10 x 10
The Mathematics of Pitti Fragranze
Edition 19
Ten ‘noses’ for ten fragrances, that's Chandler Burr's formula
Fragranze, the Pitti Immagine show dedicated to artistic perfumery and contemporary olfactory culture, pays tribute to Pitti Uomo 100 too with a special installation at the Fortezza, curated by Chandler Burr, perfume critic and artistic director of the event. On stage, 10 perfumes created by 10 exceptional noses to answer the question: are there masculine fragrances?  

"Personally, I think both answers can be given," says Chandler Burr. "Yes, there are masculine fragrances; Laura Tonatto created Profumo VI in a style instantly recognizable as being classically masculine. And no, everyone can wear every perfume; not only can (and should) women wear Profumo VI and Simone Andreoli's Business Man, men can and should wear Bohoboco's Sea Salt Caramel and James Heeley's Menthe Fraîche. It's 2021. We've survived a global pandemic. If that experience has done anything, it's made us appreciate freedom in every form, and everyone's freedom to wear any fragrance one wants is a part of that."

Here are the ten fragrances and the ten featured protagonists, in the name of the freedom to choose the perfumes you love the most.
#1 Profumo VI, Laura Bosetti Tonatto
Essenzialmente Laura – L.Bosetti Tonatto
Laura Bosetti Tonatto began creating fragrance in 1986, and today she is a world-renowned perfumer. Tonatto’s clients include celebrities like George Clooney, and her large, light-filled store in one of Rome’s most beautiful locations at Via dei Coronari 57 is a must-see for perfume lovers. Tonatto has also curated exhibitions linked to visual art masterworks at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg and the National Museum of Oriental Art in Rome.

Profumo VI is a classic masculine with a base of vetiver and Calabrese bergamot. Vetiver is one of the greatest masculine ingredients. It has a sharp, clean, clear woody scent, but not an obvious wood like cedar and not the smokiness of guaiac (though both of those are beautiful). Rather vetiver gives a cool, ultra-refined scent. Bergamot is the most shadowed, masculine of all the citrus oils, and together they make Profumo VI the equivalent of the finest suit, understated, sophisticated, timeless.
#2 Rock River Melody, Alia Raza
Regime des Fleurs
Alia Raza’s parents immigrated from Pakistan to Buffalo, New York, where she grew up. She started out as a filmmaker and artist whose work focused on perceptions of beauty and was screened at festivals – and museums – around the world. But Raza, interested in other mediums of self-expression. Her mother had always grown lilac, honeysuckle vines, and stephanotis plants that wrapped around the staircase leading to her bedroom “so all summer,” says Raza, “I would open my bedroom door and walk downstairs, and there’d be this explosion of white floral fragrance.”

In 2014 founded and became creative director of a new perfume house, Régime des Fleurs, and her latest fragrance is Rock River Melody. This fragrance is the contemporary idea of masculine, an organic, vine-like green angle that smells alive and energetic, spices and woods for a masculine structure, the freshness of bergamot, and on the bottom a smooth, luxurious amber.
#3 Menthe Fraîche, James Heeley
James Heeley has one of the more interesting backgrounds of artists whose work led them to begin creating in the medium of scent. Born in Yorkshire, England, after studying Philosophy and Aesthetics at King's College Heeley became a designer in various visual mediums when he met perfumer Annick Goutal and discovered the design medium of scent. He taught himself perfumery, founded a scent collection, and has produced a truly extraordinary collection of fragrances. If Heeley’s style has a signature it is precision; each work has a crystal-clear outline and remarkably memorable character.

Menthe Fraîche illustrates that. This is a remarkable contemporary fragrance that combines a classic masculine idea with an innovative loveliness. The mint is slightly dark fruit, slightly light grass, and entirely elegant. Menthe Fraîche is always correct and yet, at the same time, a startling pleasure.
#4 Rock Crystal, Olivier Durbano
Olivier Durbano
Olivier Durbano was born on the Côte d'Azur and studied architecture in Lyon, then became a professional designer of jewelry. Finding stories in his gems – he called his poetry “Stone Poems” – in 2005 he created an unusual artistic addition to his jewelry work, a collection of fragrances he calls the Bijoux de Pierres Poèmes (Perfumes of Stones Poems). For Durbano, each of his fragrances, applied to the skin, connects both the wearer and the admirer of the scent to a precious gem.

Durbano’s first fragrance, Rock Crystal, is filled with frankincense: Somalian Olibanum, Benzoin and Myrrh. The fragrance is dark as the shadows in the ceilings of a massive church, smoky and earthy as a newly plowed field yet dry as the desert. Rock Crystal is masculine prayer.
#5 Chronic, Johan Bergelin
In 2017, Swedish artist, photographer, and designer Johan Bergelin launched his fragrance brand 19-69. Bergelin’s tagline is “Bottling Counterculture,” and he adds “The year of 1969 represents an era of freedom, tolerance and counterculture. It is also the year I was born and my way of putting my heart on the sleeve and say – This is real. This is who I am.” Chronic is Bergelin’s reference to Southern California’s marijuana cultivation – the slang word “chronic” refers to, among other things, high-quality, powerful marijuana. Bergelin explicitly rejects gendering fragrance – all his scents are “for any gender” – and indeed the fragrance smells of an abstract green, herbaceous sage, moss, earthy vetiver, soothing, both sticky and fresh, cut with bitter citrus, incredibly complicated on so many levels but, in the end, a single statement in green.
#6 Oriental Casbah
Farmacia SS. Annunziata dal 1561
The Farmacia SS. Annunziata, which still stands at Via dei Servi, 80/r in Florence, has been documented to 1561, and shopping its jars of creams, soaps, and fragrances under 1800’s- Tuscany white ceilings and dark wood apothecary is like entering a wrinkle in time. Three generations of the Azzerlini family have now cared for it, and one of the most sublime of all patchouli fragrances was created under their stewardship, Oriental Casbah.

The dark, mesmerizing, exotic tropical grass that comes out of the bottle – almost the world’s entire patchouli supply comes from Sumatra and Java, and it carries with it the heat and humidity and deep beauty of those islands – is like no other. Patchouli, depending on how it is extracted, can be dry or wet green or earthy like rich soil just overturned by the plow. Oriental Casbah seems to have captured all of the grasses aspects – it simply depends on where you are in the drydown. It overwhelms the senses. Central Pavillion, Lower Floor, Q 22
#7 Sea Salt Caramel, Gérard Anthony
Michał Gilbert Lach, the Polish fashion designer and founder of the Bohoco fragrance collection, recounts being fascinated by scent since his earliest days – memories that were not only visual and auditory but that were always accompanied by their own olfactory track as well.

The collection of fragrances – which are made by perfumer Gérard Anthony under Gilbert Lach’s creative direction – are all unisex, and they carry strikingly visual signatures, from the colors of the bottles to the real-world landmarks they reference. Sea Salt Caramel is particularly interesting as a “masculine” in a world in which the idea of imposing a gender on fragrances is as irrational as imposing a gender on works of music. Sea Salt Caramel is not in fact a gourmand perfume – it smells less of sugar than it does of sea salt, which is oceanic, sort of dry in the strange way that the wind off the sea can smell dry. It smells of driftwood. Above all, it smells of quiet.
#8 The Black Knight, Francesca Bianchi
Francesca Bianchi
After Francesca Bianchi graduated with a degree in the History of Art in Florence, she read a book on natural perfumery and bought a few essential oils. It changed her life. Since then, she has studied perfumery and experimented, all the while working in the art book publishing industry. She moved from city to city – from Florence to Berlin, then Luxembourg, but once she arrived in Amsterdam she made the decision to quit her previous job and launch my own line of perfumes. Amsterdam, where she still lives, is where she creates the perfumes.

Bianchi’s The Black Knight is a hyper-masculine scent, although Bianchi does not gender her fragrances. This gothic, powerful perfume was, she says, inspired by Giovanni Dalle Bande Nere, an Italian condottiero of the Renaissance who worked for the Medici family. “I was charmed by this character for his stoic commitment to his cause, his loyalty, and his Spartan way of life.” So Bianchi painted the man’s life in scents, his military camp, the smoke of fire, the leathered odor of the horses. She also put in a lover in the form of a powdery rose entwined with the woods made of vetiver.
#9 Business Man, Simone Andreoli
Simone Andreoli Diario Olfattivo
Simone Andreoli, founder of his eponymous perfume collection, refers to perfume as “the art of memories,” although Business Man contradicts this. Here is a scent that smells vividly of a living present, green grass and plants growing around us, and it looks toward the future in that Andreoli created it as the escape route for the businessman from his glass office in the City of London to the natural world that lies beyond.

Forget the “Man” part of the name though. The scent is in no way gendered in any recognizable sense. It opens with grapefruit and black currant but moves strongly into the creamy, sweet woody scent of vetiver. The one constant is the green – the green scent released by blades cutting grass, ripped green leaves, and the scent of growth. The fragrance transports whoever wears it.
#10 We Tweed, Jean Jacques
Uèrmì Fragrance Collection
UERMI both sounds like and means Wear Me, and its Italian creators, Aurora Carrara and Palmiro Péaquin, who created the Italian niche brand in 2013, had clothing very much in mind. As they note, “As you wear your clothes, you wear your own perfume. Perfumes and fabrics share an affinity with our skin. They caress and gratify our senses.”

Created by perfumer Jean Jacques, We Tweed is – quite unsurprisingly – textured. Tweed is perhaps the roughest of textiles, wool that is barely different from the thick, rugged, scratchy coat on the sheep. The benzoin, a thick material like the smell of darkness, is made less smooth by black pepper that adds a jagged quality. Vanilla and violet leaf add a sweet and wistful quality, but fundamentally this fragrance is an olfactory portrait of a beautiful new tweed jacket saying “Wear me.”