The new biographical novel by Raffaele Lauro, is dedicated to the artistic journey of a master perfumer of international fame, Maurizio Cerizza.
Since 1970, writer Raffaele Lauro (Sorrento, 1944) has published, with several publishing houses, various essays on philosophy, political science, public administration, communication and new media, as well as, since 1987, fifteen successful novels, all sold out.
After taking a sabbatical, Lauro has announced to the press that, in 2019, he will release a trilogy of novels dedicated to the theme of Italian excellence. Three novels dedicated to three characters who represent Italian creativity in three different fields: the artistic creation of high-end perfumes; cosmetic surgery, as a means to obtain beauty; and finally the combination of philanthropy and entrepreneurship in an African country.
They will be published in English and French, as well as Italian.
We interviewed the writer about the contents of this new novel, The Kingdom of Fragrances, and its protagonist, a master perfumer of international fame.
Your so-called sabbatical year has been, in reality, spent working on the creation of this narrative trilogy. Three biographical novels dedicated to three Italian gems: an internationally renowned master perfumer, a plastic surgeon and a philanthropist entrepreneur.
This book follows my latest biographical novels, who are dedicated to the poet of music, Lucio Dalla, to a dance queen, Violetta Elvin Prokhorova, and to the founder of an extraordinary hotel-gastronomic dynasty, Don Alfonso Costanzo Iaccarino, a friend of the Neapolitan poet Salvatore Di Giacomo, three characters linked together by a fil rouge: their love for Sorrento, for Capri, for Vico Equense and for S. Agata sui Due Golfi. For my homeland.
What is the connection between the novels in this trilogy?
Italian genius, creativity, cultural refinement, the beauty industry, and high-end, niche perfumery.
How was your creative process, what was the source of inspiration for a narrative project that wants to explore the secret world of perfumes, a mysterious and relatively unknown world?
For two years now, I have been following a friend of mine, perfume stylist Mauro Lorenzi, during the creation and production of niche fragrances. Just last year, he actually transformed his passion for artistic perfumery in a business activity.
I followed him in the historic perfumeries of Grasse, in Provence, Paris and London, where I discovered a previously unknown world, made of pure creativity, love of nature, excitement of the senses, starting of course from smell, aesthetic refinement and creative communications.
I met extraordinary figures, unknown to most people, who are behind the creative and productive processes of many famous perfumes and world-renowned brands: the master perfumers, the so-called “noses”, who can combine any natural or synthetic essence.
In this magical world, full of charm and mystery, I had the privilege of making friends with one of the greatest Italian and European perfumers: Maurizio Cerizza. During our meetings in Milan I discovered a genius of fragrances, but also a philosopher, an aesthete, an expert of painting, music and sports.
That sounds like intellectual love at first sight, doesn’t it?
It’s even more than that. Maurizio Cerizza comes from a prestigious dynasty of perfumers. In 1965 his father, Aurelio, a chemical engineer, founded his own company in Imperia, where he distilled and extracted precious raw materials, such as jasmine, rose, iris and ylang ylang.
The inspiration for his training was the great teacher René Ricord, who still lives in Grasse, the former assistant of the legendary Jean Carles, the founder of the famous Roure school and the inventor of the method of storing fragrances and of their classifications in 15 families.
Cerizza has created the fragrances of many famous perfumes and has become, in turn, the mentor of many talented students. A master of life, as well as a great master of perfumes. A master-philosopher.
What does the study of fragrances have to do with philosophy?
Cerizza is not just a professional, albeit a prestigious one, but an artist: he has his own vision of the world, of the relationship between man, nature and beauty, and even of highest expressions of human philosophy: the mind that thinks about itself, art, painting, music and meditation.
For him, the perfumer is an artist who must use his raw materials like a painter uses colours, or like a musician does notes. He constantly creates mental associations between the different essences and the effect of their combined aromas.
His goals are harmony, balance, perfect correspondence between the spiritual and the material world; characteristics that are always found in its most famous creations.
Is he a fascinating, cultured character?
When you talk with him about perfumes, you come across thinkers like Steiner and Pannikar, musicians like Mozart and Stravinsky, painters like Braque and Kandinsky.
He often quotes the latter, a true master of color theory, who used to say: “I do a lot of theory, but I never think of it when I paint”.
Is Cerizza to perfumes what Kandinskij is to painting?
Cerizza has developed new olfactory concepts, thinking of unprecedented combinations at the most random times and in many different places.
You see, the act of composing is generally led by rationality, by respect for canonical rules, by the combination of raw materials in usual ways.
According to him, however, creating also means exploring new horizons, using different elements in an innovative and unusual way, always keeping balance and harmony in mind.
Is creativity a form of freedom?
For Cerizza, creativity has a profound connection with freedom, and vice versa, because the freedom to choose a path rather than another is fundamental for his creative process.
Furthermore, for the creative mind, the contemplation of nature remains a great source of inspiration. All that is alive, all shapes and colours can be associated with smells.
What is the mission of this first novel?
I have tiptoed into this mysterious and complex world: at first I was astonished, and then fascinated by the cultural background of fragrances, whether famous staples or new creations. Something truly unimaginable for a layman like me.
With the help of a great teacher like Cerizza, of his life lesson, of his human, intellectual and artistic journey, of his achievements, of his professional secrets (the mysterious side of this world!), and of his maturity, I wish to lead the reader through a universe that has to be discovered, one page after the other, a place of freedom, beauty and nature: the kingdom of fragrances, the title of the book.
Is The Kingdom of Fragrances only meant for people who tackle this subject for the first time?
Cerizza’s lesson will captivate laymen and experts alike, perfumery enthusiasts and young people who have chosen to embark on this enchanting professional journey. Very charming!
Who will you dedicate this novel to?
This novel is dedicated to somebody I respect a lot, someone who encouraged Mauro Lorenzi to create his new collections of fragrances, in collaboration with Cerizza, and compelled me to write this biographical novel: Andrea Casotti.
An authority in this sector, he is the owner of The House of Oud brand and CEO of CFF (Creative Flavors & Fragrances), a leading company specialising in the production of fragrances and essences for individuals and companies all over the world.
When will your latest effort be published?
I hope to be able to present it in Milan, at the end of April