The art of perfume: 5 stunning new perfumes by Italian house D’OTTO | Luxury Lifestyle Magazine

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Inspired by iconic masterpieces of abstract art, D’OTTO have translated painting into perfume with five new evocative scents.

Launched exclusively this year at Selfridges, their new series tempts the art lovers among us, and (as an artist by profession) I was immediately intrigued and curious to discover how my favourite paintings might smell!

How do you create a perfume that suggests the seductively tactile ‘Black Square’ by Malevic for example? Or the playfulness of Klee’s ‘Red Balloon’? Creative minds often think in synesthetic ways; seeing colour when listening to music, or thinking of numbers as perfumes perhaps.

The creative mind behind this series, perfumer Paolo Terenzi, has titled each of the perfumes with numbers representing various concepts, and those of a numeric persuasion can explore these further on D’OTTO’s website. When it comes to perfume though, aroma is everything. The world of perfume is rife with overblown hyperbole and high-brow concepts not matched by the perfume; put simply, it has to smell good!

3 + 5 (Inspired by Paul Klee’s painting Red Balloon, 1922)

3 + 5 (Inspired by Paul Klee’s painting Red Balloon, 1922).

The opening of 3 + 5 has the aroma of sunshine, warmth and summer. It develops into a mellow sweetness that reminds me of Play Dough. Play Dough was created in the 1950s and because it smelled so delicious the company invented the slogan ‘fun to play with, not to eat!’.

Choosing from the five paintings, I guessed that Klee’s Red Balloon inspired this perfume as, for me, the associations here are of childhood play. Klee talked about ‘taking a line for a walk’ – drawing and painting without restriction, just as children do before they’re restricted by a world of expectation.

Reading D’OTTO’S description of the perfume, I start to notice the notes here – tuberose, with its associations of summer, plum with its rich fruitiness, sandalwood, vanilla – all notes that give us ‘the feel good factor’ and 3 + 5 is truly as delightful and uplifting as a Klee painting!

1 + 7 by (Inspired by One: Number 31 by Jackson Pollock)

1 + 7 by (Inspired by One: Number 31 by Jackson Pollock)

D’OTTO’S 1 + 7 opens with fresh, dynamic citric and herbal notes; appropriately energetic, before settling into a woody clean harmony. Does it make me think of a Jackson Pollock painting? 1+7 was created specifically in response to One: Number 31 by Pollock – a characteristically enormous wall-filling piece redolent with energy, which at first appears chaotic and agitated. I’m reminded of a tangle of winter branches and rhythms of a forest.

Although at first I’d have expected 1 + 7 to be a little more chaotic to represent Pollock’s work, I understand the thinking behind 1 + 7. As D’OTTO’S description suggests; This creation is the expression of the harmony of chaos in a drop of perfect emotion.

2 + 6 (Inspired by Kazimir Severinovič Malevič’s Black Square)

2 + 6. (Inspired by Kazimir Severinovič Malevič’s Black Square)

2 + 6 opens with cardamom and woody black pepper. It’s rich and dark and the woodiness feels deep, smoky and dry, but this is belied by a deliciously juicy Amalfi lemon. It becomes increasingly leathery as it develops, with complementary oud notes. The leather feels like styrax to me – which always reminds me of chocolate and liquorice – appropriately black!

Black Square was believed to be one of the first purely abstract, or non-representational works by a modern artist. Texture plays a huge part in the appeal of the painting – the blackness is not uniform or flat but appealingly cracked – reminiscent of the fired glaze of pottery, or layers of paint that dry to a crackle-glaze.

2 + 6 reflects this aesthetic with its textures of leather and resinous ancient wood. There’s more to discover as 2 + 6 develops – notes of calming frankincense, cosy benzoin resin and caramel-like sweetness. It’s quite beautiful, especially if (like me) you enjoy leather scents.

6 + 2 (Inspired by Wassily Kandinsky’s Yellow, Red Blue)

Warm and woody, this reminds me of a forest floor in summer- resinous and rooty. The immediate sense is of a perfume created with the experience of nature in mind – grounded and balanced. A cornucopia of woods is involved here; agarwood, myrrh, cedar, oud, amber, Oman incense and sandalwood – all blending into a harmonious whole.

Kandinsky’s Yellow, Red, Blue appears at first to be an almost chaotic maelstrom of colour, but meditate on line, composition and colour and the whole painting creates a sense of interconnection that is balancing to the soul.

My experience of 6 + 2 echoes this exactly. If you’re a city-dweller who longs for the country, you might find that its pleasant waft suggests perfumed woodsmoke, and restores a little equilibrium. A perfect autumnal perfume, its sweet smoky notes of incense and myrrh are most evocative.

5 + 3 (Inspired by Piet Mondrian’s Composition II in Red, Yellow and Blue)

Powdery and musky in its opening notes, 5+3 develops with subtlety and sophistication – a cool, polished quality of refined spices and florals with a dusting of dry powder, thanks, I think, to iris.

As intellectual and abstract as it gets, Composition II in Red, Yellow and Blue exemplifies Mondrian’s approach, one that to this day continues to alienate those who prefer their art to be representational. Think of minimalist architecture and design of the last century though, and you can see how influential Mondrian’s work was on subsequent generations.

5 + 3’s harmony and balance beautifully echo the cool precision of Mondrian’s work. I find this an elegant perfume – suggesting a warmly scented cashmere scarf on a frosty day – a perfume perfect for winter.

D’OTTO and sustainability

In addition to this exuberantly creative perfume series, D’OTTO have definitely got the memo about sustainability: All of their packaging is recyclable and/or re-usable, and their wonderfully unique installation at Selfridges London features a refill fountain that offers Selfridges customers the opportunity to bring their empty bottles to be refilled with their favourite D’OTTO fragrance. All Selfridges stores will also offer D’OTTO in reduced Kraft packaging that is fully recyclable and includes a 10% donation to charity.

D’OTTO’S new perfumes are available exclusively at Selfridges:

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