“The idea I have of my work is that you travel to look for goods and come back with stories. In fact, every material I search for carries within it an ancient history and an extraordinary world, and my task is to decipher them and return them to people in their nobility and magic.” With these words Dominique Roches, describes what has been his job for over thirty years: the seeker of essences. It is a profession, which he carries out with great enthusiasm and, which he described in the book “Cueilleur d’essences – Aux sources des parfums du monde” published in France by Grasset and now also in Italy by Feltrinelli with the title “Il cercatore di essenze. Journey to the origins of fragrance“. “Two years ago in Somaliland, a place that for internal political problems is difficult to access – continues Roques – I made a discovery that had an effect on me: the incense tree. A journey that for me represented the discovery of the origin of perfume, whose birth dates back at least to 3000 B.C. The Egyptians loved incense resin very much, which they considered a divine perfume and used it in abundance for their ceremonies. All subsequent civilizations, including the Romans, shared this passion.
The love for frankincense, resin coming from a remote and arid place, gave birth to a great trade made of caravans and ships that have left behind fabulous traces.”The one in Somaliland is only one of the journeys told by Roques in his book, which collects the narration of other adventurous explorations in different places of the world in search of the rarest and most precious essences: from Andalusia to Bulgaria, from Laos to El Salvador, from Indonesia to Egypt. Told in the book are also many anecdotes related to perfume. Among these, the one that tells the story of how in 1840 it was an 11 years old child to understand the principle of pollination of vanilla, 140 years after its importation in Europe.
Above: Frankincense tree