Pissara Umavijani of Parfums Dusita with her father Poet Montri Umavijani
At Çafleurebon, we have been celebrating our fathers and paternal figures in our lives since 2010. For 2021, we are deeply honoured that award winning perfumer Pissara Umavijini of Parfums Dusita accepted our invitation to share some of her olfactive and profoundly personal memories of her father, poet Montri Umavijani. His life-long passion for creation inspired her to become a perfumer. – Michelyn Camen, Editor-in-Chief
It’s true that man
should not give in
to the dream;
but without it,
what is life? –Montri Umavijani
As long as I can remember, my father loved to write during the night. “The quietness of the moment, along with the cool wind, makes writing easier,” he used to tell me. Since a very young age, I kept wondering what he was writing. A new poem, or perhaps a letter to his friends around the world? He never failed to carry his notebooks wherever he went. His poems were fragments of his thoughts, captured moments from his various travels, or impressions of the people he met. Tirelessly, throughout his life, he wrote. Once I was able to read, he showed me many great pieces of literature and poetry, as well as letters and postcards from the places he visited. Written remembrances of the people he met during traveling, and of the friendships he developed with them through correspondence for many years afterwards… He loved observing people, and writing about human nature, countries, politics, and everything that was going on in his mind. My father, Montri Umavijani, had one lifelong passion, to create timeless poetry. His work was ahead of its time, and it continues living after he passed.
Some of my earliest olfactive memories are the fragrances that my father used to wear, the ones I smelled when he held me in his arms. Always a Francophile, he loved Parisian perfume houses like Guerlain (his preferred scents were Habit Rouge and Mitsouko) and Dior (he often wore Eau Sauvage); later, he felt enamored with Guy Laroche Fidji. Whenever he came back from a voyage, perfumes would be the gifts he brought to my mother. And the more he travelled, the more refined and sophisticated his fragrance taste became. Later in life I realised that I started developing my great love for vintage perfumes from a very young age, and I largely owe my initiation to my father’s personal collection.
Pissara Umavijani of Parfums Dusita
In 2014, I visited Paris for the first time. It was an early autumn evening, and while walking along the Seine near Hôtel de Ville, I saw a man wearing old loafer shoes, exactly like the ones my father used to wear. I decided to follow him. Suddenly tears came to my eyes, as I remember that my dad always wanted me to learn French, but I rebelled. I imagined how it would be if he was still alive, and right there with me… He would show me many places in Paris, where he used to stay. His secret corners, the cafés where he sat observing people, writing in his notebook. He was an artist and a rebel, that’s why Paris was the ideal city for him. He loved France, and dreamed of living in Europe for the rest of his life. After his death, I decided to travel alone to Europe extensively. During my trips, I gradually collected precious olfactive memories, and, just like my father never stopped transcribing his thoughts, I also carried a notebook everywhere I went. I wasn’t aware at the time that these experiences and written thoughts would lead me to the realisation of one of my life’s greatest passions and dreams, becoming a perfumer. From the very beginning, my idea, my wish concerning Parfums Dusita was to turn the poetry of my father into different scents. Imagining his words as living creatures, in a certain surrounding, evoking all sorts of feelings and sensations like freedom, love, passion, tranquility, nostalgia… And it all started with my first creation, Issara.
My father’s poem immediately took me to the province of Krabi, in the south of Thailand, where our family used to visit:
Here, where the tree once stood
Is now a shelter for ancient rains.
This poem is constructed by simple words with strong, impactful connotations. When I was composing Issara, I used a similar approach of apparent simplicity – of the kind that requires long, hard hours of work to achieve; through this approach I wanted to express something immensely complex, nature’s empowering and liberating beauty. A scent that would evoke the feeling of walking into a forest, a feeling of profound serenity and freedom. I envisioned Issara as a neo-fougère, harmoniously blending together natural ingredients like Pine, Hay, Clary Sage, Oakmoss, and Vetiver. Many fragrance creations followed, and my aim has always been to honor my father’s life and poetry, while bringing happiness to the wearer. Issara, however, will always hold a special place in my heart as my first fragrance to encapsulate my hopes and dreams about what I wanted Parfums Dusita to reflect, to communicate, to offer…
Even though my father is not on this earth anymore, turning his poetry into a different form of life, through my Parfums Dusita fragrances, fills my heart with joy, solace, and love. Passion, whose value I learnt from him, is more than important in my fragrance creations – it is vital. To me, it is the passion that helps me go through all kinds of obstacles in life. I believe that those who dedicate themselves to a cause, a dream, or their art might go on living through their work; and, in any case, in the memory of people whose lives they have touched. I am proud that my father was such a person.
-Pissara Umavijani – Founder and perfumer of Parfums Dusita
all photos were created by Pissara expressly for this article ©