Paula Pulvino

Villa of the Mysteries is a Brooklyn, New York-based perfumery creating hand-poured, small batch fragrances out of a turn-of-the-century brownstone studio. We use the highest quality ingredients when composing our fragrances, and seek out only the finest raw materials. Our fragrances are derived from precious florals, herbs, fruits, woods, and resins, and are made with the utmost care. VOTM's handcrafted fragrances are evocative of a long-ago era of smoldering incense, fragrant woods, and lush gardens.

 

My grandmother used to make perfumes and sell them in a little shop in her village near Naples, Italy. Later, my grandparents emigrated to the US from Italy — but my grandmother never opened a shop in the US that I know of. When she passed away, I was given her perfume “recipe book” as a memento. I didn’t think much about it at the time, but I think now that it was given to me because I had always loved fragrance as a child. I collected perfumes as a child and would always ask for something new for birthdays and Christmases, but I never thought about making fragrances until later on. My kid self loved the drugstore perfumes like Jovan Musk, and I had quite the collection as a child. I used to layer Jovan Musk with my other perfumes, and make my own little compositions in that way, I guess. It wasn’t until much later that I realized how important scent was to me. 

Some years later I was between jobs and decided to focus on taking classes during my job search. I thought about what I would do if I could do anything in the world, and the idea of making fragrance was hugely appealing. I took classes and did a lot of experimentation on my own, and Villa of the Mysteries Perfume was born out of that. VOTM Perfume is based in Brooklyn, NY in a turn of the century brownstone. Currently, I sell four fragrances, all based on the “recipes” my grandmother used to make. They’re loosely based of course, as some of the ingredients are no longer accessible and some of the “recipes” needed to be a bit modernized. I use my grandmother’s compositions as inspiration for fragrances I’m thinking about making, or sometime, I’ll just put things together experimentally and see what comes of it. 

One of the fragrances that I created came out of this experimentation. I thought I wanted the composition to smell a certain way, but after a number of iterations I just couldn’t get it quite right. I realized I was overthinking the entire process. So I let go of any preconceived notions I had and left it to intuition, which in the end turned out ot be the right thing to do. I named the fragrance Fortes Fortuna Iuvat— Fortune Favors the Brave— as I thought that was an apt name for a fragrance created in such a way. I started off selling two fragrances— the aforementioned Fortes Fortuna Iuvat and Delfina in 2014 at the flea market and also on my website, votmperfume.com. I added Veni Vidi Vici and Carthago Delenda Est in 2015, and will add another two in 2016.