David Apeloffers us a pale vegetal freshness, soggy blue and green, very clean, but alarmingly cold. You can see this color transformation in the latest Van Gogh works, when he had been taking drugs based on the digitalis plant the last two years of his life. I must assure you that this humid and clean perfume cloud does not have anything in common with the smell of the real plant, which smells obnoxiously bitter, leaving a nasty taste in your mouth.

This perfume – so strangely amazing – starts with absolutely inedible, although sweet, accords of ambery plastic and synthetic suede. It is very soothing, but not at all mouthwatering, you will not be able to poison yourself with this one; there is no chance you want to put it in your mouth, these shiny boots of faux leather. It brings to mind several different accords: one is the spicy driftwood of Preparation Parfumée Andrée Putmann, and another the almond pastries with heliotrope and tonka beans Tulaytulah Majda Bekkali. I also feel a cold and bright suede accord that I remember fromNo+SUEDE UÉR MÍ. In its heart, Hemlock gradually heats up and transmits warmth to the farthest reaches of its trail, but remains artificial, even surrounded by vanilla-tonka-benzoin.

Lily of the valley is not only a beautiful romantic flower, but also a well-known medicinal plant. Its dried leaves lower blood pressure, calm and soothe pain, and help withinsomnia. But the beautiful flowers and red berries are extremely poisonous. There is no need to describe the smell of lily-of-the-valley, I presume everyone knows it. In this particular perfume, lily-of-the-valley is very fresh and loud. What is worth mentioning, is the contrast between the freshness and white fragility of floral accord in the very opening, and a leather accord of gloves. The dark side makes the flower glitter. An extraordinary twist conceived and masterfully executed by Nathalie Benareau.

Mandrake is the smell you long to taste, despite its extreme acidic start (rhubarb, green apple and sour gooseberry). I expect your mouth is watering while reading these "sour" names. As time passes, the fragrance accumulates sweetness and warmth. Itdarkens and thickens like a jam, and after a long dark witchery, it squeezes out of its already quite dark potion – a dry, small and leathery root of mandrake, for you to keep as a charm. After witnessing this wonderful transformation, I want to smell it again and again. There is nothing very revolutionary in this thrilling ride from sour freshness to dried leather, but every time this rollercoaster makes you scream. If you like unexpected transformations, I suggest you try East India Beaufort London.

This is another beautiful aroma, rich and intense, but also very well known as an oriental perfume bouquet. The main role belongs to jasmine, it possesses you from the very start and leads into a powder room, where you forget the present and live in the past, surrunded by mincing marquises in wigs and crinolines. The best embodiment of this sentimental and theatrical scene you will find in L`Heure Bleue Guerlain. If you look for a strong vintage vibe in modern perfumes, I would heartily recommend to tryMidnight Datura. It is a very long lasting perfume which smells like dust and warm amber and brings peace with its final notes.

A strong sweet scent that is reminiscent of jasmine and gasoline at the same time. I feel dirty and busy in its suffocating atmosphere, trying to pick up white jasmine from the fumes and waste of a gasoline burner that happened to be close by and defective. What is it? A kitchen with herbs (mint, parsley, and a bunch of other) for potion making? I got it, I already smell it: a freshly brewed and very potent poison. It's made of Gardenol or Styrallyl Acetate, and it will faithfully play the poison role to the last breath. If you want a visualization, it is a tiger in cannabis bushes, although you wouldn't guess it from the first notes.

The name of the flower means beautiful woman. Women used to rubb their cheekswith it for a rosy blush, and even drop the juice into their eyes to make them shine passionately (dilated pupils were considered beautiful). Another name of belladonna, at least in my language, is 'mad berry'.

The perfume Venetian Belladonna alone could substitute the rest of Les Potions Fatales, because its smell perfectly captures the meaning of the collection's name: floral fruity sweet, mesmerizing and inviting in a smarmy way. You're trapped and smitten by its tenderness, although you already hear how its lulling purring is turning into a hungry, anticipating growling. But you are not afraid, you are bewitched with desire and live in a delirium. It's a sweet, heady perfume that draws exotic flowers in your mind, they quiver in the air and disappear in rainbow circles. Venetian Belladonnais a typical poison; you can see, smell and taste it. A beautiful actress makes her first step on the stage and everybody already knows who is the murderer.


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