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“What do you think about it?” – he asked, softly.

“It smells like fear…bitterness of loss… and…hope.” – I answered.

 

Epicentro, the first fragrance in the Filippo Sorcinelli’s new collection Delire de Voyage, was presented for the first time at Esxence Milan 2019, and a multimedia art installation, featuring a synesthetic journey, took place on the evening of the last day of the exhibition.

Délire. Delirium. A perfume, a sensation that kicks you out of normality, even for just a couple of seconds, and raises your awareness of what is happening in you and around you. Linked to Beauty, for Beauty is life, and life is Beauty.

All can change in a single, disturbing moment:

“The earthquake is a particularly disruptive and violent event which enters with arrogance into the lives of those involved, taking possession of their “normality” in a few seconds.

External earthquakes increase our own inner earthquakes as if with the loss of the safety of the earth beneath our feet, a profound internal tremor is determined, as a consequence.”

This fragrance is dedicated to the region in Italy from which Filippo Sorcinelli comes – Marche, hit by devastating earthquakes in 2016 and 2017, leaving behind “Ground 0” ruins and many deep scars of lives lost.

Filippo visited the small town of Bolognola after these terrible events, and this perfume is his olfactory impression of the aftermath of the first, 2016 earthquake.

I met with Filippo that evening, and he led us to a dark presentation room inside Hotel Straf near Duomo. The multi-sensory exhibition featured bits and pieces of everyday life found in ruins, artistic video footage of destruction these earthquakes left behind, and one single bottle of Epicentro.

He was wearing a pendant, shaped like a small silver rock – a part of the presentation package of Epicentro. The bottle, just like the others by Filippo Sorcinelli Brand, is a piece of art by itself: round and smooth with a big, silver, rock-shaped cap, a part of which is this piece of jewelry.

Shock art, by definition: “…contemporary art that incorporates disturbing imagery, sound or scents to create a shocking experience. It is a way to disturb “smug, complacent and hypocritical people.”

The Epicentro multisensory journey left me, an empath, thinking about the ways I react to immediate threats, primal fears. My “Lizard Brain” tends to react differently, although involuntarily and instinctively, adjusting to the situation.

I’ve never experienced an earthquake of this force, but I do remember my first-ever earthquake, in California. The movement and swaying of the ground under my feet, the deep, threatening rumble, a growl coming from somewhere deep below the surface, the cold sweat of uncontrollable fear: I tend to freeze.

The order of my reactions in this specific situation was: freeze-flight-fight, meaning that my first reaction to an earthquake was to just stand still (“freeze”), shocked by what is going on (a totally new experience), then, unaware of what I was doing, I fled (hid under the kitchen table), and when the earthquake stopped, I started to assess and repair the damage (“fight”), which luckily didn’t amount to more than just a misalignment of a couple of photos hung on the wall.

I believe that the overwhelming adrenaline rush tends to change your body chemistry and smell, therefore I believe that primal fears influence our body odor, which then, in turn, can be felt.

I know very well how human fear, loss, and pain smell like. And hope! Yes, hope: I associate the scent of incense notes and accords in perfume – with hope. Maybe it’s because of my Catholic upbringing, maybe its because I tend to think about it in regards with the healing power of incense, as used in aromatherapy – reducing and calming stress and fear, maybe it’s because it is one of the oldest fragrant ingredients ever used…it just smells like hope to me. Hope…and resurrection.

Despite the shock-art concept, what I always find interesting, Epicentro is a very wearable fragrance. After experiencing, reviewing, and falling in love with but_not_today, with notes of “blood, dust, and metal”, this fragrance felt smoother, fresher, invigorating, and suitable for any season of a year.

Epicentro draws you in from the first moment, opening with sharp, piercing notes, almost metallic, like crushed, bitter citric leaves cutting swiftly and with unexpected precision into your personal space,

This awakening moment soon gains another dimension, as if pulling you deeper, opening other layers of reality. I feel scattered pieces of a white marble baptistery covered with white dust while soft and gentle trails of incense used ages ago are evaporating in air and swirling in the breeze coming through windowless walls.

Smoky, aldehyde tainted, old oak wooden roof beams bear traces of candle wax, laying on the ground covered with bright, multicolored shiny pieces of a broken vitrail. The rhythm of the fragrance slows down, warming up on the skin after the initial brief and apocalyptic episode, memories of which still protrude every now and then, sparkling softly in now a bit sweeter and muskier layout, soothing and calming.

The complete presentation, down to perfume samples, follows the concept aiming to activate all five senses: even the black Epicentro box is carefully crafted, with a moving base enabling the perfume bottle to shake and vibrate when touched.

Filippo never discloses perfume notes: if we are approaching perfume as an art form, then letting ourselves be seduced, moved, touched or emotionally drawn in is the best part of the experience! It’s just you and the perfume: what’s in it is shaped by what’s in you, so I’ll just list the “notes” as I felt them:
Top notes: piercing metal, a rush of cold wind blowing through broken windows, crushed citric leaves.
Middle notes: fresh white dust, pieces of concrete scattered on street pavements, broken white marble releasing traces of incense.
Base notes: old oak church rooftop beams, multicolored parts of a broken vitraille shining brightly, strangely soothing peacefulness after the apocalypse, hope.

Epicentro, an Extrait du Parfum, feels abstract and fresh, disturbing and calming, introspective and stimulating. It’s all about an inner, olfactory voyage, and endless movements in time and in yourself.

With this review published, I head toward Florence: Pitti Fragranze awaits! I promise to report live as much as possible on Instagram, follow me: @the_plum_girl!

The Plum Girl

Elena Cvjetkovic

Photos: The Plum Girl, Filippo Sorcinelli

The sample was graciously given to me during Esxence Milan, opinions and feelings belong, as always, to me.

Disclaimer

Eyes closed, I dream about traveling to places near and distant, familiar ones greeting me with a smile, unknown ones calling my name.

Travel broadens our mind and expands our hearts, yet there’s something soothingly rewarding in – returning. To yourself. I know well where my safe harbor is. Your Ithaca, my Ithaka – they are always a place hidden inside our hearts:

“May there be many summer mornings when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you enter harbors you’re seeing for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind
as many sensual perfumes as you can

and may you visit many Egyptian cities to learn and go on learning from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.

Arriving there is what you’re destined for.

But don’t hurry the journey at all.

Better if it lasts for years…”

Ithaka now, on my skin. The power of poetry, words enhanced by verses, translated into the first perfume in the new, Versi trilogy by MendittoRosa:

This poem inspired Stefania Squeglia of Mendittorosa Perfumes to find a new perfumer, young Camille Chemardin and trust her with Ithaka.

Mendittorosa shall have each flacon in this line with a hand-made wooden cap, and a unique tablet, with a sign for each perfume.

Presentation is quite elaborate, illustration made by Massimo Alfaioli (who also made beautiful drawings for Talismans Sirio).

A seemingly simple poem. A seemingly simple perfume. It isn’t.

Bearing in mind that the journey is much more exquisite and rewarding than any arrival at the final destination, I embark this ship, with a glass vessel carrying a few drops of perfume.

Ithaka greeted me with waves of bergamot-clad, salty deep-sea air carrying scents coming from a big harbor ahead of me, bringing back that sweet feeling of land finally reached – before you can even see it clearly. It’s a rewarding smell after many days spent at sea.

The port is busy as a beehive, you can hear the murmur of people at the market beside the ships, and your nostrils detect a fine, dry and sweet scent of creamy labdanum and incense filling the air as you disembark your ship.

Your nose, cleared by salty seawater now feels intensely scents almost forgotten: incense becomes rich with the smell of spices, swirling around you softly. As you get accustomed to the surroundings, the rhythm of the fragrance changes, images become less abstract: now you can feel even lighter nuances, a hidden freshness beneath, as waxy-thick white Magnolia petals emerge and touch your skin quietly.

Salty tones are still present robbing it if it’s sweetness yet leaving it humid, very restrained on my skin, accentuating patchouli over Magnolia. Salty Magnolia made me sniff my wrists over and over again.

As the fragrance develops further, whirls of smoke roll in from someplace distant, present but not disturbing, just signs of nearby life going vibrantly on.

The composition remains airy and light, tenderly woody with added cedar tree shavings, and now definitely grounded, like when you walk barefoot upon soft, warm, dry and resinous-smelling earth. Hours later, this fragrance lingers on the skin quite close, its final tones becoming smoother and even a bit sweeter in a dry&powdery way, probably due to Benzoin, reminiscent of Vanilla,

Just as the poem, I find Ithaka illuminating, multilayered, very well blended, soothing and calming. Like arriving home after a long trip or reconnecting with your inner purpose, feeling thankful:

You can read the complete poem Ithaca, written by the Greek poet Constantine Cavafay, born in Alexandria – here.

Although I have stood at the remains of an ancient Phoenician market by the Mediterranean sea in North Africa (preserved for eons with desert sand), I didn’t have to travel far this time, Ithaka, Ithaca is an inner journey:

“Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you’ll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.”

Notes: Bergamot, Aqueos Magnolia, Incense, Patchouli, Labanum, Incense Resinoid, Virginian Cedar, Cypriol, Benzoin.

Ithaka is EDP, 20% concentration, 100ml/200 EUR – available at Mendittorosa. Longevity is remarkable, sillage noticeable. Test before you buy it.

Enjoy many journeys of life with Ithaka always in your mind!

The Plum Girl
Elena Cvjetkovic
Photos: The Plum Girl, MendittoRosa, painting “Odyssey Kisses His Native Land” by Jan Styka.
The sample is a decant Stefania made for me when I visited her stand at Esxence Milan, for which I am deeply grateful.
Opinions of my own.

There are perfumes that make me smile immediately. Just like that, one spray, and that inner feel-good spark brightens up my day.

I feel then like hugging that perfume, hugging myself and the whole World – to share that feeling, and make you feel the same.

This happened while I was running like crazy around Esxence Milan on its final day (check out my overview: “Ave Perfumes” here).

I guess that the fear of missing out hit me like a truck: will I miss something important? Where should I go first? I asked couple of friends if they have any recommendations for me. Strangely enough, a few of them told me the same thing: “Go and try Menta y Menta by Miller et Berteaux if you haven’t yet!”

Some more rushing around, and there I was: what I first noticed were mint plants placed on the center stage of their stand. I was greeted with a kind smile: “Would you like to smell a perfume that features mint, but doesn’t smell like toothpaste or breath freshener?”

Yes! (Please, let it be good…)

It was good: it put that “Mona Lisa smile” on my face. Not that I associate mint with toothpaste: my childhood memories spin around most horrid strawberry-flavored, sickeningly sweet pink mess squeezed on my toothbrush, the one for which I always thought it made more damage than good for my teeth.

Mint or Mentha for me means pitchers of cold lemon water with mint leaves on a hot Summer day after wandering around the island in the Adriatic Sea early in the morning, before sunrise, looking for herbs and picking small leaves of dark green wild mint, to be used later in salads, cold drinks, and cocktails, or dried to take home and brew some strong mint tea. Another thing my grandma taught me: always keep a mint plant on your dining table if you are eating outside in the evening, rub its leaves every now and then: mint keeps mosquitos and ants away!

There have been quite a few mint-themed perfumes around lately, it’s refreshing and cool notes flirting with Mojito associations, paired with chocolate, citruses, or just spearmint-peppery sharp fresh not-so-demanding compositions. Menta y Menta is different.

It smells…so sophisticated in an unobtrusive way! Its style is minimalistic, both in perfume construction, in presentation and packaging – yet there is something compelling about it.

Menta y Menta greets you with a cup of freshly brewed mint tea in a simple, delicate porcelain white cup.

As you squeeze just a couple of drops of lemon into it, soon after taking the first sip you forget about the tea itself: the bright greenery made of small mint leaves forms a comfortable shade all around you, feeling just slightly refreshing-peppery.

A single jasmine flower drops in your teacup and swirls around it, white, dainty, and fragile, adding a slight touch of smoothness and delicate warmth, weaving its whiteness through all this greenery in a relaxed rhythm.

It’s a perfect day, and all is well. Simple as that, so I won’t attempt to write an extensively complicated review.

The perfume remains very skin close and airy on my skin, moving with me as I move around, quietly present and unobtrusive.

Contemplative, contemporary, refined minimalistic. Lovely in its seemingly uncomplicated appearance. Classy, with moderate longevity and sillage: nothing ravishing, just joyful!

This line of perfumes carries names of Parisian designers Francis Miller et Patrick Bertaux: partners, fashionistas, travelers, and promoters of wellbeing.

“Fragrances for the body and the soul, dedicated to those who choose the balance of being and appearance.”

Notes: mint, tea leaf, citruses, roasted coffee beans and jasmine.
(mentha spicata / menthe marocaine feuilles de thé, zests d’agrumes, café torréfié, jasmin évoqué)

Menta y Menta (released in 2019) is available online here, Eau de Parfum 100 ml/99 EUR.

Keep reading The Plum Girl blog for more reviews to come! If you like what I do please share with your friends, and make sure to subscribe!

The Plum Girl

Elena Cvjetkovic

Photos: The Plum Girl, Miller et Bertaux

The sample was graciously given to me by Miller et Bertaux at Esxence Milan, opinions of my own.

Disclaimer

I made a mistake. I read reviews, discussions, pros and cons, meaningless video acclamations or words of disagreement, so that’s why I avoided sampling it until now: Jungle Jezebel from Artist Edition Collection, by Sarah Baker Perfumes, created by Miguel Matos, renown writer for Fragrantica, and a perfumer. When a visual artist teams up with the “bad boy” of perfumery, there are some boundaries to be pushed!

If you don’t like your perfumes to provoke – don’t.

If you don’t like the bottle with a blond wig and false eyelashes – don’t buy it, there’s a “regular” bottle. Just keep in mind that the other one fits the concept of Divine perfectly.

Jungle Jezebel will do everything but leave you indifferent. It starts off with a punch of pink bubble gum chewed and rolled around big, meaty lips. Shocking? Maybe, but you can’t stop sniffing it, just to see what happens next.

This wham-bam-in-your-face “cheap thrill” doesn’t last long, and just about when you think it’s going to turn into sweet mashed bananas and almost plastic fruits, the fragrance shows its vulnerable floral side, even a little powdery ylang-ylang twist.

Nothing is as it seems at first sniff: civet rises, deep, creamy, sultry flow begins, flirting with tuberose in a loud animalistic trance, big bubble gum balloons appearing every now and then, popping loud, and amongst all that crazy rhythm pearly drops of ylang-ylang begin to glide down the sweaty, shiny skin.

It’s strange, it’s weird, it’s different, but you still can’t stop thinking about it!

This whole wild, under-the-spotlight, percussion colored ride settles down with quite retro-elegant sandalwood-tonka-bean tones, turning later on woody and moist dripping vanilla sweet, making you wonder how in the world did “that” become “this”?

Does it have character? Tons of it. Is it pleasing all the time? It depends on what you find pleasing because what it definitely isn’t is – a mass pleaser.

Will you like it? I can’t tell, just make sure to sample before you buy. Will you forget it? No, never.

Just like Divine. Now go and take a look at a Jungle Jezebel song video, and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.

Nothing is as it seems to be…or maybe it is: Jun-gle Jezebel, Jungle Jezebel: now who are you calling Jezebel???

Notes: Orange, banana, grapes, peach, bubble gum, rose, tuberose, ylang-ylang, amber, sandalwood, civet, vetyver, vanilla, tonka bean.

Jungle Jezebel is Extrait du Parfum, released in 2018. Divine bottles are limited edition – 250 with signed and numbered authenticity card. Available at Sarah Baker Perfumes.

The Plum Girl

Elena Cvjetkovic

Photos: The Plum Girl, Sarah Baker Perfumes

Samples were provided by Sarah Baker at Esxence 2019, opinions of my own.
Disclaimer

Ah…Summer! No, you won’t be seeing any „SummerTop 10“ or whatever lists here, simply because I believe that you can wear any fragrance you please – anytime you want to – if it feels good and makes you happy!

Isn’t it fun to sometimes step out of your comfort zone, change your daily routine and fragrances in rotation, relax and enjoy being comfortable in your skin (yes, your skin – the largest human organ!), to enjoy Summer, because:

„Hair gets lighter, skin gets darker, water gets warmer, drinks get colder, music gets louder, nights get longer…sex gets better!“

Sex and the Sea.
I’m talking about perfume, what did you think? Did it get better with Neroli? Or…just different?

What is it about suntanned, sun-kissed skin and sensuality that comes with it?

Summer (for me) means stripping off your clothes, lazing on a beach, relaxing, unbuttoning your life a bit.

It’s not at all just pure imagination, biochemists did thoroughly research the effect of sunlight on the human body, Vitamin D, sex drive, hormones and everything in between.

Do you think that the ancient Summer Solstice celebrations in any culture had nothing to do with it? Oh, they did: these were always linked with sexuality…

While we are nowadays getting our ample dosage of Vitamin D, let’s take a closer look at two perfumes from Francesca Bianchi Perfumes: Sex and the Sea and Sex and the Sea Neroli.

You might also want to read more about Francesca in my previously published reviews of The Lover’s Tale and Under My Skin.

All Bianchi perfumes are…intimate. Sometimes so intimate that I’ve heard people saying (blushing) that they even won’t wear the fragrances they own in public, reserving their fragrant experience for themselves.

These perfumes come as 30 ml extraits with great longevity, noticeable sillage, and obvious quality – always with character and that typical „Bianchi base signature“ – featuring a rooty Iris and amber&resins accords, smoothly blended, more or less animalic, depending on the overall idea, concept, and composition. Skin-caressing, intimate, radiating from inside…

Francesca, in her own words, about her use of naturals:

„On a very general basis (use of naturals) can vary from 55%-70%. I tend to use lots of naturals. Simply because they are usually richer than synthetics, but there are synthetics that can impart complexity and intensity as much as many naturals.“

It’s all about proportions…

Let’s take a closer sniff at these two fragrances. You’ll probably recall quite a few popular or famous perfumes along this line – featuring pineapple, coconut, and ambergris – but: there are no watery notes here, no aquatic accords…Just feel what she did with those notes we’ve all seen used before: there’s no tutti-frutti-Tropicana-on-the-synthetic-aquatic-Ambergris-marine-beach kitsch. I’d say there’s even no sea in sight! It’s all about the mood, feelings, and your own– beautiful skin…


Sex and the Sea, 2016
It’s now back in stock again, available from the end of this June, so this is actually why I came back to it. I dug it from my samples storage box and prepared to face it (again).

This is how Francesca describes it in just a couple of words:
„The SS – classic version – is basically generated by my research to reproduce the smell of my skin at the seaside. To this experiment I added the „naughty-sexy part“…and that was that.“

Hm. Aha. Don’t fall for “just like that”, it seems so simple, so familiar, so…well known, but…It’s not that simple at all. „The smell of my skin at the seaside.“ Now, I know that feeling, or better said, the diversity of that feeling, coming from a country with 1001 islands just near the beautiful coast of the Adriatic Sea.

There’s that morning freshness scent, when I take a swim early in the morning, before 9 AM: my skin smells fresh, like a just emptied glass of cold lemonade with a few Basil leaves thrown in, fig leaves breathing as the first sunshine rays touch them, red earth and brownish pine needles crushing softly as I walk upon them, green algae on grayish rocks and wet salty white pebbles on the beach.


In the afternoon, after 5 PM, this scent is more immortelle colored, with deeper hues of aquatic blue, cicadas-singing-loud toned, saltier, warmer, Sandalwood-like smoother.

As the Sun sets, the whole sensation is warmer, muskier, leathery-earthy, saturated and…well, plain carnal-sexy. This is when you feel the scent of your skin more intensely, as it cools off, as it starts radiating accumulated sunshine just as night closes in.

Sex and the Sea fits into this „as the Sunsets“ description: yes, it opens with a mimosa-sour hint of pineapple and milky coconut, so thick and creamy. I feel a touch of very subtle vanilla too, adding some dryish sweetness. I’m not a fan of either (pineapple of coconut), and I didn’t mind them here because they do not dominate and this phase is soon over with. This opening felt just like a swift blast, soon settling into a dusty floral with ancient roses – not a light, transparent, „morning freshness, sweet and innocent“ floral, oh no.

It became almost apothecary bitter, now definitely salty, never aquatic. Warmer notes breakthrough, dustier, Iris-powdery and displaying occasional sparks of resins in the background. The base is rather contrasting to the opening: soft animalic, even a bit smoky, slightly woody and on my skin Civet is present, although restrained.

Sex and the Sea is not about rolling around on a sandy beach in the middle of the day: it feels sensual like skin touching skin later at night after a day spent by the sea, after an Apres-Beach party with laughter and cocktails, after the lights and sounds surrounding you diminish, when cicadas sound almost tired and their rhythm slows down when you and your lover stop talking and just start feeling each other.

Notes: Mimosa, Pineapple, Coconut, Immortelle, Rose, Iris, Sandalwood, Myrrh, Labdanum, Benzoin, Ambergris, Civet, Vanilla. Longevity is excellent, projection with moderate application noticeable, never too loud.

If Sex and the Sea Neroli is a fresh, sparkling, joyful „introvert“, then Sex and the Sea is a sensual and seductive, deliberate, slow-moving „extrovert”!


Sex and the Sea Neroli, 2019

Why did Francesca make a flanker? Because she could.

Recently she was a guest perfumer in the FB group Eau My Soul, answering all kinds of questions. I asked „Why did you „flanker“ Sex and the Sea“, and she answered:

„ Why? Mostly for fun and anti-snobbish attitude! I had an idea of adding something to SS, something that would be its opposite, something innocent and introvert – as Neroli.“

Please don’t think that all it took was to add some Neroli to the prior version: the whole composition is now changed, different in more than one-added-note way. It feels like a completely different creation!

If I try to think about these fragrances in terms of colors, I think about SS as being dark brownish-orange and SSN as orange with yellow streaks, more transparent, yet not losing its inner strength in the drydown phase.

Now, this fragrance fits more into that „early in the morning“ description above: there’s a definite rush of freshness in the opening, the whole composition is brighter, with an absolutely lovely and sharp Neroli. Without pineapple (!), keeping that milky-smooth-creamy-coconut somewhere in the shades behind. The feeling of Immortelle is here more prominent, adding a yellowish-dry-bitter-almost honeylike-mimosa touch, underlining that skin-salty feeling. The whole composition, despite powdery and distinctive leathery feeling, seems uplifting, optimistic and more…fun. Introvert? Aha, with a devilish little smile, and a sparkle in the eyes, changing all the time…that is what I love about it.

The drydown does bear similarities to Sex and the Sea, yet it is very different -leaving an overall much „greener“ impression, even though it does settle in so-Francesca-like animalic, even a bit smoky accords, with whiffs of coconut, still protruding every now and then.

The fragrance is intense and very long-lasting, so be careful not to overspray (extrait!). Once again, it flows smoothly, exhibiting careful blending. What I liked about it is that it feels more complex, more changeable, showing it’s different facets every time I wear it, flirting shamelessly with my skin.

Notes: Bergamot, Petit-Grain, Honey, Neroli, Mimosa, Coconut, Immortelle, Rose, Iris, Sandalwood, Vetiver, Labdanum, Benzoin, Ambergris, Civet, Vanilla.

Which one would I suggest? Sample before you buy. If you are new to Francesca Bianchi Perfumes and like your fragrances Neroli-green-slightly animalic – I’d say start with Sex and the Sea Neroli. If you are already familiar with the Dark Side or Angel’s Dust, things get more complicated: Sex and the Sea gives that sexy post-beach vibe, yet Sex and the Sea Neroli takes it to yet another level, adding a healthy dose of youthful freshness to it….choices…choices!

If I had to choose just one, considering that I own Under My Skin, The Lover’s Tale and Angel’s Dust…I would opt for Sex and the Sea Neroli. First. Both. I swear, I’m collecting them like Pokémon…

These fine fragrances are available online, at Francesca Bianchi Perfumes – 30 ml Extrait/ 98EUR, Discovery Set (1,5 ml of all 7 fragrances)/48 EUR, or 1,5 ml samples/8EUR.

Whatever you decide I hope you enjoy these fine fragrances – do let me know which one is your first choice!

While I’m finishing up this review I’m expecting my Etruscan Water to arrive (yay!).

When it does, and when I take it „home-where-it-belongs“, I’ll let you know all about it. In the meantime, you can always find some other posts, thoughts, and musings on my Instagram account: the_plum_girl!

The Plum Girl
Elena Cvjetkovic

Photos: The Plum Girl, Francesca Bianchi Official
Samples were provided by Francesca Bianchi Perfumes, opinions of my own.
Disclaimer

Days turning into months have quickly passed since EsxenceThe Scent of Excellence closed its doors, but here I go again: a flashback, bringing you more behind-the-screen stories about people of perfumes, events, and extras, all that jazz that took place outside The Mall!

I could probably write more about different aspects of this exhibition, but let’s just say that I’ll wrap up all my hard work with this one – the last of my 2019 Esxence reports: if you haven’t yet, do take a look at Part I and Part II!

These additional activities are an important part of the Esxence-experience: meetings with makers/perfumers, brand owners, and managers – not exhibiting but visiting, attending private parties, cocktails, events or informal dinners, secret previews…or just whispering about new releases that are soon to be revealed. Yap, there’s life outside The Mall:

As you might have noticed on my IG account (the_plum_girl), this year I wrote about “beautiful noses” of Esxence. Noses? Yes, this is one of the rare places and events where all noses are – beautiful! Fully in use, too! It feels so good to be among people that value their sense of smell very much, to run with “your” pack and (ab)use your nose to maximum! The interesting part is that no one I asked objected to having their profile “nose” photo taken! The wonderful people of Esxence are so proud of their noses!

This lovely nose belongs to Tanja Bochnig, owner of April Aromatics whose newest fragrance – Irisistible is an Art&Olfaction Awards, 2019 Finalist!

Let’s take a quick sniff:

Irrisistible (love that play with words, too) is an ode to Iris-the goddess of Dawn and Rainbow, connecting heavens and Earth. It feels like you’ve been gently touched by this messenger of gods with pink fingertips: a flash of vibrant yet milky opening with morning dew made of citruses. Different facets of Iris (the flower) follow. It becomes rooty, flowery and smooth at the same time, at moments even slightly bitter. This buttery flow turns velvety, thick, at times powdery, with floral whiffs. Later on, its inner, musky-smooth warm glow of rainbow spectrum colors begins to shine from within, glowing softly. Keep in mind that this is a “natural”, it settles close to the skin and shifts with your body movement, so give it time and patience.

We ran into Mark Buxton outside and chatted a bit catching some sunshine. It was fun just to say “Genau” a couple of times:

Meeting and having a chance to spend some time with Tanja is a bonus: she also pulled me out from The Mall, made me sit and eat something, drink water (I felt like a camel after a long day in desert), and talk about things other then perfumes: all the stuff I tend to forget to do while roaming around all those stands…Tanja is a tall long-legged blonde, self-taught, self-financed, working with “naturals”, Berlin-based and if this isn’t enough to raise a couple of eyebrows – she laughs and dances like nobody is watching!

Nick Stewart of Gallivant Perfumes was visiting Esxence as well, gallivanting around:

He told me that a new Gallivant fragrance shall be launched soon, and yes, it’s all about yet another city. I’m really not allowed to tell you which one -because it was confidential! All that I may say is that I lived in that city for a couple of years (and know it well) so we talked about which specific part of this city the new fragrance feels like. I think we both agreed upon one certain area, marked by a very famous street! Keep an eye on Gallivant, and check out my review of previous releases here.

I also managed to visit the hotel located near The Mall, where some brands shared Carbonnel showroom. I had a meeting scheduled there, with the owner of this nose:

Yes, this is Victor Wong of Zoologist Perfumes! We finally met, and he kindly and patiently walked me through his ZOO, introducing me to and allowing me to take a better sniff of all the fragrances that were new to me. You see, I had a parcel coming from Canada earlier this year, the Canadian post was at strike, it got delayed, then when it finally reached Croatia it was never delivered to me, so after a couple of months, it just arrived safely back to Canada…Argh. I sniffed everything and sniffed hungrily again, and got to meet all the creatures in his collection at last:

I guess you’ll be reading some of my Zoologist Perfumes reviews soon enough! That’s not all: Victor let me sniff one of his new, not yet released fragrances, and told me how he plans to proceed with it. I think he won’t mind this association:

Well, I’m not allowed to tell you how it’s going to be named, but you can start guessing which creature this new perfume is dedicated to. Some new fragrances are coming up, some “old” ones face “Perfume Heaven”: by the time I’ve decided to publish this post, Bat is about to be discontinued! If you are a Batman or Batwoman – go and get your bottle while you can…or wait for the new Bat, coming from a different cave!

I also ran again into Miguel Matos in Carbonell Showroom, exhibiting four new signature fragrances:

Here you can see Miracle of Roses, Germaine, Silver Stone, and Sailor Stories. Miguel was quite busy this Esxence: in addition to having his own line presented, together with Veneno, he was also all over the place as perfumer behind Nishane’s Unutamam, as well as Sarah Baker’s Jungle Jezabel (I wrote about it here), and Rules of Attraction!

On the blotter-sniffing-first-impressions spree I found the Miracle of Roses and Sailor Stories (aquatic with a twist) quite interesting, but I honestly need to go back to these perfumes and give them some proper wearing. Since this is my “year of roses” I do want to get to know this unusual, smooth, fresh bread with cinnamon and roses better…no rush: I’ll get to it, sooner or later: the inspirational story behind it is intriguing, and it fits the concept well.

It doesn’t stop here, around the exhibition hall. Just when you finish 10AM-6PM crawl-around-The Mall and its surroundings, you have like an hour and a half to make it to some carefully chosen and glamorous place: party time!

One event that you shouldn’t miss during Esxence: the Masque Milano Corso Como Party. Why? Well, because Masque IS Milano based, this is their home turf, and they do cover it with style.

Masque Milano launched two new perfumes at Esxence 2019: Love Kills and Kintsugi:

I tried to arrange a meeting at Masque Milano stand with Alessandro Brun and/or Ricardo Tedeschi on that same day, but didn’t succeed: maybe they were too busy handling all the previously arranged meetings, maybe I wasn’t pushy enough (never!), or my timing was just bad, whatever. Tip for all the brands located in the “Main Brands” part of the exhibition: it’s better to have your meetings booked in advance…note to myself, again. Next year I’ll fail better, I promise.

Anyway, since I didn’t have time to lose on waiting and hanging around: I stopped by and was greeted by a very nice young man, representing their distributor, who briefed me quickly about these two new releases. Sadly, I got no chance to take a sniff at that famous raw materials cofrett…I did manage to try out both new releases:

Love Kills…of course, the first one I reached for. And a good thing I did, because the other way around wouldn’t be a good idea. On the first impression basis, I wasn’t impressed. A rose it is, and I always have high expectations of a rose perfume: it was a young, bright, just budding rose…Oh, was I wrong!

Since I impatiently jumped and moved around the stand, this might’ve helped it warm up on my skin and it transformed, moving through phases from a fresh bud to a magnificent flower in full bloom, and even in this very brief moment, I watched it wither, darken and fade, becoming more goth, never letting you forget that it was a fresh, young rose once upon a time, even in moments of its dark and potent decay. Additionally, I really fell in love with the drawing on the bottle, almost tattoo-like contoured rose with a dagger going straight through it. Yes, to this rose I shall return! (perfume related tattoo? Now I’m thinking about that…hmmmm)

Time was running out, we had to leave the fair and go to the party, so what did I do next? Sprayed abundantly Kintsugi from the tester bottle all over any perfume-free skin left on me at the end of this very busy day: well, if I was going to their cocktail party, the least I could do is to dress appropriately and wear Kintsugi!

My friends did the same. This turned out to be very interesting because Kintsugi developed differently on our skin (we kept sniffing each other the whole evening: on Lukasz (aka Chemist In The Bottle) Magnolia seemed dominant, on Ana (aka Ana Y El Perfume) it was almost lemony-green, and on my skin patchouli dominant, the kind of soft, sweet, lovely, silky skin patchouli I’m happy to run into.

It was interesting to follow its development in time over quite a few Aperol Spritzes! Bonus: chatting and spending some time with Ermano Pico, perfume connoisseur, writer and evaluator whom I admire (love his smile), here with Ricardo:

Nishane Party was something we were all waiting for: No Limits!

Mert Guzel and Murat Katran were presenting six new creations made by Cecile Zarokian – ANI, Chris Maurice – NEFS, MUSKANE and FLORANE, Miguel Matos – UNUTAMAM and Jorge Lee – SAFRAN COLOGNISE!

This private party took place in a wonderful palazzo, perfumes were displayed, people gathered and chatted, but what impressed me the most was the moment when we all stood in silence, listening to a touching folk song Sari Gelin/Sari Gyalin (in Armenian) that took us to a place where ANI (memory in Turkish) is something that connects people…music, like perfumes – connects people!

I really look forward to exploring these perfumes thoroughly, this is just my first-sniff draft of Florane I wrote for Murat’s birthday, just recently:

Florane smells like pulpy bitter-fresh grapefruit, ripe cassis carelessly cut and served with vanilla spiced brown sugar cubes on a festive table decorated with dainty Lily-of-the-Valley and jasmine flowers floating above trails of soft hinoki and musks. It feels like spending a sunny Summer’s day afternoon in a beautifully kept green and lush garden with a simple wooden table and chairs set in the shade of a big tree – filled with scattered, randomly picked flowers in small glass vases, bowls of fresh fruit cut into cubes, cold creamy-powdery fluffy cakes, laughter and sharing with friends and family you love and joy of living!

Filippo Sorcinelli Brand

Epicentro Promotion Event

I love Filippo, you already know that. Last year it was but_not_today, this year he shook me up with Epicentro, a new perfume starting a new collection: Delire de Voyage.

You see, I remember. I remember terrible news coming from a small town of Bolognola, devastated by an earthquake hitting the Marche Region…leaving destruction as its aftermath, breaking buildings and hearts of the people.

What you might notice is this quite original bottle, round glass with the usual oversized cap looking like a piece of metallic silver rock. Details matter, so this bottle is placed in a black box and it moves and sways inside it. Furthermore, I noticed Filippo wearing a pendant, a part of this silver rock which you can detach and wear as a piece of art.

Notes are not disclosed, as usual, and I approve of this approach: wear it. Feel it. Listen to it. Interpret it in your own words and emotions…once you find them.

This time Filippo took us to the STRAF Hotel near Duomo, presenting a synesthetic installation to help us grasp all the aspects of this fragrance:

While I was looking, smelling and feeling, Filippo came to me and asked: What does it smell like to you? I was already very emotional: I know the smell of fear and destruction. I know it well.

I just said: “Epicentro smells metallic like cold sweat and human fear.” At first.

Bitter and sharp like a shock that takes the ground from under your feet in just a couple of seconds. Smokey, like the rubble of your home destroyed, covering all the material things you ever owned, ancient buildings that you took for granted, the life that you once had. With a touch of incense, radiating from the church in the middle of the village which no longer exists. Warm and sweet like relief that you and your dearest ones are alive. Quiet and skin-close musky like when you accept all your loses and fight to find traces of hope in your soul again and take one step at a time through all stages of loss and acceptance before you are even capable to start thinking about new beginnings. There’s a certain brightness in all this: a spark of new life…Thanks, Filippo: once again you made my eyes swell with tears and my heart race faster! A full review is coming up!

That same evening we headed off to Duomo and had dinner at this rooftop restaurant overlooking it:

You’d think we had enough. No. Together with Chemist in the Bottle I went to La Rinascente Perfumery to check out their niche department.

And voila! Take a look at perfumes they offer, some exclusive ones only to be found in Milan:

No, it’s never enough!

I’m happy. I’ve found perfumes to write about in months to come. By closing up this Milan chapter, I already look forward to the new one: my registration for Pitti in September is submitted, and a nice and cozy apartment in Florence booked well in advance. Florence, oh, Florence is always a good idea!

The Plum Girl

Elena Cvjetkovic

Photos: The Plum Girl, Esxence Official

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