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the plum girl

Browsing

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

Riviera Collection

It’s always my pleasure to meet Megan Paki and JeanPhilippe 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!

Carner Barcelona

Fresh Collection

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.

– Bobo: ripe mandarine, orange & jasmine flowers, body movement, skin glowing, the sheer joy of fiesta time!

Beso Beach

Hello, Ibiza!

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.

Puredistance

Aenotus

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:

Santi Burgas

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 AADH – 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 FloresRoux, these fragrances are something else and I’ll write more about them. Bravo, Santi!

Sarah Baker

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?).

Blackbird

Meet the Blackbird team!

When I first stumbled upon their Y06S 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!

Dusita

Splendiris

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!

Mendittorosa

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!

Goldfield&Banks

Velvet Splendour

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!

Ormonde Jayne

Elixir Collection

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.

Jacques Fath

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..

Suleko

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!

Rassei Fort

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:

Houbigant
Essence Rare

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

Experimentum Crucis

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…

Olivier Durbano

Poems Stones

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

20/20

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!

Olfactive Studio

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.

Maison Olibere

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?

Rosendo Mateu

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…

Meo Fuscuini

Spirito

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!

Rania J

Musc Moschus

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.

Homoelegans

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!

UERMI

NU Leather

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 IIIEvents&Extras is coming up next!

The Plum Girl

Elena Cvjetkovic

Photos: The Plum Girl, Esxence Official, friends&brands

Disclaimer

I was here in Grasse two years ago and upon my arrival this August I noticed some changes.
This famous medieval town in southern Provence – the perfume capital of the world – is looking (at the first glance) same as ever, on the outside, especially in the old part of the city. Yes, Jasmine scented water is still sprayed above the streets in the old city…

Yes, this is the place of the genesis of the perfume industry, yes, the celebration of jasmine (Fete du Jasmin) still takes place at the end of the first weekend in August, yes, this closely knit community safeguards this amazing intangible cultural heritage, but there are some new things in town!

You will notice signs on all the main streets leading to city center pointing the way to the famous trio: Galimard-Fragonard-Molinard Perfumeries, and I suggest you do visit them: they have shops, museums and offer a glimpse into factories, with guided tours.

This time my stay in Grasse coincided with an event organized by Fragonard, a conference.

I also took my time to visit two relatively new boutiques on Place de La Aires square in the old town: 1000Flowers Perfumer, by Jessica Buchanan and Parfumes MMicaleff by Martine Micaleff.

 

1000 FLOWERS

Located at 4 Place aux Aires, opened just last year. Ms. Buchanan, a Canadian who grew up on seashores and in the countryside of western Canada is the owner and perfumer.
She sold her house in Canada, moved to Grasse and studied at the Grasse Institute of Perfumery (2007.).

Following the training, she did what naturally follows: apprenticeship and internship, in Robertet and Mane. Now she’s a very active member of the community in Grasse.

There are not that many small perfumers here and there are some really big names present, but she says that all involved, not only parfumeurs, feel like a big family. One that she became a part of: yes, the main players and game changers are mostly Grassoise, but once you prove your serious intentions, work hard, participate and put in some serious effort, you can become a fully recognized member of the community.

Once you’ve proven yourself as serious, they accept you.

It was really a pleasure to talk to Jessica: she found time to talk to me about her fragrances, tell me what she plans to do (regarding Narcotic Flowers perfume) and we chatted about perfumes, naturals, men, rose fields and how it is to live and work in Grasse.

Besides her perfume lines, Jessica offers personalized perfume creation and consulting services. That’s another benefit of being based in Grasse: you do have direct access to expertise and experience in all areas of production.

I was also pleasantly surprised by her project „Perfume for Purists“ – back to Mother Nature botanicals, single note extracts in a neutral base of certified organic French grain alcohol. No additives! I hope this collection will grow, too.

Her Original Collection represents earliest fragrances she created.

I must say that I was really overwhelmed by Narcotic Flowers Perfume! Inspired by tuberose fields near Grasse, launched in 2011. I felt orange blossom, jasmine, rose and oh! tuberose! swirling around in a misty, intoxicating cloud around my head! Wow!

Narcotic it is indeed! You can feel finely blended, first-grade ingredients wildly dancing in this rhapsody of a perfume! As much as I was on my knees after inhaling this tuberose miracle, I do understand that some people, not to tuberose happy, would definitely call this perfume crazy.
I say: if you don’t fancy tuberose, stay away from it and alles wird gut…:-D

Jessica told me that she will announce and present in a couple of days (which she did by now) the new, reformulated Narcotic Flowers! I think that this reformulation won’t make you shed too many tears, on the contrary. Check it out, this is what she says: “Narcotic Flowers has been reformulated, and is all about tuberose, orange blossom, and ylang-ylang. I cut all the other flowers, and added lots of freshness to the top notes, no it’s now a fresh white floral with a carnal under current. It is, after all, a tuberose fragrance!”

When Jessica asked me whether I liked Narcotic Flowers, I told her my honest opinion: yes, I love it, it is truly tuberose narcotic…but. I am not sure I would wear it. It is just too much to handle, overwhelming for me. It really needs a special feeling, mood, atmosphere… She nodded and smiled, I guess this really was the issue with this mighty perfume all along.

Another one, rather controversial as well: Reglise Noire. Now, this is licorice! And I must say again: if you don’t like licorice, well, take a sniff at this one.

This perfume is not licorice only(at least for me)! You will surely appreciate it’s complexity: I find it very addictive.

There are spices, a hint of anise, vanilla, ginger and musk. A very beautiful, warm-under-a-blanket-on-a chilly-day perfume, but I also see that it is also one of those love or hate perfumes, no compromises…Quite interesting.

The Blue Collection perfumes feature flower extracts from local French producers and each bottle contains 5% organic Damascena rose water from a small producer in Grasse. Talking about terroir, hm? Well, Jessica surely covers that requirement! The most interesting one for me is Rose Casis Paradis (2016.): lovers of rose-themed perfumes, rejoice!

There’s a story behind this perfume: it is inspired by the Line Renauld Rose. Sweet, fruity, lush rose accord coming from a very special, award-winning rose – developed in Provence and named after the French singer and actress. Oh, sweet blackcurrant, pear, mango, and raspberry! This is Summer in a small bottle!

Thank you Jessica! I think that your creativity, dedication and grit will make a difference: Grasse is really lucky to have you!

 

PARFUMS M MICALLEF /MAISON MICALLEF

Founded in Grasse in 2006., quite successful. Very high-end luxury, uniting passions: Geoffrey Nejman (finance and banking), Jean Clause Astier (the Nose) and Martine Micallef (Artist).

The perfumes? Liquid luxury. Placed in beautifully decorated bottles, featuring old techniques and methods – are amazing.

Well, if you visit the shop in Grasse, located at Place aux Aires 14. you will see for yourself what their „Creative Desk“ looks like: customization workshop is right here!

You can create your bespoke scent and design, add initials, personal messages, engravings – right here, in the boutique.
I’m sure that most of you are already familiar with MM collections, an impressive line up of perfumes and I must say I am very impressed by Jacaranda Limited Editon (2017), featuring rose, spices and sandalwood.

Mon Parfum Pearl as well, a new 2018. flanker – Centifolia based, soft, powdery mist…My guess is that it is targeting Millennials…Yet, these perfumes have an incredible smoothness to them, like a signature style.

A difference can be felt: Jessica, an Artisan Parfumeur, is there for you (on a very short notice), passion for perfumes oozing out of her eyes. Unfortunately, I did not have a chance to meet Martina Micallef in Grasse (I did send a mail prior to arrival).

I like to meet perfumers/owners of houses in person: after all, one part of their personality is always present in perfumes they make. Next time, maybe.

Maison Micallef has approximately 900 selling points, yet they seem somehow hard to get (I think their site is the easiest way): I guess that is a part of high-end luxury branding.

I was received by most friendly, beautiful SA Karima and we did a video together – check my IGTV account! Now, that was fun!

Karima is very helpful, fast moving, quick thinking and kind SA. Karima, you are great! :-*

Parfum Baby’s Collection is really something to stop by: my son is into „serious“ perfumes now, but these! Little baby perfumes! Awwww!

One more thing: I did put on Martine Micallef’s apron (as you can see)! The very special apron, heavy leather one with gold finishing – made for her in Marroco…thank you, Martine, hope you don’t mind!

I also hope that these photos will speak more than words: this little boutique is certainly a huge plus for the whole city of Grasse.

 

ELENA MEETS ELLENA (CELINE AND JEAN-CLAUDE)

I planned my trip carefully and as soon as I saw announcement for the first Fragonard Conference to be held in Grasse, at la Maison Fragonard – La Fabrique des Fleurs (La Premiere Conference Olfactive: DIALOGUE ET HISTOIRE(S) DE SAVOIR-FAIRE) to be held August 7th, just one day upon my arrival in Grasse – that caught my eye.

When I saw that speakers will be Celina and Jean-Claude Ellena, together for the first time, you can just imagine how thrilled I was! I booked my place immediately!

Before the start of the Conference, all participants attended a guided tour of Fragonard factory, which was an excellent warm-up. Then we moved on to the Conference Room, fully packed.

A lecture followed: Ellenas spoke about the history of their family, the importance of know-how transmission and about changes in the perfume industry.

The conference was in French, of course, and although my spoken French is poor (French always offer me help and tell me that it’s “just fine” – but I know I could do better…), I understood every word Jean-Claude Ellena said.  He speaks beautiful French and his expressions are very poetic. When he speaks, his sentences sound like music.<3

Two generations of Ellena’s. Wow. Mr. Jean-Claude Ellena is a legend, a one of a kind Master Parfumeur. I don’t need to add anything more to this, really.

His set of values is well known: olfactory minimalism (ever since he left big companies), value of creation above commercial influence (the way he speaks about „marketing people“…), the importance of staying always curious, never stopping to explore, creating art for art’s sake and nurturing your olfactive memories.

He also spoke of the importance of terroir, but he also stated clearly that the industry in Grasse should welcome not only the Grassoise: new people bring new ideas, provoke changes, everybody benefits from that.

Celine Ellena told us how it is to be a perfumer when your father is Master Parfumeur.

With a smile, she recalled that when she made up her mind to become a perfumer herself, she thought that she needed a diploma of some kind.

Her father told her: „Then go and study something, get a diploma“. And she did: in psychology and linguistics!

Upon finishing her studies, she continued on her path of becoming a perfumer: first an ISPICA diploma, then apprenticeship at Charabot and Symrise…Now she is independent, working for The Différent Company, Biotherm, and Fragonard.

In 2018. Fragonard is celebrating its signature fragrance: Verveine (Verbena), created by Celine Ellena!

That’s not all: we had a chance to watch both Ellenas show us examples of perfumery magic. Paper strips were handed out – on one, vanilla. On the second one, Isobutil Phenyl Acetate. What do you smell when you take both strips?

Chocolate! The second „experiment“ was a recreation of strawberry scent. The purpose: a practical answer to some questions (again!) about the necessity of synthetic components in perfumery…

One more thing Celine Ellena shared with us: for parfumeurs, Grasse is great. Always has been:

Everything you need is right there. People, know-how, materials… Paris? Yes, of course, Paris is important for business activities, but Grasse? Grasse IS the capital of the perfume world.

I did manage to exhange couple of words with Mr. Jean-Claude Ellena: we laughed because I said „Nice to meet you, Mr. Ellena. My name is Elena.“ He said: „And you are The Plum Girl.“ One of the rare meetings when I didn’t have to explain, he immediately knew why I named my blog The Plum Girl…

I hope I have given you enough reasons to plan your visit to Grasse. I know one thing for sure: I’ll be back! There’s so much more to see, so many people and places to visit.

Elena Cvjetkovic
The Plum Girl
Photos: The Plum Girl Private Archive
Diaclaimer

Here I go again, back to Grasse!

The second time in three years, to be exact, spending my vacation there, already feeling a bit like a Grassoise.

What does Grasse smell like? Jasmine, of course. Sprayed above the old medieval streets all day long:

This time we rented an apartment in a lovely old Provencal house on the hill facing Musee International de la Parfumerie (International Perfume Museum), 300 m away from the center of the city.

Which seems fine, the view from our bedroom window was amazing, but…going downhill was like a five-minute walk.

Going back home? Well, let me just say that it took me up to fifteen legs’n’gluteus exercise minutes…

As a perfume lover, of course I stayed in Grasse. I noticed that numerous tourists don’t stay in the town. There are organized tours from all the bigger cities along Cote d’Azur, offering half-day or one-day excursions to Grasse. Meaning that at 10 AM you can quietly sip your coffee or tea on the main square -Place aux Aires, but all of a sudden, buses and trains enter the city and the invasion of one-day tourists begins, ending usually around 5 PM and leaving jasmine sprayed, old cobbled streets empty and quiet again.

I did manage to visit some new perfume shops and boutiques in town, besides the well-known Fragonard-Galimard-Molinard trio (will tell and show you more in one of my next blogs, stay tuned).

I also must say that I do need to return again: there’s so much to see and to do that you cannot possibly cover everything in ten days! And I am talking about Grasse only, let alone all the wonderful and amazing sights and places in Riviera’s Maritime Alps region! I am already making a „must see“ list for my next visit…

Any season is the perfect time to visit Grasse, but I do think that May is probably perfect timing if you need more peace and quiet and days that are not too hot. And Rose Centifolia experience: that divine, fruity, deep, oh! So a special rose!

Summer months of June, July and August are packed with various events in the city! On 3rd, 4th and 5th of August you do not want to miss Fete du Jasmin (on my first day in Grasse) and on August 12th a celebration dedicated to Tuberose took place.

Make sure to check out events on the list of the International Perfume Museum (MIP): they have a great offer of perfume workshops on a daily basis. I had a difficult time to chose between Accord Aromatique, Poudre, Epice (Les epices de l’Arabie), Musque, Agrume, Boise, Gourmand workshops– one for each day in a week.
You can also make your own perfume there, booking in advance is obligatory and the price is 60 EUR (one adult person, 100ml). Or arrange your private visit or a private event for professionals, book a workshop for children on Friday mornings – they can create their own eau de cologne!

MIP offers tours to MIP Flower gardens on Saturdays (4 EUR): this was a recommendation given to me by Jessica Buchanan of 1000Flowers: you just have to see, touch and feel fields of different flowers, depending upon the season of the year, right here, in Grasse.
The MIP olfactory route in Gardens allows you to discover notes used in perfumery and includes fragrant plants grown in Grasse.
Along the way, you can touch fragrant foliage or smell the flowers near your path.

In the „Conservatory“ you can learn more about the history of the perfume plant industry in Grasse: the first plants were wild orange from Italy, lavender, cassia from the mimosa family, myrtle and pistachio mastic.

From the 17th century onward, these three plants become major ones: jasmine rose and tuberose.

Today, there are not so many rose fields as you might imagine: some rose centifolia is still grown in Grasse through a partnership between Chanel and Mul family in Pégomas, or in Le Labo fields. I asked: it’s not easy to get a job or even volunteer as in rose fields: the collaboration between field owners and pickers is many years long, pretty closed and pickers are usually Gipsies (Gitanes), from a clan called „La Fleur“, so I am told. There are other growers in the region. I will continue to try to find a way to spend one week in May in Grasse, picking roses (I’m perfectly aware there’s nothing romantic about it, don’t worry…)!

When in Rome, pardon Grasse…I decided to book a visit and make my own perfume (again). To make your own perfume in Grasse, the cradle of perfumery? It is educational and so much fun! If you are into perfumes, this is really a must-do!

I love looking at my companions sitting at perfume organs during workshops: a mother, discussing notes with her daughter to make her a perfect birthday present. A couple, mixing and laughing together, creating a bridal perfume (they are getting married as soon as they return to States) and so on!

It’s great to see people trying to learn more about perfumes. They are showing interest and devoting their time – to perfumes, trying to express their creativity in given circumstances and offered possibilities. People attending these workshops have an opportunity to learn the basics of building a perfume structure, smell different notes, blend, use pipettes and experiment with proportions, have a real hands-on experience of perfume making! I think this is simply wonderful and I wish that even more people would want to devote their time and energy to learn more about perfumes! What a wonderful world this would be!

Perfume geeks, like me, doing…well. I’ll tell you, a little later on.

Let me give you basic info first, classics. You can book your “make your own perfume” workshop at:
Galimard. Offering Haute Couture Perfume Creation Workshops in Grasse (and Eze) where you work with their Master Perfumer in her lab. Prices range from 200-800EUR or you can attend the Studio des Fragrances workshop, in small groups, by appointment, 53 EUR per person. (2hrs, 50ml). 127 notes organ.
Fragonard. Perfumer Workshop, 90 minutes, 100 ml. You also receive a pouch for your perfume and an apron. 65 EUR.
Molinard. L’Atelier des Parfums. 60 minutes, 90 bottles organ, 50 ml, 69 EUR. Le Petit Parfumer, for children, too. La Villa du Perfumer is a private perfume creation session.

No matter which house you choose, you will go through a similar process. My choice was Galimard, both times, simply because it is the oldest house and because their organ features 127 notes/accords. Maybe also because you can create a line of products, like body cream and shower gel, too. Next time I visit, I will probably choose Molinard. And then Fragonard. 😀

Your formula stays recorded in their archives and you can always order another bottle – if you really like your creation you can get a refill.

So, there I go again. During a perfume making workshop in Galimard lab, I made my first perfume, three years ago. Pretty, but not exceptional. This time, I came prepared.

You see, I do have ideas about a five to six perfumes (at least) I would like to make or have made for me. These ideas are not expressed by notes or perfume groups, no, I have vivid images in my head. Memories, moments, little bits and pieces of emotions. Some are like paintings on canvas, some are vivid and bright like short movies in glorious Technicolor…

Then I think about these images and try to translate them into notes and accords in perfume language. The keyword is trying. 😀 Don’t expect too much.

Galimard has a very pragmatic approach, as all the others I mentioned/ perfumes and notes are strictly divided in „for her“ and „for him“ groups:

You have 127 notes to play with, which is fine in my opinion for this level of perfume making.

A really lovely young lady helped me with proportions. She told me that she is a student of chemistry in Lyon and that she comes to work at Galimard every summer. I know I might have taken too much of her time at the workshop because I really wanted her to hear my story first, before pushing me to start sniffing and choosing max five top notes or accords…and then other 4-5 middle ones, and 4 base ones…

This young lady was really patient, but the supervising lady approached me a couple of times to warn me that I’m running behind scheduled time in the process and that I should hurry up. I swear I had a feeling that she would be even harsher if I were an apprentice there…

There’s more. At one moment I wanted to add a very specific fruit accord to a leathery tone and received a really scorning gaze: you do not want to do that, kind of look. 😀

Alas, she hasn’t heard my olfactory memory this perfume was supposed to bring back… I think that she didn’t really like my pretty rebellious attitude in the sense of not blindly listening and following her suggestions.

I did pretty well, I think. Not that is exactly what I wanted/imagined/dreamed of, but here it is: „Once Upon a Time“!

Now I have to wait for 3 weeks for it to mature, in a not too dark, not too light, not too humid, not to dry, not too hot and not too cold place.

New blog, part II will follow!

Elena Cvjetkovic
The Plum Girl Blog
Photos: The Plum Girl
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