Originally published on http://www.cafleurebon.com 30 September, 2017
Commissioned by the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno Nevada, Bruno Fazzolari’s new perfume “Unsettled” is a challenging, rewarding, and ultimately moving tribute to a period in American History that was unsettling in many ways (The multi-sensorial creation for the Exhibition consists of a perfume, a booklet, a “poster” and a hand-blown, glowing, uranium glass bottle in the form of a mushroom cloud).
“Unsettled (the museum exhibition) amasses 200 artworks by 80 artists living and/or working in a super-region we call the Greater West, a geographic area that stretches from Alaska to Patagonia, and from Australia to the American West. Though ranging across thousands of miles, this region shares many similarities: vast expanses of open land, rich natural resources, diverse indigenous peoples, colonialism, and the ongoing conflicts that inevitably arise when these factors coexist. The specific geographic focus of Unsettled begins in Alaska and continues down the west coast of North America, through Central America, concluding in Colombia. Works included span 2,000 years, ranging from Pre-Columbian to modern and contemporary art.” -Nevada Museum of Art
With his background in the visual arts Bruno Fazzolari’s perfumes often cross a line where the art becomes the perfume and the perfume becomes the art. With Unsettled, he strays into a gray and dangerous area, an area full of ideas and concepts that may be better left alone, but should be explored and investigated nonetheless. I must say at the outset, that one of the things I love about writing for CaFleureBon is that I can write exclusively about perfumes I love. With Fazzolari’s Unsettled, I’ve come across a fragrance that I don’t love to wear but feel that I must, given the journey that it takes me on. Unsettled reminds me that perfume is not something that is always pretty or uplifting. Perfume can be impactful, engage and challenge, pushing our emotional boundaries and forcing us to re-examine and possibly realign our thoughts, fears, and dreams.
The fragrance Unsettled, presented within the exhibition of the same name in a yellow-green glowing “Uranium (sometimes called Vaseline) glass” atomic mushroom cloud-shaped flacon, takes its inspiration from the history of the sandalwood and tea trade in the South Pacific, and from a pineapple themed vintage perfume “Colony,” launched by the house of Jean Patou in 1938. Unsettled might also reference the indigenous communities of the Pacific Ocean islands who were forcibly resettled after the islands were made uninhabitable by the atomic tests carried out by the United States from 1947 to 1962.
Unsettled is a beautiful and melancholy perfume, redolent of the deep tropics and paradise lost. Opening with the sharp bite of clary sage being brewed with a pot of bergamot-rich Earl or Lady Grey tea, the dusty and slightly bitter astringency of the herbaceous notes are settled and uplifted by the perfumed-citrus sweetness of the bergamot and pineapple. The vanilla undertones add an almost chewy marshmallow-like feeling, and the creamy sandalwood base keeps the scent from straying into tea-like tannin by providing an almost basal smoothness. Throughout the life of the perfume the labdanum provides wisps of ash that are not always pleasant but within the context of this fragrance, absolutely necessary.
Unsettled is performance art in a bottle. Unsettled is as the name describes, a perfume that is both deliberate and experiential on different levels, a perfume that creates a deep emotional connection; the exquisite and painful scent of something that might have been, but has been misplaced somehow. This is a fragrance of creation, contemplation, forgetting, loss, devastation and rebirth. Rarely have I had such a visceral reaction to a scent. Unsettled swept me away on nuclear tropical zephyrs that felt buffeted and storm-tossed. With Bruno’s talents both as artist and perfumer, it will come as no surprise that this is a fragrance that feels very personal and begs to be studied and considered from many angles with many wearings; ultimately loved for what it brings to you exclusively. It is both expansive and a singular moment in time. A disturbing and extraordinary bottled journey. Unsettling. Where will it take you, I wonder?
Notes: Bergamot, China Black Tea, Clary Sage, Pineapple, New Caledonian Sandalwood, Labdanum, Vanilla, Ocean Breezes
Disclosure: Thank you to Bruno Fazzolari for supplying the samples. The opinions are my own.
Editor’s Note: When we first learned of Bruno Fazzolari, both a fine artist and an olfactory artist in 2013, who moves between scent and art, we knew we had discovered a rising star. Through former Managing Editor Tama Blough, (who we miss and remember since her passing January 9, 2015) we had the honor of being the first fragrance site to review his work (at that time Lamp Black, Monserrat, Five, Au Delà and Jimmy). If you live in L.A: OCT. 14: UNSETTLED: ARTIST TALK WITH BRUNO FAZZOLARI is at at The Institute for Art and Olfaction -Michelyn Camen, Editor-in-Chief
–Robert Herrmann, Senior Editor
-Art Direction: Michelyn Camen, Editor-in-Chief