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segunda-feira, 7 de março de 2016

Violetta di Parma: Jewels' Joy Brings Back a Classic

by: Evgeniya Chudakova, Elena Knezevic

Parma violet became one of the major cultural symbols of the XIXth century - its image appeared everywhere: in literature, fashion, painting etc., and was always related to a romantic story concerning Marie Louise of Austria, Empress of France (1810 - 1814) and the second wife of Napoléon Bonaparte, and later, after Napoléon's deposition, Duchess of Parma, Piacenza and Guastalla (1816 - 1847). 
Maria Luisa (who had experienced many sad events in her life such as allegations ofinfidelity to her husband Napoleon Bonaparte and the death of her year-old daughter)often found solace in planting and caring for her beloved violetsLegend has it thatthese flowers decorated her room and dressesWith the help of the monks of the Cathedral of the Annunciation (Convento dell'Annunciata), who distilled oil of violets,the Duchess began to use a perfume with the scent of a favorite flower.
Portrait of Empress Marie LouiseFrançois Gérard, 1810
If talking about the flower itself, nowadays known as Parma violet and famous for its bright scent (by the way, strong smell and big size are characteristic only for chasmogamous - fully opened - flowers), its origin is not 100% precisely defined.
Here is the citation from one of the works concerning the cultivation of violets from the University of Evora (Portugal) :
"The genus Viola has circa 400 species (91 in Europe) and Parma violets are a morphologically well-defined group within the genus that, in ideal conditions, can produce fragrant flowers for seven consecutive months and rarely produce seeds (Coombs, 2003; Mabberley, 2008). They have been cultivated in Europe for centuries and several hypotheses tried to explain their origin.
Earlier Italian literature from the XVI century refers to violets with a strong fragrance and pleiomerous flowers that were obtained from the East, near the city of Constantinople (now Istanbul), capital of the former Byzantine Empire. These texts describe violets that looked like roses, probably referring to ancestral plants of the contemporary Parma violets (Malécot et al., 2007). In Naples (Italy), a local tradition proposes that these violets came from Portugal, brought by the Bourbon royal family during the XVIII century; hence the local name Violetta Portoghese (Portuguese violet). Violets were taken from Naples to Parma, where they received the classic vernacular name, and from Parma to all other locations in Europe (Perfect, 1996; Robinson and Snocken, 2002). In 2007, Malécot et al. using ITS (Internal Transcribed Spacer) sequenced variation and allozyme variation in fourteen putative loci concluded that cultivars of Parma violets belong to the genetic pool of Viola alba Besser subsp. dehnhardtii (Ten.) W. Becker, with parental plants from the Eastern and Western Mediterranean region, probably from Turkey and Italy." - Luís Mendonça de Carvalho, Universidadе De Evora.
"Duchesse de Parma" Violets
Most of the sources point out that the Duchess planted violets that were brought to Parma from somewhere foreign. But considering the latest investigations, stories about bringing violets from Austria seem less relevant than, for example, the possibility of violets being brought from Naples where Marie Louise's grandmother  Maria Carolina, Queen of Naples and Sicily, lived. Marie Louise communicated with Maria Carolina throughout her life land it seems possible that Marie Louise kept some ties with the Neapolitan court even after Maria Carolina's death, but this is just my hypothesis.
      "Marie Louise" VIolets                                    "Parma de Toulouse" Violets
Coming back to the history of  Violetta di Parma fragrance - in 1870 (in 1880 according to certain sources) after Marie Louise's death, a Parma citizen named Lodovico Borsari convinced the monks to share the recipe created by them for the Duchess. Lodovico Borsari was a son of a carpenter and apprentice of Dario Sacco (barbershop owner) who later became Dario's business partner thanks to his talent to create cosmetics and fragrances. They reformulated the monks' composition and created the first "Violetta di Parma" fragrance; it became a huge success among ladies of Parma (info. - La Collezione Borsari 1870).
Violetta di Parma 1930
In 1897 Lodovico opened "Borsari & Figli". which became famous for beautiful packaging of  perfumes that were made in collaboration with legendary glass manufacturer Vetrerie Bormioli. Borsari also employed many well-known artists to create decorative labels which constantly changed with the development of artistic styles from Liberty (Modern) to Art Deco and Novecento. This attention to detail and artistry helped make Borsari a symbol of Italian perfumery.
By the 1930s, now under the name "La Collezione Borsai 1870", the brand moved to Via Trento in Parma where still today one can find the "Museum Borsari 1870". In the 1970s production stopped and the factory became a museum showcasing the development of the brands' fragrances including famous Violetta di Parma.
Borsari 1870 at via Trento in Parma
 Working on the scent of Violetta di Parma Borsari in the factory Borsari 1870
Modern bottle of Violetta di Parma (until 2014)
Some time ago we received an email from Jewel's Joy, a small Italian brand with some information about their re-launch of the legendary Violetta di Parma. We decided to check out the details of a new production:
Elena KnezevicCould you please share your story about gaining the rights to produce your own Violetta di Parma after Borsari stopped production?
Jewels’ Joy:  In 1995, Borsari sold his Violetta di Parma to a multinational company that stopped production around December, 2014. Of course, some stock items are still on the market, but these are part of the discontinued collection. Along with Borsari, other local companies such as La Ducale and La Trionfale who had been producing fragrances titled Violetta di Parma also stopped production. You see, there was a little confusion about the name: “Violetta di Parma” itself cannot be a registered trademark because it is a flower’s name and not specific enough (a very common issue in trademark regulations). So, many
Meanwhile, the sole heir to the original formula is Parmafragrance - our manufacturer in Parma. The company, which employs local perfumers, was able to recreate the original composition, again returning production to Parma, the birthplace of this aroma thanks to Borsari.
Jewel's Joy started our project in 2014 and launched the new Violetta di Parma at the end of 2015; the reason is that 2016 is the year of the bicentenary of “Maria Luigia Duchess of Parma, Piacenza and Guastalla” (1816-2016).
Elena KnezevicIs there any difference between the original Borsari fragrance and this new perfume? Borsari claimed they had used the original formula.
Jewels’ Joy: This historical part is the same: “Violetta di Parma is the legendary perfume, popular at the end of the 19th century. For the first time, the violet was created by Marie Louise, the Duchess of Parma and the second wife of Napoleon I, with the help of the monks at the Monastery of the Annunciata. She used these natural violet essences as her personal perfume.”
Regarding the EDP, you correctly wrote “they (Borsari, n.d.r.) claimed they had used the original formula”; rumours suggest that the final productions by Borsari were not the same as the earlier productions (lower prices, lower quality, Far East production...). So our EDP, due to it following the original formula, smells slightly different from the most recent products. And due to it being based on the original formula, our Violetta di Parma shows a sweeter, softer and more nuanced fragrance. We do believe the true evaluators of Violetta di Parma will prize our “new/old” fragrance. We worked on the packaging as well, to refresh the appearance of the product: we use a modern bottle but with a clear reminder to its classicism in the lettering used.
Violetta di Parma by Jewels' Joy
About the brand: Jewels’ Joy® is a young Italian brand; its core business is jewelry and fashion accessories.The brand Jewels’ Joy® positions itself at a medium-high level; Jewels’ Joy® jewelry and fashion accessories are indeed fully produced with original materials: cameos, Alcantara®, cashmere, etc. Every article is different from each other for the authentic materials used and for the  hand craftsmanship of artisan masters, working for major national fashion brands. Our jewelry is totally Made in Italy, as declared by the “Certificate of Traceability” issued by Unionfiliere, the Union of Italian Chambers of Commerce for the whole supply chain. For the same reason, we also received the permission to officially use the brand “100% Made in Italy.”

Jewels' Joy ® matches gems and flowers, capturing the fresh notes of the violet in their first jewellery collection inspired by the flower so much loved by the Duchess Maria Louise. Parma Violets have in fact led us to the first three lines of jewellery coordinated with the  Eau de Parfum. Purple is the colour of art and imagination, which Jewels' Joy® has translated in parure of cameos framed with precious crystals, retro enamels that flourish under modern crystalline resins, and the nuances of soft fabrics to match.

Text: Evgeniya ChudakovaInterviews with Jewels' Joy - Elena Knezevic
Photo: Jewels' Joy, Borsari; photos from the factoryphoto violets Duchesse de Parma and Marie Louise - Clive Groves, Parma de Toulouse - Hélène Vie.

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