I’m starting my Pitti Fragranze 2022 with an overview of chosen events that took place in Stazione Leopolda this year: a cathartic one, a highly educational presentation, and a futuristic exhibition!
Florence, always the most beautiful, greeted me with fine weather (just a couple of rain drops and a bit of strong wind one day), a lovely place I stayed at – really close to the fair, and Pitti Fragranze 2022 that seemed relaxed more than ever this year.
I had plenty of time to visit perfume brands, chat with perfumers, brand owners, and friends, and attend events I planned to take part in.
My impression was that fewer brands were exhibiting on their own and more perfume brands were exhibiting on their Italian distributors’ stands than last year, but here are the official figures (source Pitti Imagine / Pitti Fragranze 2022 newsletter):
“Taking place from September 16-18 at Stazione Leopolda in Florence, Pitti Fragranze 20 was more than a positive experience. Final show figures reveal that the collections of 160 brands attracted a total of 1,250 industry professionals from 50 countries, up 13% from last year’s edition. A total of nearly 300 foreign operators were in attendance: France remains on top of Pitti Fragranze’s 15 most important markets, followed by Spain, Germany, Russia, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Ukraine, Lithuania, Turkey, Poland, Romania, Holland, Sweden, China, and the United States. The number of Italian buyers at the show increased by 18%. The event also attracted more than 200 journalists, influencers, and media operators, which is also an increase.”
If you check my previous Pitti reports (2018, 2019, 2021) you can compare the numbers, but I must say that this, the 20th edition of Fragranze at Stazione Leopolda is exactly the format I would prefer to be continued, keeping it artistic, educational and special.
Let me share with you these 3 events/exhibitions in full detail:
RAW by MANE / ‘The Rose: Reinventing Iconics’
MANE traditionally holds conferences at Pitti, and this time the presentation (including smelling of raw materials) was dedicated to her highness, the queen of olfactory culture – rose.
And what a presentation it was! Professional, educational, involving, sharing with ease and grace: top-notch.
Delivered by Melanie Duhamel (Director of Fragrance Division, MANE Italy, Spain, and Portugal), Cyril Gallardo (Director of Ingredients at MANE EMEA), Mathilde Voisin (Marketing Manager of Ingredients at MANE EMEA), and Mathieu Nardin (Perfumer at MANE Paris), talking about processing techniques, animated by olfactory tastings, and concluded with a special gift from MANE and Mathieu Nardin: a small bottle of fragrance “Cuir de Rose,” a tribute to Florence and the rose, created exclusively as a gift for the Pitti Fragranze 2022 visitors attending this conference.
What we had a chance to smell:
ROSE CENTIFOLIA ABSOLUTE: I died (of the sheer beauty of it) a hundred times smelling this! It’s a powerful, somewhat powdery rose with fruity facets, a strong honey accent, and leaning animalic.
ROSE CENTIFOLIA SUPERESSENCE: Delicate and fresh, fruity and powdery, with beautiful facets of red berries and lychee.
ROSE DAMASCENA / ESSENTIAL OIL: Lemony-fresh, light, with a transparent lychee facet, it warms up with layers of honey and a touch of spices.
ROSE DAMASCENA ABSOLUTE, DECOLORISED: the catch is is Phenyl Ethyl Alcohy of (65-75%), so it’s more floral, more powdery, but still keeping the spicy and honeyed tones.
ROSE DAMASCENA ABSOLUTE, METHYL-EUGENOL REDUCED: since IFRA standards reduce Methyl Eugenol, MANE produces by fractionation a ME reduced absolute which is softly floral, slightly sweet, more powdery than absolute but it also has that “Metallic Rose”, cold facet.
It felt fantastic to be able to smell these, and compare them on blotters!
MANE also introduced ROSE from a new terroir, for the first time: MOLDOVA ROSE ABSOLUTE! Fresh flowers are being processed in Moldova, and the concrete is further processed in France, and its beauty is different – it’s easy if you’re holding all the previously mentioned blotters in your hand! Moldova Rose is divinely fresh, with tender lemony facets and a touch of blackcurrant notes, developing later tea notes and turning soft and comforting with hay facets.
We also had a chance to smell Jungle Essence (TM) Lychee Rose Neo – which is a product of co-extraction of Lychee pulp and Rosa Damascena – a soft, watery-fruity rose with undertones of geranium and raspberry.
Last, but not least, a fascinating upcycling product, made from by-products of all extraction procedures: ROSE DAMASCENA ABSOFLOR UP (TM) – softly rosy, not a powerbomb as absolute, but still impressive and still – a rose.
When Mathieu Nardin speaks about roses, one cannot but notice his love for what he does: his smile and his eyes say it all.
Beautiful. The most educational event at Pitti Fragranze 2022: it touched all the senses! I don’t know which body part needs to be sold to obtain a small bottle of Rose Centifolia Absolute, but I must have that in my raw materials collection!
The Alchemical Wall by Alessandro Gualtieri aka The Nose
The queue to enter the magic room with the Alchemical Wall was long since day one of Pitti Fragranze 2022, and Mr. Gualtieri was nowhere to be seen: at least, I didn’t manage to see him, and trusts me: I walked the halls of Stazione Leopolda tirelessly from 10 AM to 5.30 PM every day.
This is one of the reasons I miss Chandler Burr’s concept and retrospectives, which were especially exciting because of the chance to participate in talks with perfumers involved – as he did with Jean Claude Ellena in 2019 or Ralf Schwieger in 2021 (check my story and interview).
What happened behind the curtain, and inside the space entered one by one was a well-kept secret until day three of Pitti Fragranze 2022, and I didn’t even want to know: I decided to experience it myself. All that people who went inside told me was that it was worth the wait, so I waited. For nearly half an hour. Patiently. Still keeping my eyes open to if Gualtieri will appear.
A most unexpected incident happened while I was waiting in the queue. I was just about to enter when two ladies cut the line and approached the young gentleman who was controlling the entrance. I heard them whispering in Italian, aaaand, my gut feeling told me what was coming. The (poor) young man, obviously irritated, stood up and approached me. Before he even uttered that these ladies request to enter before me and the whole queue, I told them loud and clear: not in a lifetime. And showed them where the queue begins. Argh. I felt anger building up in me.
Immediately after this scene, I entered the Wall. And decided to participate, whatever it takes. Faced the wall with clear instructions, and the moment I read them all, I KNEW it was going to get even more emotional.
Yes, I took a bottle of perfume, and couldn’t resist spraying it on. Sniffing my hand, I took the pencil, looked at the wall, and found the WORD describing what troubled me the most.
I also looked at the broken bottles on the floor, thinking about all the emotions crushed against the wall, and all the troubles spelled out in the same room I was standing in.
And I felt the rush of emotions, different emotions, a rollercoaster of emotions. One part of me wanted to smash that bottle I was holding on tightly, and the other part of me cried at the thought of destroying perfume to liberate myself from what I was feeling. Destruction as a form of liberation? Everything in me screamed against it.
And yet, I did it. I threw the bottle so hard at the word written in black bleeding ink on the wall, that it broke into two pieces. Tears filled my eyes, it felt like a rock fell off my heart, and I felt relief. Deep, intrinsic, soul-touching – relief.
Yes, this was a liberating experience, thank you, Antonio Gualtieri. My problem did become irrelevant after this, and I devoted the rest of the day to sharing love and affection with everyone I met.
“This act is based on a cathartic methodology. I wanted to create a space for freeing our repressed emotions and condensing bad memories, so they finally evaporate, freeing us. For me, the wall is the place where it is possible to observe how the process of alchemical transformation is evolving: what began as a strong gesture of liberation, ends in a wall of faded and dim ideas that are no longer corporeal or with a presence, where problems are no longer relevant.”
800 bottles were broken in three days. 800 people walked away from the Alchemical Wall at Pitti Fragranze 2022, hopefully feeling liberated from their problem.
L’Osmotheque Versailles – The World’s Most Important Perfume Archive
The presentation “Trésor de l’Osmothèque” was held at Pitti Fragranze 2022 on Saturday, September 17: this time focus was on a selection of perfumes lost in their original formulas, and rose-based creations. Some “classics” are included as well, and I like to believe by now that they include Iris Gris because I swoon over it every! single! time!
Isabelle Chazot, administrator and president of the Scientific Committee of the Osmothèque, took us on an olfactory journey into the past, and it was an amazing experience!
Back to the 1 century: Parfum Royal, an interpretation of a fragrance, would be a major hit even today! Coty’s L’Origan (1905) would also be considered a stunning gourmand today, and an utterly elegant one. Moving on to the fruity area, Le Fruit Defendu by Parfums de Rosine (1914/1918) would easily become a bestseller, and Shocking by Schiaparelli (1937) would raise many an eyebrow.
I always feel so deeply touched when I hold and smell blotters dipped in Osmotheque’s treasures, and never miss a chance to smell, take notes, save all the blotters, and then smell them again, over and over again. What a blessing this organization is! If you wish to support the archive that matters to all the perfume lovers, feel free to visit their webpage and donate – L’Osmotheque.
We tend to imagine archives as dusty places, quiet and solemn, with slow-moving librarians and endless rows of not-often touched historic treasures. Well, think twice! Because – Osmotheque’s stand on Pitti Fragranze 2022 now looks like an installation from a futuristic movie, a 5th Element interactive scented board, a blast to the future!
I squealed in delight! This new concept of exhibiting allows you to explore by yourself, with always helpful Osmotheque representatives at your side, and it visually looks impressive! A gem for any exhibition, a centerpiece that looks like a diamond among other stands. It was our meeting point at Pitti Fragranze 2022, and we couldn’t keep our hands off these roses!
Among all the roses exhibited: La Rose Jacqueminot/ Francois Coty 1904, N’Aimez Que Moi / Caron 1916 (absolutely fantastic!), No22 / Chanel 1922, Joy / Patou 1935, Sa Majeste La Rose / Serge Lutens 2000, POAL / Frederic Malle 2010, and Rose 1815 / Lazaros Douvos 2020 – I was really excited to smell some of the ones I haven’t previously, and the newest one – Rose 1815 which is an utter beauty!
I consider these presentations to be the best of Pitti Fragranze 2022. There were others, including one that made me feel deceived: the title promised one thing, but the delivery failed and was limited to repetitive and blunt self-promotion, so I walked out when I realized that the main subject won’t be mentioned at all.
I would suggest to organizers to ask for presentations to be mailed to them two weeks in advance, so they can check if they comply – it helps, and prevents things like this to happen.
Pitti Fragranze 2022 was an intense experience: maybe because I had more time than ever to visit brands exhibiting, even to return to some stands multiple times, to take time and explore perfume, to meet new brands, to talk to old and make new friends. I wish it would continue to be a “safe place” for art, education, honoring tradition, setting trends, and insisting on authenticity – the most mentioned word of the fair.
And Florence – Florence is always beautiful!
More about authenticity, when it comes to perfume shall follow in my Pitti Fragrance 2022 report Part II, focusing on fragrances.
You can support The Plum Girl as an independent perfume site by buying me a Coffee!
Feel free to use the button below, thank you!