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Fundamental - Another Italian star - December 4, 2016

Fundamental by Rubini Profumi - rubiniprofumi.com

It’s Sunday morning around 10:00 am and I’m sipping a glass of wine, white wine, a pale straw-coloured Soave. It is delicious.

Just relax – it’s only research. I’ve poured a little bit of wine into a small brandy snifter, so I can take deep sniffs, and sip just little bits. I have to say, though, I’m quite liking this mid-morning mini buzz, but more of that later….

Fundamental, the first and only fragrance released by the Italian brand, Rubini Profumi, has prompted this research. This new Italian niche brand was founded by Andrea Rubini and launched in Spring 2015. The story goes that Andrea Rubini was born into a family of perfumers in Verona, and he wanted to resurrect the family business, to bring the past into the present using the best of both traditional natural and modern synthetic materials, to create scents that convey the Veronese culture and sense of place. He pursued this vision by pulling together a team of passionate and talented Italians: Cristiano Canali, as perfumer, Ermano Picco to assist him as creative director, and Francesca Gotti as package designer.  The result of their first creative flight together is Fundamental.

Verona is famous for its art, architecture, history, and the beauty of its  surrounding countryside which produces the famous Soave wine. Ermano Picco’s creative brief on the website details the setting for the fragrance (paraphrased from the poor translation): “…the small perfume shop downtown, scented by colognes prepared by Pietro Rubini for barbershops, “face powder” says a lady and suddenly the air is filled with iris-scented fine powder, the dense smell of greasepaint he often gives as gifts to opera singers, the most daring smells come in the evening mixing smoke…and the perfumes Pietro sells to the prostitutes in the bordellos…I imagined these layer and shine in the golden light of September that ripens Soave grapes….”  Fundamental is built around all these “fundamental” elements.

Fundamental is totally unique, off-the-wall and off-the-charts unique. It’s difficult to describe in a traditional dry-down format because the scent doesn’t work that way. The first few moments are the glorious countryside, an accord of citrus, herbs, orange blossom. The scene is set for grapes. Pale green grapes not purple, round grapes coated with pollen and dust, not fruit juice-sweet or Welch’s Grape Juice grapey, or boozey or fizzy, but grapes scented with sunshiney ripeness and the sour-bitter tang of their skins. Grapes  on the hillsides, grapes on the vine, grapes in baskets, just picked.

My grape reverie is joined by a waft of iris, incredibly earthy powdery iris, then suddenly oily-waxy iris, the waxiness morphing into beeswax with its honeyed animalic edge, the oily aspect becoming vetiver dipped in olive oil. This is the strange heart of Fundamental, a fascinating focus on the grape note, with iris and beeswax and vetiver cycling around it. And then the iris and green vetiver fade into soft wood notes and different facets of the grape are revealed, the bitterness becomes a velvety leather scent, the sweetness warms and deepens, I even smell hints of smoky tobacco. Fundamental lasts a long time on my skin, and the longer it lasts the better it smells, it continuously evolves.

How to describe this fragrance? It’s not fruity, or floral, or woody. It is aromatic. It smells refined and expensive, old-fashioned and modern, complex and innovative. The packaging by Francesca Gotti repeats these themes. Made from Gelbanite, which is recycled fiberglass, it looks and feels like old stone but is lightweight and strong, and ultra modern. From creative top to bottom, Fundamental is a new classic.

To me, Fundamental does indeed smell like a place, a place densely layered with human experience, a place like Verona. I would love to go there and experience it, sit in the sun and smell the grapes in the September air. Italians have created beautiful things through history – their architecture, art, music, and cuisine draw millions of tourists to their country every year. Italian design in clothing, furniture, cars has shaped our modern world. I love it all.

Andrea Rubini is a rising star and is continuining this tradition of creative excellence in Italian niche perfume, and I can’t wait to see what he does next. I’ll raise a glass of Soave to that.

Fundamental is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.