PROFILES: AMERINDIAN GARDENS
by Parfums Nicolas Danila
by Mark David Boberick
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I’m going to tell you a secret that I haven’t told many people, yet. I was completely caught off-guard in Milan.
It’s true. Directly after leaving Booth 21 at Esxence, I had to escape to the empty conference room to compose myself. With my eyes watering, I sat there asking myself, “What the hell just happened?”
Can a perfume strike such an emotional chord that it reduces a grown man to tears? It’s rare, but sure – it can happen. Prior to leaving for Italy, if you had told me that it was going to happen to me - that I was going to be that man, I would have told you, “nonsense.” I would have later eaten my words, because that very thing happened to me when I first smelled Amerindian Gardens by Parfums Nicolas Danila, a fragrance that shook me to my very core, stirring raw olfactory memories and emotions that I never realized had embedded themselves so deeply into my psyche.
Liquid emotion. That’s what perfume is often referred to as. If you’ve just cruised by department store counters or relied solely on the fragrances that you received at Christmas, then you most likely haven’t come across a bottle of liquid emotion – fragrances that are meant to sell volumes and appeal to the masses typically lack that much-needed intimacy. But, if you’ve ventured further into the niche fragrance market, encountering artistic masterpieces along the way, then it’s quite possible that you have been or soon will be moved to tears by a fragrance just as I was. Throws you for a loop, doesn’t it?
As beautiful and perfect as my trip to Italy had been up to that point, I suppose there is a part of us that will always long for home.
Nicolas Danila is a charming French gentleman who has never stepped foot in the backyard of my family home in the Pocono Mountains of Northeastern Pennsylvania. He never wandered through my woods like the Lenni Lenape once did. But I wouldn’t have known that at first. One singular sniff of Amerindian brought me great pause. This was all very familiar to me – it was not merely a suggestion of a memory, this was the entire package. Here I was, 3000 miles from home and yet all of a sudden, I was home. And I was 8 years old, again.
My sister and I once built a fort in the woods halfway up the mountain behind our home. It was an A-frame, brutalist structure made of sticky, sap-covered pine branches, shorn of all but a few pine needles. It may have been “one with the earth,” but Frank Lloyd Wright, it was not. It provided absolutely no useful safeguard from the elements, but the day that we finished it, it became our palace. Well, it was the start of our palace. We had big plans for it – east wings, west wings, and porte-cocheres!
Our custom built home away from home had a dirt floor. My sister Dawn and I cleared the dried leaves from the previous Fall out of the way, our hands digging in the earth as we made progress. The woods of Northeastern Pennsylvania are aromatic, but not in the traditional sense. They can be quite warm and dry – the canopy is not too thick, allowing sunlight to pass through to warm the forest floor. That sunlight warms the bark of the trees, and the green leaves that cling to their branches. Oak and maple trees impart a slightly sweet, sticky perfume while the coniferous pines and hemlocks add a fresh, bracing aromatic accord to the otherwise dry summer air. Did I mention our fort wasn’t actually large enough to fit both of us inside of it?
Rudyard Kipling once wrote, “Scents are surer than sounds or sights to make your heartstrings crack.” This statement rings entirely true, but it doesn’t shock me - the power of our sense of smell has long been one of my favorite things to write about. Even though I was completely aware of its potential to dig very deep into our memory vault, I was still caught off guard by Amerindian.
Mark David's Pennsylvania back yard.
Nicolas Danila was explaining the rest of the line to me as I continued to smell. I don’t remember what he said – I was otherwise engaged. I was holding back tears. I think he could see it - it’s not really very easy to hide. I excused myself and walked briskly to the conference room, which was thankfully vacant.
Amerindian belongs to a collection of 7 fragrances called Les Jardins d’Aladin. Those familiar with the legend of Aladin will recall that Aladin and his wife had 7 children, each of whom created seven civilizations. At the center of each civilization stood a palace surrounded by lush gardens (les jardins). Amerindian is inspired by the North American civilization. It is a woody fragrance with a slight floral overtone. It contains every olfactory facet of my days spent running through the woods of Pennsylvania - camping with friends in the birch grove near the caves, hiking with my stepfather along the streams near our cabin and picking wild blueberries at the top of the mountain at the height of summer. Mother nature, in all her glory, is poured with love into every bottle. And while we're on the subject of bottles - this bottle was created by the legendary bottle designer Pierre Dinand and is the first flacon to ever bear his name, making this a very important addition to any collection.
For me, Amerindian is a return to my youth, a carefree period in my life where all I had to worry about was if we had enough popsicles in the freezer. I have plenty of responsibilities, now – but knowing that I can escape for a few minutes with just a spray or two from a bottle is a comforting, and equally humbling thought. Amerindian is much more than just a scent that brought tears to my eyes – it is the fragrance that made a true perfume lover forever change his opinion of what a fragrance could be.
For more information on Parfums Nicolas Danila, be sure to visit their website.
MARK DAVID BOBERICK | Managing Editor
Aladin in the Magical Garden
Illustration by Max Lipert from Ludwig Fulda's Aladin und die Wunderlampe