There were moments at Esxence when I felt like a gladiator in an arena, roaming around crowded floors of The Mall, armed with love and determination, in search of perfumes that might disarm me with their artistic creativity and originality, touch me soul-deep tapping into something unconscious, spiritual, profound, and cause waves of emotions…well, some certainly did.
Ave perfumes! Mission accomplished!
Strength and honor!
Did I mention 6000m2 of exhibition space? 221+ brands? You can find Facts&Figures&Learning Opportunities in my previous report, Part I, here.
Let’s talk about perfume. First impressions? Trends?
If I have to give a general overview, I would say: mostly “nice” frags, mass-appealing, easy-going, with elaborate marketing sugar-coating and all that jazz.
A few obvious “bestsellers”, even fewer “square pegs in round holes”. A couple of timeless beauties, complex but not loud, singing sotto voce…
I felt a much “lighter” (not necessarily “simpler”!) overall vibe, soliflores, fields of flowers, strong “Ambery-Woody-Cedarwoods” and “musks” vibration or “classic beauty” modern interpretations. Some meditative, poetic, very refined fragrances, including sparkling stronger-citruses-then-ever ones. Yes, there’s Oud but it is now being placed in the background, in a much subtler form.
Great perfumers signing quite a few new releases – it seems that big-shot perfumers have been busier than ever! Many new releases were announced yet to come, after Milan! Actually, a few I’m really looking forward to.
Summer 2019 is near: I also noticed many « oceanic, aquatic, sea breeze, relax ‘n’ take it easy » perfumes: sea, salt, sand, sunshine, holidays…as well as light florals or green minty-fresh ones, “Apres-Beach party” or classy French Riviera interpretations. Mood:
Important notice! Where you see no perfume-bottle-photos, it’s because: a) I forgot to take photos b) light was terrible and I had to delete photos – the ones I took wouldn’t be doing a favor to a brand c) I completely forgot to take photos because conversation was way more important, or d) same as c) but being completely blinded by love.
Let’s take a closer quick look at:::
Atelier des Ors
It’s always my pleasure to meet Megan Paki and Jean–Philippe Clermont: last year they surprised us with the White Collection…This year Atelier bottles turned deep-sea-blue (blue glass, not fragrances!), marking a new collection that promises a feeling of classy holiday evenings bliss at the French Riviera (Riviera Lazuli), easy-going mornings in a lush Mediterranean garden with lemon and orange trees (Pomelo Riviera), or relaxed afternoon drives along A8 highway along Côte d’Azur in a cabrio-convertible, wind ruffling gently your hair as you drive into the sunset (Riviera Drive)…
It’s all about old school glamour and Riviera dreaming -bringing back sweet memories of many days spent there…oh, how I long for Summer!
Reflecting a Mediterranean “living-is-easy” style with three new fragrances:
– Salado: fresh, sea&salt with prominent orange blossom and cucumber heart. Sunny mornings and that refreshing feeling after the first morning swim in clear blue sea water…my favorite.
– Fig Man: fresh, spicy, with a salty fig leaf and violets accord, warming up to patchouli – tonka bean finish. Siesta time.
– Bo–bo: ripe mandarine, orange & jasmine flowers, body movement, skin glowing, the sheer joy of fiesta time!
Ibiza: dear Joaquim Carner, please say “Ibiza” again, with that lovely “thhhsz” sound..Ah. The island of love, endless parties, sun-tanned skin, and sea salt in your hair. So he talked about Ibiza (Ibiithhsa) showing me fragrances Carner made for restaurants belonging to The Beso Beach Group, all launched in 2018, signed by Olivier Cresp, Annick Menardo and Christophe Raynard. Summertime flings and kisses:
– Beso Canalla: a little bit of lavender in your hair, a little bit of orange on your lips – a flirty kiss, warm and spicy.
– Bendito Besso: a fresh, morning-at-the-seaside kiss, with bergamot&jasmine in the shade of a tall cedar tree.
– Beso Negro: as the name suggests, late-night kisses – getting more passionate with patchouli-leather tones.
Summer: skin gets darker, hair lighter, and kisses taste better!
Miller et Berteaux
Menta y Menta
“Mint that doesn’t smell like toothpaste”: this is a bouquet of Moroccan mint reduced to fill one small fragrant teacup… So fine and well blended, like mint tea with a touch of jasmine – calming and gently warm in the drydown.
What a lovely discovery, one of my Esxence highlights.
All their timeless beauties exhibited at Esxence, plus Aenotus – a new fragrance by Antoine Lie, launched on 1/3/2019 – my review already published, you can check it out here.
I stopped by a couple of times and finally met Jan Ewoud Vos (founder) on Saturday (wearing a light blue jacket matching Aenotus colors), and we talked for quite some time. That helped me understand his signature fragrance better: quiet waters run deep…
“The Dutch prince of classy perfumes” does sometimes leave his castle hidden somewhere in The Netherlands to mingle with other people of perfumes: cool, composed, well-educated, aware of fragcomm but keeping his distance with grace. His passion is not bluntly exposed, his dedication firm and aligned with his personal values. Classy. Aenotus style.
Let’s take a walk around some other exhibition stands, in random order, just like I did:
Primal Waters Collection
Launched at Pitti in September last year (and on mind ever since), this new collection, like everything Santi does – is as niche as it gets. I won’t stop talking about it because, in my opinion, this brand deserves more attention. Three new fragrances in this collection: A, N, T (yes, ant!)!
My personal favorite is A–ADH – The scent of the anthill. Earth, mushrooms, vetiver, patchouli, and oakmoss: so different, so interesting. Most peculiar: it feels like you are breathing and living a busy life somewhere deep inside corridors of a freshly built ant hill…
Let’s not forget N – like NYC – a blend that the perfumer made for himself: a lovely, citrusy-green-herbal-fresh fragrance with a pinch of mint, and T as TDM (Toroella de Montgri – the town where Santi lives): herbal, smelling like Mediterranean hillside shrubs and bushes, aromatic with sage and thyme. Poetic.
Different, bold, and passionate: signed by Rodrigo Flores – Roux, these fragrances are something else and I’ll write more about them. Bravo, Santi!
This nose belongs to Sarah! I had no previously arranged meeting with her, but she graciously welcomed me and took her time to chat with ease about four new fragrances (new bottles, too!): Atlante (an A&O 2019 Finalist) by Sarah McCartney, Rules of Attraction and Jungle Jezebel by Miguel Matos, and Charade by Andreas Wilhelm.
Quite a line-up there, right?
I also must admit that aquatic Atlante attracted me immediately, but I certainly plan to devote more time to all four, especially much talked about JJ – now available in a more “decent” bottle (although the Divine -inspired one is still available, as limited edition. Yes, that bottle makes perfect sense. Divine, remember?).
Meet the Blackbird team!
When I first stumbled upon their Y06–S in Milan last year (a funky jasmine-gone-bananas fragrance with milky-electronic plastic-static notes&Oud), it positively surprised me: hey, it’s strange, funny, delicious, different, creative, and so wearable at the same time! I keep smiling when I think about it. Fun!
This year I rushed to their stand: Blackbird launched Pipe Bomb Pink: a synth-boosted hi-tech metallic-salty rose-short-circuit Eau de Parfum (Pipe Bomb flanker, and one of the most unusual roses I’ve ever smelt, kept re-spraying!), and Universal Supreme: a sweet&sour gourmand staub-sugar-ground cherry-pits freshly baked industrial pie with almonds-launching June 15th!
Not memory-triggering, rather create-your-own-fantasy-here-and-now fragrances – innovative, cool, relaxed unisex sexy, and unconventional!
What can I say that hasn’t been said before about this whole collection? Enter Splendiris, launched in Paris on 18/4/2019: I also received a sample a while ago: a very Dusita-handwriting tainted fragrance – smooth and vibrant, soft and earthy, so tenderly rhyming violet, iris and rose at its heart, serving them on a fresh fig leaf, oranges, and carrot seed -with a sensual drydown that’s recalling misty layers of last night’s dreams. I must admit that it wasn’t my love at first sniff: (maybe because of its name) I was expecting more buttery, rooty Orris (and I love that!), but it wasn’t until the second or third wearing that I started to fully enjoy its delicate, flowering beauty in the opening. Spring and warmer weather suit it well… And this trembling flower and all its parts, down to the dreamy aura it reflects so sublimely- managed to get under my skin.
Oudh Infini is one of my greatest Dusita loves, and on my skin, it is simply sensational! Ask Pissara, she’ll confirm!
Ithaka and Talento
Barefoot Perfume Fairy Stefania was presenting two new fragrances. She is one of those wonderful people of perfumes that make you feel that it was all worth it! Quick sniff& draft: Ithaka (Odori d’Anima Collection) is a fragrant poem about life journeys, destinations, new ports and harbors you sail to or return to ones well known. Ithaka brought tears to my eyes: I lost words. It carries traces of seawater, the opulence of stunning incense, Amber and Vanilla…
Talento (Talismans Collection): since I’m on a personal journey through a “year of roses” in 2019, this fragile, cold, just-budding rose featuring mint leaves and soft, silky-woody comfort is definitely a different, optimistic, youthful rose – although I could smell its thorns, tiny sharp rose thorns as well, still soft but present. A beautiful rose it is…every drop of it! Presentation is fascinating as always: that ceramic bottle cap!
It’s always my pleasure to meet Dimitri Weber and to listen with how much love he talks about Australia! Velvet Splendour is the newest addition: its sunrise is displaying lovely hues of orange blossoms and puffy, soft, bright yellow mimosa blossoms. Sunset of this fragrance is like thick oriental silk imprinted with a Tonka accord, with Opoponax adding a honeyed and sensual touch to Ambergris notes in the drydown. Elegant, a bit powdery, Oriental-spicy fragrance. Summer again, but this time in February, somewhere in deserts of South Australia. While I chatted with Dimitri, I forgot to take any photos. Which turned out ok, since he invited me to attend the launch in my home town, et voila!
I managed to arrange a meeting with Linda Pilkington, founder, creative director, and perfumer! When I arrived at OJ stand, dear Ivan Lozic (Brand Manager) was there too: what a warm welcome! I enjoyed our conversation, and Linda explained to me everything about Elixirs: chosen classics with a new twist. These beauties – Osmanthus, Ta’if, Royal, Ormonde, and Isfarkand– are stronger than ever (extrait), and Ta’if newly interpreted with addition Cambodian Oud, in a most subtle and elegant way.
You might’ve guessed that I’m an OJ Ta’if lover: I simply melt every time I feel this fragrance. THE Ta’if Rose for me! I could write poems about it, or love songs to it: I’m drooling all over the keyboard just when I think about it…heaven, I’m in thirty-petals Ta’if rose floriental heaven!
Let me just tell you this: the addition of Cambodian Oud is discreet yet so justified, and…so royal. There I go, falling in love head over heels, utterly and helplessly – again!
I was a bit nervous before our meeting, having such a high opinion of Linda: she is very approachable, simple and sweet! I managed to take only a couple of not-so-perfect photos, for reason c) as above mentioned, and d) I fell in love.
Essentials – Red Shoes
Released recently (Cannes last September, I think) and new to me: Cecile Zarokian created this fragrance inspired by a 1948 ballet movie and a beautiful red silk evening gown (created by Jacques Fath), sensual as heavy silk on your skin, sensational as Rose Damascena with a specific Zarokian touch: she has her way with Patchouli and spices…Juicy-ginger-fruity, chic, feel-good, and made me smile instantly! Didn’t have a meeting scheduled at JF (I guess I should have had?), talked to no one, no one talked to me, so basically I helped myself at this stand (too). Next time I’ll do better..
Exhibiting for the first time at Esxence! I could finally feel and touch these lovely bottles! My interview with Anastasia Sokolow (brand owner) and Cecile Zarokian, plus a short review of all fragrances is here. Anastasia showed me that the metal bottle cap can be worn as a ring!
What interested me the most was Kolonya by Rassei Fort, because I didn’t have a chance to try it before Milan. If his grandfather smelled like this, I only can wish more men today would smell the same. That a cologne! Rassei does blend his fragrances in a most amazing way: they transform with time and wear. Refined, complex, revealing itself layer by layer while you are wearing it – this is so enjoyable!
Optimistic citruses, a lovely Iris, plum, rosewood and flowers, Vetiver and hay, lavender and tobacco, and I felt the finest touch of animalic musk as well. This is more than just a cologne – it is mesmerizing and elegant.
Nice meeting Rassei – he is a living ‘n’ walking selfie stick – check out that arms-span:
Released in September last year (again), not really a re-write (in my opinion), but a totally new, modern and refined composition featuring the classic French archetype holy trio: rose, jasmine, and lily-of-the-valley – by the same perfumer – the one and only Jean Claude Ellena! A drop-dead-beautiful, heavenly executed Lily of the Valley (and I’ve never been a huge fan of it…), a huge romantic floral bouquet for a true lady. The base is so graciously feminine: vanilla done the only possible way I could ever love it, powdery and discreet, sprinkled over sandalwood and amber. This perfume unfolds little by little in a most subtle, elegant way. A joyful celebration of the beauty of life! I managed to take this photo while just standing there in front of their stand, silent, for a loooong time. I think they might have thought that I’m just a little bit strange – all I could utter while sniffing my wrists was “Oh!” and “Ah!”. Love, and must have!
Etat Libre d’Orange
Etienne de Swardt, Creative Director at ELDO was so kind, helpful, patient and friendly, even though it must have been a x-thousandth time he had to repeat the inspirational story behind Experimentum Crucis during one day, and day after day for four days: about Isaac. Isaac who? Isaac Newton! It’s clearly not only about the famous apple: Experimentum is also about light and gravity, about things and ideas that change the destiny of us humans. How does that relate to this perfume? Well, Etienne says that perfumes linger in space between fundamental science and feelings (love), and the element that makes these fragrant “experiments crucial” is – your skin!
Experimentum Crucis is a honeyed rose sprinkled with cumin seeds, boosted up by hi-tech Givaudan Akigalawood (fractioned from patchouli, with a woody-spicy-floral accord in the drydown – you’ve smelled it before), and so much more than that. This fragrance made me stop and think: it felt strong (cumin) in the opening but then it moved at a slower pace, it became lighter, more floral/fruity. I felt that typical ELDO fizziness, rose-honey-rose bursts, nicely done patchoulish tones (I don’t like it too heavy anyway) and it still remained sparkling woody-fruity. ELDO sexy on my skin…
It’s no secret: Olivier’s Pyrit Ana Tra (2018) made me cry, right there and then while he was still talking about the fragrance, and explaining his inspiration behind it. I know I surprised him, but luckily Anne-Cécile from L’Osmotheque came by and explained to him that I tend to cry and get all emotional when smelling an exceptional fragrance, and yes, I am an empath – so we’re good now. He says it’s a perfume of the Enlightenment: carrying his vibrations, transferring his emotions, the first fragrance in his new collection…it did vibrate to me.
I really can’t precisely explain why it moved me so strongly: it’s not because of any singular note or accord – it just felt so comforting, safe, tender and loving, primordial and true. Like a kind of a sanctuary built of big white-stone blocks, when you can actually smell the surrounding grass, rocks, trees, Nature breathing, and all that feels so out of this world, transporting you to your inner Universe… Is hugging a huge, soothingly warm rock on a foggy day, feeling grounded and extremely happy about the whole experience an appropriate description? No? Add a bit of dry tobacco, licorice and a pinch of resinous leather. And just close your eyes and FEEL. All feeling, not thinking, so I took only this one photo…
J. F. Schwarzlose Berlin
Timeless elegance, retro-chic inspiration, again. I must admit I’m fond of Schwarzlose because my father wears Zeitgeist (a souvenir from Berlin) sometimes, and I am instantly sentimental with 1A-33 and it’s Unter den Linden, “Berliner Luft” feeling. Their new launch is named 20/20 – inspired by roaring ’20ies in Berlin, glamour, dancing, cabaret, burlesque, and living like there’s no tomorrow. It’s based on their original formula of perfume Chic, dating back to 1920. Well, now 1920 meets 2020 – resulting in 20/20: a fruity floral with some spicy patchouli and vibrant, cool rose. Goes well with red lipstick and black suits.
Gustave Eiffel Parfumes
Courone d’Italie and Anne de Russie
Two new fragrances, inspired by awards given to Gustave Eiffel: the first one, Courone d’Italie is sparkling fresh with a white floral heart and a lovely tomato leaf and rhubarb twist, and the second one, Anne de Russie is my personal favorite: a spicy jasmine&rose heart with darker castoreum tones, and just enough of leather to make it “de Russie”. Interesting, and I like these bottles!
Seppia Collection – 3 new launches
I missed Olfactive Studio’s vlogger/ blogger meeting and presentation at 11 AM on the first day (something a few brands organized this year…and I attended none…), had no pre-arranged meeting, so I stopped by on Saturday to check out these 3 new fragrances in the Seppia Collection: Violet Shot, Rose Shot, and Iris Shot – by Dominique Ropion. During a very quick sniffing tour – Iris Shot caught my attention: a bright, green, almonds-milky and sharp spicy Iris, just slightly sweet when showing its woody side. A gourmand-Iris perfume, with a healthy touch of Ambroxan. The official launch is announced for September. I only took a couple of quick blotter-sniffs, so I’ll try to wear and smell these new releases later, when possible.
Les Insoumises Collection
Marjorie Olibere exhibited this year Les Mythiques Collection collection (Chemical Love, Dangerous Rose, Savannah’s Heart, and Leather Attraction), but the spotlight was on the Les Insoumises Collection (2018), signed by Luca Maffei: Le Jardin De Madame Chan, Le Jardin De La Reine, Le Jardin De Mistinguet and Le Jardin D’Amelie. The Romance Collection, light, fresh, pastel-colored, Spring/Summer-appropriate, inspired by female movie characters and legendary films. These are “timeless elegance” Eaux de Parfum, and my first choice is Le Jardin d’Amelie, because it made me think about the main character’s smile and inner beauty, an instant positivity dose. This rhubarb-raspberry-rose layering is so optimistic! Maybe it’s also because, just like Amelie, I love cracking the top layer of crème brûlée. Don’t you?
Olfactive Expressions No. 6
No 6 is the latest addition to this line, I had a chance to try it in Barcelona right after it was released. Master Perfumer Rosendo Mateu‘s sixth fragrance is a sensual-oriental fragrance: Sambac Jasmine underlined with vanilla strikes me first, but it’s not done with a heavy hand. It floats on soft cushions of warm Amber. After the initial sensual blast, it becomes more of a soft floral fragrance, blending Jasmine, synthetic musks and Amber with just a touch of spices, giving it a salty-fruity-coconut touch. Not revolutionary, but nicely composed and executed: reminds me of after-midnight walks around Barcelona in August…
Oh! Spirito…smells like a dream. Or waking up in a dark, green, shady, misty forest. You are in perfect balance with Nature, and its breath makes you inhale that stunning herbal smell, slightly resinous, with beautiful, bright vetiver: you feel at peace with Universe. A beauty. Fine and complex, poetic and pensive. Thank you, Meo for this lovely fougere…touching me soul-deep. What a discovery! I must return to it: a total eclipse of my heart!
Lovely, smiling, warm-hearted Rania Jouaneh welcomed Ana Y El Parfum, her sister and me like close family members: her new Musc Moschus is a fragrance we all talked about. With a reason: this is a very beautiful and unusual musk-centered perfume, combining different shades and vibrations of musks – not pushing them back to the base, but rather allowing them to shine softly in hues of golden honey and ripe fruits. Lovely, congratulations Rania!
Perris Monte Carlo
Rose de Mai and Jasmin de Pays (Grasse)
My expectations were high: I mostly helped myself at their stand, lifting glass bells covering scented cotton buds (no photos, I forgot to take any). This is it. Really. If you want to pay homage to Grasse, who’re you gonna call? Master Perfumer Jean Claude Ellena, of course. The man that can tell from which field surrounding Grasse and at what time in a day a rose was picked, btw. Jasmin de Pays is a tribute to this flower, city, region, tradition, the youth of a perfumer and art of perfumery written in delicate handwriting of a Master Perfumer I adore. Creamy jasmine with a gentle touch of clove and soft musks, living through all phases of Jasmine, from fragile softness to indolic thickness…or simply THE jasmine from Grasse, and one day it shall be mine.
Rose de Mai is pure poetry, again so divine in its seemingly simple feeling of dewy freshness, but only when it settles down you see a Centifolia Rose trembling on light breeze coming all the way from the Alps into the valley, early in the morning, opening its young pink petals with every golden ray of Provencal sunshine. Yet, this is not a bright pink rose only: enhanced with immortelle it shows its deep, dark beauty, the moment that broke my heart. This IS it. I’m in love. Again.
Like a Jewel
What a pleasant surprise! He must be smiling, wherever he is now: Freddie, I mean…Luca Maffei translates that unique Freddie Mercury burst of energy with the use of citrusy-ginger-fruity accord expanding over fragrant octaves from soprano-high to rose touched tenor and almost metallic baritone. I was so startled that I forgot to take a photo! Sparkling glam. I want it all!
I was stumbling around The Mall and almost missed their stand, because – they’ve changed – everything! A new visual concept was presented at Esxence, new bottles 100/8,5/2ml, new perfume (long expected) added too: NU Leather by Master Perfumer Luca Maffei! Luca does it again: what a Dolce Vita leather, on my skin boozy spicy suede – a gourmand garment…It glides from bitter to sweet…spicy to woody, at moments fruity too, in utter opulence – dat a “leather”! Beautiful. Congratulations!
I think I’m going to proclaim 2020 to be my “Year of Leather”…I can wear it with ease and confidence.
A photo I almost forgot to take, but Kate from Australia reminded me: yes, that’s The Plum Girl logo on a roll-up, listed as an Esxence Media Partner!
More friendly faces, love, love, love:
Stay classy and fragrant! Part III – Events&Extras is coming up next!
The Plum Girl
Photos: The Plum Girl, Esxence Official, friends&brands