A Conversation with Sergio Momo

Coming from a family that has a big interest in perfumes and scents, talented perfumer Sergio Momo started his career 10 or 12 years ago, after focusing on design. Passionate about the art of perfumery, he previously unveiled two lines, Xerjoff and Sospiro.

This year, Sergio is launching his third line – Kemi – internationally and Azyaamode had the chance to meet him in Dubai to talk about the inspiration behind this collection and more. 


How did your passion for perfumes start?

It was just a part of me I think. I was mainly influenced by my family, and it has always been an important factor. My father was a globe-trotter and used to bring back home from the four corners of the world some interesting scents, sometimes they were perfumes and sometimes raw material. So it has always been something running in the family, not as a business of course, but as a passion. My career was mainly focused on design produced in Italy, in the UK and in the United States. Then after a while – about 10 or 12 years ago – I decided to create something different for myself. It was one perfume only that I designed and was produced in Murano, Italy. I have always been very passionate about natural perfumes, so I took some courses in the South of France. I had a better understanding of the distillation techniques, which of course was very important because we work with naturals. Everything started from there, without neither commercial intention nor marketing backup. It was pure passion, but then as it usually happens, everything goes very quickly. And now we have two companies and we have many brands.

This is the third line that we launch internationally. We started with Xerjoff, then Sospiro and now Kemi.

You are here in Dubai to launch your latest creations, Kemi Perfumes. Can you tell us about the inspiration behind this collection?

Kemi is a little bit more than an interesting experiment as I would call it. It is interesting because like all of the collections that I put together, it is inspired by research. Everything starts with an idea after reading a book maybe, traveling or finding inspiration, but history is always really inspiring. In this case, Kemi is the ancient word for alchemy, which I always find is a very interesting subject because it is a kind of a philosophy born many thousands of years ago, from the South Mediterranean, Egypt to Greece, Middle East, India, Far East and Europe during the Renaissance. It embraces many kinds of philosophy and cultures and developments.

It has become the foundation of chemistry and all the industries that we know. However, there has always been a great deal of magic around it and it does not only involve the technical side, but also a lot of art and philosophy throughout history. That is why it inspired me. Perfume has something to do with it of course, because here we are talking about the basics of the alchemy, the transformation of a normal object from nature into something exquisite; the philosopher stone or the transformation of metal into gold and so on… Therefore, a lot of things evolved around the transformation of elements, and here, we are doing exactly the same thing.

Is there something specifically challenging in creating this fragrance?

Yes, very much because when the alchemy approached the Middle East, it was by Jabir who had a very important role in history. He was a scientist and a researcher and for the first time he transformed a philosophy into a real study. He has put the study to experimentation and that was very important. However, the second more important factor is when he started to write everything and when he was doing something that nobody has ever done before. So nowadays, we still have all the basis of chemistry thanks to Jaber, who actually was studying, creating and writing his own experiments. Moreover, he is the creator of the distilling method, which allows you to turn herbs and natural objects into oil and essence of raw material. This constitutes an evolving part of the perfume concept, through transforming a flower or something else into an oil that allows us to create a blend and a perfume.

The packaging is also very interesting; can you tell us more about it?

In fact, many things crossed each other. You see the cap, apart from the weight and the material which are extremely important, but also the shape, everything is round because it has got a strong meaning. The way that the perfumes are conceived and created is not with a traditional pyramid, so we do not have a head note and a heart note. It is a completely different approach. It is something round in structure, as you have a nucleus – which is the center of the perfume. These are perfumes that are made of 3 or 4 elements maximum that all have the same importance. At the very beginning, the perfume smells strong and does not change with time.

This collection features two oils. Can you tell us more about them?

One of these two oils is a blend of three different kinds of Oud that could be a perfect base, which the wearer can top off with any of the Kemi or any other perfume. All in all, blending different perfumes for me is a matter of luck, it is a matter of trial and error. 

Is there a signature ingredient that you always use when creating a perfume?

Of course there are some ingredients which I am particularly fond of but I don’t necessarily use them in every perfume I create. I would say that the combination Vanilla with some raisins is a little bit of my DNA. 

In your opinion, which scent makes a perfume Middle Eastern?

I think that everything which is not floral or citrus is declared oriental. Oriental is a perfume which is long-lasting by nature. It is very direct and obviously it is a blend.

Do these fragrances speak only to women?

No not at all. I never create anything that is only for women or men. Perfumery for me is a form of art that speaks to everybody.

Is there a specific character that you think these fragrances are addressed to?

It is definitely addressed to a customer that likes experimenting. Perfume is a way of experimentation, just like fashion or every random thing in the everyday life.

What’s next for you?

Every time we launch something, we already have a table and you have to imagine that this table is full of Kemi, Sospiro and Xerjoff that are ready to be…

What are the four keywords you would use to describe the production of this collection?

The first one is history interpretation, because this is the base of everything. The blending techniques are the second. Nature is the third; in fact we did not focus much on it this time but obviously it goes without saying that when we have blending and distillation you have nature and it is very easy to say this, but to be able to work on something which is 95 or 96 per cent natural is extremely difficult especially throughout the years. Experimenting is the fourth because you may have quality but not creativity which is also fine.


Mirella Haddad

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