Monday, July 7, 2008

Teatro Olfattivo di Parma: New Niche Line

"She curls up on the couch like a luxuriating cat, lights a cigarette with a vengeance": this is how I have always envisioned pleasure smoking to be like ~decadent, indulgent, nonchalant. Instead, most people I see smoking do it in a perfunctory way which actually repels rather than attracts: none of the silver screen magnetism. It's also rare to smell a really good blend. Fragrances however with their charming attribute of bringing back the best of things to memory manage to make me appreciate tobacco.

But let's take things from the top. This tobacco vignette was instigated by smelling Bell'Antonio, part of a new niche line by Hilde Soliani. Perfume Shrine is proud to get the exclusive for its discerning readers: the new line Teatro Olfattivo Di Parma by Italian jewellery and fragrance designer Hilde Soliani has just launched in Italy with plans to bring it to the US by the end of the year, hopefully.
The first line of Hilde Soliani Profumi, comprising scents which form the acronym Ti Amo (I love you) have been hosted on these pages, available at New London Pharmacy and they garnered lots of interest in mails; so I am hoping that you will be interested in this one as well. The scents have been inspired by experiences and feelings produced at the Teatro di Regio di Parma as well as Lenz Rifrazioni, where Hilda sometimes performs herself.

The line includes the following:

SIPARIO is inspired by piña colada, a sweet, rum-based cocktail made with light rum, coconut cream, and pineapple juice, and replicates the sweet yet refreshingly tingiling sensation of sipping one yourself (Notes of rum, coconut and pineapple).
STECCA embraces the unusual note of tomato leaf, first explored in Eau de Campagne and Folavril and still very individual and unique in the fragrance world. The name playfully derives from Italian, in which stecca means error, because it was not unheard of for people to actually throw tomatoes upon a bad performance once upon a time (thankfully we have moved on!) Its refreshing bitterness is great for summer.
MANGIAMI DOPO TEATRO (eating out after the theatre) is a fruity scent with emphasis on melon, typical of Parma. Hilde divulges that the inspiration came from eating out with friends after the theatrical performances, a bit of camaraderie and good fun. A succulent fruity, but not only.
BELL'ANTONIO (beautiful Antonio): tobacco and coffee notes, dedicated to Hilde's father who is named Antonio; inspired by her love of drinking coffee and smoking after the theatre. A true masterpiece!
VECCHI ROSETTI-ARIA DI PARMA is the most nostalgic of the lot, reminiscent of the smell of the old camerino theatre including the makeup, the woodfloor polish and the air of solitude yet plentifulness that an empty theatre produces after you have watched a splendid performance. The powdery iris and vanilla are flanked by bergamot on top and what seems like the dark, sensual mossy greenery of oakmoss.
{You can buy samples directly using Paypal mailing Hilde at }

Bell' Antonio managed to immediately snare me into its lair, as unsuspecting of its wiles I put it on my skin with the lackadaisical mode of sampling fragrances a seasoned aficionado professes faced with drawers full of small vials of smelly liquids. Nary had two seconds passed, when I was woken out of my lethargy with a sledgehammer wake-up call that this was something seriously good and to be taken note of!
The smell of tobacco in itself is wonderfully rich and evocative of many things, like gingerbread, honey, dried fruits and boozy whiskey as well as the cut hay and distant marzipan smell of coumarin. Somehow in this day and age when smoking has become the object of dire prohibition and consequently fetishisation, tobacco fragrances might be the only way one has the chance to savour the wonderful aroma of pipe tobacco or a quality maduro.

The allure of smoke goes back to antiquity: Herodotus described Scythians inhaling the fumes of burning leaves to induce intoxication; although in their case it must have been cannabis rather than Nicotiana, I suppose. The Arabic tabbaq, a word reportedly dating to the 9th century, was the name of various herbs used for smoking and probably predates the westernised tobacco, a word said to be brought to Europe by Bartolome de Las Casas. Barring actual smoking however, from the classic Habanita and Caron's Tabac Blond to the new niche of New Haarlem by Bond no.9, the rich aroma of tobacco has inspired perfumers to come up with arresting compositions.

Bell' Antonio highlights all the tobacco aspects with proficiency, lacing them with a cordon of black espresso stretto, the wonderful aroma of freshly grated, roasted coffee beans to make you swoon with pleasure, nostrils quivering.
Having never set eyes on Hilde's father I imagine him of the suave Antonio Banderas type, the bronzed southern type who grows five o'clock shadows before it's time for lunch and who drags his cigar with nonchalance and panache. If only actual smoking were that good...

I have samples of Bell'Antonio and Sipario to give to two lucky winners (chance draw for which goes to who). Please state your interest in the comments.
Pics courtesy of H.Soliani and Wikipedia


  1. Bell' Antonio is calling my name! To sample at least... even though I'm kinda long way from a bronzed southern type/Antonio Banderas, considering that I'm a pale, non-smoking blonde Scandinavian with such a beard growth that there are no shadows at any o'clock :D Please enter me in the draw.

  2. Hello, Helg! Bell'Antonio does sound fantastic. There is something to be said for being able to sample tobacco in a form that does not give you lung cancer. Please do enter me in the draw. And thanks, as always, for your fascinating blog. (jtcomboy on mua)

  3. Anonymous12:30

    Ahh, for me also Bell'Antonio sounds delicious! The notes immediately bring memory of my father, a tall Scandinavian (since that was mentioned above!), but contra the stereotype, brown eyed and olive skinned like many on the western coast of norway. My husband unfortunately still smokes. Politically uncorrect to say, but I love the faint smell of tobacco on his fingers after his stolen moments outside enjoying his sigarettes.
    It would have been very nice to try one of these samples, especially this one! :)
    Nice film to join the perfume:

  4. These sound very interesting! I'd like to try them.

  5. Mikael,

    welcome and thanks for stopping by.
    I gather the visual requirements don't apply when it comes to olfaction, they merely serve as fantasy, therefore good luck! I bet it would be great on you.

  6. Jarvis,

    you're very welcome and thanks for the compliment.
    It smells so realistic that you might be fooled into thinking it might create a shadow or two in your lungs, but it won't! Isn't that nice :-)

  7. S,

    thank you dear for the link! I love Jarmusch films: Dead Man is one of my favs!!
    What a nice image of your father: I bet it was nice to accompany the smell of a loved one with something so tangible as the smell of tobacco.
    I have included you; good luck!

  8. Karin,

    of course you're in the draw! Best of luck!

  9. Anonymous15:17

    Ah! I've been collecting tobacco samples for a friend (and developing quite a taste for them myself along the way) and this one sounds like a must-try. Please do put me in the draw, Helg!

  10. Ooh this sounds quite delicious. Funny I hate the scent of cigarettes, but rather enjoy the use of tobacco in perfumes. Please enter me.

  11. Anonymous19:44

    They seem very interesting, especially cause I was born in the area near Parma... and especially Bell'Antonio sound super coffee!

  12. A,

    of course I have included you!

  13. Jen,

    we're almost on the same wavelength on that one. You're in!

  14. Guido,

    welcome and thanks for stopping by! How fortunate that you hail from the same region.
    This one is more tobacco than coffee, but very very nice. Good luck!

  15. Anonymous00:30

    I'd love to sample these!

  16. Anonymous00:44

    Even though I'm a non-smoker, I live in central Ky. and the smell in the fall of tobacco curing in the barns is incredible.

    Your description: "The smell of tobacco in itself is wonderfully rich and evocative of many things, like gingerbread, honey, dried fruits and boozy whiskey as well as the cut hay and distant marzipan smell of coumarin." captures the scent perfectly.

    I don't comment often, but I enjoy your exquisite writing every day! Please enter me in the draw for a sample.

  17. Mc,

    thanks for stopping by and you're included in the draw!

  18. Rappleya,

    thank you for your kind words and for your comment. :-)
    I am glad that someone who lives near the stuff appreciates the description. Isn't it a wonderful smell? Mmmm...
    I bet you love tobacco fragrances.

  19. I love the smell in old tobacconist shops - they are hard to find nowadays, though. I haven't had much opportunity to discover tobacco notes in perfumes except for Blue Jeans by Versace, which I love.

    Please enter me in the draw as well!


  20. Mark,

    you're in!
    I liked the tobacco note in Blue Jeans as well :-)
    Trully, no tobacco experience in fragrance? No Habanita, no Tabac Blond, not even Tabac by Mauer/Wirtz (sp?)?
    We must remedy that on Perfume Shrine!!

  21. Anonymous19:02

    I enjoy your blog often, but have never commented before. Nothing like a draw to bring out the lurkers! LOL! Tobacco and coffee, what's not to love? I don't smoke anymore, but adore (some) tobacco scents, in fact I am wearing Fumerie Turque this morning, and seriously contemplating a full bottle. I wonder if the tomato leaf scent you mentioned would be tomato- leafy enough for me. THAT is one of my favourite summer smells:) Thanks for including me in the draw!
    Karen G.

  22. Karen,

    that's so wonderful of you to de-lurk and comment, thank you so much! Welcome on Perfume Shrine and hope to see you often :-)
    I LOVE Fumerie Turque, although I wear it in the cooler months.
    Don't know if the Stecca is tomato-leafy enough for you (have no basis of your taste for comparison), but you could contact Hilde directly and buy samples if you wish.

    Good luck!

  23. These sound so interesting! I love to try scents that are "off the beaten path," so please include me in the draw. Many thanks!

  24. Claudia,

    hi and of course you're included!
    Wishing you good luck! :-)

  25. Oh, yes! Of course Tabac. I forgot about my huge white bottle of cologne sitting there. I'm wearing it again today for the first time in ages. Thanks for reminding me just how good this is!


  26. Tobacco scents are an acquired taste I find. Tabac is an easily trackable one to gnaw your teeth on, so good luck with the adventure!

  27. This sounds good. Your review makes me want to light a cigarette.


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