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domingo, 15 de novembro de 2015

The Warm Animal Embrace of Tiziana Terenzi's Ursa

by: Miguel Matos

Paolo and Tiziana Terenzi
Since March I have been exploring and living with some amazing fragrant discoveries from the perfume expos Esxence and Pitti. I must say I am happy that my favourite family of perfumes is coming back: the animalics.
Ursa is certainly one of the best animalic fragrances this year and one of the most original ones for sure. It is a complex composition that you can't figure out with just a sample. It lives on your skin and awaits your attention to reveal its different facets. Clearly inspired by the love for Middle Eastern oud attars nourished by the perfumerPaolo Terenzi, it doesn't just try to recreate an arabian oud perfume. It goes beyond that, but I have to warn you: it takes a bit of courage if you are not familiar with animalic scents and the real ouds outside the tamed mainstream and niche European offerings.
The Sibillini mountains
The story of the Luna collection has to do with the holidays Paolo and Tiziana Terenzi spent when they were children with their father and grandfather during summertime on the Sibillini mountains, near their house in Italy. “Ursa has an incredible story”, says Paolo. “In Lake Como there is a cave with a river inside. During the winter you cannot enter it because the river comes through the cave. But there is a period of six months, during spring, when the water enters the earth and you can enter. When the river leaves the cave it leaves the smell of moisture and algae along with some sand brought by the river. This kind of odor is earthy and wet. That's what you can smell in this perfume.”
Lake Como
Ursa Major
Paolo went to this place a lot of times and he always loved to smell this odor. So, inspired by this memory, he decided to take it and infuse it in a perfume for his Luna collection – Ursa. He decided to add a smoky vetiver and oud. He blended these materials with an accord that tried to recreate this damp earthy smell from his childhood so “you feel the dampness around you”. To me it's a different story since I don't know this place. To my nose what comes more prominently is the animalic facet of oud, like the smell of a horse. “Indian oud is very strong and has animalic smell. But if you go into this cave you can feel this scent, too. Also, there are a lot of bats inside and their excrement get accumulated in the cave, so you have a fecal element coming from guano that is another thing add to the smell," explains Paolo. “I have a guy that collects oud for me in Laos, India, Vietnam and Cambodja. The oud we use in Ursa has a strong animalic touch that is balanced by the vetiver and a bit ofcamphor. Because the oud part of the fragrance is so intense, vetiver makes it lighter in the right proportion. Camphor adds a balsamic and fresh touch. There's a bit ofwhiskey and cognac accord, too. It's an exercise on structure and dynamics.”
We are seeing the return of animalic ingredients in perfumery as the oud craziness made the European market more familiar with a certain “funkyness” in fragrances. Ursa was one of the first big animalic perfumes to be launched in 2015 at Esxence, before the second wave that came in Pitti. Paolo says: “I love oud and I have very animalic perfumes in my collection. My wife says that I embarrass her when I wear them. But it depends on culture. If you are in the Bedouin area thay are happy to feel these smells. In Europe it's really tough to pull it off.”
But Ursa is not a simple leathery animalic oud scent. Its originality comes from an aquatic effect that makes it fresh. I am not sure where the watery element comes from, but it is not enough to make it an aquatic scent. It's a work on contrasts, on layers and structure. Paolo told me that this perfume was especially difficult to compose and the incredible elegance of the blend confirms this. Some times you can feel it like a visit to a leather shop full of camel skin bags. Sometimes you smell new leather sofas in an old whisky bar. The very subtle oceanic salty water can sprinkle it with freshness and an iodic tone, but it works on a subliminal way. A nap under an old cashmere throw after you spent hours riding horses... The overall sensation is sensual, warm, even sexual. This is very erotic and powerful but never reaching the point of being overwhelming. With time, I started to feel extremely comfortable wearing Ursa; I feel just like wearing my own smell, only intensified and beautyfied. Ursa verges between muscular brutalness and a warm passionate embrace. The fragile balance between forces turns this into a fascinating experience of smelling a familiar emotion.
Top notes: nutmegelemidried fruits and rum
Middle notes: patchouliolibanumincensetobacco and vetiver
Base notes: vanilla, leather and agarwood (oud).

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