Antonia Bellanca opened her East Hampton flower shop, Antonia's Flowers, in 1981. Unhappy with the floral perfumes then on the market, she decided to capture the scent of her shop in a bottle. Her first fragrance, called simply Antonia's Flowers, was created with perfumer Bernard Chant and launched in 1984.
Tiempe Passate, her third fragrance, was named for a love song written by her grandfather in the 1920s. Bellanca wanted a perfume "designed to immediately smell as if it's been on the skin all night" (The Independent, 12/14/02). The result, by nose Norbert Bijaoui, features notes of bergamot, clementine, sage, mimosa, cyclamen, Montauk rose, white orris, cedar, vetiver and amber.
Tiempe Passate starts with a rush of citrusy bergamot, but quickly settles into a blend that smells primarily of cedar and iris. The very early stages are mildly sweet and fruity, but after that it is earthy and dry, with a light, peppery-spicy edge. The florals are indistinct — I would guess that I pick out the mimosa and rose only because they are listed in the notes. The Montauk rose is said to have a salty quality, and sometimes I think it does smell very salty, more so the longer it warms on the skin, but again, perhaps that is only the power of suggestion.
It reminds me somewhat of Hermès Hiris, but worn together their differences are striking. Tiempe Passate is warmer and heavier, with its feet planted firmly on the ground, while Hiris is floating around somewhere in the upper atmospere. Hiris reminds me of spring, Tiempe Passate of fall. Both fragrances are elegant, but Hiris has a playful elegance, Tiempe Passate, in keeping with its back story and packaging, has a more nostalgic, old-fashioned air.
It is a lovely fragrance with a lovely bottle to match, and my only complaint is that it is only sold in 60 ml bottles of Eau de Parfum. That is just more juice than I need. And unlike Hiris, it cannot be easily found at a nice discount. One day when I am feeling particularly flush, I will probably buy it, but in the meantime, I'm sticking with my Hiris, which is to my mind one of the all time great bargains in perfumery.
Tiempe Passate is $125. For buying information, see the listing for Antonia's Flowers under Perfume Houses.