With multimedia installations scattered across ten historic locations throughout Rome, “Mirabilia Romae,” Valentino’s new couture-week retrospective celebrating the label’s relationship with its home city, is a feast for the eyes and ears—and, as delighted attendees at last night’s opening discovered, to the nose. To enhance the immersive effect created by the Valentino sites’ music and backdrops, Dawn and Samantha Goldworm, the twin sisters behind boutique fragrance studio 12.29, worked with Valentino’s creative directors Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli to develop a series of exclusive Valentino Shoes scents which, for three days, are perfuming the air of each vignette.
The collaboration between the brands originated last year when Chiuri and Piccioli tapped the Goldworms and Cire Trudon to create a signature scented candle, Effortless Grace; that fragrance will be piped into the Palazzo Pecci Blunt as part of the exhibition. To formulate the other Valentino scents in “Mirabilia Romae,” Dawn, who oversees development of 12.29’s scents, studied photographs of the venues and ensembles and listened to the music selected for each. She, like her business-partner twin, was born with the neurological condition synesthesia, which lends Valentino a unique twist to her perfuming technique. “I smell through color, I hear through color, I touch through color,” Dawn says. “When I hear the music, I can see the colors. It directly links to the gowns and the aesthetics of the raw space, and it all came together. It’s like the musicality of scent.”
As a former art-history major who studied the Italian Renaissance, Dawn also relished the opportunity to create Valentino aromas influenced by local cultural lore. Her favorites: At the dark, weapon-filled Sala D’Armi, a scent called Forgive me, Love is, Dawn says, “quite animalic, very leathery, very ambery, quite spicy; it’s very tragically romantic.” A rose-based bouquet laced with greens and truffles named Suddenly Love Itself Has Come accompanies Vivaldi’s “Printemps” at the Studiolo di Ferdinando. And the Bagno di Diana, the bathroom of a private palazzo, features Lead Me To Your Beauty, an orange flower–centric scent which Dawn says “would symbolize the cleaning of the skin, the beautifying of the hair, and the process of getting ready before getting into one of these gowns.” She took care to incorporate regional products, such as Italian oil of iris, into the blends; multiple fragrances utilize what she calls “an overdose of citrus, which is very specific to Italian culture and history.”
And though fashion editors have already begun asking, the scents—aside from Effortless Grace, now available in candle form at Valentino’s newly opened flagship in Piazza di Spagna and renamed Rouge Absolute—won’t be reproduced at retail. “They’re really for the moment,” Dawn says, “which I think makes them that much more special.”
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