Laura Tonatto

I’ve heard about Laura Tonatto‘s Galleria Olfattiva [olfactory gallery] a long time ago, and during this short Roman break I paid it a visit. It’s located in one of the most beautiful piazzas in Rome, piazza di Pietra, it’s a shopping and exhibition space and when I entered it, all my senses were stimulated: sight, with the white walls and beautiful old-fashioned wooden furniture, touch, with the alternation of smooth and rough surfaces, hearing, with the subtle classical music in the background, and, of course, sense of smell, thanks to a perfume rainbow suspended in the airy shop.


The woman behind this sensorial nirvana is Laura Tonatto, who started cultivating her natural nose with passion around 25 years ago. She was able to identify more than 3000 different kinds of scents after spending time in Grasse, France for training.


Grasse is known as the world’s perfume capital and has had a prosper perfume industry since the beginning of XVIII century, thanks to its particular microclimate: it is warm and sufficiently inland to be sheltered from the sea air and there is an abundance of water.


In the last years, Tonatto asserted herself as a referee for everything related to handcrafted perfumes, and she collaborated with international organisations to different cross-sensorial projects about culture, fashion & scents.


One of them, ‘I profumi del cinema’ [Cinema’s perfumes] in collaboration with Italian Cinema Festival, was about creating the perfume related to some legendary movies, like Visconti’s The Leopard – mediterranean scent of the orange blossoms’ hair clip Angelica is wearing at the Gattopardo ball, Fellini’s La Dolce Vita – scent of warm and sweet milk, like the one Mastroianni is looking for for the kitten Anita Ekberg’s cat.


In the gallery, there are different designated posts, where you can watch a selection of scenes from the movie, listen to it via head system and, above all, smell the movie through a glass cylinder containing the scent Tonatto created. It is definitely a very interesting experience: it’s amazing how more total the watching-a-movie experience is if the sense of smell is involved in the process. Is it the next frontier for the movie theatres?


Also,  another part of the gallery exhibits the ‘Perfumes of Literary’. Tonatto’s belief is that in literature, as in life, our sense of smell can dictate our likes and dislikes: it can be the vehicle for sensations and memories. Writers are well aware of this and have always placed importance on the sense of smell to enhance the meaning of their words. In 2004, in the London bookshop Waterstone’s, Laura Tonatto made her debut in this field with her exhibition “Literary Perfumes”, the first collection to recreate the smells evoked by the words of poets and storytellers. Writers ranging from Proust to Flaubert, D’Annunzio, Suskind and Wilde, have included descriptions of smells that take the reader to a place beyond the narrative.

Slide1Tonatto  at the moment has body & home collections for different lines and different fragrances; at the same time, she works on bespoke creations for private clients, hotels and corporates. Her latest collaborations are with Hotel Danieli in Venice and Mercedes-Benz. It’s seems proved by now how important the sense of smell is, and international companies are more and more willing to use perfumes as part of their brand image or as a marketing tool.


For me it was amazing to meet Massimo and Stefania, to hear all the different stories about essential oils, perfumes, ambience fragrances and special customers. By the way, George Clooney uses Tonatto’s Shanghai fragrance in his awesome apartment in LA. What about you?


Durante il mio viaggio a Roma sono passata a salutare Massimo e Stefania nella Galleria Olfattiva di Laura Tonatto nella splendida cornice di piazza di Pietra. Abbiamo parlato dell’intuizione geniale di partecipare a festival internazionali creando profumi descritti in libri o film leggendari. E ancora, di come sia ormai assodata l’importanza dell’olfatto nel processo della memoria di sensazioni positive e negative, e di come colossi internazionali abbiano avviato collaborazioni con Tonatto per avere la loro propria fragranza artigianale.


For the visit at Laura Tonatto‘s  Galleria Olfattiva I was delighted to wear:

Maxi shirt: Max Mara

Carre: Hermes

Pearls necklacecs: vintage


The pictures at the Galleria Olfattive were taken with my white Sony NEX-5T (and special thanks to Massimo for his help!)

For all the other pictures, special thanks to Laura Tonatto’s team.

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