Veni, vidi…amavi: Esxence – The Scent of Excellence 2019 – Part I

It took me nearly a week to sit down and start writing about days spent in Milan. Esxence related adrenaline flow started to diminish right after I returned home, and I needed some time for things to settle down, to rest, sort out all impressions, regain objectivity and figure out where to begin…

Upon exiting M1 Metro line at 9.30 AM on that Day1 cloudy Thursday, I was so happy to see the skyline of Porta Nuova! I’ve been dreaming about and living for this moment for months ahead. The joy of meeting old friends and finally seeing in person new ones, all wonderful people of perfumes! Good people. My people. They know who they are and that I love them dearly. That’s really the best part of Esxence!

This year I chose a theme for my Esxence– related posts: The Beautiful Noses of Esxence.

Here are my thoughts: we all tend to find something to complain about our noses, avoid taking close-up profile photos, choose positions and lightning to make it „look better“, some even consider reshaping it when feeling constantly insecure about it. Let’s celebrate our noses, for a change!

Noses, noses, noses. Esxence is a „safe place“ for noses, all types of noses, be it fleshy, turned-up, Greek, Roman, celestial, Nubian, hawk, bumpy, snub, Bulbous or by any other name – (beauty is in the eyes of beholder) there, at Esxence – all noses are beautiful and fully in function! They are in service of art, craft, and beauty (ideally speaking) and they were offered an Inspiration Flow in Milan, an abundant offering of niche perfumes from all over the world, served on a 6000m2 buffet table to their majesties – our noses. Abundance, yes. Art? Not as much as expected.

I managed to take some great „nose“ photos (you can already check out a few on my IG account The Plum Girl), connected to their rightful owners and their perfumes!

Most of my Esxence Day 1 was spent on meeting and greeting people, from the first moment I walked down to the entrance. Much later I couldn’t believe my eyes when I looked up the time and realized that it was pretty late…

I haven’t done „anything“ that day, by anything meaning serious sniffing and testing of perfumes. I realized that it was 5 PM (!) and that I haven’t stopped once since 10 AM, eaten or drunk any water at all. Like a camel, really…I guess that „great expectations“ adrenaline kick kept me going like crazy for all three days, from 10 AM until 6 PM.

I don’t know how many miles I walked each day, but obviously quite a lot. And yes, my previously planned „must do’s“ went down the drain…again. If you wish, you can read my sort of „Esxence For Beginners“ report, written after my visit last year, here.

The first sniff of Esxence, even before entering through spaghetti curtains…oh! Right at the entrance, I noticed that there are many visitors waiting for their accreditations at the press booth, much more than last year. The Mall was crowded: the siege has begun…I felt a little twitch in my stomach. Little did I know…but my intuition obviously knew better.

Facts&figures: 7.890 guests (25% more than in 2018) coming from all over the world. 221 brands (+19% compared to 2018) – 91 Main Brands and 130 Spotlight Brands, meetings, round tables, workshops, presentations, and parties. 6000 square meters of exhibition space (including Villa Quartzo). Organizers did a great job (again!), congratulations and thank you!

That little twitch in my stomach? I became aware right then and there that there’s no way I could possibly cover everything I planned. Fear of missing out, I guess. I decided to go with the flow. Inspiration Flow.
Could I’ve done better? Maybe. Could I’ve planned better? Maybe. Could I’ve tried out more perfumes, visited more brands? Maybe.

Now, when I look back, I think I did just fine, considering everything. There’ll be a few perfume reviews to follow…and quite a few not.

There were great moments at stands, some unexpected, some simply horrifying. Ah well, in such a big basket there must be a couple of rotten apples, right?

Let me tell you more about good things (I’m an eternal optimist…) and three wonderful opportunities to learn which I enjoyed, my definite recommendations: Esxence is also a place to learn.

The first one: L’Osmotheque!
This year they had even more exhibits at their stand, chosen from their archive of more than 4.000 perfumes (800 no longer found at all).

This is really a must-sniff pit-stop for any serious perfume lover or reviewer. I visited it every now and then, and it’s never enough. I could probably spend all four days of Esxence right there, just sniffing and taking notes. Actually, I dream of being locked inside L’Osmotheque for a month, at least 😀

Really, how can you seriously talk about Chypre genre perfumes without meeting Papa of all the Chypres, Coty 1917? Know thy classics:

Or just take one more sniff, one more time, of Joy / Patou 1935? The Joy of all Joys:

Or just stroll through some Guerlain classics? (I swear Anne-Cecile will start pulling out a box of Kleenex when she sees me approaching their stand in future! I cry every single time when I’m with her, sniffing some of the classic beauties):

Actually, I would proclaim that visiting L’Osmotheque stand is obligatory for all visitors. Especially perfume reviewers.

Secondly (and this is not in order of importance): I enjoyed tremendously a raw materials work-shop organized by Histoires de Parfums.

What a wonderful idea! Even if you think that you „know everything“ about most common raw materials used in perfumery, this is so worth every second of your time. Although not the first time I ever attended similar or even more elaborate workshops, raw materials presented were really basic ones that each and every perfume lover (let alone reviewer) simply must know.

These two hours of exploring raw materials and how they relate to each other, hosted by extraordinary Alexandre Isaie Helwani-Rober of „The Perfume Chronicles“ were pure bliss for me (I’m blessed to have you as a friend, Alexandre!). Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Well, there’s an idea for perfume brands: if you don’t wish your perfumes to be reviewed as „Great, great, nice, nice, smells good, huuuge projection, big bottle, awesome, top, rocking, amazing etc.“ – why not try to educate your audience and offer learning opportunities during Esxence like Histoires de Parfums did? Not that I’ve seen any so-called, massively present „influencers“ attending these workshops, but hey! – it’s worth a try…

I will happily share with you some of my short notes from this workshop, the blotters still intensely fragrant: Rose – we sniffed essential oils, reminded that one drop of extrait contains breath of 70 roses. Make sure to differentiate and find your own words to describe different roses. Rose Centifolia is fresh, tea-like, garden dewy. Rose Damascena is more jammy, thicker, loaded with Eugenol. Rose Taif (oh!) is more transparent, with a touch of lemon-like notes, multi-faceted. Man-made Taif appears more “green”…
Sandalwood: milky, smooth, you can add it practically in any perfume…Mysore Sandalwood is buttery creamy, the one from Ceylon – with almond tones…
Tonka Bean Absolute: cherry-like, almondy, like smelling dry cherry pits…in short.
Moving on to man-made materials:
Aldehydes: stuff that makes perfumes smell clean, crispy, some even a bit salty.
Calone – star of the ’90ties: it can be like watermelon, sea, fruity…
Allyl Caproate: fruity, ripe pineapple…
And more: ISO E, Ambroxan (Ambergris-like, not nearly as beautiful as real Ambergris…), Alpha Ionine, Galaxolide (musks), Hydroxycitronellal, Synth Oud, “Real” Oud and so much more! Loved it.

Last but not least, one of my scheduled meetings was with Mr. Patrice Blaizot from PCW France, thanks to Megan!
Why you might ask? Well, because they are a one-stop-shop for perfume, fragrance & flavor needs. They provide quality raw materials, development and creation of perfumes. The company is founded in 1986 in Grasse, and blooming.

They produce perfumes, from creating formulas on, including bottles, bottle caps, artwork, packaging, regulatory conformity…everything you need to make a perfume, actually. Some brands that just sign those fragrances and say “made in Grasse”.

Patrice is Grassois, the 5th generation in the industry and his son is studying- to become a perfumer. Their team is young, small and flexible, and Patrice very knowledgeable, with years of experience.

I enjoyed our brunch meeting so much: we talked about Grasse, the company’s history, raw materials, perfume creating process, Grasse (again, never enough), and this was yet another chance for me to smell some exceptional raw materials: their saffron really colored my day sunny yellow! Check out their ingredients list: nearly 1000 references listed!

What did I do? Listen carefully to Patrice, sniff&learn, making plans to most certainly visit them in Grasse. And remain locked up in their facility for a week, preferably 😀

End of day 1, 7.30 PM: I finally got fed, surrounded by my “fragrant family”! Lukasz from “Chemist in the Bottle” organized everything and took us to a lovely restaurant on Corso Como that night. Here you can see him, Ana from Ana y el Perfume and her sister, Dana/A Nose Knows (IG profile), Tanja/April Aromatics, Kate/Kate Nose from Australia, Nick/Gallivant and Bibi. Felt like a family reunion…Thank you for having me in your lives!

(getting sentimental just looking at this photo…)

I hope you enjoyed your read and found some useful information, although I mentioned no perfumes at all!

Part II – featuring perfumes & people is coming up…soon.

The Plum Girl
Elena Cvjetkovic
Photos: The Plum Girl, Esxence – The Scent of Excellence
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6 thoughts on “Veni, vidi…amavi: Esxence – The Scent of Excellence 2019 – Part I

  1. Aww, how lovely to read your impressions from the first day and I’m so glad we could spend those 3 days together.
    You say you didn’t do much on Thursday but it seems like you took a couple of great lessons on raw materials and classic fragrances which are both so valuable.
    Looking forward to the next installment when you tell us which fragrances you liked.

  2. Wonderful reading, Elena. Thank you for the mention, it was lovely to finally meet you in person. That dinner, meeting all of those lovely people and the Nishane party were the highlights of my trip.

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