The inspiration behind Antonio Alessandria’s Rusty Vibes was one specific image, created  by the photographer and essayist Alex C. Musgrave. A photo of flowers, an atmosphere, inspiration plus creative freedom, and Rusty Vibes was born!

This perfume was the fourth bespoke fragrance created for Çafleurebon’s 10th anniversary, and my review was first published there.

In my opinion three things are crucial: an inspiration that is true and unique, the coherence between the inspiration and your artistic expression in the fragrance, and last but not the last – high quality of the materials used to compose a fragrance.
This is my own idea of perfume: a memory, an emotion, a dream. My fragrances are stories of my life, my dreams, and my secrets.
 – Antonio Alessandria, brand owner and perfumer 

What is reflected in all Antonio’s work is artisanal exuberance, sumptuous flamboyance mixed with sobriety, with carefully crafted curved forms in fragrance – which is meant not only to superficially please but to seduce in a way that reflects your inner shine. I like to attribute this mostly to the influence of his hometown – Catania.

The rich and breathtaking heritage of Sicilian baroque, his growing up between his mother’s fashion atelier and his sister’s piano lessons, and most of all the breadth and depth of his intellectual standards shine in his work.

Antonio Alessandria in his perfume shop Sicily
Antonio Alessandria

One photo, one person, one idea was enough to trigger the creation of Rusty Vibes.
A process of conceptualization and a quest for a deeper meaning was Antonio’s way to search beneath the surface, to dive into himself and unleash the force of creativity, thus also providing a philosophical element in the creation of a fragrance – materialization of the existence of duality between purity and decay, of an ongoing human quest for beauty in life, the beauty that is not in the eye but in the mind – which we find it in art.
A specific art form, by all means – the art of perfumery, making us respond to beauty with emotions, eliciting joy and happiness.

The inspiration, as elaborated by Antonio Alessandria himself:

“The first time I saw the photo by Alex C. Musgrave, I had a feeling of corrupted beauty.  I didn’t see only dried flowers, but I immediately linked the photograph with the representation of iron flowers oxidizing and getting reddish and orange.

The movement of the picture reveals a tension to the upper side and the flowers on the top have turned to rusty hues. So I imagined that rust could represent the completion of corrupted beauty.
The bright light on the right side made me think of a mirror game: corruption on the left and transfiguration on the right. I felt in this photo a duality between purity and decay.

Corrupted Beauty photo by Alex C Musgrave
Photo by Alex C Musgrave

This is the reason why I imagined Rusty Vibes to be a fragrance that would be a quest for beauty in the cycle of life, from purity to corruption.
The cycle of life starts from a flower that becomes a fruit, then the fruit becomes ripe, before decaying. I envisioned the possibility to represent the beauty of both purity – the flower – and corruption – the ripe fruit.
But I didn’t want to forget my first impression of rusty iron flowers and I tried to give the fragrance a slight sinful sparkle infusing the fruity notes with a sulphuric vibe. In the base I wanted a comfortable effect, enveloping and calming like pure beauty.“

The coherence between the inspiration and the artistic expression in the fragrance; it’s time now to start writing about how Rusty Vibes actually smells like.

This time I’ll deliberately change the order of things and let you know the listed notes first:

Top: Passion Fruit, Coconut, Ripe Tropical Fruits, Middle: Lily of the Valley, Jasmine, Yellow Flowers accord, Base: Blond Woods, Vanilla, Tonka Bean, Incense, Amber, Milky Musks.

Now that you’ve seen some of the notes, because – as you already know –  not all the notes used in a fragrance creation ARE in fact listed in most of the cases, let’s challenge any possible preconception of them. Intentionally, because what if I tell you that “Ripe Tropical Fruits with Coconut“ is nowhere near possible imagery and general associations like tropical island cocktails or easy-going pina-colada coconut vibes?

What if these are only olfactory verses of an ode dedicated to the circularity of life, human beings, nature, and cosmos?

What if I tell you that Tropical Fruits and Coconut in a perfume can be breathtakingly elegant, with a strong character and a witty, refined charm? What if I tell you that this vanilla note is grown-up vanilla, sensual, smooth, and sophisticated like a silk robe fluidly curving around your body?
Ah, yes, it’s the third significant factor that comes into play here too – the quality of the materials used!

Now that we can forget for a moment the listed notes, let’s start from the beginning: Antonio Alessandria’s Rusty Vibes unfolds like a piece of piano music and draws you in with the first chords played, with a highly atmospheric and rich timbre: the consonance of piano/quietly sounding ripe fruits, pungent and sour-sweet, and yet so calming and reassuring in appearance.

Rusty Vibes illustration piano strings and pegs

Delicate syncopation is provided by a rich and nutty-feeling coconut note, one that flows with milky nuances. This chiaroscuro, rounded texture with light and shades, and intarsia of delicately woven fragrance elements gain more and more depth, as the thick and waxy flower petals enter the stage.

This still nature, the one that is never still but in the constant process of change is underlined with lower-register jasmine tones that are gliding smoothly, forming whirlpools when touched by very tender patchouli – semi-sweet, not overly dark, and with a fine, soft structure.

Antonio Alessandria told me that he used a very high-quality, molecularly distilled patchouli that enabled him to create a velour-like texture with slightly powdery nuances.

This is where the contrasting tone of rustiness emerges: it was there all the time, from the very beginning, even though you didn’t notice it. Imagine orange-red-brown old rust, so fine that it’s crumbling into dust.

Corrosion, one that happened over a long period of time becomes noticeable, and a process of decay in its final stages now hovers over all the floriental, sweet & sour ripeness:  the rusty iron flower appears. It smells dry, metallic, and musky, and although everything was leading to this moment, it happened so naturally, with no sudden changes or sharp edges, it just is. Deep layers have unfolded softly up to reveal a streak of decay hidden within, glazing over other notes, and gently rounding them up.

Rusty Vibes Antonio Alessandria Perfume Bottle

The drydown of Rusty Vibes brings comfort. Once the cycle is completed, all stages revealed and played through, we are left with beauty distilled. And the beautiful body of Rusty Vibes, its true character is finally revealed: Antonio Alessandria takes you by your hand and leads you into its sunset.

The fragrance lingers for hours on my skin, with the most elegant reflection of vanilla dipped into a smooth, heavenly-creamy iris concrete (not listed, but its presence confirmed to me by Antonio Alessandria), enhanced and sprinkled with almondy- sensual tonka bean glow.

An expressive floral-Ambre fragrance with a distinctive character, an inborn, undemanding elegance, wit, and refined sensuality, Rusty Vibes is a story of the beauty of life that grasps your soul in ways that simply must be expressed and shared. A memory. A dream. An inspiration.

The Plum Girl

Elena Cvjetkovic

Photos: Antonio Alessandria, Alex C Musgrave, Elena Cvjetkovic

A sample of Rusty Vibes was kindly provided by Antonio Alessandria via Cafleurebon for my consideration. Opinions are – as always –  my own. This is a limited edition perfume.


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