Perfume is an Art. Some people may not think of it quite this way, but it the 8th Art…Sensual art. It is the art that comes to the senses through the beauty of nature and nature’s gifts. This is the essential lesson. Like a beautiful piece of music, it can speak to us of the future or of days gone by. If it is fortunate enough, the fragrance will evoke the same feelings in the future as it did when first you used it, and like a fine wine or musical piece, it can bring you back over and over for more.
My love of fragrance began in the 1960’s during my teenage years. Among the more famous names such as Pierre Cardin and Canoe stand out as a few of my favorites. Boys would scramble to buy, for example “Canoe.”
Do you remember its sister scent, Ambush, which was also very popular with women? They were both similar fragrances. European style and fashion was quite influential back then; especially from London with the Beatles and Twiggy.” Naturally, I had dreams and ambitions as a young man, but it wasn’t until I actually traveled throughout Europe as a young adult and began visiting the many fragrance houses that I learned many things about the industry and fragrance while there. I realized that I wanted to create my own unique fragrance (solely for personal use).
In the early 1980’s I did precisely that. I never thought that I would one day bring my cologne to market. I developed my “unnamed” fragrance and the accolades were immediate and, honestly, quite surprising to me. “Palio by Lorenzo Siena” actually had its birth, in name anyway, after visiting the beautiful Tuscan city of Siena, Italy from which my surname is derived.
My wife and I have a daughter whom we had named “Elise Catherine Siena” in honor of a famous saint, Catherine of Siena.
“Il Palio Di Siena ”
When our daughter was actually born on the feast day of this saint, we immediately decided to visit this beautiful city. Siena is divided into seventeen (17) “contradas” or “districts,”… seventeen (17) being the city’s lucky number. I was so impressed by the beauty and serenity of this classical place which is “frozen in time” that I decided to name my “first launch” after a medieval event that has been held there for centuries and continues to this day, “Il Palio Di Siena,” a race known all over Europe. Palio is loosely translated as the “Winner” or “Prize” of Siena.”
Remember, I do not claim to be an “alchemist nor a perfumer.” There are those who know infinitely more than I regarding fragrance. I am, however, a fragrance aficionado, entrepreneur, educator, lecturer, and businessman with drive. I like to listen, observe, see, and then act.
Since I love dining out and have been in some of the finest restaurants from New York to Shanghai, I often observed the careers of some of the great “chefs” (even those on television here in the United States) and looked at how they had begun their careers. It is amazing to find that some of the most famous ones never attended culinary school. (Even Rachel Ray will tell you that she is a “cook,”—not a chef.) How did these people achieve such success?
Dedication and a passion for what they are doing is the answer. So too with fragrance. I believe one must have a drive and a passion and a love for this business. Europe is steeped in art and beauty, but for me there is no better place to be inspired and perhaps no better city than Siena, the name our family was given when we came to this country.
– Contributor, Laurence Siena
Editor's Note: My correspondance with Laurence was initally about the creative process and memories of Siena, where my great grandmother was born. I learned he was planning a trip to Israel to unravel some mysteries of his ancestry.