l’Artisan Parfumeur Safran Troublant, 2002

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Perfumer Olivia Giacobetti

Olivia Giacobetti has a knack for making novel perfumes that surprise but don’t shock. They are unexpected, but perfectly coherent when you think about them. The sweet and salty hay of Dzing! The smoked-lily soap of Passage d’Enfer.

It’s a delicious way of changing our reality. The trick is neither fantastical nor over-the-top. She gives us something that doesn’t really exist, but easily could since it makes perfect sense. In Safran Troublant, she doesn’t give us a talking bear or a winged horse. She gives us a rose/saffron marshmallow. Not only is this imaginable, it starts to convinces me that I might actually have eaten one of these marshmallow at some time or other. The perfume is so persuasive that I question myself. Is the perfume a memory or an imagination? Giacobetti speculates so effectively that I question the experience, but she does it so deftly that ultimately I don’t care. It’s as if I’m day-dreaming. My mind eases a bit and I become more mindful and less perplexed.

Some perfumes call to mind comparisons to the visual arts. The portraiture of the soliflor. The fruity-floral as a still-life image. The abstract expressionism of Timbuktu. Giacobetti breaks into the written word with her perfume. Safran Troublant is literary fiction. It is the perfect short story. I don’t know of any other perfumer who does this.

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