Previous week, on Thursday 10th of September I bid farewell to Rome as I boarded a Trenitalia (Italian railways) Frecciargento train going to Venice. But it was not Venice where I was heading. My stop was the second one on the way and it was… can you guess? Yes! I it was Florence. The train was big and comfortable with seats and the journey was very pleasant. The train was going as fast as 245 kph which was so unusual for me as in Poland trains rarely speed up to more than 120 kph. Here I was travelling twice as fast. No surprise the travel passed quickly and only 1,5 hours later we arrived in Florence. It felt so good to be back there! I was staying in the middle of the historical Florentine city center and everything was nearby. 7 minutes to the train station, 5 minutes to the Arno river… And 5 minutes from Stazione Leopolda – a Pitti Fragranze venue. The fair was going to start on Friday so I had a free Thursday afternoon to relax and enjoy myself in Firenze.
Between 11th and 13th of September it was already 13th time when all the most important and well-known, as well as completely new niche perfume houses were gathered together in one place to the great joy of all those who value the highest quality of fragrances. This year’s edition theme was called “kaleidoscope of scents” and was meant to represent a tight bond between colors, art and perfumery. As you passed the front gate of Stazione Leopolda you could see colorful posts forming different shapes. Same posts were also used to write “fragranze” above the main entrance to the fair building. Staff people operating this edition were wearing colorful hats in bright, vivid colors that contrasted with their simple white shirts. After checking in at the registration desk I received my blogger press pass. After having it scanned I was ready to enter and start exploring.
I started discovering Pitti by saying hello to my good friends but since most of them were already busy talking to other guests and Olivier Durbano was the one who I talked to first. He introduced Megan and me to his new creation named Chrysolithe. This mysterious stone has been mentioned many times in religious texts, such as Holy Bible. The stone itself represents self-control and harmony. The perfume itself is an addictive blend of spices, herbs, flowers, ambergris and musk.
Right nearby we found Nicolai Parfumeur Createur. I didn’t see Patricia Nicolai anywhere around but there was Damien, who I got to meet last year so he showed us whats new in the house. This brand just launched Ambre Cashmere Intense, very warm, cozy and incredibly yummy amber with addition of iris butter. I foresee this might turn into a bestseller of upcoming winter. Megan sprayed some on her arm and at the end of the day we could still smell it, it was gorgeous. What also has drawn our attention there were 3 products that will be launched for Christmas. There will be a room spray and two candles – one of them named Fines Bulles got my fancy, it smelled of a champagne!
Next stop for us was a stand of Maria Candida Gentile. We were lucky to meet Maria Candida Gentile in person and she introduced us to her new perfume. She said she envisioned it one day as she had a dream of an elephant stomping on delicate rose petals. The perfume was named Elephant & Roses. It’s very different from the launches from previous Pitti as this scent is a rose with a lot of dirt and animalic notes. It had a very specific smell, not exactly what I was hoping for.
At noon we wanted to join a conference about classic & modern raw materials. Main speakers were Mane perfumer and raw materials quality control specialist. At the beginning we were presented a finished fragrance composition made by that perfumer for one of the niche perfume brands (because I found this perfume particularly bad I’m not going to name the house) and then she broke down the composition for us and presented 12 main accords of it in form of pure essences.
Smelling lemon or bergamot essences was pleasant, not to mention the divine orange blossom absolute. It became less pleasant when we got to smell pure oil of black pepper, nutmeg, vetiver or patchouli. The composition also contained two modern synthetics. The one was an aquatic (can’t remember the name), second one was artificial amber named Ambramone(TM). And here comes an interesting remark – while Megan found it rather unpleasant and disturbing, I couldn’t smell the thing!
After the presentation has finished we bumped onto Carlos Huber, founder of Arquiste. He was going to give a quick interview to someone and asked us to wait for him. Within 5 minutes he was back, gave us some hugs, treated to a glass of champagne and began talking about latest launch Nanban. Together with perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux they told us the back story and main idea behind this scent. Both Megan and I decided to try it on skin. On hers it was turning sweet-ish while on mine it was more nocturnal with smoke and wood.
In case of Arquiste it is not the end of good news. The house also developed 3 perfumed candles and man, they do smell exquisite and luxurious. And they have a very strong scent. These candles match the olfactory style of Anima Dulcis, The Architects Club and Nanban but some of their features were amplified while some of them were muted in order to make a better candle adaptation of these perfumes. Carlos and Rodrigo also paired their creative forces with St. Regis hotels and created for them a very beautiful floral candle and room spray centered around delicate apple blossom. Even if this is a room spray, I would be happy to wear it on myself.
I was also very happy to meet with Andy Tauer again. He brought his latest creative project, the triplets of Tauerville, namely Rose Flash, Vanilla Flash and Incense Flash. All of them are really well made and represent a high quality perfumery at a good price. Also 30 ml bottles look so cute! My favorite was the rose one which smells opulent and rich, with a marmalade effect. In Andy’s signature line a new flower has blossomed and Sotto La Luna Tuberose has been introduced. This one is very extravagant and different from tuberose most of us knows. It’s difficult to understand but many will appreciate its beauty.
Later in the afternoon we went to one more conference, titled: West Coast VS Europe – a market faceoff. It was a conversation between Francois Henin, owner of Jovoy Paris, the biggest niche perfume boutique in France and Franco Wright & Adam Eastwood who founded Scent Bar in Los Angeles. The talk was moderated by Chandler Burr who kept this talk at a high-pace. It was interesting to hear about all the differences regarding how much sells in store and how much online, if clientelle is men or women and what they buy. I was rather shocked to hear that bestsellers at Jovoy are the most expensive fragrances available, such as creations from Roja Dove, Clive Christian, Xerjoff while in LA Escentric Molecules and Comme des Garcons occupy tops of the charts for a while now. Also Scent Bar (Lucky Scent) has mostly online buyers while for Jovoy in Paris it’s the opposite. If you are interested in hearing the full confrontation, check it here.
The day has been so intensive that I cannot even remember exactly looking at photos on my phone if I discovered this perfume on first or second day of the fair. Lets say then that the last I have tried on Friday was a new creation from Marc-Antoine Corticchiato. Parfum d’Empire line just grew bigger by one scent and it’s Tabac Tabou, a very interesting concoction of tobacco and narcissus.
The next day we went fully into discovery mode, skipping talks and events in the conference hall. I spent some time with Joaquim Carner discovering their new fragrance Palo Santo. I found it nice and pleasing but D600 still remains my favorite from this brand. This new Carner Barcelona starts boozy and later it becomes more woody, spicy and dry. Drydown is milky and sweeter.
We could not miss Naomi Goodsir as both her outfit and her booth were rather extravagant and attracting attention. There was a good reason for that as a new fragrance has appeared in her collection. Iris Cendre is a result of collaboration with perfumer Julien Rasquinet. When I first tried it from the tube stuffed with scented black paper I didn’t like it. When we got a fresh spray on blotter it smelled much more appealing while on skin it was a bit difficult. This composition is highly vegetal, carroty, rooty and earthy. Megan said it smells like a less dirty Iris Silver Mist by Serge Lutens.
Histoires de Parfums and founder Gerald Ghislain presented Fidelis, which is a new fragrance in Edition Rare series. Offered in 60 ml “half- cut” bottle adorned in gold luster. Combination of rose, spices and coffee smelled incredibly good so you can expect that I will write about it at some point.
Later I met with Mert Guzel and Murat Katran, founders of Turkish brand Nishane. They were not presenting anything new now but they are working on new launches for 2016. I have been shown a couple of different mods of 4 fragrances and ask about my thoughts or suggestions regarding the way those could be developed. I felt flattered they wanted to hear my ideas.
Megan is in love with Pierre Guillaume so of course we had to pay him a visit as well. He showed us a raw african stone. Closed in a small metal can, the inside unveiled a dark, gooey-looking paste. It smelled so animalic and fecal that one could puke smelling it. Luckily the perfume he wanted to show us was much nicer. Shermine is Pierre’s new addition to Huitieme Art Parfums and it’s a very sensual iris composition with a sexy, feline fur effect. It’s really mrrrr, I want to have some.
I also spent some time at Puredistance stand. The brand is still on the happy flow of White but they have changed their packaging a bit by adding some color to it as well as wrapping the box with a very elegant ribbon. It was so nice to meet Mary again. Last time she got a Polish chocolate from me and this time she brought some yummy stroopwafel, a typically Dutch sweet treat.
Another perfume on our must-try list was Vanille d’Iris by Ormonde Jayne. This brand’s booth seemed to be crowded all the time but when we came we got lucky as it was Linda Pilkington who greeted us and shared the details about this perfume. Composition smells very rich, elegant and expensive on skin. It’s a play of lighter and heavier things combined in one gorgeous creation.
One of the new brands on my radar was Altaia. It’s a new chapter written by Eau d’Italie founders, Marina Sersale and Sebastián Alvarez Murena and it’s a story of their love and how they met. As they started exploring some historical documents it turned out that few generations earlier families of both were involved with each other. What a coincidence! Altaia is an acronym for “A long time ago in Argentina” and perfumes are a meeting between Italy and Argentina. They are light with more substantive base, long-lasting, kind of melancholic. Beautiful if you ask me.
At the moment of visiting there were couple of stands without anyone around to tell you more about the scents, so in case of Olfactive Studio Selfie or Classic Opoponax by Von Eusersdorff I only got a brief sniff and that was it.
My next stop was a booth of Angela Ciampagna. I wanted to sample what this brand has to offer in Milan in March but I didn’t have enough time so wanted to make up for it during Pitti. The moment I approached them the stand was empty and I got greeted by Angela herself. I was very happy to learn that she is reading my blog after I have introduced myself. She gradually guided me through the entire collection of scents and shared a discovery kit for further tests.
One more interesting discovery at Pitti was Nomenclature, a project co-created by Karl Bradl (Aedes de Venustas). Four fragrances packaged in Erlenmeyer flask like bottles were inspired by four iconic synthetic aroma materials used in perfumery. Each perfume features one of those synthetics plus assisting notes. The idea is very conceptual and futuristic, maybe a bit odd even knowing that artistic perfumery is about highest quality natural materials with as little use of artificial compounds as possible. Yet the interest in this brand was quite high, including me.
Later on Megan and I visited Unscent (called Unscent Land this year) – it’s a separated section within Pitti Fragranze where you can meet the brands under Intertrade Europe distribution. Guests were treated to popcorn or cotton candy when they were entering this area, then they could smell the fragrances. In the center of the room was a carousel with mirror animal silhouettes that were reflecting the light. Within Unscent you could see brands such as Agonist, Re Profumo, Santa Eulalia, La Manufacture, Andrea Putman, Roads. Weird thing that there was no representative person who could tell you more about the new fragrances there. No info, no samples… boring.
Next stop was a dark, mysteriously looking stand covered in fog. The brand was named Unum and it’s creator is fascinated in gothic and churches, hence a decoration like that. There are 3 fragrances of which two are more churchy, resinous and icense smelling while the third one is a deep and dark rose perfume that I liked a lot. Rosa Nigra will stay in my mind for a while.
Later I quickly went through Arte Profumi and their new Tribal, an oakmoss fragrance; Rubini and their great Fundamental. Malbrum stand was busy just like half a year ago. Apart from presenting their 3 existing fragrances everyone could smell the prototypes of 3 new scents which might be launched at Esxence 2016. One called Baghera was something that I liked.
In the last minutes of Saturday we smelled new oriental collection of fragrances by Annick Goutal, as well as La Fumee Alexandrie from Miller Harris. I was also attracted by a beautifully presented Oud Palao by Diptyque. When I tried it – instant love! I’m buying a bottle of it as soon as it officially launches in October. We finished by smelling some Olibere fragrances, it’s a new line inspired by cinema. I also tried Chypre 21 by Heeley. Since Saturday was my last day at Pitti I kept rushing around wanting to say goodbye to all of my friends. I had a great time and I hope I will be able to come again next year. Those exhibitions and people are a part of my life now!
In the evening I had a lovely dinner with Megan and when I came back to my apartment I had to pack my suitcase as I was leaving early on Sunday. Also, in the middle of the night there was an earthquake. I felt the deadly silence and then everything started trembling for 5-10 seconds. I thought it was a dream. 2 days later I saw facebook posts from perfume friends asking if someone else felt it. We also found official report about an earthquake in central Italy – it had a magnitude 4. I’m glad nothing really happened and that I could return home safely.
Check out Megan’s summary of Pitti day 1 here