Many of us haven’t traveled much over the past two years, but fragrance can be one way to connect with the world through our senses and our imaginations. Masque Milano may be based in Italy, but its founders and perfumers look far and wide for inspiration.
Here are three bold scents from Masque Milano’s “Act II” collection that take us on olfactory trips and introduce us to time-honored ingredients and traditions from around the world.
If you’re interested in Japanese culture, you may already know that kintsugi is a technique of repairing broken ceramics and accentuating the mended cracks with gold, a reminder that greater beauty can be gained through life experience. Masque Milano imagines a potter practicing kintsugi under a magnolia tree, and perfumer Vanina Muracciole includes this floral note as part of modern chypre composition. Kintsugi’s bergamot top note is as bright as gold and its deeper notes are as textured and cleverly fitted together as the pieces of a mended vessel: warm suede, bitter green leaves, a salty-musky ambergris, and more.
When we inhale this fragrance designed by Christian Carbonnel, we can imagine the sounds of spinning prayer wheels and chanting monks accompanied by the scent of sacred incense. A blend of myrrh, labdanum, and frankincense bordered in sandalwood and dusted in spice, this deep and aromatic fragrance is named for the “sacred circle” of the mandala, a graphic representation of the universe used in Buddhism and Hinduism. Worshippers focus on a mandala in order to visualize the cosmos and move towards enlightenment; we can incorporate fragrance into our own daily rituals.
Vetiver, a grassy plant native to Southeast Asia and now grown in additional warm climates, is prized for its fragrant roots. In this fragrance by Fanny Bal, vetiver oils sourced from Haiti and Java are paired with piquant rhubarb and ginger and a smooth cedar note. Vetiver smells earthy, slightly smoky, and a little rough-edged; it’s a fitting central motif for a tribute to the American writer Ernest Hemingway, who spent time in Havana, Key West, and the Bahamas and took literary inspiration from their Caribbean settings. Hemingway’s travels have become legendary. We might be staying closer to home this year, but we can always wander through scent!