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Barry Lyndon – Pure Poetry - SOLD OUT




I’m back in Italy again, with “those Italians”.  Except this time it’s a woman, and her name is Maria Candida Gentile. 

What an exceptionally talented perfumer she is! So talented in fact, that she is the first Italian woman in thirty years to receive the title Maître Parfumeur from the Perfume Institute in Grasse, France. Never heard of her? Well, that’s not surprising  because she is fairly new to the international niche scene, and she is a natural perfumer. Natural perfume is  a niche within niche, and the creators often get scant attention from perfume aficionados, but Signora Gentile definitely deserves our attention.

She uses only natural essences in her perfumes: “The best fragrances are capable of doing good to us, not only smelling good. They are able to give great and deep emotions, they are authentic…….This is why I only use natural essences, they are the only one which can talk to our senses, the only one that do good to us and that we have pleasure of carrying all day if we want to….” (from an interview posted on

Her website tells her fascinating story -  she says about her artistic style: "… I make my emotions palpable in my creations. I am a poet who has chosen a different vocabulary to express myself, a vocabulary filled with dancing molecules.”

Poetic is the perfect word to describe the feeling I have when I wear the scent she introduced in 2010 called Barry Lyndon. You might think Barry Lyndon is an off-the-wall name for a perfume but if you’re a film buff, or can remember the 1970’s like I do, you’ll go “Ah yes – Barry Lyndon. A perfume? This will be interesting!” 

Barry Lyndon is a 1975 film by Stanley Kubrick, based on the novel by Thackery published in 1844, a swashbuckling romance novel which tells the story of the rags –to-riches hero from his birth to death. Except that Barry Lyndon is NOT a hero, he’s amoral, self-centred, weak, unrepentant, in short, a man with no heart and no soul. Kubrick’s film is now considered a classic – beautifully shot, its landscapes and interiors are rich and colourful, creating a world in stark contrast to the empty soul of Barry Lyndon.

Barry Lyndon is played by Ryan O’Neal, at the time an actor of limited range, therefore perfect for the part. Our hero is Irish, the son of a poor widow who dotes on him, and an early scene shows Barry making his way to Dublin after shooting someone in a duel, riding  and walking his horse through the lush countryside. Young, handsome, hopeful, he walks into his future filled with the conviction that he will come back one day a rich man, bringing beautiful gifts for his mother. This scene, and a personal memory of walking in the Italian Alps, were Maria Candida Gentile’s inspiration  for the  perfume she named Barry Lyndon. An aromatic fougère, the notes listed are : aromatic herbs, lavender, artemesia, arnica, heather, leather, vetiver, vanilla.

What do I expect to smell when I first sniff Barry Lyndon - something bold and resinous?  Dark and leathery?  Whatever it is, I‘m totally unprepared for what I do smell.  The first spritz on my skin smells of bright resinous lavender, slightly anisic from the artemesia, or wormwood, with just a hint of its sweet licorice note which fades in and out (see my post about Absolument Absinthe). Then other herbal notes swirl into the mix – arnica and heather, which has a sweetish musty green smell – and the whole effect is one of the outdoors in misty rain.  It’s soft and hazy feeling, and I want to take in big lungfuls of this wonderfully alive smell.

After fifteen minutes or so, I can detect the leather from the heart, and it’s the smell of polished leather and horsehair. The romantic facet of Barry Lyndon is starting to develop, and when the green rooty vetiver and smoky vanilla arrive the scene is complete. This unusually beautiful scent lifts me up and drops me into another world. I smell it and see it at the same time – haystacks, cows, purple blooms, green, smoke rising from low cottages, wet stones, horse, man, white mist settling on low fields. It’s so real, yet it’s just a perfume.

The more I wear Barry Lyndon, the more it tells me - it smells familiar but unknown, like walking into the future while glancing back into the past, full of hope but tinged with melancholy.  The unique thing about it is that it’s such a light scent, but is so fully rounded with an inner core of unwavering beauty. 

Maria Candida Gentile makes perfumes in the classical manner but with a very modern touch. I have three other perfumes from her line, which are available in affordable 15 ml. sizes, and I could have written about any of them, they are all such beautiful creations. But Barry Lyndon is special - it speaks to me. And that’s the real genius of  Maria Candida Gentile, the perfumer – she’s a poet, too.

Barry Lyndon is SOLD OUT - I miss him!