A Short Talk With Andrea Perrone

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brioni-scentI’ve been a fan of Brioni co-CEO Andrea Perrone’s personal style ever since issue 2 of The Rake. Perrone was the cover star, part of a feature on Brioni and wearing a checked sportscoat with a dark cardigan, white shirt unbuttoned at the neck. Ever since I’ve loved wearing a dark cardigan under an odd jacket. Something about the shadow it creates, the quiet sophistication that echoes the waistcoat of a three-piece suit.

The photo shoot was in black and white so I didn’t know the colour of the cardigan. But mine is a deep, bottle green. Dark enough so that the colour isn’t really apparent from a distance; different without being showy.

I met Perrone last week at the launch of Brioni’s first fragrance in the London store. (He was wearing a suit in a tight Prince-of-Wales check, grey with a red line through it.) The fragrance is inspired by one first produced in the 1950s, called Good Luck. Although there is no record of the scent itself, the discovery of an old bottle was apparently inspiration enough.

Perrone agreed with me that perfumes are hard things to write about. No matter how much you list the various ingredients, the top notes and the base notes, it’s hard for the reader to really get an impression of what it smells like.

And his view is that it is very much a question of personal taste, of associations and memory. I’ve always liked musky scents, probably because my father wears them. Most light and classic male scents I associate with the cheap Calvin Klein and Hugo Boss fragrances that my friends used to wear when I was a teenager. Somehow, they all seemed to smell the same.

As to craft and quality, you can talk about the proportion of ground elements in a scent, and how much they are diluted by ethanol. But that is pretty much given away by the name of the substance – eau de cologne, eau de toilette, eau de parfum. Each has a range of concentrations, with some overlap.

For Perrone, the only thing worth going into in detail is the ingredients – in this case bergamot from Calabria and lemon from Sicily amongst others, which are all naturally sourced and produced. And everyone was given an oversized book to explain what the elements were and where they came from.

But most important of all, there was a sampler of the scent. So that people could try it for several days afterwards, and decide if they liked it. That’s pretty much all there is to perfume.


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Simon Crompton is a journalist and a style enthusiast living in London, who blogs at permanentstyle.blogspot.com. He has too many suits.