Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Hilde Soliani Conaffeto: fragrance review & draw

If you have dreamed about a fragrance reflecting the endearing and romantic thoughts surrounding a wedding preparation, from the sugared almonds in the little tulle bags as a small treat for anyone attending, down to the orange blossoms garlanding the bride's hair and the groom's boutonnière, then ConAffeto by Hilde Soliani is your answer.

Weddings never fail to tug at my heartstrings, possibly because in the Orthodox tradition they are so impressive and symbolic to savour: the ritualistic engagement of the spouses-to-be resembles a royal crowning, twin-crowns of white blossoms and silver wire (stefana) tied together by a ribbon, are put on their heads and criss-crossed three times to denote the presence of the Holy Triad; the mutual drinking of blessed wine from the same golden chalice a symbol of sharing in their shared from now on life; the ritual cyclical "dance" by the bride and groom of the ceremonial table, to the enthusiastic accompanying throwing of rice mixed with rose petals by the attendees, symbolising their good wishes for fertility and eternal growth. And the small desserts that are given to each guest at the end of the holy mystery and before the wedding reception by the unmarried young women of the extended families in festive attire to whom it's customary to reply "may you wed as well". Oh yes, weddings are a moving event where I come from.

Conaffeto comes from a wordplay on these lovely associations: Con affeto means "with affection" in Italian, but it also resembles the small treat offered at weddings, the sugared almond, called confetto (plural confetti), coined by Monica Polachinni, an Italian American friend of Hilde's. Sugared almonds, according to lore coming from the Arab Al-Razi who invented the recipe, accompany many religious ceremonies in the Christian faith, from baptism to matrimony and it's often with their colour that they carry a special meaning: white for the first wedding, yellow for the (possible) second, pink or blue for christenings, several different colours for the anniversaries of happily-married couples according to years together...
It is with affection for this tradition and a more personal affection that Hilde created the perfume to offer as a custom creation for her friend Danielle's wedding to her Vietnamese fiance. This bespoke perfume of Conaffeto, presented in roll-on oil form, is a floral gourmand, as soft and promising as the nuptials of a couple radiating with happiness at the promise of a sweet life ahead.

Soliani's work in art directing fragrances with caressing, haute gourmand qualities is well documented, from the chocolate-laced fit for Valentine's Day Ciocospezissimo and Ciocorosissimo to the Michelin-star restaurant flavours of Acquiilssssima, Doolciiisssimo, Saaliiisssiimo, Freschiiissimo. Conaffeto is again inspired by foodstuff, but thanks to its restraint and softness, as well as its oil parfum concentration, it remains as fluffy and light as a cloud or a wedding-reception meringue. Simply put, you're met with the aroma of sugar-coated almonds, the crunchy crust a little bit bittersweet, the almond reinforcing the impression and at the background a note of coumarin anchoring it, all put in the context of a linear composition. The floral element (orange blossoms) is subtle, clean, ethereally romantic like two people embarking on one of life's greatest adventures.

Conaffeto isn't yet released outside Italy, but it will soon be. I have a sample for a lucky reader: Please state in the comments what you like (or don't like) in weddings and I will pick a random winner. Draw will close on Sunday midnight.

Related reading on Perfume Shrine: Hilde Soliani news & reviews, Upcoming releases.

By the way for anyone having a sweet tooth, some really grea-tasting confetti from a Greek company: Hatziyannakis. Non affiliated but highly recommended.

Disclosure: A sample was provided by the perfumer.
collage pic of Greek weddings via stigmes.com.gr (click pics to enlarge)


  1. What I do like: reunion, seeing old aquantancies, finding someone who I didn´t think he would be so so handsome in the end. Or so nice, or so much changed. Find out that he has made a lot of things, I listen, see new children and compare to the parents which whom I used to play when I was a little girl and say they LOOk soo much like you!

    What I don´t like: GOSSIP!

  2. I love the optimism and joy behind most weddings, and seeing the beautiful clothes and flowers. I'm not a big fan of the bride being "given away" from father to husband like property, which is why it didn't happen at my wedding.

  3. I love traditional weddings. Seeing all the family members and remembering past events. Also the hopeful mood where anything seems possible.

  4. I like being witness to an intensely personal moment between two people, although I don't think I would like others to see me do the same!

  5. Anonymous18:26

    Dear E,

    What I love about weddings? Oh dear, this may sound terrible but: everything about my wedding and very little of any other wedding I have attended. My wedding was perfection: a small country church, the reception held at my parents' home on a perfectly hot August afternoon, only close family and a few close friends as guests. What I hate about almost every other wedding: huge guest lists and little games led by the disc jockey/master of ceremonies who has no prior relationship with the family. Weddings, births and deaths are intensely personal experiences that should be shared but I think only with those who are intimately involved in our lives. Sorry, probably said too much.


  6. What moves me at a wedding is to witness the love binding two beings for a lifetime and the feeling that this might not be enough for them to tire of each other

  7. VL,

    who can argue for gossip? On happy occasions such as a wedding, there's no really no place for it.

  8. A,

    it's nice when both parents "escort" the bride to her new "state", because it draws away the significance of what you mention: being seen as cattle for sale...
    Glad you chose to do your own wedding as you wanted it to be!

  9. Rosie,

    ah, that feeling of everything being possible! Isn't that priceless?

  10. D,

    never say never!! :P

    I have to say that indeed there's intimacy involved in weddings. I feel like a voyer sometimes, but it doesn't deter me, LOL.
    I wish you make things as you wish them to be for yourself.

  11. Natalia,

    sounds like a perfect wedding and thanks for sharing!
    Yeah, I'm totally with you re: huge lists of guests (the opportunity to repay social favours on the part of the families) and imbecile "jokes" that embarass more than entertain. Weddings shouldn't be debased in the name of "fun" I believe.

  12. Laurinha,

    aah...very true, very wise words. If only love was enough. It takes more.

  13. Fiordiligi20:16

    Oh dear, I really don't like weddings! The nicest I ever attended was actually a Civil Ceremony for my gay friends. Sorry. But this new scent sounds very pretty. Does that count?

  14. I like the cake. :D

  15. Uh, I am afraid to sound horrible, but the truth is, I dislike everything "family" about the weddings and love everything "bride-and-groom". To me, weddings are commitment ceremonies between two loving loving people, minds and bodies. What they will need to do is to figure out their lives together, and the less their families will meddle, the better.

    So I love vows, I love romantic getaways, elopements, rings, love in the eyes, glimpses, The Big Kiss, and I heartily dislike mothers in law writing invitations for their friends, weddings full of people a bride and groom don't know, too much stress... and very rarely do I like cake!

    There, I said it.

    I am sorry once again if I did sound harsh. My wedding was very small and it was a beautiful romantic wedding.

  16. Your wedding description was lovely and one I liked. Combine that with a committed couple and that is wonderful.
    I don't like the Wedding Planner mentality that takes it away from the bride and groom and the people in attendance -- when it is a money grab and a spending frenzy. Then it seems not a wedding but an "event". Ouch.

  17. I'm partial to under an oak tree in a meadow hippie wedding or in your own house getting married by your neighbor the judge. My husband and didn't have a wedding. We got married in private then a few weeks later had a large party in an artist's studio with lots of champagne and elegant desserts (including a French croquembouche).

  18. Anonymous02:16

    Thanks for the lovely article explaining your wedding traditions. I am not particularly fond of weddings because so often today they seem to be about the wedding (the dress, decor, etc.) rather than about the setting off on a marriage.

    However, a few years ago when one of my nephews married he and his bride prepared a printed program for their very traditional Jewish wedding. As with your article it explained to their mix of guests the traditions and symbolism of the rites the guests were about to witness and participate in, and how certain aspects of the ceremony and music were chosen to reflect personal values and family connections. Beautiful, thoughtful and inclusive.

    from Lindaloo

  19. Natalie02:38

    Oddly enough for someone who really doesn't believe in marriage, I unfailingly tear up at the first sight of the bride! So I suppose that's my favorite part. And the Jordan almonds, of course.

    I've been to a couple of super-cheese-tastic weddings, however (music from the "Psycho" shower scene playing as the groom removes the bride's tacky garter -- classy stuff!), and there wasn't much to love there.

  20. What I like about weddings? Simple: the dress and the food!

  21. Geordan03:01

    What I don't like: Stress and fights. Tensions are always high, so there's always bound to be stress and fights at weddings.

  22. My favorite thing about weddings is the flowers and the dancing!

  23. What's to love about weddings: I love second marriages because they are between adults who know...they know who they are, they know what they want, they know what marriage is and they know the value of each other. They are not blind to the truth that there will be challenges ahead. Their marriage is not rooted in a fairytale, but their feet are firmly planted on the ground. There's nothing more affirming than the open hearts and minds of those who have been there before and dare to do it again. Also, the flowers, food, setting. etc. Sometimes the music is a little cheesy. Oh, and the bouquet toss...

  24. D,

    of course it counts!! :-)

    I have to say that some weddings are not especially interesting but there are some others...you have to come here to see an "al fresco" wedding (open air I mean, in the countryside or by the beach) without the stuffiness and with lots of dancing, maybe you'll like it better.

  25. Jen,

    yeah, it's usually quite sinful and filling!

  26. a.k.a Warum,

    most of us agree on the scope of the wedding making the difference, you're absolutely right. Too many guests and it loses its intimacy and character.

    Eloping and getting married with just one witness is sooooo romantic!!!

    As to cake, I realise that the Greek (and Med) standard is something completely different than what is served in Anglo-Saxon countries: here it's reminiscent of eclairs in texture and taste and almost always chocolate is involved rather than frosting and white sponge cake. That might be why I like it myself, because the latter doesn't appeal to me either.

  27. Nancy,

    thank you and glad you liked it. It's best if done in open-air in a small church by the sea...or up in the mountain or the countryside. Nature always offers something extra I find.

    Making one's wedding an event: such a pity, as it's supposed to be about the two people getting married, not the rest. Are wedding planners very popular there? There are getting business here too, although I have to say couples usually tend to decide and arrange by themselves (with intermingling from the mothers on both sides, I'm afraid, sometimes! LOL)

  28. Lindaloo,

    oh that is just lovely!! Thanks for sharing.
    Jewish weddings are so full of symbolism as well of course: the crashing of the glass, the carrying of the bride, the lively songs...I just marvel at how something so ancient has been kept alive to this day and with so much love. I haven't seen too many and wish I had.

  29. Natalie,

    yikes!!! Psycho soundtrack, really????

    I find the removal of the garter the tackiest thing ever: there was no such tradition here, but copying from movies some couples sometimes do it now (argggh!!!! I hate it!). What are they thinking? Wedding isn't an invitation for guests to catch glimpses of the honeymoon! LOL

    There is traditionally no throwing of the bouquet either: I always find that part as if it demeans the women, as if "getting married" is such a coveted thing and they're relying on "chance" to have it done. They seem like they're treated like cattle. (Maybe I'm being harsh, please forgive me)
    On the contrary, here, the young girls who choose to give away the small "bonbonierres"(the little treats) to guests are knowingly opting to get told "to your wedding as well". If one doesn't want to get in that position she's not included.

  30. Celine,

    sometimes both are heavenly. And when they are, ah...it's memorable.

  31. Geordan,

    there IS stress at weddings, that's very true. And it's a pity too, as it might ruin an otherwise very happy moment.
    We have a saying: "No wedding without tears and no funeral without laughter". I think it expresses well the paranoia such sentimental events produce anyway.

  32. Susan,

    can't argue with that! Flower arrangements are so very lovely one is tempted to snatch flowers off them.

  33. Lang,

    how wisely spoken. You have to give them kudos for embarking on the adventure twice. It's not the easiest task in the world!

    As to the bouquet throwing, please read above my reply to Natalie: I just HATE the bouquet throwing. Demeaning for the rest of the women.

    Which reminds me: Dressing the bridesmaids horribly is also punishable by law and God in my books. Luckily, "bridesmaids" are small children here (family members, boys or girls) , so there is no "catty" competition with the bride. Everyone can look good.

  34. What I like? Interesting traditions or creativity that isn't way over-the-top. My cousin (Jewish) and his wife (African American) blended traditions with two clergy who were well versed in each others religions. They blended elements of each of their cultures-jumping the broom and breaking the glass for example. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the wedding and learned something about traditions.

    What I don't like? An over-emphasis on the materialist aspects of weddings and receptions. This can lead the wedding to feel staged, uncomfortable and anxiety-ridden.

  35. I don't like to see people spending outrageous sums of money on a wedding. A wedding should be a meaningful ceremony, not an effort to keep up with the latest trends, or to put on an elaborate show.

    I love a wedding that is an intimate celebration of a new life together...

  36. "Peladillas" is the name we give in Spain to conaffeto. I prefer candied, toasted almonds, but "peladillas" are usually given in celebrations, as you said.
    Sometimes they are made of pine nuts and white sugar.

    What I like on weddings is to have a nice time with my family, tasting good meals... Of course I like the ritual too, the church plenty of flowers, the bride's dress...

    What I don't like is the noisy, loud music after the dinner, when everybody starts to dance (I hate it), and all the room is full of smoke of the cigarettes and cigars... And my feet ache because I'm not used to wearing high heels :P

    Please, enter me in the draw! Thanks!

  37. Melisa,

    oh wow, that is just so cool! I admit I haven't been present in any African weddings and have no experience with customs from that side of the world. It must be lovely to tailor-make a wedding to reflect memories and associations precious to the couple.

    As to keeping up with the Joneses, that's such a bad idea in weddings!

  38. Alice,

    exactly right!! You put it in such a succinct, precise, meaningful way!

  39. Isa,

    I would love to taste pine nuts in sugar, what a great idea! (I do use them i a festive pilaf with chestnuts and raisins and it's a huge hit at our house).

    And LOL on everything you dislike, sometimes they do go on and on forever (the receptions, more than the weddings themselves), don't they?

  40. Ganda04:51

    What I love about weddings -- the joining of two families, not just two individuals...at least that's how it is in my culture! And also, the practice of having our godparents serve as principal witnesses to our union. They sign the marriage contract after the bride and groom do.

  41. I love the anticipation of the event but even more the romance of the idea that love will and can endure through the years.

  42. Denise17:06

    Wedding Love: The gathering of friends and family; the pageantry of gowns, flowers, candles and ceremony; the sharing of family and cultural traditions; the feasting and gift-giving of the reception.

    Wedding Dislikes: The resurrection of family feuds; the pressure on young singles to be next in line; the pity toward older singles; the inherent sexism of some of the customs; the pressure on the young marrieds to start reproducing asap.

  43. Ganda,

    a lovely thought! And a wonderful tradition: I don't know why godfathers and godmothers should exit the scene when the children are adults!
    I learn something new every day, thank you!

  44. Sean Jo,

    spoken like a true romantic!

  45. Denise,

    it's annoying how something which has so few chances of succeeding in the real world is so pressed upon the innocent & the unknowledgable (i.e. singles)! :-P

    Salient points, thanks for commenting!

  46. I love the romance and ritual. I love the flowers, especially the lily of the valley. I dislike the stress involved in many weddings that are like a broadway show.


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