December 19, 2018
Ermano Picco and Vero Kern at Esxence 2017 for the launch of Naja
About twelve years ago when I started writing about perfume, the first massive wave of IFRA compliancy reformulations was happening. Add to this the scenario where legacy houses were acquired by big corporations like LVMH to make cash cows out of them, (and please keep in mind a generational gap was thrown in the midst with a more spray-don’t touch hygienic approach). So it’s not difficult to imagine what was left behind of the golden age of perfumerywas casting a pall on perfume lovers.
Ermano and Vero Kern at the Campomarzio Store Opening in Ravenna 2014
I always associated Vero Kern with the idea of a guiding light, and I think she had this particular halo; I also see people who loved her mentioning this in their tributes on the social networks today. I still remember the first time I met her in Milan in 2010: looking unmistakably glam-rock in her leopard print shoes, she was debuting her eau de parfum line under the newborn Campomarzio 70 distribution. It was my first show and meeting her, talking to her about her extraits line and the way she reworked the thick bewitching potions through a passion fruit accord in her EDPS to add sparkle was an epiphany to me.
Vero Kern self portrait-selfie for ÇaFleureBon May7, 2017 ©
Vero and I first talked about the classics and we talked many times about that subject, because Vero Kern was first of all an enthusiastic collector of vintages— the way I feel: to hold, not to have. Smelling her creations, you can feel the deep understanding she had of masterpieces from the past, probably fostered also by her Maestra Monique Schlienger who came out of the school of Jean Carles and trained Vero as a perfumer in Paris in the late 1990s. Vero went beyond this though, joining a strong avant-garde aesthetic vision to a perfectionist obsession, she came out after her five years of work with the pivotal trio Kiki – Rubj – Onda extraits reinventimg a new golden age of her own style. Always “à rebours”, the rebel-rebel from Zurich also revived the Old Hollywood glamour style of applying perfume on pulse points with a glass stopper as the ultimate everyday luxury sending all us perfumistas bananas.
Ermano and Vero Kern Spring 2018
Vero Kern was indeed one of a kind: perfecting her craft first through many years as an aromatologist, and becoming a perfumer in her 60s. She was the living proof of what “aging gracefully” means, not only physically. She had clear ideas of what beauty looks like, sharing through her network pics of role models like the uberchic Veruschka von Lehndorff in her 70s. Vero was always on the road sincerely and generously sharing her path, always forward thinking and embracing life till the last day. Also the last time we met, while having a cappuccino together, we talked about the future, the ever-changing market evolution and how she felt empowered by having traced her own independent path in ten years of unique fragrant statements. While even the copycat scents nowadays pretend to be art in the niche perfumery, it was Vero Kern who gave us unforgettable masterpieces like the ravishing vetiver in Onda or the legendary verdancy of Mito always humbly stated that perfume was not an art, but could be part of an artwork. She was so amazed when the Lousanne Mudac Museum invited her to display Onda inside the exhibition “Nirvana – Strange forms of pleasure”, she told me she understood this was what she enjoyed most of all lately, to be able to frame her creations in artistic contexts, that made she feel at home.
She was a perfumer, my friend and she has left us her precious fragrant heritage.
Grazie di tutto Vero (thank you for everything Vero).
Ermano Picco, Editor
Vero Kern, Michelyn and Eric Weiser of Twisted Lily at Esxence 2015
I met Vero several times over the past five years, but my relationship goes back further, with her perfumes. When I was the New in Niche Columnist at Basenotes, I had the honor of reviewing her inaugral Extaits in 2007.
V is for Vero Kern
Each year in Milan, there was a bottle of Rubj waiting for me; her gift to me slipped into my purse as she knew it was my love. Sr. Editor Ida Meister was one of the first to write about her EDPs in 2010 and our dearly missed Tama Blough met Vero Kern in 2014 and wrote effusively about the Voiles de Parfums and Mito. Our last review was of Naja by Senior Editor Lauryn Beer in 2017. The Silver Fox’s interview which is a beautiful eassay on her art and an inside look into Vero’s creative process is a must read (here).
"Perfumes are a love story.There is nothing more intimate in all of life than the connection between perfume and skin. An imaginary embrace, a folie à deux – or maybe even a liaison dangereuse?” – Vero Kern, May 2007
On behalf of the entire team of CaFleureBon we send our heartfelt condolences to her friends, family and are more the richer for having had Vero Kern in our lives, as a perfumer and as a visionary. We mourn her passing and celebrate her life. –Michelyn Camen, Editor-in-Chief