Beauty in disguise, Le Galion Iris

I have not heart of Le Galion – Maison de Parfumerie until March of 2014. That’s when I met with their name for the first time, noticing their stand at Esxence fair in Milan. What attracted my attention back then were very elegant, shiny and glossy bottles. Curious as always I approached them and started sniffing. I liked almost every single fragrance in the collection, but samples were not available at that time. That’s the reason I didn’t tell you about Le Galion earlier. Writing from memories based on a single sniff wouldn’t do justice to the scents. Luckily Pitti Fragranze gave me a second chance to try this maison and this time I had an invitation to come to their stand.

Turned out that Le Galion is a historical perfume brand, originally founded in Paris in 1930. It was created by Prince Murat (Joachim Murat – Napoleon I brother-in-law) and 5 years later the maison was bought by perfumer Paul Vacher. He had many years of success in creating perfumes for his own brand and for Dior (Miss Dior, Diorling). In 1980 Le Galion was sold to American group but due to the poor managing skills the group went bankrupt causing Le Galion to disappear from the perfume map of the world. More than 30 years later, thanks to the passion of Nicolas Chabot and Thomas Fontaine the brand was brought back to life – like phoenix from the ashes.

Le Galion Iris, the perfume which stole my heart from the moment I sniffed it for the first time, was originally designed in 1937. This is a magical creation that requires the right amount of time because the longer you wear, the more beautiful it becomes. At first Iris presents a slightly carroty facet of the main ingredient. The carroty iris never was my favorite, but this one is quite fresh, not the boiled or rotting one. And there’s also something about this perfume that is like a promise of the unforgettable experience if you wait for a while longer. And Iris will fulfill its promise.

Just 15 minutes later the composition receives a very gentle touch of citrus aromas. Combined here are bergamot and cedrat, with their joined forces they create a beautiful citric impression – more aromatic and brisky, rather than juicy. Galbanum resin obtained from Ferula gummosa adds a very sophisticated twist of verdancy. But this is not a pungent green aroma, it’s very elegant and subtle, bringing enough of green molecules to make them noticeable but not overpowering.

After that phase, which lasts for another 15-20 minutes, here comes the time to experience the iris at its best. Iris in Le Galion Iris is incredibly good and it somehow manages to combine the richness and the lightness of this precious raw perfume material. When I speak of richness, I mean the saturation, this kind of buttery facet that at some point evolves on my skin into the most delicate, most refined suede-like aroma. On the other hand there is the lightness – iris dances on my skin like it had no weight, like it was floating, casting its mysterious spell on me. It’s like a beautiful trance… Addictive.

After a few hours the iris note becomes less prominent on my skin, but it’s still there of course. At the moment it presents a more powdery aspect of its own personality. There is a little bit of cosmetic vibe to it, just a tiny bit. The poudree sensation is highlighted with the aroma of green mimosa (which by the way introduces a little bit more of yellow floral tones too) and by ambrette seed that adds some vegetal qualities and warmth that effuses all around, surrounding the wearer.

Many hours later I can still smell the iris. Both powdery and suede-like facets are with me, bringing so much pleasure to my nose that I could just sit all day doing nothing else but wafting this incredibly charming aroma again and again. But at a certain point Le Galion Iris has to move on. As the time flies it becomes more musky, balancing between clean musk (not soapy) and sensual musk (not sweaty). Hints of royal lily introduce a slightly sweet and milky/creamy sensation which blends in the whole composition really well. After 6 hours the base notes start to emerge.

The drydown is focused on woody and ambery tones presented in a very sensual and soft way. There is quite a lot of cedarwood and this has nothing to do with dryness, sweaty aroma or roughness. It’s rather smooth and pleasant in touch. Amber brings even more light to Iris by Le Galion, as the note is sparkling and luminous. It’s also very warm and embracing, having this fantastic feel of fluffy cashmere sweater. In a state like this Iris can last even for 4 more hours.

Now that you’re finishing to read this review, you’re probably not surprised why this perfume stole my heart the first time I tried it. Not only because the perfume is incredible, both in terms of composition and lasting power and not only because I’m an iris lover. It’s just that Le Galion Iris feels very me. This perfume is a fragrance interpretation of my own aesthetics, when I wear it – it feels like the second skin. Perfumer Thomas Fontaine did an amazing job re-creating this perfume and adapting it to current times. The formulas of all Le Galion scents are said to be as close to original recipes as it was possible. Iris has a moderate sillage (I call it an elegant sillage – few inches above the skin) and it lasts for around 10 hours. In the end it blends with your skin. I’m officially in love.

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I’m in a Pitti Fragranze state of mind…

Sunday evening of the 14th of September marked the end of 12th edition of Pitti Fragranze. This multicultural and international perfume fair gathered the most renowned, loved and the most promising perfume and skin care brands from all over the globe. 3 days, 24 hours of fragrance experience and 241 names from Europe, US, Asia, Australia. If you wanted to discover them all you’d have to spend at each stand as little as 0,099 of an hour – that is less than 6 minutes. Of course it was impossible because every brand has some stories to tell, you want to hear about their philosophy and most of all – you want to experience the smell – and that requires some time. This is my official report.

DAY 0 – Thursday, September 11th aka The Day Before The Show

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My trip to Florence started on Thursday, September 11th at 8:00 AM when I took a train from Leszno, my hometown to Wrocław. After almost two full hours I was at the Wrocław central railway station. At the station I had a cup of tea and a sandwich for a 2nd breakfast. Just a few steps outside the building I went to the bus stop for the bus of 406 line that goes directly between the railway station and Wrocław Strachowice Airport (WRO). I was at the airport around 11:00 AM and still had over 2 hours before the departure – that’s when I started taking photos, I also called a friend to wish her happy birthday. At noon I did the check-in, left my suitcase for the plane trunk and slowly headed for the security control. That one went smoothly (but I had to take off my belt!)

In the departure lounge I was waiting for another hour until the gate number for my flight was displayed. It was gate 5 by the way. Shortly around 1:00 PM the passengers of the FR 4318 Ryanair flight to Bologna formed a long queue (the plane was fully booked that day) and the boarding started. At 1:30 PM, according to schedule our plane flew up to the sky. The flight was really nice, with no turbulence. After 100 minutes of flying we landed at Aeroporto G. Marconi di Bologna (BLQ). Welcome to Italy! We were let out of the plane and an airport bus transported us literally 100 meters (!!!) to the entrance (like we couldn’t walk that far on foot). I was lucky at the baggage claim because my suitcase appeared on the carousel as one of the first ones. Here came the time for the 3rd step of my getting to Florence. I headed for the exit and turned left after leaving the arrivals area.

From this place I was meant to take a bus that would take me to Florence. It was named Appenino Shuttle. I found the bus stop but there were quite many of them. Some were already full, some were empty. So I just stood there and observed the surroundings waiting for a miracle to happen. I was expecting a bus with an Appenino Shuttle logo either behind the windscreen or at the side of the vehicle. Little did I know my bus was marked with completely nothing! If it wasn’t for the Polish women who overheard when I was talking to myself (yes, I know – I kept talking “where is that Appenino bus?” to myself) I would’ve missed it! So thank you, whoever you are! The bus left at 3:50 PM (the plane landed at 3:10 PM) and around 6:00 PM we arrived at Piazzale Montelungo in Florence. I was in the right city! Yay for me, the worst part was over. We would’ve arrived earlier but there was a lot of traffic on the highway. Then I had to go around the Santa Maria Novella train station. After I did that I went according to the map I prepared earlier (thank you GoogleMaps!) and without any problem I found a place where I was staying. I was earlier informed by my host that he had to go to Rome and that his brother will take care of my checking-in. No problem! As you can see – 10 hours in total and I was there. A bit stressed, a bit tired. The weather was so nice that I just couldn’t stay in my room for the rest of the day – I went for a walk. I checked my way to Stazione Leopolda and went some sightseeing. That would be it for a travel day.

DAY 1 – Friday, September 12th

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Finally came this day that I awaited for so long. Florence greeted me with clouds and a little bit of rain. Pitti Fragranze was starting at 10:00 AM and I left my room at 9:40 AM. I was staying just 10 minutes walking distance from Stazione Leopolda where the entire event was held, so I knew I would arrive few minutes earlier. Just as I was approaching the building the front gate was being opened and a crowd flooded the entrance like a tidal wave. I joined the excited group of people and lined up in the queue to the press registration desk. After a few minutes I received my pass. I was ready to enter the fair. As you might guess, at first I directed my steps to those who I met in Milan.

I wanted to greet with them first and I also had a gift in a form of traditional Polish chocolate (from E.Wedel) for them. I easily found Julien and Madalina (Jul et Mad), Neela Vermeire (NVC), Carlos Huber (Arquiste), Joaquim Carner (Carner Barcelona), Ann Gerard (Ann Gerard Parfums), Anais Biguine (Jardins d’Ecrivains), Cerine Vasseur (Evody). There was also a group of people who I knew I will be meeting for the first time in my life, like Andy Tauer for instance. I found 3 of them at A9 stand. Meeting Andy was especially interesting because I haven’t tried his new Sotto la Luna Gardenia yet. Also, he gave me that fantastic interview when he re-introduced Cologne du Maghreb. His gardenia surprised me, it’s very milky, creamy, with elements of green, floral. Not too animalic at all. Right next to Andy’s stand was the one of Olivier Durbano. I met him once earlier at the perfume workshop at Quality Missala in Warsaw, he recognized me.

Mr. Durbano presented to me his 10th perfume, Promethee, inspired by the myth of Prometeus. I always loved Mythology so the idea appeals to me. So does the perfume. In the same box was Laboratioro Olfattivo and I had to try Patchouliful. Later when I went to Jardins d’Ecrivains stand Anais told me about her new candle called Memento Mori. It’s a very big candle that features notes like incense, tuberose and osmanthus. Anais said that it’s meant to burn for 8 days non-stop. Can you imagine a candle with burning time of 192 hours? The scent of cold candle was amazing, I can only imagine how it would smell when the candle was burning. From there I went to say hi to Ann Gerard. After a success of Rose Cut at Esxcence she wasn’t launching anything new at Pitti but she let me in a secret of her new perfume for 2015. She even allowed me to smell the “formula-in-the-making” and asked for my honest opinion and if I had any suggestions for her. I felt honored she cared for my opinion so much. I’m looking forward to experience the final result next year.

In the afternoon I attended the event in the conference area. It was organized by Mane, one of the leading manufacturers of fragrance and flavour compounds in the industry. The lecture was dedicated to presenting various techniques of obtaining essences from raw materials and featured were both traditional methods as well as new ones. A big part was about a Jungle Essence technology that was developed by Mane. It uses the gas in a supercritical state (which means it’s neither a typical gas nor a typical liquid at that state) and allows to obtain pure essences from raw materials and from ready products. You can watch a demonstration video we were shown by clicking here. After that I finally managed to get to Carlos Huber, he wasn’t there yet when I came to his stand earlier. He was accompanied by perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux, it was nice to meet a perfumer behind many of Arquiste’s fragrances. At Pitti Carlos showed two travel sets, in 5ml refillable vials. One was gathering the florals, the other one was with orientals if I remember well.

Later came the time to visit Le Galion stand. The brand debuted at Esxence after it was recently revived, I couldn’t get any samples back then. Luckily this time I had a scheduled appointment with Nicolas Chabot (we found each other on Facebook!) who revived the brand. He told me the entire story and shared a magnificent travel spray with me. One of Le Galion perfumes is in my top Pitti list that I will reveal at the end of this post. When I write this post I just can’t believe how much I saw on the first day. After lunch I visited the stand of Memo to try their new French Leather and the stand of Maison Mona di Orio where I met Jeroen Oude Sogtoen, one of the co-founders. With passion he introduced me to Lux and Nuit Noire, two reintroduced fragrances created by Mona di Orio almost 10 years ago. I also enjoyed the new offering, Myrrh Casati and the new bottles are gorgeous.

Italian brand O’Driu introduced a new perfume – Pathetique. This whole brand is a bit controversial and eccentric. On the other hand Puredistance people gave me a sneak peek into an upcoming scent: White. I couldn’t smell it but I was shown the packaging. On my way down the hall I also found a very interesting brand named Peccato Originale which was created by a family of pharmacists. Their stand was always crowded and it looked like an old apothecary, with scales, syringes etc. I also got to try the fragrances from MiN New York own line. Memento and Old School Bench were pretty cool. Just a few minutes later and few meters away from that booth I was caught by surprised when I saw Viktoria Minya calling and waving at me. I didn’t knew she was going to be there. Seems like it was a last-minute decision for her. She showed me her two new scents which are Hedonist Iris and Hedonist Rose, both will come in the same bottle as Hedonist but crystals will be white for the Iris and pink for Rose. She didn’t show me the bottles but she apparently had them with her. My bad I didn’t insist on seeing them.

I also tried new Opera collection from Histoires de Parfums which consists of 5 fragrances and a trio from Maria Candida Gentile inspired by The Flight of a Bumblebee: Kitrea, Leuco and Syconium. The last thing before the clock showed that it’s 6:00 PM and it’s time to go, I tried HYLNDS Foxglove from D.S & Durga – a very pretty perfume. I will review it for sure. After 6:00 PM there was a party at the entrance: some lounge music, Prosecco and some antipasti like different cheese, crackers and mini tartalettes. Me and my friends: Natalie and Simon from Etiket didn’t stay there for long because we were invited to some other small party, in a small shoe boutique called Viajiyu. It was located in the very heart of the Old Town. We had some wine there and a bit of food (like bruschetta with tomato) – Ann, Anais, Viktoria, Cerine, Carlos and more were all there as well. That’s how the day came to an end. I came back to my room pretty exhausted.

DAY 2 – Saturday, September 13th

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The second day of Pitti Fragranze was a little bit different experience due to the fact that it was open to the public on Saturday which meant everyone could come and explore the fair. Quite many people came to see what’s happening inside of Stazione Leopolda. I started my day by returning to D.S & Durga stand after I realized I didn’t take a picture of me with the creators of the brand. In early hours everyone had some more time to take a picture, so I used the opportunity for a little session with my friends. After having some lunch at the buffet in Stazione Leopolda (delicious pesto pasta) I managed to discover couple more things that will definitely appear on the blog later.

Masque Fragranze introduced a new composition called Russian Tea. The blotters for this fragrance were distributed by rubbing the mouillette agains the tap of actual samovar. The perfume has a richness of black tea and is really well made. Further tests of it coming as soon as the weather becomes more dark and gloomy. I also had a brief sniff of new James Heeley Vetiver Veritas which was nice but not for me. One of the cooler discoveries was a line of Goti, consisting of 5 perfumes. I especially liked Earth from this line. Unfortunately they run out of samples but didn’t object when I asked if I can make my own sample. I also stopped at Amouage and Dear Rose.

At Penhaligon’s stand I tried Bayolea which smelled like a very mainstreamed citrus composition for both sexes and I tried 3 new scents from Trade Routes collection. Levantium was the nicest in my opinion and I managed to get a sample of it. Von Eusersdorff was there as well and they gave me a warm welcome as it turned they know my blog (even though I have never tried their scents, not to mention writing about them) so it was nice. Nearby was the stand of Ramon Monegal Barcelona but I was unhappy that neither Francisco nor Ramon could make it in person. Farmacia SS. Annunziata had a lot to display so they got their own booth – I finally got to try Arabico and Gelsorosa and I liked them both. My legs were tired after a few hours but I had a remedy for that.

In early afternoon I went to the conference area to listen to the talk between Chandler Burr & Giovanna Zucchoni regarding her project-installation Verba Olent. The installation was made of big white balloons, to which white strings with round paper labels were attached. At the end of each string a book was hanging, with a highlighted part where there was something about perfume. There were books from The Bible to Divine Comedy and modern literature. After the 1-hour-long talk I had one final thing to do. To visit the Unscent section of Pitti Fragranze.

Unscent was brought by Intertrade Europe and this year it also included a project Love Magic Potions that gathered a group of perfumers who were asked to create their own interpretation of a love potion. The perfume results of their work were presented in the blown glass vases of different sizes and shapes. This section also featured brands such as Agonist (with their new White Oud), Re Profumo (liked the perfume, didn’t like the person who took care of the stand), Roads, Santa Eulalia, Acqua di Stresa, Blood Concept, SoOud and a few more.

That was the end of my perfume day but not the end of the day per se. On the day when I was leaving Poland I got an email from Josephine Farley, founder of The Perfume Society that she’s throwing a little party in Florence on Saturday evening and that she invites me. Sure, why not. The location was the same Viajiyu shoe boutique as the party on Friday. I remembered the way from earlier so before the party started I still got time for sighseeing. I went along Arno river and went once again to Piazza Ognissanti to take pictures in the bright daylight. I passed Ponte Alla Carraia and went to the next bridge, Ponte Santa Trinita and took a few pictures from there. Another few hundret meters further and I was at Ponte Vecchio, the famous Florentine bridge that has houses on it and actual people live in these houses! Then I went back to Ponte S. Trinita and turned right into Piazza Santa Trinita where there is Chiesa Santa Trinita (church) and Colonna della Giustizia (Column of Justice). The party was right behind the corner. I had some fun there and later Natalie and Simon came to pick me up and we went to have a dinner together. I returned to the flat really late.

DAY 3 – Sunday, September 14th aka Goodbye Florence

I didn’t attend the last day of Pitti Fragranze because my plane was leaving in the morning. I packed all my stuff on Saturday evening and on Sunday I had to wake up at 5:00 AM because at 6:10 AM my Appenino Shuttle bus to BLQ airport was leaving. Luckily at that hour the highway was empty so we arrived on time (I had only 60 minutes between the bus arrival and plane departure) – I made the check in immediately, went to the security control and when I went to the gate the boarding has already started. At 3:00 PM I was back home, safe and sound.

My likes and dislikes

You can’t satisfy the needs and expectations of all the people attending such a big event so there is always something to complain about. But I’ll start with the things that I liked. There was much more space than in La Triennade di Milano during Esxence. It was easier to walk around and there were poufs around to have a seat and allow your legs to relax – I missed that in Milan. What I didn’t like was the lightening. In Florence it was better than in Milan but still it caused some trouble to make a good picture. Another problem was the ventilation – what I mean here is that after 3-4 hours of the fair it was so hot inside of the building that everyone was literally stripping from clothes.

Favorites, worth attention and let-downs

This point is pretty personal and every other blogger who attended the event might have a completely different opinion. My favorites include: D.S & Durga Foxglove, Olivier Durbano Promethee, Le Galion (all of them), Mona di Orio Myrrh Casati, Laboratorio Olfattivo Patchouliful, Agonist White Oud, Maria Candida Gentile: Leuco, Kitrea. Worth Attention are: Tauer Sotto la Luna Gardenia, Viktoria Minya: Hedonist Iris, Hedonist Rose, Goti Earth, Re Profumo Ekstasis, UerMe: Suede, Cashmere. Biggest let-down is Opera collection from Histoires de Parfums, the fragrances are rather average and we’ve smelled it all before (though bottles are pretty). And I don’t like the fact that the box of these scents is a music box. Anyway I had a fabulous time at Pitti Fragranze. Florence is a beautiful city and the fair allowed me to meet a lot of new people to share the perfume passion with. I would also like to thank Natalie and Simon for spending most of the time together. Sniffing without you wouldn’t have been so funny!

See you all at Esxence in Milan in March and Pitti Fragranze in September next year!

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