Samnaun is known as the only Swiss duty-free zone outside an airport. In addition to watches, jewellery and cigarettes, Samnaun has made a name for itself with exclusive perfumes. In Samnaun there are 17 different duty-free shops with exclusive perfumes.
The Samnaun answer to "The Perfume"
When I set out for Samnaun one morning, I did not know what to expect.
Who is this young perfumer everyone is talking about and how will he smell me?
Scenes from the best-selling novel "The Perfume" come to my mind.
It is a sunny day and I am strolling along the village street through Samnaun village, the only duty-free paradise in Switzerland, to the Arcada Haute Parfumerie in the middle of the village. I enter the shop and am already expected by Mathias Leipold, who immediately gives me a guided tour through "his kingdom". Craftsmen are currently laying a new carpet in the boutique. A rich brown tone. Matching elegant leather chairs with golden legs. The appearance reminds me of a noble, luxurious hotel lobby. "For my 10th anniversary I was allowed to wish for a new interior", laughs Mathias Leipold.
With "Gucci Eau de Parfum II" to your dream job
The year is 2009, and fate has brought the trained restaurateur Mathias Leipold to duty-free Samnaun. One evening the owner of the Haute Parfumerie Arcada comes for a drink to the bar in Chasa Montana, where Leipold worked at the time. "You are wearing Gucci Eau Parfum II," Leipold told the lady after serving her a drink. This impressed her so much that she immediately offered him a job in her exclusive perfumery - his dream job, as it turned out later.
Today, after 10 years in the perfumery scene, he has acquired his own vocabulary of scents, which he uses to advise his customers. There are no "scent training courses" or special training to become a perfumer. Rather, Leipold describes a fragrance by means of an image that is created in his head when he smells it: "St. Tropez, stroll, go for a walk, the sun shines on your skin.
Leipold has been cultivating the network of the latest trends and fragrances for years at trade fairs, for example in southern France and Italy. In the past, it was a lot of work to get exclusive perfume companies under contract. Today, manufacturers come to him with the request to include them in his range.
Individuality begins with the fragrance
I wanted to know how Mathias Leipold finds the perfect fragrance for a person: "In addition to a good nose, you need a good knowledge of human nature. This, he says, he acquired early on. Frequent contact with a wide variety of people has made him what he is today. If you come back to the village from the piste of the Silvretta Skiarena Samnaun/Ischgl or from a hike from the Alp Bella to acquire an exclusive perfume, three fragrances are recommended after a short consultation. One of them is then - the fragrance you always wanted but did not know.
Leipold builds up the consultation in such a way that he lets the person's appearance take effect on him. Is it a sporty man, a chic woman, a strikingly made-up woman, a business man or tattooed from head to toe? For him it is clear: the fragrance must underline the personality. He then puts together a selection of fragrances that are suitable for this or that appearance. To present the fragrance, Leipold forms a rose out of a cosmetic tissue and sprays it. Why? It is supposed to represent the skin and is so much more airy and authentic than the well-known perfume strips.
The individual consultation speaks for itself, 80% of the guests are regular customers.
If Samnaun were a fragrance, what would it smell like?
Mathias Leipold would give Samnaun two scents. One for winter and one for summer.
...in winter a purist scent
Mathias Leipold: "Very clear, crystalline, straight ahead, puristic, cool as the snow and the blue sky, like an icy cold night in which you can see your breath".
...in summer a mountain flowery scent
In summer Mathias Leipold describes his thoughts on fragrance to me as follows: "Mountain meadows, flowers, freshly mown grass in combination with the mountain summer at Piz Ot, which is covered with green meadows all the way up to the top."
As we say goodbye, I get the three obligatory perfume samples on the way. One of them is Mathias Leipold's favourite scent described below. Again and again I catch myself smelling the cosmetic tissue rose sprayed with it. But I can also identify with the other fragrances in a very special way - which perfume will probably become my second skin?
About Mathias Leipold:
Age: "A fragrance has no age and neither does yours truly" (Quote: Mathias Leipold)
Origin: Since 12 years in Samnaun, originally from the "German pampas" (quotation: Mathias Leipold)
Its highlights in Samnaun: Piz Ot in summer, autumn in Samnaun with the colourful larches and the special scent, in winter deeply snow-covered with the flair of the Christmas trade that comes up, fairytale path Murmina Murmin with a viewpoint on the village of Samnaun, the other villages and Piz Ot.
Favourite scent: "One of which you can spray a lot", Leipold smiles. As good advice he gives me on the way, you can never be over-scented with a good perfume. His current favorite fragrance is Zarko Pink Molécule - a Danish fragrance with the champagne molecule as its base, a linear perfume that should not be rubbed in because of its texture. "The fragrance is tingling, fresh - I could take a bath in it!" he says.
Text: Madeleine Pope
Photos: Cyrill Suter