An ancient extraction technique traditionally used to obtain the most precious essence from bergamot fruits, La Spugnatura is practised by just a few artisans in Italy. Acqua di Parma, known for overlaying the ancient with contemporary approaches, has adopted the process, but with a different citrus fruit, Arancia Vaniglia. And it is this, which forms its new-limited edition scent.
The City of Oranges
The fruit originates from Ribera in Sicily and contains some unusual contrasting olfactory properties, blending tart orange with the alluring softness of vanilla, to a bittersweet effect. Nurturing the fruit has been a long-term project for Acqua di Parma, unfolding an entirely manual extraction of the citrus essence; a skill that demands precise, delicate gestures. First, each fruit is cut in two equal halves with a well-sharpened knife. Then, using a utensil in the shape of a spoon named “cavatore,” the skin is separated from the pulp. Orange rinds are manually pressed on sea sponges, which absorb all the essence and preserve all the fruits’ facets. Finally, these sponges full of essential oil are squeezed with precise movements into a terracotta pot.
A precious elixir
This painstaking manual process gives rise to the ingredient’s scarcity and the limited edition nature of the fragrance. Only 300g of essence is extracted from approximately 100kg of fruit, and two artisans can work through a volume equaling 300 kg of fruit in a day. And every single part of this fruit plays its part, ensuring zero waste. This unique ingredient gives rise to a joyful, luminous and embracing aroma, much like the glorious rays of the Italian sun. The initial burst of citrus notes brings contrasts, as does the Arancia Vaniglia, which combines the freshness typical of citrus fruits with a degree of softness and roundness; a contrast which is also found in the yellow mandarin versus the bitter almond, which adds a bittersweet touch. Master perfumer François Demachy also adds black pepper for a touch of texture and brilliance.
Breaking the mould
The fragrance is contained in a blue, porcelain bottle, representing the Blu Mediterraneo collection, of which this is a part. Like the production of the essence, the creation of the bottle is a lengthy and care-filled journey. First, the mould is created, into which the porcelain mix is manually poured to form its iconic Art Déco form. This is then rotated several times on its axis to ensure that the mixture adheres to the sides and is turned upside down to unload any extra mix. Then, the bottle is left to dry for 30-40 minutes before being removed from the mould in a solid form. Each bottle is refined, removing any minimal imperfections to obtain an even surface that is smooth to the touch. It is then dipped into a glaze bath and placed to bake in an oven for 8 hours, during which the bottle takes on a deeper blue tone that is highlighted by a shiny finish.
Lastly, the bottle is hand-embellished with white, burnished orange and golden motifs (a nod to its ingredients), before being baked for a second time to set the décor. Capped off with a blue porcelain lid, the bottle has a neck that is made from a unique grinding technique developed specifically for Acqua di Parma and is fitted with a removable screw top pump. The label on the bottle is made from scrap powder from marble quarries while the iconic cylindrical box is made from FSC-certified paper set in a special blue tone to match the porcelain bottle.
Blu Mediterranio Arancia la Spugnatura Limited Edition is available to purchase now from Harvey Nichols