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Ragù – Spicy, aromatic and woody - February 15, 2016

Photo: Gabriella Chieffo courtesy of Maison Gabriella Chieffo

One of my most exciting fragrance discoveries has been Ragù from Italian niche line Maison Gabriella Chieffo.

Gabriella Chieffo, an Italian mother and engineer, launched her fragrance line in 2014 with four fragrances: Camaheu, Hystera, Lye and Ragù. The website says that the line was born of Chieffo’s ‘….artistic perfumes are unique and unparalleled and express the need of the more profound aspects of perception and memory. The same need that is also the desire to freeze time, to recall the things that matter.’

For me, Ragù is the standout of the four because it not only smells great, but because it links fragrance to a food related memory – the Proustian effect. You see, I came to love fragrance through cooking. Helping my mother make dinner – sweating pungent onions in butter until they became soft and sweet, tearing fresh herbs with our fingers to release the oils before adding them to sauces or stews, heating spices to make their flavors bolder - has created profound memories for me. I suppose that’s why fragrances that feature herbs and spices attract me and why the inspiration for Ragù was immediately appealing to me:

Sunday. An open window to a still world. Resounding laughter is the background to the gentle chatter of women with warm lovingly caring hands. A perfume runs through the house, seeping into every little bit of life on the festive day. Care and patience creates the goodness that is savored with all the senses: the red of caramelised tomato, the intrigue of black pepper that tickles the nose and the mind, the tactile freshness of basil leaves. And when the taste has been assuaged, that mixing of festive flavors, that have now become light and gentle, lingers in the air.

Ragù opens with bright orange and bitter bergamot and pink pepper. The pink pepper adds warmth and a floral aspect to the fruits. Body heat releases the potent spices – black pepper, nutmeg, clove and cardamom and saffron. The spicy mix is a little sweet and so heady and it makes me smile every time I catch a whiff of it. There’s an herbaceous facet here too – probably from elemi – and a little saltiness. I smell leather at the base, which is predominately woody from cedar, Cashmere wood, patchouli and cypriol. The patchouli and cypriol also add an earthy, dirty aspect to it, while musk softens it all.

The drydown is rich, spicy and aromatic and and so well-balanced, it is perfectly unisex. For the record: Ragù does not smell like tomato sauce. For that effect you would have to open a tin of Mama Bravo’s spaghetti sauce and dab it behind your ears. What Ragù does is evoke memories of people - the mingling of their scents, the smell of food, the sound of it cooking - gathered together sharing a task, sharing time with each other.

Cooking is about transformation of ingredients into something new. It’s a sensual process that involves all five senses. The beauty, and magic, of Ragù EdP is that it transforms ingredients into a fragrance that revives all five senses.

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