As the sun went down, the queue for for Marika Vecchiattini's workshop on perfume and cocktails got longer and longer. Marika, who writes the bi-lingual blog Bergamotto E Benzoino presented the evening in collaboration with Patricia de Nicolai, who is President of the Osmotheque perfume museum in Versailles. Helped by a team of mixologists the audience was treated to cocktails that matched in some way three perfumes which tracked the career of the perfume legend Edmond Roudnitska.
Marika began by reminding us that Roudnitska had studied under Leon Chiris in Grasse (part of the perfume dynasty based in the area) and then went on to work under Ernest Beaux, who created such greats as Chanel No. 5, Cuir de Russie and others.
The perfumes supplied came from the Osmotheque, where there are not only original bottles of perfume kept in temperature controlled conditions, but newly made up perfume by the museum which has used old formulas to recreate the perfumes rather than use gas chromatography.
We began with
1. Femme by Rochas released in 1943. This was a fruity Chypre pairing a peach accord with a plum accord. At the time Roudnitska was experimenting with lactones Patricia told us, both peach and coconut. Althoug it was created during war time when resources were scarce, the company pre-sold the perfume by subscription, which created heavy demand and helped with costs. The cocktail served contained red wine and cloves.
2. Eau d'Hermes, released in 1951 and still in production, was a revelation by many who had smelled it. Everyone in the room found it still very much something they would like to wear and rather sexy. This, as Marika explained was much to do with the cumin used in the perfume in a subtle way, which makes for a very 'human' smell. To some extent the influence of Ernest Beaux could be seen in this perfume and other works by Roudnitska. The cocktail here contained lavender, which came as a startling taste to many.
3. Diorella, released in 1970 has been a classic, best seller since its release said Patricia. The top note gives way to floral notes followed by a classic chypre base with moss, vetiver and patchouli. The perfume was much copied by other perfumes and Roudnitska's great masterpiece said Marika. It was a pleasure to smell it as it would have been released originally and on skin the perfume was richer and more complex. The cocktail to match this had a melon note in it. All the cocktails had non-alcoholic equivalents, which guests were also able to enjoy.
Marika regularly delivers olfactory, multi-sensory training training both to children to adults and is also a Basenotes Contributor