Welcome back! I just cannot believe that the 6th edition of Esxence – The Scent of Excellence is already over. Those 4 days went faster than an eye can blink and it feels more like I spent hours in Milan, not days. The city gave me such a positive impression that if I could, I would stay there for longer. I wonder if I could live in Milan… Probably. The time I spent at Triennale di Milano has no monetary value. The people I met there, their openness, the perfumes I discovered created an irreplaceable atmosphere at the fair. But all in order. Here’s my Esxence diary.
DAY 1 – Thursday, March 20th
After arriving in Warsaw on Wednesday afternoon and meeting with a friend of mine I spent the night at a hotel. On Thursday morning, shortly after 7:30 I left the hotel and took a bus to Warsaw Modlin Airport. After a check-in I had some breakfast and waited for the number of the gate I should go to. My flight was at 10:55. The plane departed with a slight delay but somehow it arrived punctually. Approximately 1 hour and 50 minutes later I was in Italy. In Bergamo to be exact. From there I took the Orio Shuttle bus that drove straight to Milano Centrale station. Then the metro to Moscova. From there I had a fairly short distance to the place I was staying but I got lost a little bit anyway. Shortly I realized I was going in the opposite direction. I rectified my mistake and found the place. I wasn’t staying at a hotel but at a room for rent offered by Italian family. It was really nice. I had my own room, own bathroom and they served me a breakfast every morning.
After a quick refreshing I changed clothes and went to Triennale. I arrived at the fair shortly after 4:00 pm, went to the registration desk, showed the invitation letter and I got the pass. Surprisingly it wasn’t a pass marked as “press” but as an “operator.” I just thought that maybe they don’t have any more press passes so I didn’t even try to ask if they can exchange it. The door to the perfume world stood open. Before leaving Poland I contacted all befriended brands to schedule the meetings. We all agreed that I’m meeting with them on the first day after my arrival. At the beginning I was quite lost, trying to figure out what is where. Going where my feet took me I found the stand of Jardins d’Ecrivains. As soon as I approached it I was greeted by Anais Biguine and to my surprise she already knew it was me! We talked for quite a while and then she introduced me to her new products. Junky – the perfume, was amazing. Smoky, substantial but not heavy, with nicely mastered iris. Beatnik – the candle with notes of amber, patchouli and benzoin was very sensual and enveloping. There was also something edible and delicious to it.
Then I managed to find the booth of JUL ET MAD. And kind of deja-vu happened because the moment I came closer to their stand Madalina welcomed me with a big bright smile saying “hello Luca.” Later in our chat it turned out she checked me on facebook, that’s why she recognized me so fast. We exchanged hugs and kisses, talked about our flights and we proceeded to the new release. It’s name is Aqua Sextius and it’s inspired by Aix-en-Provence in the South of France. The perfume is amazing. Very sparkling, lively and energetic, with a lot of citrus, flowers but also woods and resins. And the pastel green color of the juice is so great. It’s also worth to mention that a new size appears in their line. Le Companion is a 20 ml sleek and stylish “pen-like” atomizer in black glass.
My final stop that day was the area for Neela Vermeire Creations. I found it earlier but Neela was busy so I decided to come back later. When I came she was finishing introducing the perfumes to a couple of people. When they left her stand she said to me something like “don’t I know you from somewhere?” – “I think so” – I replied. When I introduced myself the thing was done. It was like a reunion of two old friends who haven’t seen each other in a while. We talked about perfume, so personal stuff and so on. Neela is a doll, very energetic person, with passionate sparkles in her eyes. She gifted me with a biscuit necklace with NVC logo, it was perfumed with Mohur Extrait. I knew that one since some time ago but it officially launched at Esxence 2014.
Less than 3 hours flew fast and at 6:30 pm it was the time to call it a day and leave. From the fair I went straight to “my” house and went to bed around 9:00 pm. I was tired after the whole day of being on the go, either on a bus, on a plane, metro or my feet.
DAY 2 – Friday, March 21st
My first full day spent at Esxence started with a visit at Julien and Madalina’s place as at 11:00 am they were holding a little launch party for Aqua Sextius. It was a perfect chance to meet with Cecile Zarokian, the nose behind new JUL ET MAD composition. She said that it was challenging and that she enjoyed it a lot. It took around 5-6 months from the moment of getting the idea for a perfume to the stage of having a product which was ready to sell. Actually Madalina said that the formula still requires around 2 weeks of macerating before it will be bottled.
Parfum d’Empire was my next stop. I found the new bottle design to be very nice but I still have a lot of sentiment for the previous packaging, especially for the cap. Browsing through the bottles I found two interesting things: one completely new and one not-so-new. The completely new is Corsica Furiosa, a really beautiful and green scent.
Then I went to say hi to Anais and right next to her was a stand of Carner Barcelona, one of my favourite brands. I introduced myself and I was positively surprised when Sara Carner said that they’re following my blog and that they appreciate my opinion on their scents. That made me very happy because in the past I tried to get in contact with them but never got a reply. At Esxence it was Sara and her brother Joaquim who were representing the brand. They were very kind to me and they also gave me a sneak at their new perfume – El Born, which is due to launch in June. It’s a warm and spicy blend with a gourmand vibe.
Later I paid a visit to Arquiste which will be launching two new scents: the Architects Club and L’Etrog Acqua. Both will launch in June. L’Etrog Acqua is a more cheerful, more juicy and happy take on L’Etrog while the Architects Club is more about wood, smoke and drinks at the bar. I finally met Carlos Huber, the founder of the brand. We talked for a while as Carlos knows my blog and there’s also some Polish blood in his veins. Right next to Arquiste stood the bottles of Les Liquides Imaginaires. Since I only know Fortis I tried Tumultu and Sancti before I went to 3 new Eau Sanguine scents. The one that was especially memorable to me was Dom Rosa – a perfume that perfectly captures the smell of champagne rose. It’s very fizzy and sparkling.
Eau d’Italie was my next stop. After falling head over heels with Aqua Decima last year I just couldn’t resist trying the new one, the red-colored Graine de Joie which is a pomegranate with red berries and red currant. I liked it, although I already met with a couple of opinions that were not very positive. Anyone can have their own opinion.
On Friday there was a lecture about the chemistry of scent. As a chemist I had to be there. The presentation was quite fascinating as it was conducted as travel in the area of synthetic aroma materials through the years. Even though that the speaker, the guy from Osmotheque was presenting in French that I don’t understand at all, it was enough for me that I understood the molecules shown on-screen. It was the chemistry that mattered the most to me.
That day was also the day when I met with Natalie from the Etiket boutique in Canada. We wanted to meet and Esxence gave us an opportunity to make that happen. I guess that we liked each other instantly because as soon as we greeted we started talking very casually, like friends use to do it. We spent the rest of the fair wandering together.
The other brands that I discovered that day were Rania J., Au Pays de la Fleur d’Oranger, La Manufacture, Emmanuel Levain. Discovering the line of Rania J. was especially interesting because it was Neela who introduced me to Rania Jouaneh. She’s so funny and so open to the people that I became fond of her immediately. 10 minutes talk and we were already laughing, exchanging thoughts and impressions. Rania’s line is varied, there’s rose, jasmine and lavender (my fave) and also very potent amber and oud. The new addition to the collection is a tobacco scent, also quite interesting. The quality is very high with almost only natural essences. Au Pays de la Fleur d’Oranger added Rose Irisee and Tubereuse Rosee to their Les Inedits collection. La Manufacture, the new brand surprised me with 3 cologne-inspired scents of very nice quality. Each has a twist on the classic citrus theme. I think that closes the list of discoveries at day 2.
DAY 3 – Saturday, March 22nd
Saturday was the first day when what so far was a lovely spring weather changed for colder and much wetter option. After saying hi to Anais, Julien and Madalina, Neela and Rania (I did that every day as a start) I met with Natalie at the entrance to Triennale around 11:00 am. We kept wandering around not knowing exactly which stand to visit. Finally we stopped by Le Galion stand. This historical brand was recently brought back to life and we quite enjoyed the compositions, which are said to be practically the same as the original ones. Iris was my favourite (obvious, isn’t it?) and both Natalie and I laughed at the perfume named Le Snob.
Moving on, we just knew for sure that we wanted to attend the lecture about the perfume culture in eastern Asia. It was really fascinating to hear that China and Japan have such a long tradition of using perfume and scented materials (like incense) and also how they think about other people around you, prefering to go for the scents that are light, inoffensive and that stay close to the skin. Isn’t it very mindful to care about the personal area of yours and of others?
Staying a little bit in the area of the Far East, we stopped by Keiko Mecheri booth to have a sniff. She’s a beautiful lady but also a really quiet one. Natalie enjoyed Tarifa and Paradise Lost while my attention got focused on the new release – Bois Satin, a gorgeous and enveloping perfume with lots and lots of saffron. Unfortunately she didn’t have any samples so you’ll have to be more patient in terms of me reviewing it. Since Keiko Mecheri is available in Poland I should acquire sample soon.
Around 3:00 pm Natalie had to leave to run some errands for Etiket around the city and I decided to be her company. We stopped by her hotel so that she could put her rain shoes on and then, in quite a heavy rain we were mazing around the narrow streets of Milan to get to a perfume boutique called Cale. On our way there we discovered a Jo Malone boutique and since Natalie is a fan, we went inside. I tried Peony and Blush Suede as well as the new Tuberose Angelica. Both got a “no” from me… At Cale we didn’t really find anything interesting, a pity, isn’t it? There was one more store Natalie had to visit but I prefered to go back to the fair so we split, agreeing we’re meeting later.
After appearing back at Esxence my eyes guided me to Olfactive Studio and their new perfume – Ombre Indigo. The juice is intensively blue and the picture has a lot of colors and shades. The composition is intriguing to me. I talked with the assistant for a while and then moved on. But it wasn’t the end of my Olfactive Studio experience yet.
I went back to Anais Biguine to ask how is she doing. That moment she was chatting with someone, who turned out to be the founder of Evody Parfums. Following my interest of discovering something new I followed Cerine Vasseur to her stand. I found her line to be pretty amazing and I liked the idea of dedicating each perfume to a different stage of her life. I especially liked Note de Luxe and Cuir Blanc. But she is launching a new collection too, Collection d’Ailleurs built of 3 beautiful oriental perfumes. Once again I felt like I was talking to an old friend.
DAY 4 – Sunday, March 23rd
The weather wasn’t very charming, when I woke up the rain was falling heavily and the strong wind was blowing. Luckily before I left my appartment it all stopped so I got to Triennale without opening my umbrella. Both Saturday and Sunday were open to the visitors so the crowd was more than just professionals. Mothers with young children were especially annoying. I reserved the final day to meeting with the completely new brands, or at least completely new to me. There was Pantheon Roma – I liked their Il Giardino, Paul Emilien with interesting Pure Addiction and Alyson Oldoini. Further explorations led me to Teatro Fragranze Uniche – they had a really interesting perfume that smelled of grapes, I can’t remember the name. Later on I went to Masque Fragranze: Montecristo is a no-go for me but their Tango was beautiful.
Next I talked to Ann Gerard who introduced me to her new perfume named Rose Cut. It was created by Bertrand Duchaufour and in my opinion it was one of the nicest fragrances presented at the fair. It has a very complex smell and the bottle looks very alluring, with a ruby colored juice. That also made me notice that quite many roses launched at Esxence this year.
As I was walking down the hall I bumped at Anais Biguine and she introduced me to Celine Verleure, founder of Olfactive Studio. I got some detailed information on the scent from the very best source possible. It turned out she also knows my blog. Before I tried Ombre Indigo again Celine said that it might be too strong for me but it wasn’t. It’s a kind of perfume that feels substantial but it doesn’t overwhelm. Plus it has an airy feeling to it.
I also dropped by Jovoy counter to try their Rouge Assassin and a new offering of which I cannot remember the name and the sample I got was without a label. At first the fair was supposed to end earlier on Sunday but they changed it for 6:30 pm, just like it ended the other days. Around 4:00 pm many of the exhibitors started packing because they had to catch their planes. I guess it was too late for many of them to change the plane ticked reservation for a later hour. Anyway it was gradually getting more empty and around 5:00 o’clock that I’m checking the last brand and that’s enough. I decided to go to Profumi del Forte stand and try their new release by Bertrand Duchaufour.
When I was leaving Joaquim and Julien and Madalina were the only friends who were still at the fair. The others said goodbye earlier. So I said goodbye to the three and left the Triennale di Milano building with a smile on my face and in my head as I was taking off my operator pass. Esxence was the amazing experience for me and it’s something that no one will ever take away from me.
It was really sad to leave Milan. I really liked the city and I would definitely stay longer of that was possible. But I know one thing – I’m returning there someday in the future. Since we’re talking about perfume I can’t really tell that I have one favourite. I had many favourites including Junky, Aqua Sextius, Rose Cut, Cuir Blanc, Ombre Indigo. Shortly the reviews of new releases will start appearing on my blog – then you’ll know exactly what I liked.