Il Profumo, IllustratedMassimo‘s name has already become synonymous with perfume illustrations: you might have seen his work for perfume brands or noticed his drawings of dainty Lilly of The Valley flowers, roses, or blooming tuberoses. He has successfully combined two of his passions, two art forms, one enhancing the other and vice versa.

The new cover for The Plum Girl website is also created by Massimo Alfaioli, a change made to celebrate the 5th anniversary of the blog!

He kindly accepted my invitation to answer some questions about his work and passions, and I’m very happy to bring you this interview!
I remember the first time I saw Massimo Alfaioli’s work: it was when Stefania from Mendittorosa first presented her new perfume, Ithaka (you can find my review here). It all just came together beautifully, an exceptional perfume, a poem written by an emblematic Greek Poet C. P. Cavafy, and Massimo’s illustrations:

Massimo Alfaioli Ithaka Perfume Mendittorosa
Ithaka / Mendittorosa, Illustration by Massimo Alfaioli

More fascinating illustrations followed. By the time we met in person, during Pitti Fragrance in  Florence, it happened that I’ve reviewed almost all the perfumes he made illustrations for.

Already then I had an idea: it would be so great to have Massimo Alfaioli create an illustration especially for The Plum Girl blog, when the time is right! The time has come: this year we’ll celebrate 5 years since the first blog post here was published, and I’m happy this dream came true.

What I remember most about our first meeting was his big, contagious smile! Massimo kindly accepted my invitation to answer some questions about his work and passions, and I’m very happy to bring you this interview with  “a freelance Italian illustrator with a passion for flowers, music and perfumes”: 

Q:  When and how did your art of drawing illustrations cross paths with the art of perfume?

AIf I weren’t an illustrator I would have liked to be a fragrance creator. These two passions have always grown parallely! My first collaboration for the world of perfumes was for a magazine that no longer exists, called Odou. A few years later an American perfume brand, A Lab on Fire, noticed my works on Instagram and asked me to create the Christmas campaign for their brand. Then there were Mendittorosa, St. Clair Scents, DSH perfumes, etc …

pandora st clair scents sample
Pandora / St. Clair Scents, Illustration by Massimo Alfaioli

Q: You’ve created illustrations that are part of the visual identity of niche and artisan perfumes: did you have briefs or were you given the freedom to express yourself freely based on what you smelled?

A: For me, it is always a privilege to create for a sector that I love so much, like the perfume industry.  Every time I am called to interpret a brand or a fragrance, I study its essence in-depth and try to create something unique. The approach for each brand is the same, and my illustrations vary.  While following precise indications, I am usually given full freedom of interpretation. Even the seemingly simplest job always presents difficulties that require work and attention.

Q: As a perfume lover, which historic/vintage perfume do you wish you could have made an illustration for?

A: I love vintage Guerlain and in particular Jicky, for its androgynous character, tender and strong at the same time. It would have been great to play the intrepid spirit. I also loved Vent Vert in the 1990 version of Calice Beker. I remember the advertising campaign that depicted a girl immersed in a green lawn and the cap, shaped like a tuft of grass. All these are concepts that I wish I could have done with my stroke of the brush. 

Q: Your one perfume to rule them all?

A: My absolute favorite perfume is Ocean Rain by Mario Valentino, the latest creation by the brilliant Edmond Roudnistka: a tropical dream made of flowers and sea.  A perfume of truly moving beauty, released in 1990, which in my opinion has not received the recognition it deserves.

Q: And your favorite flower?

A: I love roses very much. I have been studying their history for years, growing them myself for a few years. I have been creating new varieties, starting from seeds. But my favorite flower has always been the tender and innocent lily of the valley, with its heavenly and pure scent. The same that I find in another of Mr. Roudnitska’s masterpieces: Diorissimo.

Q: What connects in your opinion these two art forms: perfumery and drawing? What is the point of intersection for you?

A: Both in my opinion are forms of art, as they are capable of capturing and transmitting emotions!  I just started a course to learn how to create accords and fragrances…My dream would be to complete my illustration sheet  with olfactory notes and vice versa!

LOTV by Massimo Alfaioli
LOTV by Massimo Alfaioli

Q: If you could draw yourself a perfume, which notes and accords would you choose and how would you associate them with colors?

A: In this particular period I am obsessed with all those notes that evoke white … the smell of milk, talc, white musks, and flowers such as jasmine, lily, and lily of the valley. My dream would be to create a harmony of whites, expressed with olfactory notes and graphically.

Massimo Alfaioli, born in Empoli moved to Milan after graduating where he studied illustration at the School of Comics.  He has been working as an illustrator and author for children for over 20 years. He has recently successfully experimented with new fields of illustration: portraiture, cover illustrations, magazines, newspapers, and advertising campaigns for prestigious Italian and worldwide clients. aimed at a wider audience.  Massimo Alfaioli has participated in various exhibitions including “E/A – Essences / Absences” in Florence, “Secret Nature” in Viterbo, “Traces” in the Art Gallery in Tuscany, and his very own “Il Profumo – Illustrated” in Bologna.

Thank you, Massimo, for all your wonderful illustrations and love for perfume: this cross-pollination of art is fascinating! And thank you for this wonderful illustration, making my dream come true:

Massimo cover version 4 illustration
Massimo Alfaioli for The Plum Girl

To contact Massimo Alfaioli, please visit his website here.

I hope you will enjoy the many drawings he made, so feel free to check his most recent work on IG: @massimoalfaioli.

Do support and show love for independent artists and perfumers by ordering their work!

The Plum Girl

Elena Cvjetkovic

Photos: Elena Cvjetkovic, Massimo Alfaioli


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