Storie Veneziane by Valmont, Magic Perfumed Tales

2021 . 09 . 21 | written by Laurence Arrigo Klove

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Once upon a time, Sophie and Didier created three enchanted perfume tales. The couple, full of magic talent and passion for Italy, decided to have Art and Beauty meet in a Venetian Palace, their world of fantasy, now unveiled...

The Beginning

Before we listen to Sophie’s enchanted world, I am sharing background information on her three fantasy perfumed series:

The setting: Palazzo Bonvicino, Canal Grande in Venice. Produced by: Valmont. The Casting: leading actress, Sophie Vann Guillon, leading actor Didier Guillon. Artistic Director: Didier Guillon. Screenplay: Sophie Vann Guillon. When: first released in 2018. Music: ‘Parole, Parole’ by Italian Singer Mina. Drinks: rum on the rocks.

I bring to your attention the fact that the usual fiction disclaimer does not apply in this instance as fantasy and reality are intertwined. Sophie is real and so much more…

The enchanted perfume story begins with Sophie’s voice

Tell us why you picked Italy and specifically Venice from all the magnificent destinations in the world…

Let me tell you the two secrets behind my choice. First, I went back to the cradle of perfumes’ creation. It was Italy, not France, and within Italy, it was Venice. As early as in the 12th century, the city sovereignty was unquestionable, in trade, in the arts, in the art of seduction, and so in making perfumes. Second, my partner, Didier Guillon, is an artist, a talent which runs deep in his family, and has without hesitation elected Venice as his source of inspiration. One of his favorite movies is Death in Venice*, not precisely for the plot but rather for the photography, the water mixing with the air, creating an utterly magical atmosphere. So, over the years, Venice has been our romantic destination, our retreat. A couple of times a year, when we need to escape and invigorate our senses, Venice is calling. Besides, for an artist like Didier, the Venice Biennale is one of the most prestigious cultural events in the world to attend. Venice unites us in our search for art and beauty. In our opinion, this is where magic happens. Art does meet Beauty.

*’Morte a Venezia’, by Luchino Visconti

Sophie Vann Guillon enjoying the spell of an aquatic excursion in Venice

So, tell us about Didier Guillon’s Foundation Valmont and its foothold in Venice…

Back in 2015, Didier decided to create an art foundation, ‘Foundation Valmont, to sponsor selected artists as well as showcase his own permanent art collection and personal creations. Soon enough, it became apparent that the Foundation needed a permanent home, full of beauty and artistically inspiring. Didier found his enchanted location in 2019, a magnificent 16th century palace in Venice, Palazzo Bonvicini, and called it ‘the House of Fragrances’. Our ‘fairy tale castle’ is a gift for both of us as it allows me to continue to create beautiful and perfumed stories, what we call ‘the Art of Perfume’. In Venice, I immerse myself in the local culture and Italian art of living, and for that, one needs to speak the local language. So, I learnt Italian! It turned out to be an invaluable asset when working with all the perfume suppliers located in Italy. Of course.

Didier Guillon, the artist, and curator of Foundation Valmont
Palazzo Bonvicino, the enchanted location of Foundation Valmont
One of Palazzo Bonvicino magnificent rooms

Now is the time to explain to us what triggered your venture into perfumes from a well-established international cosmetics brand such as Valmont …

In my mind, perfumes enrich the Valmont brand as they give it a new dimension, an emotional one, softer, hence more accessible. Perfumes bring about vivid olfactory emotions whereas cosmetics belong to the scientific, rational world, full of proven benefits. At the same time, the signature ‘by Valmont’ adds credibility to the new, not well-known perfume collections. ‘Storie Veneziane’ and Valmont continuously enrich each other and continue the story of when Art meets Beauty. Didier, the family artist, chose the quite complicated name ‘Storie Veneziane’ and told me to find a solution, to make it work, ‘you’ll figure it out’. He knows I quite like challenges and that line ignited my drive. I feel at home with perfumes as I started my career in this segment before joining the Valmont group. Back in time, I had the wonderful opportunity to work with the perfume ‘Bal à Versailles’ by Jean Desprez, with Yvoire by Balmain, with Oscar de la Renta perfumes and finally with Yves Saint Laurent parfums. Different houses and distinct olfactory signatures, yet all sharing a passion for luxury perfumes. Now, it is thrilling to be able to instill my own signature and style to the perfume collections by Valmont. As I oversee product development, I really enjoy working with the best perfume companies such as Firmenich, Givaudan, Robertet – to name a few - and interacting with chemists and labs, I know their language. Above all, I know the journey I want to take with them. I keep my enchanted destination in mind.

Tell us more about your perfume collections, your three enchanted perfume series …

Casanova 2161, Palazzo Nobile

I wanted to have three signatures as in my opinion, there are 3 distinct approaches to the Art of Perfume in Italy. The first one is fresh, light, crisp, either fruity or flowery, at times aquatic or citrusy, surely this is a daytime eau de toilette craving and Palazzo Nobile answers that need. The collection is completely genderless, and from the six perfumes, Casanova perfectly demonstrates this point. Didier’s inspiration was Palazzo Bonvicino – 2161 is the street number - his enchanted castle with a masculine take, yet Casanova is mainly purchased by women. The second collection, Collezione privata, is instead totally feminine. Here, we have three eaux de parfums, full of personality, quite daring and cheeky, they are to be used as a seductive fashion accessory. This is in one way, my personal ‘gourmand’ collection. Depending on my moods, I can be each one of the three perfumes, jazzy twist, lady code or private mind. The third collection is Storie Veneziane by Storie Veneziane and our Haute Parfumerie signature. Its scents are meant to be ‘Elixir’ perfumes like our luxury cream collection called ‘Elixir des Glaciers’. We have created six opulent perfume extracts and Didier designed exquisite perfume bottles as if they were ultimate jewels. He was adamant to use the marvellous glass craftsmanship from Murano to create the coloured masks and add the best quality of Italian leather to the caps. To our surprise, our best-selling perfume from all the collections is Rosso I from Storie Veneziane; men adore it as well as women. Its success is explained by a unique mix of rose, oud, incense, and spices, our personal touch.

Jazzy Twist from the Collezione Privata

Expose yourself by telling us which perfume has your heart and soul out of the 16 scents…

My heart goes to my last creation, Mica d’Oro. Working with Nathalie Lorson on this project was purely mesmerizing. Nathalie is a master of Gourmand Orientals* and the challenge was to create a new totally addictive temptation with rum as a base. Whipped cream and vanilla were chosen as the topping as if it were a cupcake flavor. I can reveal to you that I am very fond of whiskey as a drink, but we decided to switch to rum to give Mica d’Oro a sweet, totally luxurious emotion.

* She created Black Opium, to name just one

Sophie’s choice, Mica d’Oro, Mesmerizing Perfume

Now I would like to ask what luxury means to you

For me, luxury is simple and complex at the same time. It is a moment of magic when something special happens, a unique sparkle. Like an alchemy between people, love at first sight or a special harmonious encounter. Things click and everything makes sense. It is like a spiritual gift, a very precious moment.

So, as luxury requires inspiration, what inspires you in your daily life

Surely, people. I am constantly observing people around me; diversity is very much so inspiring. I see beauty all around me, things are not necessarily perfect but nevertheless beautiful. Small, trivial things as well as more important ones trigger my inspiration. As a conclusion, I am never caught off guard, one never knows what my eyes can be inspired of…

As the Storie Veneziane enchanted story continues, tell us what is coming next

My enchanted stories have 7 as a magical number. So, my intention is for each of the three perfume collections to have 7 fragrances in total. I also keep two rules in mind: I don’t want to create flankers and each stand-alone perfume must feel right for the times, it must remain modern. This means that there will be times when I will decide to remove some perfumes from the collections and others when I will add new ones. This fall, Storie Veneziane releases Zafferano, a new, exciting, perfumed story. It celebrates the Venetian supremacy in the spice trade from India through the Arabian Peninsula, dealing with the mysterious and independent Moors. Here, the ‘wicked’ talent of Cécile Zarokian, an independent perfumer, shines through. There will also be a new Collezione Privata perfume release next year, a new timeless and classic feminine scent. I won’t tell you anymore of my secrets and let your imagination dream of new emotions…

Storie Veneziane new opus, Zafferano, created by Cécile Zarokian

The End: By entering Sophie’s world, we are caught by her spell

Sophie is a passionate woman who tells her enchanted story in a sharp and articulate way. She exposes her magic and yet she remains mysterious. She is a woman in the know but she does not tell us all her tricks… The fairy tale wind is already taking her to a new fantasy destination, a new olfactory emotion. ‘Il vento’*, ‘il mio sogno proibito’, ‘chiamami passione’, ‘che cosa sei’, ‘una parola ancora’… words from the Song ‘parole, parole’ by Mina ring so true. I am spellbound. And you?

*’The wind’, ‘my forbidden dream’, ‘call me passion’, ‘who are you’, ‘one more word’ are extracts from the original Song released in 1972 starring Mina Mazzini and Alberto Lupo.