Sipario (Hilde Soliani)

In old-school serial thrillers, the phrase "It's curtains for you!" is generally uttered to the rope-bound, pleading maiden as a locomotive chugs around a distant bend in the track. The saying refers to the theater, where fancy proscenium draperies descend to signal end-of-story. In Italian, that wall of red velvet is called the sipario-- a name perfectly suited for the stage, if not exactly the perfume shelf.

Designer Hilde Soliani's 2008 series Teatro Olfattivo Di Parma (Scent Theater of Parma) comprises a group of odors symbolizing the world of the theater as experienced by both performer and audience member. This, I think, is where Ms. Soliani loses me. I lived and worked in that world, albeit as a lowly stagehand. I find all my memories skulking in the wings, where coffee and cigarettes (Bell'Antonio) mix readily with greasepaint and face powder (Vecchi Rossetti). But melon (Mangiami Dopo Teatro)? And tomato (Stecca)? And beachy piña colada pineapple (Sipario)? Is this what the stage looks like when viewed from the house? It sounds more like a farmers' market.

Honestly, all of the above odors seem so wildly mismatched, and their justifications for inclusion so flimsy, that Soliani most likely didn't create them with any predetermined theme in mind. Rather, I suspect she needed a pretext, a banner under which to release this motley collection together... and in this case, the bolt of red velvet came up a couple of yards short.

Scent Elements: Rum, pineapple, coconut, vanilla