Milano Fragranze La Prima fragrance review, created by Violaine Collas in 2021, first published in Cafleurebon
Creative director Alessandro Brun (that you know as the co-founder of Masque Milano) is our guide in an olfactory journey to Milano, where he has placed eight “pins” in a nostalgic and highly personal scented map: “I was born and raised in Milan, and I developed an incredible affection for this city, to the point of feeling so lucky just for the fact of having been born here. This city gave me so much, having a significant contribution of shaping what I am today. I distinctly remember myself barely 4, starting exploring the town by and large, with my mother, on a squeaking wooden tram*. I since then returned to the very same places, 10, 20, 30 and even 40 years after. Just to see them change, yet realizing that the Genius Loci (the spirit of the place) was still there, unchanged. For years I have been thinking that one day I would have developed something to let the world know how beautiful this city is and how much I love it. That day has finally arrived.”*
The crowning jewel of the cultural world and the heart and soul of Milan Teatro alla Scala is one of the most (if not THE MOST) famous opera houses and has been the epicenter of the world of performing arts for the last nearly 250 years. In 1300, in the Piazzetta square near Palazzo Marino, Beatrice Regina della Scala of the noble family of Scala from Verona founded the church of “La Scala”. In 1776 the church was demolished to make way for a new theatre – as a testament to how crucially important cultural life has always been to the city of Milan. A landmark of the universal history of music, La Scala hosted countless operatic debuts: from Salieri’s Europa riconosciuta in 1778 (the theater’s opening show ) to Giuseppe Verdi’s Otello (that received no less than 20 curtain calls) or Verdi’s final piece, Falstaff (whose tickets sold in 1893 to 30 times their usual price) and many of the world’s singers, conductors, performers, and directors: Paganini, Maria Callas, Pavarotti, Carla Fracci and Luchino Visconti – to name just a few.
Traditionally, the La Scala’s season opens every year on December 7th, on Saint Ambrose’s Day (Milan’s patron saint) and a centuries-old tradition dictates that all performances must end before midnight, the opening night being the event many music aficionados all around the world dream of attending.
Besides the superb acoustics and the jaw-droppingly beautiful décor, what makes La Scala truly unique is the gallery area high up, above the boxes of the theatre called the loggionne – an area that housed, standing up, the less wealthy opera-goers. Some consider “the loggionne” the real soul of La Scala – responsible for broadening the reach and taste for opera beyond the elite class and for being a very vocal, visible, and immediate barometer of the audience response. For centuries, the loggionisti have been the most merciless and passionate opera aficionados, and gaining their approval was the true “baptism of fire” for measuring the success of a performer or a play.**
Steering away from the obvious choices to incarnate his muse for La Prima – the opera singer or the main performer, Alessandro imagines a different main character for his story and gives us the key in the fragrance’s short but to the point description: “December 7th. The Milanese elite getting ready for the season-opening. A young lady in the gallery doesn’t pass unnoticed. She wants all eyes on her, she knows she can get them.”
So, after reading the perfume description, trying to “cast” the main character for this perfume, I immediately thought of the recent Vogue photoshoot with Monica Bellucci and her daughter – such a striking image of two generations mirrored in beauty and the perfect visual depiction of the very specific type of Mediterranean motherly pride of showing off your grown child to the world.
I must admit, when it comes to beauty (of all forms), many of my cultural, visual, or sensorial references root from Italy (and I might be a tad subjective as it was the destination of the first trip I ever took by myself, as a young adult). Italy ties a generous knot of superlatives in my book: the best cuisine (according to my taste), the poshest shopping place in the world (Galleria Vittorio Emanuele), the magic holiday destination (Sicily), the surreal-picture-perfect sunsets (as seen in Venice) and THE etalon for the most unapologetically self-assured and full of vitality type of beauty – that of the Italian women, no matter of their age.
La prima (translated as the premiere) is the olfactive interpretation of La Scala’s opening night. We are in the piazzeta, in the blue hours of the evening, people watching, following the trail of a young girl, stepping into the limelight for the first time, with the Fellini-esque natural but self-assured sensual attitude that Italian women seem to be able to summon at will
Small talk, laughter, the rustle of the crowd’s movement, the gentlemen putting out their cigarettes with hurried gestures, inviting the ladies to come in through the entrance’s doors. Clenching her purse, our heroine checks in her coat, and – released from under the thick fabric – the aroma of her perfume adds a new layer of sensory overload to her excitement. In the top notes, the perfume smells like adrenaline-heated skin, lipstick, and sweet youth with a mixture of lively bergamot, the spicy and flesh-like warmth of cardamom, and the exotic liquors davana.
Climbing up to the loggionne she pauses and looks around from the dizzying heights to the red and gold breathtaking setting. The elegant ladies, seated in their boxes, have begun the flutter of their belle-epoque fans while doing the who’s who, who’s sitting where eye dance. The microscopic particles of their perfumes travel, helped by the movement of the fans, from the pearl-adorned necks, up in the air, mixing in with the dust raised in the light by the slow upward movement of the red velvet curtain. The scented cloud feels like a coming-of-age of white flowers, a retro-opulent construction of old-world, old-money, familiar enough to recognize, but with an ever-new and exciting twist. As the lights slowly die down, the dissonant sounds of the orchestra warming up are raising. The magic begins.
It’s a quarter to midnight and the streetlights are casting trembling long shadows of the statue silhouettes in the Piazzetta. She carefully steps in the fresh snow, aware of a strange new smell that has followed her since leaving the Opera. Her thick tweed coat has borrowed the scent of the furs pressed next to it in the cloakroom: foreign and yet comforting and unnervingly familiar, sweet, musky, and deep.
An extrovert and sensual floral scent with retro sensibility and an opulent fur accord, La Prima is the perfect choice when daydreaming of a no-travel-restriction-winter and making very precise plans for the evening hours of the 7th of December 2021 in Milan, Italy. (Put it in your bookmarks: Giuseppe Verdi’s Macbeth will be this year’s opening act, starring Anna Netrebko).
** info collected from Teatro alla Scala official site
Top: Bergamot, Cardamom and Davana
Heart: Orange Blossom, Osmanthus, Jasmine
Base: Fur Accord, Vanilla
If you like Milano Fragranze, also read about Masque Milano