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To celebrate the arrival of May we are looking to fragrances that reveal and reinvent floral notes in surprising ways. Parfum d'Empire founder and perfumer Marc-Antoine Corticchiato understands the often forgotten facets of natural materials and brings them to life within compelling compositions. Following his training at respected perfumery school ISIPCA, Marc-Antoine began to work in a research laboratory that focused on the analysis of aromatic plants and extraction methods. It was here that really began to dissect natural raw materials, acquiring his intimate knowledge of them. For his Ph.D., he also developed a new technique to analyse extracts of aromatic plants through carbon-13 nuclear magnetic resonance. Alongside this love of perfume and compulsion to discover the olfactive mysteries of natural materials, Marc-Antoine also has a passion for horseriding, something he has done since a child.
Here Marc-Antoine tells us more about the inspirations for his brand, the treatment of raw materials in his perfumes, and his love of nature.
Could you tell us a bit about what the 'Empire' in your brand's name signifies to you, and why this term is so suited to scent?
The term "empire" is used to designate the realm of the senses. I make use of natural raw materials that present a certain personality and that are able to solicit emotions with their texture, tone or flavor. In this way, all our senses are heightened. My fragrances are meant to be the kind of creations that push us towards new conquests - conquests of love and spiritual conquests, or you could say the conquering of oneself!
You talk about your scents in terms of this conquest, exuberance and discovery, and describe your creations as 'baroque'. Which flowers and plants do you feel have the scope and grandeur of this mood?
My formulas are generally very rich and generous in ingredients. I like to work on material overdose, which is not an easy exercise if you want to maintain a certain balance ! The question for me is often «How far is too far ? » My challenge consists in pushing a beautiful raw material in a particular direction as far as I can : for example the iris in Equistrius, the osmanthus in Osmanthus Interdite, or the rose in Eau Suave. It becomes more complicated when balancing multiple ingredients, like the three flowers in 3 Fleurs - rose, jasmine, and tuberose. I love all flowers without exception but I have a special passion for the rose. It was the favorite flower of Barbara, my mother, who otherwise didn't like wearing perfumes but loved pale pink roses. That's why to mark each event or perfume launch I display one hundred pale pink roses as a tribute to her.
I always look for sensual, even erotic facets in a fragrance. Without sensuality, perfume simply isn’t. And of course the scents of certain flowers present sexy facets! I like to look for some of the most under-explored aspects of a flower. Osmanthus Interdite highlights the feel of suede and leather in the osmanthus flower, Equistrius explores the naturally chocolatey facet in the precious iris extract, while Eau Suave reveals the facets of the rose that are worked on the least: namely tea, and spicy and fruity accents. In creating a perfume, the essential and most important thing is the final accord, the final rendering. And to obtain it, it is possible to use ingredients which in the pure state can be unpleasant ! The work of the perfume is to imagine their contribution when mixed with other ingredients.
Parfum D'Empire is sometimes historical in theme, and your perfumes reference certain places and personalities. Can you tell us more about this ?
It is not the history of these places that inspires me but rather their universes, their light. They have particular olfactory atmospheres that are probably closer to Morocco and Corsica, and to my childhood. It is the plant extracts and their history that I am passionate about, and it’s through these plants that I tell my stories. Eau de Gloire for example is not a perfume dedicated to Napoleon. It is a very personal perfume, a tribute to all those who left Corsica in search of the world - like my father, as well as the most famous of them, Bonaparte. The past does not make me dream.
And what of the future? Which flowers would you like to explore next?
I am very interested in the perfume of certain wild flowers whose extracts do not truly exist, for example certain plants of the Corsican maquis, like the flower myrtle.
And now something we have always wondered ! We understand you are passionate about all things equestrian. Do you wear fragrance when you are with horses or does perfume - as it is often claimed - disturb them?
When I wear a perfume it is only to test it at the end of creative work. When I am in the wild with horses, in the country, by the sea, I do not want any perfume, or music, or mobile phone.. Nature is simply enough.