Monday, June 16, 2008

Ti Amo, Amore Mio!

Living in Italy, Parma especially with its tradition of Verdi's operas, is like surrounding yourself by culture the way other people in other places are surrounded by skyscrapers, Taco Bells or hay fields full of cows. It just isn't quite the same!
Italian artist and jewellery designer Hilde Soliani is one such person, lucky to live and breathe around quality.
She has created five original perfumes inspired by five flowers, communicating universal love through an acronym for "I love you" (Ti Amo in Italian):
T.ulipano (red bottle- floral fruity woody - unisex)
I. ris (lilac bottle- floral woody musk- feminine)
A.nemone (orange bottle- woody aromatic- unisex)
M.argherita (blue bottle- floral- feminine)
O.rtensia (pink bottle- floral woody musk- feminine)

Just how she started designing fragrances recalls La Forza del Destino: a journalist seeded the idea. Hilde is primarily an artist ~she designs jewellery, she paints, she plays in the Parma theatre, using her voice and her body to convey her feelings. What started in jest and on a dare however, essentially a private hobby, has now become her "job".

“During a press conference for my first line of jewellery, I showed a line of candles for Valentine’s Day that each included a gold and diamond daisy necklace inside. To wear it you would have to burn half of the candle. The journalist
asked me if the candle was perfumed and of course it wasn’t.”
That put the idea in her head and after a few years her dream was realised in a line inspired by flowers. Flowers talked to Hilde because they made her feel good, they made her house special. The dice was cast and the Ti Amo line began in earnest {for those who read Italian, click to read a great interview}.
Each "flower" is an abstract rendition, rather than a faithful representation of nature (a couple of them don't even have a particular scent and she is not interested in a photorealistic approximation by her own admission). Each reminds Hilde of a precious memory: Tulipano is a memento of her father's voice and warmth. Iris stands for Italian elegance. Anemone recalls the scent of the Parman theatre. Margherita symbolises her happy childhood. Ortensia reminds her of the kiss of her beloved grandmother.
The scents also tell a fairy tale, "La Mia Daisy", inspired by Soliani's grandmother's daisy creation: the fictional story of a girl named Daisy, a five-act play with the happy ending of a discovery of an enchanted place: a touch that makes us dream again, like children. As Hilde says: “I want to bring art into daily life.” She enjoys art which expresses itself in a childlike, playful character.

"My grandmother, who made fragrances herself, teached me how to smell and create fragrance since I was a child. During my business travells I always had nice experiences, nice emotions. I try to capture them by pictures but they don't smell of anything: that's why I wanted to recreate those feelings in scent".
Hilde art-directs the fragrances with the help of experienced perfumers in Milano and Grasse.

Tulips are often taken to be scentless, however the deep yellow varieties do possess a hint of primrose odor about them, which makes them not entirely wasted on those who hanker after odoriferous rather than merely decorative blooms. Upon smelling Tulipano I was surprised to find that it was described as a fruity floral; it had an intriguing bitter edge to it to make it truly unique. Luckily the usual aspect of most commercial fruity florals is missing. In our conversation, instigated by my interest in the line, she told me she likes to produce what she likes, not what focus grousp want, loyal to artisanal values. Hilde's vision of a tulip inspired by the Vulcano island in Sicily and its black beaches scattered with little red wildflowers has elements of freesia and blackcurrant, which is an interesting mix that plays upon the tart bitterness of the fruit to bring balance with the underscoring of sandalwood and cool vetiver, making it a fiery fragrance fit to be shared by both sexes.

"I am very gourmand and it is a nice experience to find the smell of coffee or something to eat inside flowers", Hilde divulged during our discussion. Her point is amply revealed in the opening accord of Iris, a fantasy suave mix of delectable Sicilian almond with the soft touch of iris and sandalwood, producing an easy, comforting fragrance which smiles a little inwardly and could even nibble on a macaroon or two. In the direction that Iris Ganache cemented with its gourmand touch on what is essentialy a bulby, earthy smell (that of iris root) and by smoothing out the rough, too bitter edges of popular Hypnotic Poison without resorting to too sweet however, Iris by Soliani manages to have a disposition that bypasses the metallic aspects of the raw material for an abstract powdery effect that makes even non almond-lovers, such as myself, swoon. Musky and almost vanillic, lightly honeyed accords surface making Iris particularly suited to people who have had bad luck with traditional iris scents.

I didn't need to hear that Margherita was inspired by a happy childhood. The fact projects from every pore. A solar, happy scent, much like intended, with its garlands of orange blossom and green-smelling muguet along with shamrock-like leaves which sing basking the sun. It never missed the chance to put me in a good mood ever time I wore my sample with its slightly carnation-like/ivy feel about it that could entice those who like an innuendo of spice. Pronouncely musky in a modern way it lends itself easily to a variety of occasions, making it a perfect everyday scent for when one wants to let their hair down and relax.
I found Ortensia a little sweet for my taste, with an emphasis on the sweeter aspect of white florals, white musks and cosy Cashmere Woods providing a green touch surprisingly upon drying down, yet pleasant as well.

Tulipano: Bergamot, blackberry, lime, peach, kiwi, passion fruit, freesia, lily of the valley, jasmine, vetiver, sandal, oak musk, white musk.
Iris: lily of the valley, green accord, iris, jasmine, mimosa, sandalwood, white musk
Anemone: Orange blossom, tulip, ivy and galbanum, tuberose, lily of the valley, jasmine and cyclamen, white musk, vetiver and sandalwood.
Margherita (Daisy): Orange flowers, ivy leaves, galbanum, bluebell, honeysuckle, jasmine, lily of the valley, rose, tuberose, white musk, and ambregris.
Ortensia: Green accord, hortensia, ylang ylang, jasmine orange flowers, lily of the valley, rose, white musk, cashmere wood, and cedar wood.

The fragrances come in Eau de Parfum concentration with 14% essence and last very well. The boxes reproduce Hilde's paintings: a lively mixture of chromatic packages made with new print technologies on special paper. On one side of each Hilde has written her fairy tale, La Mia Daisy. The bottles bear the designer's elegant handwriting.

The Ti Amo line is currently sold exclusively at New London Pharmacy NYC (tel:212.243.4987 / 800.941.0490): 50ml for 75$
Hilde Soliani samples are now available for : 1 ml $3.50, 2.5 ml $7.00, 5 ml $12.00, 8 ml $19.20 at Fishbone Fragrances.

I can provide a couple of Tulipano samples for those who are quick enough to comment and claim them!

Perfume Shrine exclusive on the even more exciting Soliani New Line inspired by Teatro Reggio Parma: Soon on these pages!

Artwork by Hilde Soliani via the artist and


  1. Anonymous13:41

    hi there! I will get an answer to your question on SteepingBeauty. I love your site! I'll be back when there's an answer!

    have a great day!

  2. Thank you Delphine for your kind words and for your research into the matter: I would be curious to see what it is :-)

  3. Helg thank you for doing a write up on these; I've seen them over at fishbone, but had never heard of them. They sound like very happy scents. Please add me to the drawing.

  4. Jen,

    they needed a little exposure didn't they? They had intrigued me ever since I saw them at Fishbone.

    You're getting a sample anyway, this is no draw, because I have a couple to spare: quick come, quick served!
    Email me with your info please and will send it out to you! :-)

  5. Anonymous23:13

    No drawing? Oh well, I liked hearing about the jewelry in the candle. Love your site.

  6. Thank you Maitreyi!
    The jewel in the candle is quite an adventurous touch, isn't it?

    You have just won a sample (I said I have a coupl;, when they run out I will mention it in the comments), so email me with your info to send it out! :-)

  7. Anonymous10:12

    dear me, I can never say no to trying something new! i would love to receive a sample of this. many thanks!

  8. Hvs,

    you wish is granted: please email me with an addy and it will be off to you :-)

  9. Anonymous11:02

    e. :)

    another great post - thank you :)

    i agree with the others who posted above: i, too, saw them on fishbone´s website & was always debating whether to order samples or not!
    now that you offer to give away a sample, i simply cannot say "no" & hope there´s still one left for me ;)


  10. There certainly is one with your name on it, dear C!

    I will be mailing you :-)

  11. Anonymous16:16

    Wow, these sound wondeful, thanks for writing about them. I'm crazy about the smell and look of tulipes, for me it's spring personified. I notice the ones they sell in US all come from greenhouses and THEY DON'T SMELL! It's a very unique scent, with that edge of biterness to it, and that's right there's a freesia undercurrent to it as well.
    If you do have any samples left, I would love to try Tulipano.
    I don't remember if I commented here before, but I read Perfume Srine blog and it's archives every day:)It's a great resource, I especially love the series that you do, thanks so much.

  12. Dear Veronika,

    thank you so much for your loyalty and for dedication: I appreciate your encouragement and your support more than you know.
    Another Series (our pride and joy and coined here) will soon join the others ;-)

    Please mail me for a sample of Tulipano, it would be my pleasure to send it to you.

  13. I would LOVE to try a Tulipano sample if there are any left! :-)

  14. Of course Claudia, you're lucky!
    Send me an email with your info please and I will get this out to you.

  15. Anonymous22:35

    Yay, new series to read! How exciting, could you tell us what it's going to be about?
    I've practically learned many of them by heart, lol. Epecially leather, OB, absinthe and incense. Perfume Shrine is one of the best "scolarly" perfume blogs there's out there and I love the depth in which you cover all of your subjects.

  16. Awww, Veronika, you make me blush!
    I am sure there are many good perfume blogs out there. So your praise honours me immensely and I hope I can meet your high expectations.
    I think our next Series will focus on tea, per popular demand :-)

  17. Anonymous10:39

    Fascinating story about how she began with perfumery the candle that was non-scented). I like especially her perfume inspired by, and expressing ti amo. Must be interesting to smell from t to o (reminds me of Greenaway, his 28 Bathrooms - a to z).
    As I never have liked tulips (because of their almost non-scent I think - the prototype flower smells! and most often nice), perhaps I am not the right one for a sample of Tulipano. But I liked her idea, or concept behind, very much! Thnak you for focusing on perfume projects like this also!

  18. Dear S,

    you're very welcome, finding unusual stories in fragrance is always very appealing to Perfume Shrine. We will continue to pursue that course.

    Yes, her story about beginning the line is precious! And the acronym does have something Greenaway-esque about it, you're right! (wish I had thought of it in time!)

    Have a great day :-)

  19. I am very intrigued by Margherita, it sounds like just the sort of "happy" scent I love, too. I'm sure it's a complete coincidence, but it sounds very similar to one of my favorite fragrances from the New Orleans perfumery Bourbon French, which is called Marguerite! The BF scent has a touch of oakmoss in the base, but otherwise the notes seem very close, and Marguerite is also a very light-hearted, uplifting floral. Clearly, that name inspires a certain energy.

  20. How exciting to hear so, dear M!
    I guess the name does lend itself to a bright mood, so I can definitely relate. I think you'd probably like the Soliani Marghuerita!

  21. Oooh, I just got back from a couple of months in Italy...what a coincidence!

    Are there any samples left? ;P

  22. Dear Rachel,

    welcome back! It must have been lovely, huh? Especially at this time of the year.

    Yes, dear, this is the last one actually, so you're lucky. Mail me please with your info so I can send it to you :-)

  23. Hi, I just started reading your blog and I'm amazed at much I have learnt already. Thank you! I would love to be counted in the drawing too.

  24. Thanks Lianh!
    Your encouragement means a lot to me.


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