Cuoium (2021): The New Perfume by Orto Parisi
The story of perfumer Alessandro “Nasomatto” Gualtieri’s grandfather, which was started seven years ago, develops further in the ORTO PARISI range. It seems that instead of the biography of his grandfather, Vincenzo Parisi, the perfumer creates a collection of fragrances where each new fragrance is a new chapter in the story.
The new fragrance Cuoium (from “cuoio,” meaning “leather” in Italian, and maybe “umane” which is “human” in Latin) has already appeared on the official website of the brand and is also associated with the story of his grandfather. At the very beginning of the twentieth century, Vincenzo Parisi left the south of Italy, from the “heel” of Puglia, to go to the north, to the port city of Genoa, as they say, “in search of a better life.” (Lack of potable water and malaria were the scourges of Puglia until the middle of the twentieth century.) There, Vincenzo became a shoemaker and made a living repairing and making shoes.
The first pair of leather boots made by him has survived to this day. People of that time did not throw things away after several years of use, but they tried to repair or make patches to restore and reuse things. So by this pair of old grandfather’s shoes, you can imagine the whole life of its owner. From the moment of choosing the leather: softer and dyed for the upper part, and thick coarse undyed leather for the soles and heels. Several days of work involved cutting leather according to patterns, gluing and stitching parts together and with the sole. From the very first day, they were polished with wax and proudly walked around, telling everyone about their birth.
The first scratch and the first rain were in their life as well, as in the history of any shoes. Initially tough, the boots gradually softened and took the shape of their owner’s feet, becoming a comfortable protection, becoming a part of their owner. He repaired them many times, and each time they changed a little, but kept their shape. The boots have lived their entire life with their master. They have witnessed his life: walking around and travels, good and bad days… The shoemaker Vincenzo had one pair of boots for all his life. What did they smell like? At first they smelled of fresh leather; at the end they smelled of LIFE.
Traditionally, Alessandro does not reveal the notes of the ORTO PARISI fragrances, so the notes of the fragrance in this review are only those that I could detect. The most obvious main raw material for Cuoium is quinoline materials, which Alessandro has already used several times in his work: smell Nudiflorum Nasomatto, Duro Nasomatto, Stercus ORTO PARISI.
This tough leather is softened by the sweet-resinous note of labdanum, and there is also a little smoke in the distant base – the black smoke of juniper tar and the white bitter smoke of styrax. Styrax gives a slightly burnt shade in the base, and it seems that in all ORTO PARISI fragrances, at the will of the perfumer, there must be some imperfection, something not pleasant to everyone. Life is never ideal, and these imperfections give their fragrances some lively features. The fragrance also has a mild shade of the animal base of Animalis, but perhaps these are my hallucinations. Overall, Cuoium’s leather reminds me of a true leather scent without the sweetness of raspberry, plum, or rose or a saffron bitter shade, and it’s made quite masculine but without undue rudeness.
Cuoium opens with a clear oily black pepper and fresh mandarin, well hidden under a woody-leathery accord. They are here to “lift” the scent, to wake it up. From them, Cuoium moves to a dark and warm woody-powdery heart: a violet warm ionone accord plus patchouli with cedar that seamlessly blends into the leathery base accord described above.
The leather perfume Cuoium is not a story about the ever-changing fashion for things or fragrances; it is a story about the preservation of old traditions and things that become part of their owner. The proof of this is the leather case on the bottle, made of vegetable-tanned and dyed leather, which covers the label and perfume bottle itself. The case with a laser-printed rhizome picture can be removed when the fragrance runs out to be used on the next bottle. The stopper is also decorated with leather, with an image embossed on it, reminiscent of a triskelion.