In the cluttered world of men’s fragrances, it’s often difficult to decide on a scent that you identify with, so we’d like to suggest one rising line that we can’t get enough of: Oliver & Co. Created by Madrid-based perfumer Oliver Valverde, this burgeoning fragrance brand consists of specially handcrafted candles and colognes with scents like Vetiverus, La Colonia and Resina. Oliver & Co. is a cut above the rest. We recently got a whiff of Vetiverus, which uses vetiver as its base note, and we were immediately addicted. It’s not overbearing like a lot of vetiver scents can be, but it’s strong enough to make a lasting impression — and we mean this in a good way. Plus, you’ll be unique — how many guys do you know who wear Oliver & Co.? We recently caught up with Valverde to learn more about Oliver & Co., his recent artist collaboration and what men need to know when buying and wearing fragrances.
How did you become interested in creating fragrances?
Since I was a child crafts have been very important for me. I love to create things with my hands. When I move to Madrid after living in Barcelona for five years, I started with the idea of creating candles to sell at craft markets, and my first tests and production runs were made in my kitchen. It was an impulsive and intuitive feeling. During that time, I discovered wonderful natural raw materials and synthetic molecules. I fell in love with the perfumery as an art expression of things I like. It was like a revelation. I felt like it was waiting for me. I realized I had discovered my profession. From there I had all the ingredients to create a brand and I decided to start Oliver & Co.
How did you learn the art of making fragrance?
I´m a completely self-taught perfumer. My education has been through trial and error.
When and why did you decide to create your own fragrance brand?
In 2009, after several burning tests and creating the graphic design for the candles, I thought that I created not just a few candles but a brand identity and philosophy.
What are your biggest inspirations?
When I´m in the lab I work in a very impulsive way, depending my mood, the weather, a picture. I never try to translate, like turning garden scents or Mediterranean landscapes into perfumes. Sometimes a simple ingredient can stage the whole process. In this sense I think the inspiration or abstraction comes with the process itself.
Describe the person you make your fragrances for.
My fragrances are for everyone who appreciate the perfume itself, more than a marketing ploy.
Which scents are the most special for you?
I like many scents, depending my mood and the formula which I working in. I love both natural and synthetic. I enjoy a lot with them.
Your Illustrated series pairs a fragrance with a drawing by Pablo Pérez Sanmartin. How did this collaboration come about?
I decided to change the packaging from my first limited edition. I started with the idea to sell not only a perfume bottle in a box. I just wanted to offer something else, something that represents my tastes, my world, my passions — something that touch you when you open the box. So I contacted some people to collaborate on the creation of botanical illustrations in pointillism technique. Finally Pablo Pérez was seduced by the idea of exploring this kind of still life and we decided to work together. The points represent something meticulous, very detailed, just like the way I work. The botanicals are presents as ingredients in all my formulas. I love all these things. Pablo’s work is amazing, he caught the idea perfectly.
How would you advise men on how to select the right fragrance for them?
A man should test the fragrance for 30 minutes at least. It is a mistake to buy the fragrance according the first impression, because every man has a skin and the perfume develops totally differently on everyone. I personally think that a perfume is not your ego. You should identify with it (ingredients and feeling) and not make a purchase thinking to seduce other people when you wear it or because is a very fashionable perfume at the moment. If you choose the right perfume, people will smell you, not the perfume, because you represent the perfume itself. Some important points to spray: the inner forearm, neck, behind ears, behind knees and chest. Never in the hands. Rubbing is not a good idea because alters the scent.
What’s next for Oliver & Co.?
Actually I´m working on a synthetic perfume from a picture of the cosmos. I´m translating colors to ingredients. Something very artistic and conceptual. It’s not something about what the cosmos smell like, but what ingredients to use for each colors. I’ve been obsessed with pictures of the cosmos since I was a child.
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