Scents with a past: how one woman draws on love and loss to make beautiful perfume
Pissara Umavijani is a woman with a past; a life before she became the founder and spearhead of renowned global brand, Dusita. Growing up in Thailand, in a house full of books, the child of a poet father and teacher mother, she was taught the value of independent thought from an early age. It was the confidence in herself, instilled by her parents, which led to the foundation of her beloved brand some years later.
“The idea of Parfums Dusita initially started to bloom from me being a perfume collector. I am passionate about vintage perfumes (mostly from the 1880-1980 era – I love Diorissimo, Le Narcisse Noir (Caron), and Tabac Blonde.) and that passion lead me, in turn, to create my own accords and formulations.
“Formulating perfumes is my favourite part of the creative process, and if I could only choose to do only one thing it would be to stay in my laboratory all day. Smelling and blending materials, creating the accords, and formulations – I love it.
“The work of formulating perfumes can take months or even years, but there are many other process involved once the scent itself has been developed; like finding a name, describing the scents, the illustration, and arranging the photo styling (my second favorite process after formulation). Conception to launch of a scent can take 6-10 months and I am someone who likes to take time with the process. I don’t plan to launch more than two new scents per year.”
In 2018 Dusita launched two new fragrances to the acclaim of the fragrance community; Erawan (a crisp, green and herbal fragrance) and Fleur de Lalita (a floral overdose which is already one of their best sellers). These were added to a line up which included four original scents including Oudh Infini (an animalic scent of civet and balsamic notes with oudh and rose de mai), Issara (the first scent Pissara created; a fougere that evokes pine woods, ambergris and oak moss) and La Douceur de Siam (rose de mai, cinnamon, vanilla, sandalwood and amber). It is to one of their original line-up, Melodie de l’Amour, that we are most notably drawn. Melodie is a rich, honeyed white floral which makes the wearer feel as if you are floating on a cloud of petals. It’s bright but soothing, optimistic yet not at all twee, and utterly otherworldly.
“I chose to work with the white flower because the initial idea of this perfume is to describe the poetry of my father:
‘My feeling for you
is like a flower
blooming in an empty room’ . – Montri Umavijani
“When I read this poem, many years after his death, tears came into my eyes. This verse from him is about a pure, unconditional love. I associate that love with the color white, therefore, I chose white flowers like gardenia, tuberose, and jasmine to blend. I softened the formula with sandalwood and cedar.”
This, in a nutshell, represents the Dusita brand, and why we describe Pissara as a woman with a past: it is this love, this respect for her father, his work and her unique heritage which drives her to create scents which are complex, multifaceted and yet wearable, vintage-leaning and yet thoroughly modern. It’s nigh on impossible to not feel that love in her work and be moved by it.
Pissara is drawing on the treasure-trove of her past again to create her next scent, but this time it will be more playful memories that inform her work.
“It will be about my childhood,” she tells us, “and I will be playing with the new set of notes that are unique and different from anything in our collection. I want to do something totally different to challenge myself and make the creation process truly fun.”
Pissara goes as far as to admit that at the moment she loves, in particular, Italian broom, iris and tuberose. It’s difficult to not jump with excitement at even the vague possibility of a Dusita take on a broom scent as it can only be heaven in a bottle.
Even with the already considerable successes of her brand under her belt, Pissara
acknowledges that there are challenges ahead for Dusita.
“Keeping your own identity in a business-driven world is the challenge of a niche brand. How to be true to one’s values and continue to offer something new to a market full of perfume-lovers. But having more and more brands, in my humble opinion, is not about competition at all, it is about being able to offer wider alternatives of those who love perfumes. It’s great to have many brands out there now, because it offers clients wider choices and freedom.
“2018 was the year we opened our own boutique in Paris and that has given me many
perspectives on how we should the brand develop in the future. At Dusita, I founded a company with the passion for perfumery and the presentation of the poetic universe of my beloved father, Montri Umavijani. This will not change over time. My love of vintage perfumery motivates me to offer high quality, unique creations and I believe that there are still people who will seek this type of product. In ten years’ time, our aim to be a leading lifestyle brand in the niche perfume industry, known for qualitative and unique innovations with boutiques around the world. We aim to create a strong connection with our worldwide partners and clients through gentle hospitality and exceptional fragrances.”
With a manifesto as strong as that, we would say that Dusita is already well on the way to achieving Pissara’s dream and with plans for an atelier on the cards (sign us up now!), Pissara is starting to share her scent-creation journey with the world. Although inspired by and respectful of the past, Pissara is very much looking forward to her bright future.
You can explore more of the Dusita line on their website.
Dusita have not paid us, nor given us any incentive, to produce this interview. They did, however, graciously gift us a travel size of one of their scents after production of the article was completed.
Article published with Pissara’s permission.
Photo by Alex Block on Unsplash.
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