Alexandra PavenFrom: Bucharest Born on: Occupation: Entrepreneur, perfectionist connoisseur of perfume, Vladimir's mother
There are people who are looking at you and they know: “Something happened to you. Are you ok? ” they ask. Sometimes they are annoying, and sometimes we thank with all our earthly and alien vocabulary that they exist. But they know you, they know your past, they know your present and are a constant in your life. So it is justified.
Harder to explain is the radar of Alexandra Paven. You cannot fool Alex. And you try because you don’t like the defiant drop she throws upon you when she “guessed you”. A condensed interior satisfaction. She chose this: to observe, to ask, to advise. And when her olfactory suggestion corresponds to the person you are, not to the one you think you are, it means that she has done her job to the end.
Although holding Cland3stin and Hobirama, the most representative for Alexandra Paven is the Createur 5 D’Emotions (C5DE) boutique. There she spends most of her time near the niche fragrances so dear to her. I also went there, in the “extension” of her home, to ask questions. She didn’t initially embrace the situation. Skeptic, defensive, and convinced that she would have to repeat what she had already told a dozen times, she had spent a few minutes on the purple armchair changing nervous position.
I thought it would be an uncomfortable interaction both for her and me when the short and precise answer appeared in my inbox: 3 sentences with 4, 6, respectively 9 words, packed between a “Hi, Marta! ” and ” Best, <enter> Alex “. At least it’s positive, I said enthusiastically. Metaphorically speaking, I wanted to push her in the street and show her in details to the entire world. And this, for a person who lives in the coordinates she has set, cannot be convenient.
The first thing I want when I get into the store is a coffee, Alexandra tells while she carelessly arranges her dress and she caress with measure her look. There are two possibilities: the nearby café (when the lazy module is activated) or the usual route, longer to Origo. My contact with the surrounding world is generally very low. And then, I force myself to walk down on Calea Victoriei street, look at people and analyze the expressions on their faces. It’s a few minutes’ walk that calibrate me on that day so that it doesn’t end up with an excessive operating error compared to the reference point, the outside world. It may sound odd, but I find it extraordinary because it helps me keep in touch with the reality of normal people.
If we relate to the current trends, we could say that she managed to make her concept, boutique and values, but especially on her, the person Alexandra Paven, a brand. People enter into C5DE space and they want to talk to Alex because being really noticed, being studied in detail is both inconvenient and addictive.
I asked her what she is looking for the first time a human enter in store. She laughs with a former smoker voice (I do not guarantee for former) and tells me it’s like a date: Imagine: he’s coming, he’s sitting in front of you and your senses are alert, you’re careful at all the details. You see much more things than if you went and had dinner with your mom.
But is not it tiring?, I asked.
It is and you cannot do that with anyone. There are also people who do not come from that. Some come to boast of the things that they know. What you know, you already know. You would be much luckier if you listened, but it is a matter of ego. Perfumes are closely related to the ego: how much you want, if you have it or if you don’t have it, if you want to show it or if you don’t want to show it, if you want to have it or to let it asleep.
Ten years ago, when she opened the boutique, in the store entered 5 people a day and she had enough time and energy for each. There are now many more and everyone wants a piece of you like NOW. And if it happens not to be in the highest form, the person will believe he is not treated properly. And we return to the ego.
“When people talk about someone who has an ego, it’s almost never meant as a compliment; it’s a three-letter dirty word, used interchangeably with “arrogance” or “pomposity,” and the word “big” usually precedes it. But ego isn’t inherently bad or good. It’s merely one quality among many that make up a human being”.
It is not an Alexandra’s quote, but it is a book fragment I remembered when the subject of the discussion became the ego. It seems to be in everything and everywhere. Including in the world of performance sport where Alex was part of, first by fencing, and then through handball. It is a burden to want to be the best, and the feeding of the ego becomes complicated: although you excel in a sphere of activity, you must never have a super mega expanded ego.
Alexandra Paven, has the heart in the head and the brain in the chest. Juggles fluently with them as she remembers her grandfather’s words: You have to know how much money you are doing! A metaphor who highlight self- awareness – everyone need to recognize his/her strengths, to know where he/she have to work, and especially to practice acceptance, after drawing a line under the firsts. Because that’s you. I realized I could not be an employee. I had a lot of jobs, I did it well and I could do them further, but it seemed to me that I was a sad person. And I said: “I’m not a sad person! I also have my kind of humour and I will do the things as I wish.” So she came to know how much money she worth and realized that in order to enjoy a beautiful life fitted to her needs she had to build her own cocoon. Mine, because that’s it! I would like to be a sociable person, I would like to be the soul of the party, but I cannot.
It was not a Spartan education.
She was born in Bucharest, but her more prominent half originates in Bucovina, where she spent much of the childhood summers. The notions of “grandfather,” “country house,” “animal,” all this terminology in the northeast is well known for her.
She attended the chemistry-biology high school C.A. Rosetti, and then the physiotherapy faculty – the parents’ specialization. Now, while we are talking, I realize that I was a very rebellious child, but not rebellious enough to join the faculty I would have liked. Although I do not regret this period, I realize that I wanted to make my parents happy, to show my appreciation for the freedom they have given to me.
My family is a family of teachers in the sport world. My mother is the teacher’s icon dedicated to the child at a level that people do not understand anymore in 2018. I mean, countless activities outside the program, because it’s a woman who only this knows in life. We are amused at home at the thought that although she is 76 years old, she is doing his best with unimaginable enthusiasm. I am very happy to see this energy in her. And my dad is equally tied to these words: sport, olympiad and teacher.
Both myself and my brother were raised in life contexts where the results and performances, whether sports or school, were on the agenda. And it was not a Spartan education, but the caress, the indulgence, the constant encouragement of the little one were not practiced openly during communism period. Surely we, the children of then, were loved, but the feelings were manifested more through facts and less by statements.
My mother started saying “I love you!” when I was about 36 years old. And initially it sounds like an American movie (laughs), but in time I realized that these words are important. You know that your parent loves you for about 30 years, but you still feel quite embarrassed when you hear the words spoken. I remember that I experienced a harsh jealousy on all the other children when we were going, for example, in the camp. I would have wanted to be the “mother’s” girl and clearly have another treatment. It never happened. And when my brother and I became the subject of teacher’s occasional admiration: “Wow, how fast they grew up!” or “Oh, how sweet are they! “, my mother always tried to neutralize the effect and move on: “Yes, yes, thank you …! “, she said. The professional side of her was always active.
There’s my mother … And I turn back when a madam walks in front of the boutique window. Like you, she probably thinks it’s closed, Alex says. She will go to the girls … (Alexandra’s friends who take care of Cland3stin and Hobirama).
Although they are people with open mind, I do not think they fully understand what the boutique represents for me. But I realized it didn’t matter. I mean, I have their approval and respect anyway. Now, having a child, I notice that we are surrounded by preconceived ideas and in fact the parent doesn’t necessarily have to understand what the child does, but what makes him happy. To recognize his happiness and this is all. I think they’re proud of me (she says it and twist his body in the armchair), although I didn’t make this an objective. Children MUST NOT to do their parents proud. I think there are many things that we DON’T MUST to do. In principle, nobody MUST to do anything except moral values, but it would be good to live as intensely as possible.
Now I understand better the connection you have with the sport area…
Yes, I first did fencing and then, from a madness, I switched to performance handball. When I realized that team sports or access to society for me was a complicated thing, I turned back to fencing. But it was a little late. Now I enjoy it once a week and I practice it at an amateur level. And three hours doing this are an incredible stress release for a fighting personality like mine. In principle, I could have made any sport I would have liked because I have a developed capacity of the muscles, it’s something related to “race” (laughs). These activities were made with pleasure, although they were done at a performance level. There was no torment at all. For example, it seems absurd to see people trying to have a soldier’s program in the gym every day. Things have a proper time and involves a constancy. It’s kind of fun to dedicate yourself to the sport in the middle age crisis and think you might need to sleep in the gym.
A few minutes after I entered the boutique, the music stopped. She waited to finish a subject and stood up from the armchair: I do not understand what happened. Why did it stop? Goes behind the glass showcase, a kind of perfume and jewellery “exhibitor”, and looks for ways to combat the silent musical box. She returns resigned after a few seconds and sinks on the armchair. We continue the discussion, but I know for sure that somewhere in her mind, a program runs, looking for a solution.
We were not commercial or merchants.
The works of “Laboratoire des Endorphines”, the Hierogamia, 72. ENCOUNTER YOUR GUARDIAN ANGEL, EXTRAitORDINAIRE projects, and recently perfumes inspired by Romanian mythology, were made, some more than others, in a playground mood.
The play needs you relaxed and for this you need to keep your emotions, stress, life in control, have a balance or try to reach a balance. What I want in the end is to produce and get some reactions from people. And yes, it’s nice to notice them, but you have to be reconciled with yourself so you can notice them fair. You get questions and you have only two options: to give them a story because they prefer to be beautifully lied or give useful information by helping them discover themselves. In the end, it is the fact that smelling perfumes reveals pieces of yourself.
You are translating things about you in scents.
The Smell of the Unseen was created from play, but the feedback was great and everyone wanted it. We said to make 60, 70 bottles and from here it all started like a rolling snowball. We did about 288. Being so well received, we decided it would be the first project we would make at perfumery level. There were also more difficult moments when a decision it was demanded. We had a choice between making a perfume on the pattern of our desires with quality ingredients at a fairly high price or compromising through more accessible composition. You know, in general, anyone can make a beautiful bottle, dressed in a marketing story, but containing a mediocre fragrance, often and at an unjustified price. We did not want that. We all wanted to take the creative part to the end. We realized we were not commercial or merchants.
It’s really a business, but I cannot even now perceive C5DE as a business. It’s directly related to my soul and it works pretty well. Things of the soul must not be something of which you lose. No, on the contrary, you win from any point of view. And even if you think you could make a lot more money, this “more money” depends very much on who sees things and from what angle. And then we made this perfume exactly the way we wanted it. It is our pride. The benefits, to put it this way, comes from very well-prepared perfumers from outside the country, who really appreciate it. It’s a great thing for a fragrance to be recognizable, especially when it was …
Excuse me … I’m going to kiss my mom. She’s no longer patient, that’s how we are, she says to me, and hurries to the door, opens it and tells something to her mother who just passing through the same window. She hugs for a few seconds and then I hear: Mum, bye, we will see at home!
… Yes … so it was only produced in 288 copies.
There were times of doubt when we asked, “Were you wrong? Maybe in this madness something was not okay? “But I realized in a few years that I was not wrong at all. And although many have told us that we make bad decisions, time and people have shown us that they were the most appropriate decisions for us. Probably if I made a cheaper product, things did not happen like this, and the conceptual idea was lost.
How you smell is what, you, think about yourself or what you want, me, to think about you.
– Are people trying to present themselves different to the world through the perfumes they wear? Are they hiding behind a perfume?
Oh yes! And it is the most beautiful tool. Anyway, everyone has the right to hide, to do what they want and what their feels the need with their own person. By perfume you can be who you want to be. I think the world could live alright without perfume, as a product. But if you think of the perfume, as something that smells pleasant, you realize that since birth you are surrounded by smells. We are guided by them. If we didn’t need it, we would have been born without a nose. And the people would not have what to operate. So at a primary level we need scents, and if we detail, I think we also need pleasant smells to use as an addition to who we are already.
When I think about the origin of the fragrance I somehow go to the nature. I think there’s a need to bottle something that smells good. It is the human’s desire to have in a bottle in the winter a piece of spring. How cool! You can take a branch of flowers, seal it (she gestured like crumple up a piece of paper – till the end is about cellulose), and when the body needs a boost, pull out the smell of apple blossoms for example, and inspire. And then I think that the perfume roots are connected to the people’s need to encapsulate time.
After this follows the emotional side. For example, when you fall in love for the first time, and all senses are very alert, you stay with olfactory memories up to 80 years old. Some kind of trigger for emotions.
But above all, the scent speaks of you. It’s part of your story. It’s the extension of your personality. And you’ve got visual contact for the first time: I think about you when I see you, but I’ll wait to smell your skin or your aura and figure out what you think about yourself. Because basically, how you smell is what, you, think about yourself or what you want, me, to think about you.
Fragrance is a non-verbal communication. I know people who excel in the visual, but they do not know how to perfume themselves. And then there is an enormous gap between the aesthetic information you give and the olfactory one. It’s about the needs of the person entering the store. It is important to use your senses. Choose your own as you know, translate into your mind and then I come and I help you: I’m translating you in another way what you already smelled. But you have already chosen on the basis of your own experiences, based on your past: childhood, adolescence, etc. All this will lead you to choose what suits you. You just need this guidance. I am an observer. That’s why if I go to a club I will never dance, because I’m not a protagonist, I’m an observer. When I offer a perfume to a person, I look at hands, feet, how she/he chooses her/his jewels, how she/he is dressed, how she/he wears the hair, whether she/he has glasses, and if so, how. I’m looking at everything. In 90% of cases I manage to identify exactly the needs and it is a great joy.
– Did you understand all the perfumes? It seems to me that first of all you need to understand what it’s like in as emotional aspects in a scent …
A perfume doesn’t dissect. You do not judge a perfume. That’s why I say there are no beautiful or ugly, good or bad perfumes. We can talk about creative perfumes, inspired, more or less inspired, copied, not as qualitative as ingredients, but you cannot say pleasant or unpleasant, because it is a purely subjective opinion. A fragrance does not disintegrate on the layers. There is this olfactory pyramid, top, middle and base, a summary that a human needed to understand about what’s going on. But it’s like making a page summary of a wonderful 14-volume literary work. It’s stupid. You will never have all the ingredients.
And no, you cannot think of notes like emotions. In our case, it was necessary to mention the emotions in the creation of 72, because it is a told perfume. It has a text behind it: you are alone in a closed environment and you hear a voice calling you by name. The first reaction is to scare you; the first emotion is panic. That’s why we’ve been looking for a peak to talk about a strong emotion: fear, anxiety, panic, but not at the level of paralysis or running, but instead of waiting, because you want to find out more. This happened because I’m the one who wrote the piece of music that the ingredients sing and the perfumer directs. Fragrance is a symphony. The orchestra coordinator had to understand my musical creation, and I told him a story through emotions. A risk of relativity assumed because fear is perceived differently by each of us.
In general, you smell something and say: mmm or yak! And it is not necessarily emotion. I like it or not. You must smell perfume as a whole and something that will change in time. Usually if you have complex fragrances, it will change a lot.
– Yes, but I like it or I do not like it, have no justification.
Perfume is very strange, because I can show you perfumes that you like or do not like without knowing why. You will not like it because it’s unknown, but the more you go away from the comfort zone the more you tend to say: “I don’t like it!”. Everything that is different gives you a feeling of discomfort. Maybe if you smell 2,3 or 4 times it becomes familiar and you may say: “It’s not that bad!”.
The different, the change, the new, are not things that people like. I mean, there are people that can spend 40 years in the same situation. They do not do anything because it’s comfortable and because they like it: I do not fight, I do not do anything, I’m just staying, for nothing …
How could you think you could work with somebody else?
Arturetto Landi or Art, as Alex refer to him, is the creator of the Smell of the Unseen symphony and of the fairy tale trilogy: Parfum de Zmeu, Parfum de Făt-Frumos și Parfum de Cosânzeana. The italian perfumer has stepped into the world of fine fragrances in Germany of 1976.
It seems to me that it is part of the divine hand, a maître-parfumeur, says Alexandra.
We are lucky because this man, even though he is 70 years old, has not lost his fever of creation, and we think we fit very well from this point of view, sharing the same kind of madness. Otherwise I do not explain from where the patience and dedication comes from in these small projects. We did not exist. The amount we make is insignificant. What he appreciates and somehow nourishes is the concept, the different statement we propose. He’s our only collaborator. We tried to cheat and make fairy tale with a young perfumer. After three unsuccessful attempts I plucked up courage to ask: “Art, let’s do this project too.” He was very pleased and said: “But how could you think you could work with somebody else?”. He knows I’m a difficult person. I push the human. And I insisted also with him, I challenged him, and sometimes I thought he was upset and he would never talk to me.
Art succeeds in understanding the image of Alexandra’s mind. An atypical man, who isn’t satisfied with less, resonates with an atypical man woman who isn’t satisfied with less, I would say.
Of all the people with whom Alex interacted in collaborations, he was the only one who did not project his ego over her idea. He was the only one who saw, but especially strengthened and in some way educated Alexandra’s passion for perfume.
– Alex, you have to come in my laboratory!
– Whaaat?, she frowns as she repeated the dialogue.
– But why?
– Because you have to learn to smell first. You have to learn to give ideas a label.
And she explains further: Let’s say I put the ingredients on a table. And now I want to make the scent of the storm cloud (it’s done). And then I use some ingredients because I think that’s the smell. In the next step Art comes and makes the perfect dosage of the ingredients I choose. A fine tuning, this do beside the creation of a new smell, a maitre parfumeur. You often see a perfume that has a good idea, it does not smell bad, but it is completely unfinished. Just because it did not pass through the hands of maitre parfumeur who would do fine tuning: take a little of an ingredient, put on the other until it brings the perfume to its full value.
But as he says, and as I say, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. In the perfume case this is: to me it can tell: “Heaven!”, but to you it can tell: … nothing.
One of the short sentences founded in inbox demolishes my initial affirmation, the main reason of her approach, through the following words: “I do not consider myself a special person.” Before I knew her I attribute this characteristic to Alexandra based on slightly superficial elements, but now I have also proofs, from his metaphorical style of talking, to the dedication to putting on people an olfactory skin that doesn’t press you. Alex would have hurriedly remarked that it is a selfish dedication, and I would be hastier to ask where the selfishness is in the fact that each of her sentences starts involuntarily with us, ours, at us …?
She crosses the room from one corner to another to bring the notes to the nose of the person as she says imperative and humorous: “Talk to me! How is it? What do you think?” Until he inspires and formulates an opinion, she talks to another and pulverize scents on his arms. She listens to four ears and look even in the back. She is also able to use your smallest exposed skin surface as if she has to do anything to find (your) lost or unidentified yet personality. She sprays (you) without limits, and this can only come from a huge passion.
When I left the boutique, Alex was still behind the glass showcase. She would probably “work” there until she also solve the audio system problem.