At the Profumo Atelier

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I just spent several days enjoying the extremely fine and generous hospitality of Abd As Salaam and his family, here in Rimini, Italy. Originally, I came to see the Cosmoprof Fair in Bologna, and I did make it there, but even though there were some interesting things to see, I just don’t have the best luck at these big shows in Europe. Last year I went to the huge Bio Fach in Germany and had a chocolate company steal over a thousand euros from me! Same thing with a bottle company I thought was really cool. So I still use the same, boring yet serviceable amber glass bottles. But this time was different, as I didn’t get enthusiastic and buy anything! But I did get enthusiastic about my stay in Rimini. I already wrote about my stay at the adorable and cozy Royal Duck Farm. Most of the rest of the time was spent at Abd As Salaam’s studio or house, smelling perfumes and eating. He has a very fine collection of raw materials, including those animal notes that we don’t carry at Enfleurage. I always wanted to smell civet, castoreum and real musk. And now I have, and really, there is a reason they are considered intrinsic to perfumery.

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Sure, it’s a little creepy, and it makes me wonder how in the hell someone discovered that these glands, when diluted down in alcohol, make such sexy and tenacious notes in perfume. But even though I enjoyed these, and Abd As Salaam made me a gift of my favorite animalic perfume, the olfactory highlight was the last thing we smelled, Iris absolute. And Iris butter. Iris is the costliest aromatic in the world, bar none. Good quality Iris absolute can cost over $100,000 a kilo. Yes, over a hundred thousand dollars. More than oudh, wallahi, by many times. It’s incredibly powerful, as well, and the pinpoint he applied was diluted up and down my arms, in my hair and all over my clothing and then the violet powder character of Iris comes shining through. Who figured this one out??

Abd As Salaam is one of the most rigorous and exacting perfumers when it comes to pure and natural ingredients. He doesn’t use any of the isolates currently in vogue with many perfumers who consider them natural. He does use absolutes, and plenty of animal notes, and also practices a fine Arabic calligraphy. He lived in Pakistan for some time and is a practicing Sufi. His atelier is decorated with beautiful Koranic inscriptions.

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Abd As Salaam teaches aromatherapy as well as perfumery online and you can purchase any of his fine fragrances there as well. He ships anywhere in the world. I didn’t have enough time nor olfactory stamina to sample all his perfumes but some of my favorites include:

Don Corleone – a smoky Sicilian inspired accord of vanilla and tobacco

Grezzo – bright and seemingly straightforward but blooming into something altogether different and unexpected, sophisticated yet rough around the edges, as its name suggests.

Chocolate Amber – exactly what it sounds like and absolutely delicious

Tcharas– a smouldering, animal dominated aphrodisiac containing hemp essential oil. Composed in memory of Afghanistan, and Abd As Salaam’s travels there long ago.

Frutti Paradisi – a gleaming and powerful symphony of black current, sambac, osmanthus and vanilla

Arabia – The Sufi perfume of Divine Rapture

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Last but certainly not least is his newest collection in the Arabian Series–Oud Caravan is very interesting.

Profumo’s packaging is elegant and beautiful, completely in accord with the perfumes inside the bottle. He showed me a perfume organ, made entirely by him, and especially for children, with 10 different notes and a complicated series of diffusers and glass bulbs inside, so that by playing the notes, you compose an aromatic tune, which is then piped out of the side by a powerful bellow.

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I enjoyed my time in Rimini, he’s got some nice kittens, very soft and sweet, and great big healthy chickens whose eggs were just great.

It’s been a long time since my last visit to Italy. Silly, really. I think I need to go to Italy constantly. People seem very happy here, they are friendly, and the language is a pleasure and even though I don’t speak any Italian, and I’ve spent nearly 3 years in Oman, it’s easier to understand than Arabic!


catherine willis said…
with this excellent post, you are revitalizing my ambition to participate, as soon as I can, in one of the courses of this fascinating perfumer. Grazie.
hisham said…
Thank you for taking us along with you in your visit to Abed Al salaam. I have participated in his Oud Caravan experience and have a small collection of his perfumes. Thank you for the wonderful pictures. What is that machine with the colourful exteriors and the bubble to place the palms?