This month we interviewed Laura Tonatto, master perfumer since 1986, has created fragrances for Elio Fiorucci, Ornella Vanoni and Asia Argento.

She achieve to realized some exclusive fragrances for Queen Elizabeth of England.

Mrs. Tonatto, how and when did you start your career?

I must say that I was born into it! When I was a little girl, my grandmother spent a lot of time talking to me about the importance of high quality perfume: she told me about Guerlain, about how creations like the legendary Mitsouko were born… when I was around fifteen or sixteen, sometimes my classmates would poke fun at me, but I really knew what I wanted to do.
Because you are born a “nose”: you recognize people by their smell, you sniff everything before you eat it, you find yourself in distinctive olfactory landscapes.
I think it is important to teach children how to recognize and discover smells: when you peel an tangerine, for example, there are already different things to notice – the peel, the pulp, the seeds… My daughter doesn’t follow me much, from this point of view. Instead, my son does: I don’t do anything to motivate him, but in him I recognize the same curiosity that moved me when I was little.

Curiosity is certainly a fundamental characteristic!

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I find that it is certainly important to valorise talent, but it would be even more important to valorise talent at the age of twenty, and not forty! The task of the institutions should also be the recognition, support and valorisation of truly excellent young talent.

Did you attend special schools? What was your education like?

I attended the two most important schools, in Grasse and in Cairo. In my creations, both of these schools have always been present. In the Middle East, there is a millennial tradition of perfumery and essences: in Cairo, for example, it is entirely natural to go the essence vendor in the Suk and ask, for example, for jasmine oil for your hair or for a cooling lotion for the summer. In the West it is much different. I’ve always loved Italian art, and the Roman Baroque in particular: and so I’ve transferred this passion to my work, giving it shape in many projects for exhibits and museums – like when I presented the painting “The Lute Player” by Caravaggio at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, in the context of the exhibit “Caravaggio, A Painting, A Perfume”.

How do you go about your work? Do you think that new technology has brought about changes in your sector?

For me, research on natural fragrances is and remains very important. Technology helps me to discover new notes or essences to create, but for me the relationship with truly extraordinary raw materials is inevitable, like the Taif rose. I think I’ve done a good job with this flower, which is truly very rare: it grows on a hillside in Saudi Arabia, and every year only sixteen kilos, which are destined for the king, are gathered. This rose is also in the special essence that I have created for Elizabeth II, and the formula for it must of course remain a secret!

A master of art is recognized not only for his or her talent and creativity, but also for his or her patience, tenacity and savoir-faire. What do you think are the qualities that a young person ought to have in order to become a creator of perfumes?

Curiosity is certainly a fundamental characteristic!

How has your clientele evolved over the past few years? Do they pay attention to luxury products of very high craftsmanship like yours?

I must say that my clientele is naturally composed of great connoisseurs, of people who appreciate the special quality of a personal fragrance. I was very surprised when I realised that there are many men among my clients! Men really get excited about the possibility of creating their own perfumes, as can be done on my site www.lauratonatto.it: and they often create one for the person they love. Which is not easy, because perfume is definitely personal, and I myself make an intense effort every time I have to create a perfume ad hoc.

In general, how do you see the role of institutions for the management, promotion and protection of art professions?

There is a lot of talk about excellence, and I myself have often been defined as “the excellence of Turin, of Italy’s Piemonte, the excellent Italian nose” etcetera. I find that it is certainly important to valorise talent, but it would be even more important to valorise talent at the age of twenty, and not forty! The task of the institutions should also be the recognition, support and valorisation of truly excellent young talent.