BY Lisa Lindblad

January 26, 2012

I had a serendipitous encounter yesterday in Buenos Aires.  Walking along the street, my eye was drawn to a little “boîte” of a shop, dark and lush with a center table set with gorgeous glass, dramatically spotlit.  Enchanted, I stepped through into a magic kingdom of scent.

Fueguia, I was told by Julian Bedel, the “nose” and one of the world’s great perfumers, was a Patagonian Indian who joined an indigenous resistance to colonial powers and jumpstarted independence – at least that is what I remember of the story.  What stayed with me was that Fueguia changed the score.  And Bedel seems to have done the same.  With scores of scents composed of 800 or more essences, this is a remarkable man of obvious talent but, on top of that, a man of poetry, of vision, of heart.

Start with the scents.

They come as extract of perfume, eau de parfum and room scents atomized in beautifully Japanese designed atomizers or burned with his gorgeous candles.  And what scents they are!  Mixtures of odd ingredients (think pink peppercorns) and usual ones, the strands are layered atop and alongside each other so that you can journey with the scent along olfactory pathways that lead to destinations that are pure feeling, ambiance, dreamscape.  Along with each scent purchased comes a private letter to you describing, in a few poetic lines, the feel of the scent and then the ingredients.

Unbelievable.  Beautiful.

How could I have been so fortunate as to enter the shop just when a charming guy in straw hat was on the floor?  It took a while until I realized that this was the force, Julian Bedel, and then we spent almost an hour together.  He guided me through the world of scent and then we talked of other things:  the boxes which are made in Patagonia by a community they support; the other philanthropic work he does; the Latin American initiative he has launched to promote sustainable building practices; his vision to encourage local communities to understand, use and thereafter protect their botanical resources; his brand strategizing for individuals and companies.  The man is a creative force. 

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The Mallmann Diaspora