Blog post by Gwen
Photo: Wikipedia - Part of Positano, Italy - Jensens, June 2008
I was researching my latest fragrance crush, Eau d'Italie, when I came across an article written by John Steinbeck in Harper’s Bazaar in 1953 after he stayed at La Sirenuse, the five-star hotel and spa located in Positano on the Amalfi Coast of Italy. He wrote: "Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone." That article, I learned, has been credited with bringing tourists to Positano, making it the number one attraction on the Amalfi coast. And La Sirenuse kept pace with the change, evolving from a modest hotel to a fabled luxury destination.
Sirenuse refers to the sirens, those mythological mermaids who lived on the small craggy islands off the Amalfi Coast. Their voices were so alluring that, if not resisted, they led sailors to their deaths on the rocky island.
Today La Sirenuse is run by Marina Sersale and Sebastien Alvarez Marina. In 2004 they wanted to do something special to commemorate the 50+ years of the hotel, so they launched the Eau d'Italie brand, with Eau d'Italie being the first fragrance in the line. Working with Bertrand Duchaufour, they wanted their signature scent to be of the place – smelling of the sun on skin, shrubs that grow along the coast, warm terracotta tiling, incense from the church on the hill and the salt sea air.
That’s quite a wish list, but they chose the right person for the job because Duchaufour delivers all they asked for and more in an original, evocative fragrance that coils itself around my heart like a lover every time I wear it.
Eau d'Italie opens with a surprise – frankincense, usually used as a base note, but here it’s at the top shouldered by brisk bergamot and fruity, green, black currant buds. Resinous, citrusy and green – this is where I yield to the fragrance and let it take over. As it blooms, I smell clay tiles warmed by the sun – something I’ve never experienced in a fragrance before. It takes me back to summer in Tuscany. I don’t know what chemistry or magic is involved here, and I don’t care. There is also a watery, metallic note that Duchaufour coaxes from tuberose, giving Eau d'Italie a salty skin/sea scent. It’s nearly too much – too sharp, too acrid until magnolia shows up and gives it a floral soul. It is citrusy and sweet and prevents Eau d'Italie from becoming unpleasantly odd or weird while preserving its character. But the real magic is at the base where lichen, cedar, honey, patchouli clover and musk combine to make the drydown sensuous and enticing. This is one siren call I won’t try to resist.
Check out Eau d'Italie in our Shop.