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Sofia Bardelli: The Gliding Perfumer

May 3, 2024 | By The Nose, Scent Talks

Trained at the prestigious Grasse Institute of Perfumery, SOFIA BARDELLI offers insights into her journey to becoming an accomplished young perfumer. Finding inspiration in nature and gliding adventures to compose her bold scents, Sofia navigates ingredient restrictions with a focus on sustainability, utilizing upcycled materials. Explore her lab routine and how collaborations with independent brands empower her artistic freedom. Noteworthy, Sofia won last year’s ScentXplore’s Rising Star Perfumer award by popular vote.

 

 

Sofia, first of all, congratulations on winning the Rising Star Perfumer award at last year’s ScentXplore Niche Fragrance Awards! How did you get the news? Considering that this is a people’s choice award, how do you feel about receiving such recognition?

I feel grateful and honoured to have received this recognition. As this is a people’s choice award, I find it to be very meaningful because my creative work has spoken directly to the consumers and perfume lovers. I actually learned about the award with a tag on social media; I was unaware I was amongst the finalists. It was indeed a pleasant surprise.

 

Sofia Award

 

Tell us a bit about your personal background and how you became a perfumer. You attended the Grasse Institute of Perfumery (GIP). How did you get into such a prestigious school? What happened after graduation?

I had several interviews before being selected from multiple candidates. After graduation, I started working as an analytical perfumer in a French fragrance house, where I had the opportunity to get acquainted with more raw materials. Being a perfumer is, in fact, an on-going learning activity.

After a few years I moved back to Italy.

 

GIP Organ

Perfume organ at the Grasse Institute of Perfumery (GIP)

 

What were your biggest challenges while studying at GIP? What was the most difficult concept for you to grasp? Which accord and raw material were the most challenging to learn and work with?

While studying at GIP, the biggest challenge was not only to remember all raw materials and their facets by heart, but also to keep testing the nose under pressure and stressful situations. That helped discover the perception of the nose in regards to the mood and meteorological conditions.

The lily of the valley accord was quite challenging to learn, as it wasn’t a scent I fancied back in the day. I then began to appreciate and now I do like it.

 

Describe a typical day in the lab as a perfumer. How do you approach creating a new fragrance? Are there any perfumers who have inspired you or whose work you particularly admire?

My typical day as a perfumer is about formulating, evaluating and testing fragrances.

My creative process is the combination of two aspects: when I receive a brief, I always try to immerse myself in the storytelling so as to formulate two different scents, often contrasting ones. The other aspect relates to bringing a more personal touch to the creation, as I try to replicate a feeling that I’ve experienced or something more concrete that I have lived, eaten or drunk. This dualism between abstract and concrete experiences plays an important role in my creative process.

I particularly admire Bertrand Duchaufour for his bold creativity, Dominique Ropion and Alberto Morillas for their sophistication and modernity in approaching perfumery. I have always admired Germaine Cellier and her innovative boldness in creating masterpieces.

 

Sofias Inspirations

Germaine Cellier, Dominique Ropion, Alberto Morillas, and Bertrand Duchaufour

 

To which notes, accords, or themes are you most drawn? Are there any materials you couldn’t live without? What are your views on the use of synthetic ingredients versus natural ingredients in perfumery? Do you have a signature style?

I’m most drawn to spicy and oriental notes, but also fruity accords. I definitely couldn’t live without ginger oil fresh, pink pepper and jasmine sambac absolute and all the ambery notes. I do believe that both synthetic and natural ingredients are essential in a perfumer’s organ, for when used together they complement each other. I am convinced that modern perfumery couldn’t exist without synthetic notes and some formulas couldn’t have the depth and roundness emphasised by the multifaceted natural raw materials.

My signature style is to use a deep musky oriental base, yet I noticed that it is still evolving in parallel with my personal and professional growth.

Your Instagram profile mentions that you are a nature lover and a glider pilot. That’s quite fascinating! Is it fair to assume that you are a risk taker? How does your adventurous spirit influence your approach to creating fragrances?

Absolutely, I am a risk taker in real life: I love adrenaline and I’m indeed a curious person. As these features are part of me, I bring some of them in my creative process: when I express myself with a perfume, I like to dare, to have a bold approach in the creation and to overdose some nuances.

 

Sofia Gliding

 

Do you wear any perfumes yourself? Could you share with us some of your favourites whether personally or technically? Have any perfumes left an emotional imprint on you or inspired your own compositions?

I am a perfume lover and collector, but unfortunately I can’t wear them during working days as most of the time I’m testing the creations I’m working on at that moment.

My favourite perfumes are those where the technique comes out so that I can thoroughly appreciate the depth and evolution of the perfume.

There are numerous perfumes, which have left an emotional imprint on me, specially the classics; from a creation point of view, there is one to which I’m particularly attached: Mismar by In Astra.

 

MISMAR InAstra 600x600

 

What are your thoughts on the increasing number of ingredient restrictions imposed by IFRA? Have you ever had to significantly change or abandon a formula due to these restrictions? How do you address sustainability in your work?

Restrictions in perfumery are part of the job. I started working in the field where restrictions are of the utmost importance and always to be taken into account, so honestly I don’t know how it would be to formulate with complete freedom. It has happened to me that some formulas had to be reworked and they changed completely their olfactory profile, yet I’ve never abandoned a formula.

In my work I always try to use raw materials from a known source and I use a blend of synthetic and natural raw materials; lately, I’m more focused on utilising upcycled raw materials.

How would you describe the current landscape of perfumery? Where do you see its future going? As a perfumer who often collaborates with independent brands, what do you think are the biggest advantages of niche perfumery?

Nowadays perfumery is one of the growing sectors and in recent years the fragrance market has become even more heterogeneous as a plethora of independent brands has launched their ideas putting them on the market. I often work with independent brands and during these collaborations it is much easier to speak directly to the brand owner, thus understanding the underlying concept of the olfactory project. This allows the composing process to flow freely without constraints imposed by the market trends.

Electimuss’s Imperium seems to be, so far, your most popular creation. What do you attribute its success to?

Imperium has characteristics that most people like: fresh aspects and warm ambery dry down. This is the combination that most appeals to the customers.

 

Products Electimuss Clear Imperium WEB Copy 1

 

As an accomplished young perfumer, what advice would you give to an aspiring perfumer?

My advice would be to try as much as one can and let one be driven by curiosity and passion. I truly believe that becoming a perfumer is a continuous learning process and keeping up the pace with this growing market can be quite challenging. Always be focused and keep testing the nose and the mind.

If you weren’t a perfumer, what other profession would you pursue?

I can’t see myself outside the perfumery world, but I’d have been a pilot.

In 2 or 3 words, how would you define perfume?

Feeling, passion, adventure.

Thank you, Sofia, for your time and for sharing valuable insights with us. Would you like to add something before we wrap up?

Keep sniffing 🙂

 

Follow Sofia on Instagram: @sofia.bardelli

Leave a comment for Sofia below!

 

(image credits: Sofia Bardelli, GIP, In Astra, and Electimuss)

 

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DANIEL BARROS is Brazilian, based in São Paulo, and the author of  ‘1001 Perfumes: The Guide’. He has been collaborating with ScentXplore since 2021, contributing to content production and management, as well as organizing the annual ScentXplore People’s Choice Niche Fragrance Awards. In addition to his editorial responsibilities, Daniel is actively involved in mentoring niche brands and fragrance enthusiasts all over the world. Click here to send him a private message or report an error. Follow Daniel on Instagram @danielbarros_1001perfumes.

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