The Industry had to wait for three years for the Art Perfumery Event – Esxence 2022! Professionals, enthusiasts, and all protagonists of the fascinating world of fragrances finally met from 15-18 June in Milan, and here are my first impressions, info about trends noticed, and insights!
Right from the start, Esxence 2022 was a thief that stole my heart – and I its willing victim…
Just give me a reason: people of perfume, and perfume! And (oh!), it flowed like a river. Hugs, handshakes, smiles, and greetings from the entrance, and all around. It’s been three years after all! In case you wonder what was it like in 2019, you can find my reports here and here.
Yes, the Milano Convention Centre (MiCo) location is new for Esxence 2022: I still feel nostalgic about the previous one (the Mall in Piazza Lina Bo Bardi), but it is what it is. I sincerely doubt that this quantity of brands exhibiting, plus the Experience Lab (beauty products) would fit into it. The official figures haven’t been published yet, but more than 270 brands were exhibiting, and more than 6.000 visitors were present (data provided by Esxence 2022)! Almost back to normal, not the new normal…except for the heat!
My poor feet suffered: the outside temperature in Milan was mostly over 38C (even a short walk to the Fair felt like walking on burning coals), and A/C worked well inside the Pavilion 16 – in the morning when there were not so many visitors. Add perfume being sprayed on all stands, and come afternoon we were all sweating profusely.
Things we do for perfume…things we do: even as I’m writing this, my feet and ankles are still swollen, and I came back home with a pair of new, bright, and shiny red mules – something I would never consider wearing before. Even the new mules didn’t help much: next time I’ll fail better.
The maze of Esxence 2022 took its toll: walking around the big Pavilion No 16 – IKEA style, not being able to return to some spots without walking all the way back or around resulted in many a blister, swollen feet, and lower back pain among visitors. I’m not complaining, I’d do it all over again – but in well-worn trainers! And preferably in April!
The most important aspect of Esxence 2022 to me are – people of perfume.
This is the extra value of Esxence every year, and especially now: reuniting with old friends, meeting new ones, connecting, and reconnecting! And the event that made us bond again even stronger is the one we all look forward to every year, among all other events: the Nishane TEMPOCAPSUL (an impressive new collection of perfumes) Party! It seems that we had so much to say to each other that we hardly could leave Vapore 1928 club until late at the night.
After virtual meetings, I finally met Gabe Oppenheim in person (you can read my interview with Gabe, author of the book “The Ghost Perfumer” here), and the round-table discussion we had that night is certainly something to remember.
I apologize for not being able to include all photos, and all people I hugged so tight that I forgot to take any photos, but impressions in my heart are more valuable than (sometimes blurry) photos anyway!
A mirror selfie…while contemplating more about the wider angle, and I’ll talk about “who’s the fairest of them all” in the post to follow. I do need to test and wear again all the samples I have received.
Three years later, we haven’t changed that much. Or have we? Let’s take a deeper look Through The Mirror, and talk about trends in perfume, the most prominent chords and accords noted, and the overall impression of Esxence 2022.
More than any specific new trends emerging, I rather noticed some old trends fading away: loud (pseudo) ouds were reduced to just a couple of stands, teeth-decaying gourmands were hardly noticeable (or I managed to evade them successfully), and maybe it’s only me, but it seems that screaming ambers are hushed down a bit.
What I did notice lately is quite a few “familiar but new” Fougere and Chypre perfumes, sleek and smooth, finely blended and executed, and many an effort to move away from any and all trendy trends. Vanillas went in a smoother, more elegant, and/or twisted direction, lavenders mirrored the quality of raw materials used, and caramels gained a new dimension. Even the most experimental perfumes I smelled at Esxence 2022 seemed fully wearable, like a couple of latex-inspired fragrances for example.
Small formats are in, and many more brands introduced 30 (or less) ml bottles – which I consider a great format for any perfumista. Natural ingredients are also felt being more present or accented, and it was lovely to smell some really good raw materials being used – think Hiram Green and his fabulous new release Arcadia – a dream of natural splendor that soothes one’s soul. A fougere with a natural twist, deeply familiar smelling – but with a completely new interpretation.
I have also seen a lot of simplified, eco-friendly packaging like Essential Parfums is using. This was a completely new brand to me, and I must say that they offer a very interesting range of fragrances, sleek and smooth, for a very fair price. Do check them out.
Thoughts of romance and freedom were sprayed on blotters: Giuseppe Imprezzabile (whom I keep calling “Dear Meo”) presented Meo Fusciuni Encore du Temps, a fragrant love letter to his wife Federica, from their romantic trip to Laos – always standing out, always different, dear Meo!
Fig-themed perfumes at Esxence 2022 might be considered a trend, “figs” that range from the top of the tree to fruit, leaves, and roots: there’s a new “dark” fig – Figuer Noir by Houbigant (created by Celine Ellena), a lovely woody-fig creation, placed in their masculine line.
Francesca dell’Oro presented Sainte+Figue, a ripe and jammy-fruity, delicious fig interpretation. Essential Parfums Fig Infusion (by Nathalie Larson) is a joyful, refreshing fragrant vision of sitting in the shade of a fig tree and looking up to see which figs are ripe enough to be picked straight from the tree and eaten immediately. Beso Beach – Beso Pasion is a patchouli-fig interpretation of a passionate kiss under the fig tree, with an ambery-woody drydown.
Esxence 2022 also smelled a lot like vetiver! Again, very creative approaches to vetiver were observed: I was simply thrilled by Jacques Fath Vetiver Gris by Jean-Christophe Herault, who kindly told me his story about Vetiver Gris at their stand. Not willing to disclose his formula of the hazelnut accord (of course, just kidding) which makes it very unique.
Mon Vetiver by Essential Perfumes (by Bruno Jovanovic) is infused with Gin and cold spices, making it refreshing and aromatic at the same time – nicely executed, and easy to wear. L’Orchestre Parfum launched Vetiver Overdrive (by Amelie Bourgeois and Anne-Sophie Behaghel), sliding more towards cedar, ambroxan, and musk notes in the dry-down, which was a bit of overdrive for my nose.
Perris Monte Carlo Vetiver Java by Gian Luca Perris (launched in 2021, I just smelled it now), as a part of their Black Collection, is the intense kind of “dark” vetiver, rough around the edges, smoky, earthy, woody, very bold and elegant at the same time. I could spend hours and hours on their stand, and return to it every single day.
Summertime and the living is easy moments of Esxence 2022: it was really interesting to smell the new marine-aquatic perfumes! If you are among those people that still have Calone traumas from the 1980ies, well, these are different. Trust me. Besides, relax – that was like 40 years ago, and yes, for some time now it is possible to find some really good and totally different marine aquatics!
A perfume with a really lovely name, for example, Dove L’Acqua E Piu Blu (from the new UERMI Solaro Collection, created by Pierre Gueros), is a luminous, sunny, and joyful fragrance with very discreet marine accents, like whiffs of salty air touching your sunbathed skin. Lovely, and all names are so wonderful!
Masque Milano’s White Whale (by Christian Alori) thrilled me even during the recent online launch. Call me Ishmael, but I love clever marine aquatics, and White Whale is quite beautiful and very wearable: moist, salty, with the smart use of Ambroxan acting as Ambergris, and a lovely touch of a fruity-leathery Osmanthus. Smooth and polished, a different marine-aquatic fragrance.
Moving on to citruses: much needed, indeed, because of high temperatures that marked days of Esxence 2022! Ah, I was craving for neroli, lemons, pomelos, oranges, bergamot, grapefruit, you name it, refreshment was much needed! This need for citruses was quickly met by some finely executed compositions: Perris Monte Carlo Neroli Mediteranneo (by Gian Luca Perris), and belonging to their Italian Collection is the one that I came back for every now and then to their stand to spray all over myself before I left the Fair. Beautifully executed smooth citruses in a very fine and elegant perfume!
Sal Y Limon by Carner Barcelona is exactly what the name says, sharp and salty, a lemon-infused wake-up call after a siesta (and I like their 30 ml bottles), Atelier des Ors Riviera Sunrise (by Marie Salamagne) revolves around orange and mandarin, with a touch of greenness, later exploring orange blossoms and fig tree leaves. More radiant than juicy, Riviera Sunrise is a happy fragrance!
Laboratorio Olfactivo presented Arancia Rossa (by Jean-Claude Ellena), blood orange with touches of passionfruit carefully balanced upon a pillow made of fluffy musks.
Other things I have noticed at Esxence 200 are that perfumers are again more mentioned when fragrances are presented and that stories about perfumes were more simple and concrete. Presentations sometimes boiled down to “this is our new fig perfume”, with no background inspiration explanation at all (and that is perfectly OK if the inspiration behind it was “let’s make a new fig perfume”, but it also might be because we were at a large Fair, visited by thousands of people, and explaining perfume inspiration 1000 times a day can be exhausting for brand representatives and perfumers.
I am not a fan of grandiloquence, pomposity, verbosity, or obfuscation when perfume descriptions are concerned, but neither am I a fan of over-simplification.
Last, but never the least: Osmotheque exhibited again at Esxence 2022! I always run to their booth (Level -1 this year) and spend at least an hour or two smelling the classics. I find their presence necessary, highly educational, and touching (I always cry at their stand. I used to cry at the original Joy every time I smelled it, this year it was the legendary Crepe de Chine (F. Millot, 1925) that made me sob over the blotter.
And Milan…Milan is always beautiful. Every time I visit, I discover something new and interesting. This time, during Esxence 2022 it was Tram 1. I call it A Streetcar Named Desire. Simply because it took us straight to Duomo, and while waiting for it at the tram station in scorching sunshine, my only desire was to see it arrive as soon as possible. I fell in love with its wooden seats, art deco lamps, and kindest possible drivers. I have yet another desire: to return to Milan next year for Esxence 2023!
Stay tuned for my choice of Esxence 2022 best and most interesting new perfumes!
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