According to master Italian perfumer – and self-proclaimed ‘crazy nose’ – Alessandro Gualtieri of Nasomatto, ingredient lists are old hat in the story of fragrance.

So far removed are his creations from the ‘top notes’ and ‘bottom notes’ that are the typical terminology of scent, that each labour of love (Black Afgano was the product of six years of endless experimentation) strays into new sensory territory entirely, navigating realms of art, architecture and the philosophical; take Absinth, a potent mind-altering concoction that ‘is the result of a quest to stimulate irresponsible behaviour’, or Hindu Grass that aims to ‘breathe the belief in universal peace and love’ for example. The concept is paramount; the formula, an afterthought.

On a recent trip to London, Alessandro explained to us how he channeled his training in historic perfumery and years of industry experience (he notably created Versus for Versace and Diesel Plus for Diesel) into his eponymous line.

‘Nasomatto’ translates to ‘Crazy Nose’ – a moniker that you seem to wear like a badge of honour.
It comes from an ironic place. For me, it seemed apt to name the brand Nasomatto after so many times of being told ‘you can’t do this or that, you’re crazy’.  Playing on this notion gives me complete empowerment and creative freedom to act, allowing me to prove any naysayers wrong and channel that energy into pushing forwards.

Each scent has a real narrative around it; how are the stories conceptualised?
Often, the story and emotion behind the scent is born out of the process. The journey can start with just one element and then within the process things pile up. It’s then that you take stock and think about the narrative. It really becomes a story very organically on its own – however, there’s a lot of bouncing back and forth, and abandoning piles of garbage!

After becoming wrapped up in the process and almost ‘obsessed’ with the scent, at the end of the journey I like to move forwards. I don’t like to revisit former projects; I like to detach myself and to let it go. I’m a very critical person, so I need to leave it otherwise I’m always looking to find room for improvement.

How often do you return to the drawing board then? Are the myriad possibilities intimidating at all?
The possibilities are endless when it comes to combinations, but I believe that it’s much easier to create when you limit yourself to a smaller range of ingredients. For instance, narrowing down 2,000 ingredients to ten is a good place to start and you can still be incredibly creative, because there’s so much scope to play with the proportions. You need to impose some form of limitation to help guide the process otherwise it can certainly be overwhelming.

It’s not only each recipe that’s part of that creative process; the bottles your perfumes are housed in are works of art in their own right.
I love materials, and I wanted to translate this into the design. At the beginning there was no money to experiment, so I worked with a standard bottle but wanted to make something of the cap. It led me down the path of experimenting with volume and proportion; as is the case with any art, that one millimetre can make the world of difference, so it was all about precision and looking at how I could change and adapt the material. Each cap really has its own identity.

How have you mastered the technique for doing this – and, indeed, your craft itself?
I learn by doing. A lot of people learn through the process of reading books, or scrolling through the internet – I sometimes wish my brain was of a different construction where I could learn through reading, but I read books for the inspiration and escapism. I’m always busy with my work, because it’s my complete passion; I don’t really give myself any time off since I’m always developing and creating something.

Complete the following sentence: ‘I do what I do, because…’
I do what I do, because I like it! If I didn’t do what I do now, I’d work in a field where I could use my hands. I like to feel connected.