Soliflore Notes | Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle Portrait of a Lady
Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle Portrait of a Lady
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Snapshot #6, Valeria Picerno, Costume Designer & Personal Stylist

Snapshot #6, Valeria Picerno, Costume Designer & Personal Stylist

Posted by Valerie Vitale in Snapshots 06 Oct 2012
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Valeria’s photo of Prospect Park

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Valeria in Pompeii

 

Valeria is unforgettable, her intensity, charm, sense of style, and wit. Here I share an email exchange. VV

(VV)Just to help frame things for the readers can you tell them in your own words how we met?

 

(VP)We met at a Fragrance Evaluation course at FIT in New York City.

 

(VV)What was the best thing about the FIT class, other then that incredible lab?

 

(VP)
I always thought I had a pretty good sense of smell, but in the first class I remember feeling like I couldn’t smell anything at all. The instructor was asking us to list the olfactive notes of the first fragrances, and I really couldn’t recognize any. For a second I thought I overestimated my possibilities. The best part for me was suddenly realizing that already after a couple of hours I could smell so many different notes, and visualize them in my head. It felt like the first time in my life I was actually using my nose!

(VV)
I keep thinking about a dress that you talked about in class, I think it was made out of paper or some strange material, do you recall it and why we were talking about it? I think you told us your mother packed it for you and sent it here to the states?

 

(VP)
I have no idea how I ended up mentioning it! It’s a Space Age dress by Paco Rabanne made of aluminum plates linked together that I found for very little money in a vintage shop in Antwerp, Belgium.The woman who sold it to me showed me a picture of the original owner, wearing it at a party in the mid 60’s. I have actually never worn it. If one day I will find the right occasion to wear it, I have to make sure I am wearing comfy shoes because it’s impossible to sit in it without cutting yourself!

 

(VV)
What are you up to these days?

 

(VP)
I work as Costume Designer for Film and Theater. I am currently starting working on a new film. That’s the most exciting part: new script, new story, new characters to define. Before even getting to the clothes, I start imagining what the character has for breakfast, what kind of media is it exposed to, what kind of people is it surrounded by. That helps me define styles and color palettes, and I often associate fragrances to it too!

 

(VV)
There are not many people who are deeply versed and opinionated about their olfactive world, I count you as one of them, what do you attribute this to?

 

(VP)
My whole life I have been both very curious and picky. As a kid I would always smell any food before even considering the idea of it entering my mouth. I would definitely say being a very picky eater as a kid helped me categorizing many different smells in my head. Food was the first source to build my personal olfactory library. Later on I got closer to the fragrance world thank to my dad, who is a chemist, and in his younger days loved to experiment creating cosmetics and perfumes. I have a perfect memory of the day he revealed me an old wooden box filled with amber glass bottles with a lot of different essential oils. I was about 5, and I created my own perfume mixing anise and orange blossom.

 

(VV)
Where were you born? Is this where you grew up?

 

(VP)
I was born in Milan, Italy. I grew up there.

 

(VV)
What was the landscape like where you grew up?

 

(VP)
I’ve always lived in the historical center of Milan.
As a kid, my everyday playground was a mix of grey buildings, small streets, orange trams, Roman ruins, Leonardo Da Vinci ceilings, secret courtyards and family-owned stores.

 

(VV)
Is there an olfactive experience that resonates and stays with you?

 

(VP)
There are many. One of my dearest and favorite is the smell of a bakery on my way to elementary school in Milan. I would walk by in the morning, and then stop there in the afternoon when school was over to get a slice of focaccia or a chocolate egg.

 

(VV)
Do you have any daily rituals that you can share?

 

 

(VP)
I like to start my day with a cup of Earl Grey tea with vanilla coconut milk. TWG Earl Grey Gentleman tea is an absolute favorite. Strong rich sophisticated bergamot and flower petals. I usually read my daily horoscope while I drink it hehe.

 

(VV)
What perfume have you been wearing lately and could you share your signature fragrance (s) and why it is your signature fragrance?

 

(VP)
I am daily fascinated by new scents, but truth is, I am very rarely able to wear any. Many are pleasant to smell, but just don’t seem to blend with my ph and personality. I had an epiphany when I first tried Frederic Malle’s Portrait of a Lady. I wore samples of it for weeks before deciding to commit to it. For the first time I feel that a fragrance is totally blending with me, and I am not just wearing it. My first thought about it was that I want people to remember me associated to this smell. The results have been quite incredible, since I hardly ever received comments or compliments on the scent I was wearing in the past, while now it’s almost a daily thing. I use it in a very small dose, since it’s incredibly powerful and long lasting. What keeps on surprising me is the way it evolves throughout the day, and creates almost a little soft cloud. The only part I don’t like is people asking me what am I wearing. “Ehm, it’s called Portrait of a Lady…”. So pretentious!

 

(VV)
Any travel plans?

 

(VP)
I would love to return to Marrakesh. My memories of it are infused of Moroccan mint tea, orange blossom pastries, rose water, almonds and pistachios.

 

(VV)
Do you have a favorite flower?

 

(VP)
I love peonies, green tulips and antique varieties of english roses. I used to love violets, but I once received a jar of candied ones as a gift, ate them all in one day, and now I can’t even think about them!

 

  • Nicky Peacock October 8, 2012 at 12:09 pm / Reply

    This is a gorgeous interview with Vale! Fascinating.

    • Valerie Vitale October 8, 2012 at 4:44 pm / Reply

      Hi Nicky, Thanks for visiting and thank you for your comment. Featuring Valeria was an obvious choice when I thought about her olfactive sensibilities, and her strong opinion about fragrance. All my best, Valerie

  • Sujaan October 12, 2012 at 2:00 am / Reply

    Fun interview, Valerie. Thank you. I’m going to have to try her early grey tea & vanilla coconut milk combo. Milan as a child sounds both exciting and mysterious.

    • Valerie Vitale October 13, 2012 at 2:00 am / Reply

      Hi Sujaan,

      Thanks so much. Yes, I just had a great night out with Valeria and she told me that there is actually a vanilla coconut “creamer” that makes her daily tea ritual even more special. I love how small little changes can make something even more special.

      Valeria managed to uncover a sweet and charming side of Milan; I can only imagine how that particular landscape would continue to shape how someone sees and “feels” the world, or perhaps it’s the other way around.. Have a great weekend. Valerie

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