Most people interested in fragrances (including me) considers perfumery as an art. Of course this is a specific kind of art. You can’t admire it visually like a painting or a sculpture. You can’t experience it with your hearing, like you do when you listen to a concert, opera or music in general. Perfume is a kind of immaterial art that you experience with your whole being, when the fragrance triggers emotions, feelings, brings images to your imagination. And this piece of art – you can always have it with you. In most cases perfumistas also have a good eye for other beautiful things…
Led by the visual charm of things is how I landed at the stand of Maison Gabriella Chieffo during Pitti Fragranze 2014. The booth of this brand was definitely the most beautiful one at the fair. Their table was covered with white and pale cream round stones and decorated with lily-like flowers on wire stems. The petals looked like they were made of book pages, all covered with text. After waiting in a short queue it was my turn to discover the brand. Founder, Gabriella Chieffo is Italian, she’s an engineer by profession, who decided to go along the perfume path. She debuts with 4 fragrances.
The concept of the collection was to create fragrances that would speak to us of home, family, love and security. My favorite scent was the one with the shortest name – Lye. That name didn’t tell me a thing at first but then I checked if it had any hidden meaning. It did, lye is a liquid obtained by leaching ashes, it consists mostly of potassium carbonate and was used to whiten fabrics. Gabriella Chieffo Lye opens with a bright combined aromas of Sorrento lemon and Calabrian bergamot. They shine prominently like early rays of the Sun. The smell is sparkling and luminous but it’s more aromatic and tart rather than being juicy and exploding with flavor.
On my skin the citrus opening is quite muted and very brief. It disappears in a blink of an eye, leaving me with doubts if I even detected them or not. As soon as that citric impression fades away, Lye develops into a beautifully mysterious being. The Sun of lemon and bergamot hides behind the dark cloud, bringing the deep and smoky aroma of frankincense. It has a very peaceful and balanced smell, not too light and not too heavy. After around 30 minutes this accord undergoes a transformation and it starts to smell slightly woody; it also has a significant smell of warm ash.
When the smell of ash appears on top of this composition from Gabriella Chieffo, the perfume might seem to be a little bit mysterious, reserved and dignified. I find something incredibly appealing in this smell of ash and it didn’t happen to me for the first time (just remember my reaction to ashy incense in Aedes de Venustas Iris Nazarena). This is a warm type of incense which at some point makes me think of warm stones… Then Lye become more sensual and closer to the person who wears it. The note standing behind the effect of sensuality is iris. However this is not an iris of velvety petals colored with light purple, white and some yellow. Petals of iris in this perfume are dark purple, kind of brown-ish. They bring the smell that I would describe as woody, bit earthy and powdery.
The perfume lasts in this form for a couple of hours, in the meantime it also becomes closer to skin and more enveloping. I also noticed an interesting phase that was slightly salty and airy, making me think that it was similar to the other fragrance I love, Bois d’Iris from Van Cleef & Arpels. They share some similarities but the rest of both scents is different. At the end of 5th hour, Gabriella Chieffo Lye is airy but it gains some more density when the leather note joins. It smells dry and fuzzy, reminding me more of a soft and delicate suede, not of a smooth and shiny leather. Vanilla in this perfume is kind of smoky at first but it sweetens and becomes smoother in a course of a day.
Later on I smell a lot of opoponax. When combined with the specific smell of leather (suede) it adds a nice richness that surrounds you like a warm blanket. It’s sensual and embracing and it even develops a minimal animalic smell of fur – that’s a bit carnal too. Lye from Gabriella Chieffo also has some patchouli but it’s of the clean type. Sure it adds dimension to the composition but to me it smells like an open-air drying bed sheet, somewhere at the seaside. Where the smell of sand, salt and a bit of flowers mix together. Just as Gabriella wanted, this perfume makes me think of home, love and security. I love this kind of perfumes – pure but not exactly innocent.
Lye by Gabriella Chieffo is a perfume that could be easily called ‘a comfort in a bottle’. This complex composition connects elements of light and shade (with shade dominating over light). It’s a must-sniff position for all iris lovers. This eau de parfum comes packaged in a 100 ml glass bottle in a shape of square. The cap is made of genuine rock found in the area of ‘Italian peninsula heel’ where Gabriella lives. The fragrances was composed by Gabriella Chieffo herself. This fragrance is also accompanied by a beautiful visuel that goes really well with the scent.