Despite the current Covid 19 situation, travel restrictions, and slightly rising numbers, Pitti Fragranze 2021 managed to set protocols to ensure the exhibition at Station Leopolda was held in safety and tranquility. Exactly two years after the last Fragranze event, the 19th edition DID take place 17-19 September, in Florence – always The Most Beautiful.
Here is my Report Part I, focusing on trends, Ralf Schweiger Retrospective curated by Chandler Burr, and one brand that made all the difference for me: Rubini, founded by Andrea Bissoli Rubini.
We were hungry. I was hungry to breathe in perfume inside Stazione Leopolda, hungry for the people of perfume, trying to sound optimistic each and every time the Pitti Fragranze event was postponed, praying and hoping we shall meet in Florence again.
One week before the exhibition, at the moment I already had a booked apartment and all the tickets, my Pitti ticket was confirmed. A bit the last minute notice, but as one dear friend told me when I cried in her inbox, not certain that it’s really happening: “if there isn’t any bad news – it’s good news. This is the best news: Florence and Pitti again!
Florence at night, because we were inside Stazione Leopolda from 10 AM until 6 PM.
But Florence, Florence is beautiful at any time of a day or night:
Happy To Be At Pitti
First things first: the best part of Pitti Fragranze 2021 for me is that it HAPPENED. And it was beautiful!
Right at the entrance, a vibe of positivity and pure happiness could be felt, people longing to meet old friends, reconnect, bond, exchange, rejoice, share, and just BE – together again.
As we roamed around the Classic and Spring sections, almost everyone I asked confirmed that it seems that the number of visitors (buyers, distributors, media people) seemed to be at the level of 2018, but we also noticed that many a niche/artisan/indie brand – was missing. Among them are also many Italian brands, ones that I always look forward to visiting and experiencing their new releases.
Moreover, it seemed to me that there were more brands represented by distributors, than singular brands exhibiting by themselves, but I’m waiting for the official Pitti Fragranze 2021 report to sum it up. Here is the complete list of exhibitors, so you can see it for yourself.
Well, Pitti Fragranze is a B2B event – I hope that good perfumes found their good buyers/distributors!
Hopefully, when times do get better, Pitti will open their doors for one day to the general public as well – let’s not forget who makes it all spin around and around: end customers, right?
Many dear friends, bloggers/perfumers/brand owners/creative directors/etc. couldn’t make it to Pitti, so allow me to say this: you were dearly missed, my friends!
Still, I couldn’t suppress happiness: I managed to bond again with old friends, meet new people, get to know better new brands, and I did have an ambitious plan – quite hectic again, so I need to apologize to people I didn’t manage to catch up with: we’ll meet soon, I promise.
Let’s talk about perfume: what I felt like the prevailing scent of Pitti Fragranze 2021 was a mixture of ambers, gourmands, tamed ouds, transparent greens, and white florals.
Smelling perfume inside with our masks on was a bit of a challenge, at some moments I had to rush outside to be able to take my mask away and smell my skin or blotters properly. But once there, once we finally had the chance to BE a part of Pitti, nothing was a problem.
There were fine and creative brands to be smelled, concepts, and perfumes that stood out! Perfumes with soul. Creativity and quality – they always shine brightly!
As always, there were those Ambroxan loaded moments that, alas, give it a bad reputation but this year leaned, in my opinion, more on the sweet side: from simple sticky-candy-sweet to very complex and layered creations.
It seemed to me that almost every brand nowadays has at least two sweet gourmands in its collection. Not that there’s anything wrong with gourmands as such, but there’s everything wrong with a sugar overdose.
There were also whiffs of various green accords, “vegetarian perfumes” – as Ralf Schwieger called them, and I liked that. I wish that could be a future trend! There are some good old and new raw materials that could push this trend forward.
Many massniche perfume brands/perfume too, again.
This is a term I coined up (feel free to use it as long as you quote me), so allow me to elaborate: if masstige is defined by being “mass-produced, relatively inexpensive goods that are marketed as luxurious or prestigious“ (Oxford Languages), then I define massniche as “limited production, relatively inexpensive-in-making perfume marketed as niche or artisan and featuring niche/artisan pricing – being in fact”mass” but aiming to reach both: niche AND the mass market“.
That’s nothing new, it just seemed to me that this massniche trend is getting stronger and stronger.
Again, there’s nothing wrong with a desire to grow your market if you’re not lowering your quality and originality at the same time, and keeping the price. It’s OK to be massniche, all is well, just keep the matching prices, please.
Let’s take a closer look at what impressed me:
Ralf Schwieger – A Retrospective / Curated by Chandler Burr
What Chandler Burr started in 2018 at Pitti Fragranze is still one of the highlights of the show for me: talks with perfumers and perfume exhibitions he curates.
At Pitti Fragranze 2021 we were given the opportunity to smell all the perfumes included in the Retrospective exhibition of Ralf Schweiger‘s creations (1999-2021)!
The Original One, a great perfumer that spoke (very!) openly about his formulas, about flankers of Hermès Eau des Merveilles, carrot seed as the cheap iris, and all the raw materials used during the conversation with Burr – he kept smiling gently: you can read my interview with Ralf Schweiger – the Sculptor of Scents here.
It’s no secret I admire Ralf Schwieger‘s creations and approach (yep, you can see me standing there), so YES, this part of Pitti was immensely interesting to me. I have a small surprise for you, and in the meantime, you can watch Ralf explain Lipstick Rose/Frederic Malle on The Plum Girl’s IGTV here!
The Ralf Schwieger Retrospective featured the following perfumes chosen and presented by Chandler Burr:
Yves Saint Laurent Baby Doll (1999, created with Cecile Malton),
Frederic Malle Lipstick Rose (2000) Editions de Parfum Collection,
Hermes Eau des Merveilles (2004) created with Nathalie Feisthauer, commissioned by Veronique Gaultier,
Atelier Cologne Orange Sanguine (2010), Atelier Cologne Vanille Insensee (2011), Etat Libre d’Orange Fils de Dieu (2012)
Aedes de Venustas Iris Nazarena (2013),
Moab (2016) commissioned by Erik Kormann and Anne Serrano – McClain for the Phlur Collection,
Aedes de Venustas Musc Encense (2016),
Helio Collection Quino (2018),
La Seconde Affaire du Pommier collection – Le Dieu Cerf (2021) commissioned by Etienne de Swardt.
Rubini – Launch of Nuvolari, The Newest Fragrance In The Line
If I have to pick one perfume or one brand at Pitti Fragranze 2021 that impressed me the most, I would choose Rubini – and all the THREE perfumes this brand has in its portfolio! Actually, the third addition to this small collection was just launched at Pitti: Nuvolari!
Rubini is an artisan, Italian brand founded by Andrea Bissoli Rubini, and his eyes actually sparkle when he talks about his fragrances! Passionate, uncompromised when it comes to raw materials, with refined aesthetics – Rubini is as niche as it gets.
Perfume to protect and preserve an intimate experience, soul-touching, as interpreted by product designer Francesca Gotti,
Rubini fragrances are created by Cristiano Canali, their in-house perfumer. The creative direction of Nuvolari is the work of my dear friend Ermano Picco!
Andrea Bisolli Rubini talked to me about Nuvolari for quite a while, and his passion is almost palpable.
He told me stories about Tazio Giorgio Nuvolari, a famous Italian car racer, he talked about the need for speed, the adrenaline rush of the near-to-death racing experiences, scents of races, race ring, wires and gas, black traces of rubber racing cars leave behind them on asphalt, passion, victories and losses, and the need and courage to go on. And his own courage to go on, to continue to keep the high-quality standards, and remain true to himself.
And Nuvolari is all that and more: my full review of all 3 Rubini fragrances is coming up after I finish all planned Pitti Fragranze reports, but let me tell you: it is good, different, unusual, and addictive at the same time!
What a refreshing experience it was to step out of the mass-appealing, ruffle-no-feathers, keep-it-sweet cloud!
Canali does go a bit experimental here when comparing to the previous two fragrances but it feels very intriguing, uplifting, exciting, and dangerous, and sexy at the same time. Wonderful!
Listed notes for Nuvolari are Italian Lemon, Black Pepper from Madagascar, Fuel Accord, Yakima Mint, Metallic Neroli, Bulgarian Rose, Motor Racing Accord, Vetiver Haiti, Oud from Laos (not very noticeable), Ambroxan (note: done well!), Asphalt Accord.
Fairly priced as well for such a great creation, Nuvolari is now available at Rubini’s website as a 50ml extrait du parfum / 175 EUR.
In my Report Part 2, I shall tell you more about chosen fragrances, perfume brands, and what I have enjoyed smelling the most during Pitti Fragranze 2021! And there’s more, so stay tuned.
The Plum Girl
Photos: Elena Cvjetkovic, Pitti Fragranze 2021
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