Who are my favourite perfumers? Based purely on the number of fragrances I own and wear, Olivia Giacobetti would rank top three. This is interesting because unlike Jean-Claude Ellena, whose work I actively follow, I can’t say I consciously seek out Olivia Giacobetti perfumes, yet I have a small volume of her work in my collection, most of which were purchased without realising she is the author. Her signature is often described as ethereal and the breadth of her work is impressive. Consider Hiris, the carrot seed infused iris she created for Hermes, or the milky fig fragrance Philosykos made for Diptyque, or the ethereal incense found in L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Passage d’Enfer. Olivia Giacobetti has proven she is extraordinarily versatile as a creative perfumer.
Giacobetti’s career in perfumery began at the age of 17 when the teenager took on an apprenticeship at the small but highly prestigious Robertet firm in Grasse. In her early 20’s she composed her first perfume for Guerlain and by the start of the 1990s, the young perfumer had established Iskia, her own perfume design company.
L’Artisan Parfumeur have been patrons of her work for the past 20 years and her name is credited to a number of L’Artisan Parfumeur fragrances. In the same year she created Passage d’Enfer, Olivia Giacobetti also created Dzing!
Dzing! is one of the house’s more challenging perfumes, from both an olfactory and conceptual perspective. For this fragrance, she was inspired by a gypsy circus. I am not sure about you, but a circus isn’t the first thought that comes to mind when asked what a good perfume could smell like. But this is the skill of a talented perfumer. In the same way a movie director can capture his or her audience’s interest with a scene, which in the real world may not necessarily be so interesting, a good perfumer can create olfactory beauty around objects that in the real world may not be appreciated in this same way. Dzing! captures the smells of the circus, the scent of warm hay, the fur of wild animals and leather, even the candied apples make an appearance in this olfactory movie Olivia Giacobetti has directed. Not only does she take you there, she makes it seem completely rational to want to smell like these things.
Dzing! is not a high budget, Cirque de Soleil production, Giacobetti’s circus has a bohemian soul. I wouldn’t say it is as unwashed as Serge Luten’s Muscs Koublai Khan but leathery castoreum and oriental musk definitely give off the odour of an elephant pen in need of a hose down. The fragrance starts with powdery iris and a little bit of zesty ginger. Cedar gives the fragrance an earthy complexion and touches of jonquil, a green waxy floral with its own animalic tendencies blends beautifully with leather notes. Giacobetti’s leather is modern and soft, less bitter or phenolic compared to others of this genre. Base notes of benzoin and musk further enhance the suppleness of the fragrance. Once the circus leaves town, skin is left with a layer of sweet woods and suede leather.
As the weather here in Australia has dipped down into cooler autumn temperatures, I am currently enjoying wearing Dzing! Although the concept of this perfume is challenging, like all Giacobetti perfumes, Dzing! is never overwhelming. This is just my personal preference but I tend not to wear animalic perfumes over dinner. For me, Dzing! works well in the office and weekend day wear. It is a playful scent that I think would work well on younger men who are adventurous with their fragrance choices. It is one of my favourites from the quirkier side of my perfume collection.
Bvlgari Black, Hermes Santal Massoia, L’Artisan Parfumeur Dzongka, Serge Lutens Muscs Koublai Khan
Perfumer: Olivia Giacobetti
Bottle Designer: Frederico Restrepo
Release Date: 1999
Typology (via Fragrances of the World): Dry Woods