Art and emotion captured in scent: we speak to the creator of Mendittorosa and Talismans to understand how life experiences shape her brand
Stefania Squeglia is the mastermind behind the fabulous Mendittorosa Odori d’Anima brand, which includes the luxury line of Talismans perfumes. The Talismans are five scents designed around the idea of perfume as a protection, a talisman against harm. It’s a lovely idea and one which really appeals to our old souls here at The Sniff. We caught up with Stefania to dig a little further into what inspired her to conceive such a magical line of fragrances.
“My perfumes are responses to imminent needs,” Stefania explains. “I have a sort of vision which is not just about the scent but the entire work: inspirations and story, form and substance. My work is not perfumery science, it’s perfumery art.”
Mendittorosa started in 2012, growing into the Talismans line three years ago. Stefania is responsible for the personal concept of each scent. Once the idea is formed she works with a team of creative artists plus the all-important nose to give it expression.
“Perfume is something very, very personal and intimate. It’s close to you, it sticks to your skin and constantly communicates to your brain through the sense of smell. I wanted to create a perfume that can be a message, a prayer, something that will have a symbolic and powerful meaning of protection for the wearer. I like to use multilevel constructions: layers upon layers or meanings which can form a multitude of possible perceptions to help and inspire the wearer.”
With such attention to detail, it’s very easy to fall in love with the Talismans line, and difficult to choose a favourite, but for The Sniff, if pressed, we would have to pick Sirio, the latest Talismans release which begins with the most luxurious rhubarb note. We asked Stefania to explain it a little more to us.
“This is the scene,” Stefania begins, “I walk through the garden of Eden, picking fruits that are no longer forbidden; everyone can enjoy this manna. The garden is an immersive explosion of flowers and fruits together with herbs like the rhubarb.”
Sirio is a scent which warrants such a grandiose back story. The rhubarb note it opens with is so striking, so lush and multifaceted that we fell in love with it the first time we tried it. With such rich and personal stories, we wondered if Stefania had a favourite amongst her creations.
“Sogno Reale is my absolute favourite,” she says. “ ‘He’ came to me in a dream. I feel a strong belonging to him. It’s like he’s always been there and, at the same time, he never ceases to be amazing and unexpected.”
This storied feeling is one we identified with when we reviewed Sogno Reale, it’s a scent that feels like it is part perfume and part mythology. We asked Stefania to explain more of those scented folk tales to us.
“Osang tells the story of Naples, City of Blood, and protected by its patron saint, Gennaro. Three times a year his dried blood is presented to the crowd who await the miracle of liquefaction as a sign of good fortune. Through this symbolic representation, Osang discusses the power of love that can transform and change whatever is ardently desired. When you wear Osang, taking it as a talisman, its smell tells you that you can create miracles in your life. The essence of this story is the miracle of love.”
With such strong concepts directing the brand, we wanted to know what pressures were faced by Mendittorosa and other niche brands striving for such artistic expression in an increasingly crowded marketplace.
“The choice to produce handmade perfumes is based on the desire to offer high quality products, carefully studied, proposed with a distinctive idea and an original character. The hardest challenge is to stay true to the values of the brand and to try to always do better.
“We all want to get to the heart of more and more people, but because of their nature, the products we make are made for the few and they’re designed to provoke pleasure. We try very hard not to erase that aesthetic sensibility with rigid business strategies or projections.
“My brand is an expression of me and as such it’s a person first then a brand. The emotions I live, my experiences, certain meetings or feelings, whatever will touch me in a meaningful way I will try to catch them and then communicate them in my creations and that’s what I intend to continue doing in the future.”
We asked Stefania how one should go about selecting a perfume, given that not everything will connect with everyone.
“Understand that niche perfume is not necessarily better.” Stefania replied. “Search for what you really like, follow your instincts, trust in your personal response to a perfume, try it on you skin and take enough time to know and appreciate it. It’s like a new love that needs care to be a lifetime relationship.”
We couldn’t agree more, but given the quality and evident craftsmanship of the Talismans line, it is very easy to imagine them becoming firm favourites for many years to come; pieces of art and fragments of emotion captured in scent.
You can explore the whole of the Mendittorosa line, including Talismans, at Bloom Perfumery London.
Neither Mendittorosa nor Talismans have paid us, nor given us any incentive, to produce this interview. It’s important we tell you this so you can judge how impartial we are.
Photo is courtesy of Mendittorosa. Article published with Stefania’s permission.