Pitti Fragranze, 17th Edition.
Jean-Claude Ellena. Retrospective, talk with Chandler Burr, Rose&Cuir explained by the Master Perfumer himself.
Spring Section. Niche, artisan perfumes. New perfume brands, a couple of long-awaited new perfumes launches.
This seemed enough to start with. Months before going to Florence I kept hearing about brands and distributors who decided not to participate this year, getting invitations to presentations and perfume launches to be held at Cannes, and hearing discussions about the future of Pitti, or better said, the future of niche perfumery. I decided to attend, just like the last year, clearing my mind of any and all expectations or assumptions. Because Florence in September is always a good idea, and assumptions, oh, assumptions are the mother of all misunderstandings!
You can also find my previous, Pitti 2018 report here.
What happened just a couple of days ago is that I was actually pleasantly surprised and very content with the whole Pitti Fragranze 2019 experience!
First of all, I find the visual aesthetics of Pitti always very pleasing: this might seem irrelevant to many, but it is important to me.
The whole set up, the atmosphere, design, and feeling. Stazione Leopolda was reduced to almost industrial-looking naked walls, elaborate lighting and details, or better-said installations, featuring bare, natural wood.
The content – perfume (supplemented by a range of quality cosmetics this year)– was under the spotlight, unveiling the concept: the pairing of art and beauty, beauty as harmony, a changing entity involving us in its movements, visually created by graphic artist Diego Soprana.
Secondly, Pitti is a trade show dedicated to niche perfumery, art, and beauty – while TFWA Cannes, the annual Duty-Free and Travel Retail Global Summit – simply isn’t. It isn’t, it revolves around all the products you can buy in any Duty Free Shop in the world, and none of the niche brands (as far as I know) are actually exhibiting there – they are merely satellites revolving around the main big-bucks event, mostly present in rented hotel rooms, suites or on yachts.
Well, each to his/her own, choices have already been made: Cannes in September is a good idea, too.
Thirdly, still and in spite of recent drops of perfume brands and/or distributors exhibiting, as well as lack of the off-campus perfume brands’ presence in hotels around Stazione Leopolda this year, Pitti fulfills primary functions of any trade fair as a direct marketing tool per definition, ever since medieval times: raising brand awareness, building business contacts and networking, enabling new brand or perfume launches, and generating positive publicity in direct contact. Simple as that, and really: networking always matters.
Direct contact with exhibitors was so much easier at Pitti this year. The exhibition space gave plenty of room and it never seemed overcrowded, stands were not under the siege of visitors, the whole atmosphere was more relaxed, and…well, somehow more B2B in my opinion. It was simply more…manageable.
I had not only time to screen, visit and talk to all the brands I had in plan, but also to attend all the chosen talks and presentations taking place in the Conference Room.
Yes, bonuses to the show shaped the show in a way: The Master Perfumer, the one-and-only Jean-Claude Ellena definitely stole the show. ‘Cause he is a perfume star, and I’ll write a separate post about Ellena related events! I got my book signed: just look at that smile:
I returned home content and gratefull: it was a good show, I’m looking forward to testing and wearing new perfumes I found interesting, meetings with perfumers, brands and fellow reviewers were inspiring, and Florence…ah, Florence manages to rob my heart each and every time I visit.
To all whom it may concern: I do intend to attend Pitti Fragranze 2020. I believe in the power of niche perfumes. See you there!
The Plum Girl
Photos: The Plum Girl, Pitti Fragranze