For people could close their eyes to greatness, to horrors, to beauty, and their ears to melodies or deceiving words. But they could not escape scent. For scent was a brother of breath. Together with breath it entered human beings, who could not defend themselves against it, not if they wanted to live. And scent entered into their very core, went directly to their hearts, and decided for good and all between affection and contempt, disgust and lust, love and hate. He who ruled scent ruled the hearts of men.
(Patrick Süskind, Perfume)
The debate on the senses has fascinated and engaged philosophers and writers of all times and in this debate the sense of smell has always been an underestimated sense. I myself, often speaking of contemporary society, have said that sight has "cannibalized" the other senses, in the meaning that we live in a society of the image, surrounded, continually studded with images. We often say that appearance prevails over being, that form prevails over substance. Very true. But let's pause for a moment on the quote by Süskind that I used at the beginning. If I don't want to see something I can close my eyes, if I don't want to hear something I can plug my ears, if I don't want to smell something I can plug my nose but since the sense of smell is directly and unavoidably linked to breathing I cannot avoid smelling long because sooner or later I'll have to take a breath and breathe. All this, the importance of smell is something that takes us far back in our evolutionary history and brings us closer to other animal species.
All our emotional ties are strengthened by the scent that remains in our unconscious memories throughout our lives, think of the mother-daughter relationship. The smell of the mother, even before her image, is the first smell that the child learns to recognize and which has a calming, reassuring effect on him. Whenever we smell a particular smell, we connect it to something, to someone, to a particular pleasant or unpleasant situation. A mysterious and very fascinating world. That is why when I met Christopher DiCas at a film festival in Athens I started asking him many questions because I wanted to understand something more about this unknown and fascinating world.
Christopher DiCas, born in Piraeus, is a Greek actor and model interested and passionate about all the arts who since 2011 has started to sign a fragrance that bears his name. After the collaboration with the German group N.W.A. which produced his perfume, in 2018 DiCas opened his own company with which he produces high perfumery perfumes. At this moment he is starting to enter the Italian and American market so he narrates himself and his history in this interview.
I introduced you as an actor and model. Can you tell us something about yourself so we know you better?
I am “L’enfant du Pirée” as the famous song of Manos Hadjidakis says! I studied music, drama and Psychology. When I was young I studied drama with the Greek actor Vassilis Diamantopoulos and this has been an opportunity not only to study drama but also to understand the life of an actor and how to do this job in the best way. As I always tell myself it is important to try to transform our dreams into reality and for this reason we never stop learning. I can say that I have achieved some of my dreams while I am working to achieve some others as an artist who tries to find in each moment and thing the magic beside, inside, behind it.
I said that in 2011 you create your first fragrance. How did your passion for perfumes come about?
My music studies and the profession and the passion of my family for perfumes and smells, guided me to discover the perfumery from another point of view: through the Septimus Piesse music system. My father is a chemist and electronical engineer in precision instruments and worked in many leading cosmetic companies, and my mother worked in the same field checking the quality of cosmetics. They are also perfume connoisseurs and collectors. Growing up in a family with these assumptions educates you in a certain way, in addition of this there is a personal passion and interest in this field that I have been cultivating from many years.
In 2018 you set up on your own creating but also marketing your perfumes, what were and what are your aspirations?
I said that I am a creative person. In addition to this, the communication, the relationships with other people, the communication of my passion for perfumes are other important elements of my life and my job. Don’t forget that I am an honest person who respects persons and of course customers. All these elements helped me in my carrier as an actor but also as an entrepreneur. It is not simple, life is not simple for each of us. But step by step, with passion and respect you can reach the top and for this reason I never stop. I hope that my company can be one of the best companies in the world, one of the most successful.
Your first perfume bears your name and is a tribute to your land and its extraordinary nature and culture, can you tell us something more?
I used my name as an introduction to the perfume audience. I have a small company focused on the quality of the ingredients. The quality is an obsession for us. The perfume audience is very demanding and has a sensitivity to the quality so if they choose to invest their money buying our perfumes they need honesty. Christopher DiCas L'Extrait, this is its name, is a mixture of vintage, intensely floral, with unique spicy aromas and woods. It contains the authentic mastic from Chios used for the first time in perfumery instead of lentisk of Corsica, which is incorrectly called mastic. Mastiha is an exceptionally aromatic ingredient cultivated in southern Chios, known for its beneficial effects but also for its sweet and rich aroma. This perfume is a hymn to Greek nature containing also notes of sage, lavender and Cretan iris.
69 is your second fragrance, more sensual, mysterious, seductive. How did this second project come about?
In my childhood my grandfather was my superhero. Each day he tried to feed us (me and my brother). So for this reason each mouthful was a fairy tale from Greek mythology and the Arabian nights. When we learned to read, each weekend he started to buy books of Greek mythology, poetry and of course many editions of the Arabian nights and their analysis. So the memories of those stories with the magic potions of East inspired me to create a scent that seduce all the senses with the capacity of the essential oils. So 69 L'extrait, inspired by the thousand and one nights that my grandfather told me every night, is my second fragrance, a luxurious and sensual fragrance with rich and mysterious ingredients in which dominate spices.
Is there a link between your activity as a perfume creator and your activity as an actor?
You have to find the link in the word “creation”. Christopher DiCas Extracts is a special project, a limited edition of 500 bottles for each fragrance. Ancient Greeks put perfumed oils in lekythos, a typical Greek vessel used in their rituals. The Greek designer George Iliadis designed the bottle of these perfumes as a tribute to the beauty and rituals of the Greece that here fit our contemporary souls and practices. As you can see, this is a project like that you call “site specific project” in the art field. I cannot stop to create because this is my nature, our nature.
Is there the possibility to see you in Italy for an event linked to your perfume line or as an actor?
Of course. I adore Italy, for the history, the cinema that speaks straight to the heart as I am trying with my perfumes. Italians are an exceptional and very demanding audience for perfumes: in each square you can find a perfume shop and in addition it is the country with the most niche perfumery shops. For all these reasons I am working to cooperate with Italian stores and in the future I hope we can organize also some public events. As an actor it is a little bit difficult because I don’t speak Italian but I am studying it so in the future I can play as an actor too.