Gianfranco Chicco
Sep 4, 2018 · 7 min read

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“To express oneself honestly, not lying to oneself — that, my friend, is very hard to do.” — Bruce Lee

Lee talked about how his intention behind the practice of martial arts was that of finding the best possible expression of himself as an actor, as a martial artist, and as a human being. Watch the full interview here.

Photo courtesy of Will Inrig

Will Inrig, Grande Mesure Perfumer

Will Inrig is a 27 y.o. polymath, a Leonardesque figure who happens to be passionate not only about perfumery, but also poetry, portraiture, film making and art history, all fields in which he has been active since he was a teenager. We met in a café in Paris to discuss his effort reviving the grande mesure method, that is, creating bespoke fragrances for individuals, and lately for brands too.

Will came to perfumery tangentially through its history and later went on to work at the Osmothèque, a perfume archive*, where he wrote the first-ever biographical study on influential French perfumer Jacques Guerlain. He then moved on to Chanel’s perfume laboratory, while also collaborating with Michael Edwards on histories of American and French perfumery. The exposure to the work of the grand masters of perfumery made him discover the glorious past of bespoke perfumery. Grand Mesure was the traditional way to create perfumes until the 1920s, when the rise of designer fragrances became all the rage, with Poiret, Chanel and Lanvin. Think of the process akin to traditional tailoring in Savile Row. Not that long ago, fashionable ladies and gentlemen didn’t want to wear a perfume that everyone else could buy. They wanted something made to order. In his own words:

“Traditional bespoke or grande mesure is based on two fundamental elements. Firstly, a one-to-one relationship between the client and the perfumer — no evaluators, no developers, nobody to get in the way. Secondly, an open formula, meaning that the perfumer shows the client the formula during the fitting process, so that the client can decide on every detail. Besides that, the formula must be authored by one sole perfumer, working in-house. It must be created from scratch, exclusively for the client. The client chooses her or his structure and materials. We establish the cahier des charges, the brief, together. Once I start putting together trial versions, the client comes in for an indefinite number of fittings, during four months or more, to insure a perfect fit and complete satisfaction. During the process, the perfumer shares the formula with the client, so that she or he could decide on every detail. Formulae were simple back then, more like recipes, and featured mostly naturals, so they were easier to understand.”

To Inrig, great perfumers share three essential qualities: vision, discernment and technique, and the key toolbox of a perfumer comprises a mix of natural and synthetic scents. Will Inrig’s own palate has gotten broader over the years, currently comprising about one hundred raw materials, and the constant mission to source better qualities of each — a better neroli, bergamot, lavender, etc. In most of his compositions, he favours at least 60% of naturals because they give human complexity and warmth to a fragrance, while he uses synthetics to provide emphasis and special effects. Among his naturals you’ll find three animalics: ambergris, castoreum and civet. Raw materials of animal origin are rather unpopular these days, for obvious reasons, but to Inrig they are also unique in their impact, elegance and sensuality.

Will is now expanding into the creation of fragrances for brands, with his debut collaboration for Editions M.R coming out in October. It’s called Acide and is a masculine and lemony cologne. Lemon is a tough theme — according to Inrig, as even the best Sicilian lemon oil makes people think of cleaning products, so he experimented with lemon, bitter orange and cognac oils to achieve both a fresh and luxurious product, staying true to the long heritage of perfumery he has been inspired by.

*In case you’re wondering about how do you archive a scent, perfume keeps pretty well if sealed and stored in the dark, at a low temperature. At the Osmothèque, perfumes are kept under argon at 12°C, in a special cellar with no exterior light. But ideally, you have the formula and all the necessary raw materials, so you can make a new batch at any time.

Photo by Gianfranco Chicco

Witloft Leather Aprons

Witloft makes beautiful and durable handcrafted leather aprons in the Netherlands. The minimalistic design is alluring for both professionals and amateurs alike and these aprons are suitable for the kitchen or the workshop. I came across them on a trip to Amsterdam and loved their look and feel, I’m sure they would age gracefully too.

Photo by Gianfranco Chicco

Podcasts To Listen While Traveling or Commuting

I’m very often on the road, on a plane, a bus, a train or just the “tube” here in London. And when I’m not travelling, I like to go out for long walks. In those occasions, podcasts have become a great medium to listen to stories and explore topics I’m interested in. Here are a few episodes I listened to recently:

1) Making things better and making better better things by Mark Shayler
Long conversation with Ben Branson, co-founder of Seedlip, the world’s first non-alcoholic distilled spirits. It all started as kitchen experiments at the end of 2015 inspired by recipes found in the book The Art of Distillation from 1651, today you’ll find their bottles in fancy bars and restaurants. Ben recounts the origin of the company, his close relationship with the land and farming, and how we wants to change not only the drinks industry but also how we do business, by respecting nature first and foremost.

Monocle 24: The Entrepreneurs:
2) Eureka 108: Gormley & Gamble — The story of Phoebe Gormley, founder of Gormley & Gamble, the first women’s only tailor in the history of famed Savile Row in London.

3) Trakke — The origin story of Trakke bags in Glasgow, created by Alex Farmer after he taught himself how to sew and set out to create the perfect bag.

Photo of Garibaldi 12 courtesy of Lorenzo Bagnara

Luxurious Showroom in Genoa

This gem of a shop in the centre of Genoa, hosted inside Palazzo Campanella — a Unesco World Heritage site from the 16th century — celebrates the art de vivre through everyday objects, furniture and luxury items. You’ll find products that range from tableware to electronics and books, all carefully curated by the Bagnara family, and the selection features both well known designers and up and coming young talent. They also carry a line of their own handcrafted leather accessories for the home. Lorenzo Bagnara gave me a quick tour of the rooms, each one with its own majestic style, and made me wish I lived in a bigger and nobler house I could furnish just like this this place.

Via Garibaldi 12/1, 16124 Genoa, Italy

Photo by Gianfranco Chicco

Book: The Life of Tea

This wonderful tea-table book (see what I did there?) recounts a journey into the World’s finest teas, from earth to cup. It’s theresult of a collaboration between documentary photographer Michael Freeman, and tea expert and founder of Postcard Teas in London, Timothy d’Offay.

“This is one of the most beautiful ideas in tea drinking, that the careful picking and processing create leaves that awaken in hot water, and they then release their original natural world to you, the tea drinker.”

The wonderful photography and erudite text share the stories of master craftsmen and producers, mostly from family run businesses, and their struggles to produce some of the most precious teas from China, Japan, India and Sri Lanka. The book will be appealing to both the novice and the connoisseur, and covers topics ranging from botany to the terroir, from the cultivation and processing methods to the ideal teaware to enjoy a proper cup of tea. I was particularly delighted by the stories related to the “Tea Mountains and Monasteries” where tea had its origin thousands of years ago.

The Life of Tea
Octopus Publishing Group ; Amazon UK

Originally published at

The Craftman Newsletter

A celebration of craftsmanship, paying homage to those who take the expression of our humanity to a higher level.

Gianfranco Chicco

Written by

Curator of The Craftsman Newsletter. Conference director for hire, digital-physical experiences, marketing & storytelling. Japanophile. ✌

The Craftman Newsletter

A celebration of craftsmanship, paying homage to those who take the expression of our humanity to a higher level.

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