Tommi Sooni is a brand new, Australian niche perfume line, created by Steven Broadhurst. After one and a half years of work, the first fragrance of the line, Tarantella, is finally ready and select boutique perfumeries across the globe will soon be carrying the beautifully presented jus. A related business trip to Europe brought Steven’s partner, Alex, to Amsterdam where I had the pleasure to meet him last Sunday. Alex, one of the warmest, most gregarious people I’ve ever met, greeted me with eyes sparkling with intelligence and a heart-melting smile. We spent an hour together talking about Tarantella, the world of perfume, inspiration, passion and dreams.
It all started a few years ago, on a trip to Europe when the two found themselves in a beautiful garden of a hotel in Avignon. Sun drenched, filled with sights and smells that excite body and mind, the Mediterranean extravaganza of flora in this garden seemed like a slice of paradise. A lively snapshot, forever etched into the hearts of both men; A snapshot of pure magic that became a burning ember of inspiration. Further inspiration came when on the same trip they visited Parfums de Nicolai. The experience was wonderful for both, but for Steven, it also proved to be enlightening: He suddenly knew exactly where and how he wanted to channel all his passion and creativity. The flame was ignited then and has been burning on sheer passion and determination since, for as Alex stated to me that rainy Sunday afternoon, “The perfume world is a cutthroat world”. But despite the statistics, despite what fragrance experts might advise, a dream is a dream. And a dream worth having, is a dream worth risking for. Tarantella, and with it, Tommi Sooni, were born.
The opening of Tarantella puts a smile on my face every single time. It sparkles with aldehydes that soften the edges and bathe the fragrance in an aura of diffused light. The citrusy top notes are animated and invigorating – a splash of crystalline freshness. They quickly settle, but their scent remains strong, reminding one of the fragrant oils bursting from the skin of mandarin oranges when they are being peeled. This is a most uplifting opening that positively smells overjoyed. Very soon though, the big, bright, energizing smile of Tarantella changes to a mischievous, erotic grin. The brisk freshness succumbs to the silken embrace of gorgeous white florals, whose aroma sings the praise of glorious seduction. Spicy hints of clove and bay leaf add to the sensuousness of the composition, keeping the senses enthralled under their exotic spell. Every now and then, my nose picks up a strange dark scent that smells to me like rose-scented olibanum. The result is rich and full, but the sweetness is most elegantly restrained, laced as it is with bitter accents. A hint of leather and the magnificent combination of earthy oakmoss and balsamic, musky galbanum add sophistication and mystery to this masterful seductress. The overall feel is bittersweet and the effect potent; this beautiful fragrance is unabashedly big, unafraid to make a statement. I can’t help but think to myself: “This is how they used to make them”. And indeed, Tarantella is very much in the same vein of a classic Lauder, a house whose earlier fragrant offerings I deeply admire. This gorgeous trail-scent is not only potent, but also very long lasting. Its development is complicated and slow, making it a joy to wear all day long. In the deep drydown, Tarantella is all about sweet, honeyed Australian sandalwood.
But it is not just the juice that has taken my breath away. The presentation is just as exciting: A protective sleeve is slipped away to reveal a tactile, heavy oblong cream box, that opens up to reveal beautifully colored Japanese hand-blocked paper that was sourced from a family of printers specializing in small runs of designs. The box is completely hand made and the etching on the box lid is also printed by hand. In fact, apart from the machining of the bottle, atomizer and cap, all other processes involved in the production of the perfume and packaging are done by hand. Both box and logo are adorned with the Tommi Sooni logo (a nude woman holding a facetted gem). The logo was inspired by a vintage perfume box etching from the mid 1920's, and was reworked by Steven himself: the expression on her face, as well as the draping of her cloth and tassels have been updated and the gem incorporated into the image. A lover of everything deco, it is only natural that this logo appeals to Steven Broadhurst. The true, and dare I say, heartwarming meaning of the image though, can be found in Steven’s own words about it: “Her proportions are those of a real woman and I love her confident pose. To me she is alive. (...) This may sound a little over the top, but a great deal of work went into her image as she represents our ideals of quality, beauty and the eternal image of the female figure.”
Tarantella is aimed at a more mature market than most of the new fragrant releases out there. As Alex told me, “Steven did not want to follow a trend, but his own vision”. He then went on to tell me about the creative process; Apparently, Brett Schlitter, the nose behind Tarantella, asked Steven the following question while they were working on the scent: “Who are you creating this for? If you could choose one person to wear it, who would it be?” By then, I was literally hanging from Alex’s lips, riveted by the story of Tarantella’s creation. Steven’s answer would have to make for a spectacular ending to this beautifully told tale. And it didn’t disappoint. How can Charlotte Rampling ever disappoint?
Images: "Verdant Dream" image, www.sxc.hu