Just a week ago I was getting fired up and all excited about upcoming 9th edition of Esxence. Now it’s all going down, leaking through the pores of my skin as I came back home and the event is over. It’s such a shame hours go so fast when you’re surrounded by people who share the same passion with you, who often at the same time are your friends. To me those are special moments that I hold dear in my heart. Time may pass but the memories will stay, that’s how it works.
My trip to Milan started at noon on Wednesday last week as I basically needed 10 hours to get to Milan. Living in Poznań, where there are almost no direct flights anywhere, I had to get to Warsaw in order to take a flight to Bergamo, followed by a 50 minutes bus ride to finally arrive at Milano Centrale. In fact it turned out that nothing has changed in terms of connections since last year so I had a bit of a deja vu, walking to my Airbnb after 22:00 in the evening. Trips like that are always tiring but I was pumped up with excitement. I was looking forward to the next 3 days.
Day 1 – Thursday, 23rd of March
I slept very well on the night before Esxence. When I woke up I had to do a little shopping as my Airbnb host wasn’t offering any breakfast. At the nearby shop I bought some Panini bread, good salami, yoghurt and some local cookies. I was able to make quite nice Italian breakfast with these. Around 10:00 in the morning I was all ready to go. The Mall at Piazza Lina Bo Bardi – an Esxence venue was only few steps away (I stayed at the same Airbnb as in 2016 due to its great location).
When I was waiting for a green light to cross the street I bumped into Megan, I’m sure you remember her from previous editions as my partner in crime as we were always smelling together. But this year Megan was there for a different purpose, to help one of the brands at their booth. It was a happy reunion. When I opened the door to The Mall, I was surrounded by a cheerful buzz of people, waiting for the official opening of the fair or queueing at the registration desk.
In the entrance hall there was a big & colorful wisteria tree created, combining many colors. There were also pink flamingos under it. I think you could say flamingo was a mascot of Esxence edition 9. At 10:30 Esxence founders gave a short speech and a symbolic ribbon has been cut, marking the official opening of the fair. With a press pass hanging from my neck I stepped into this world of perfume. From the very beginning exhibitors looked busy and their meetings were already starting.
First brand that had the time for me was Olfactive Studio. After exchanging kisses with Celine Verleure she told me how she found a picture in the art gallery and immediately felt inspired to give it a fragranced interpretation. Once the photographer gave permission to use his photo, they started creating and that’s how Woody Mood was born. It’s a sensual, warm, slightly caramelized take on woody accord composed by Bertrand Duchaufour. It’s an easy to love creation.
I couldn’t miss Aedes stand as I’m a huge fan of the brand. I met with Olivier Le Didroux, a company representative I knew from earlier editions of Esxence and Pitti. It turned out that they have come up with a new scent. Pélargonium is the name and it’s a modern take on the note. In it crispy geranium is combined with velvety, buttery facet of iris that slowly develops into more warm blend of spices (especially pepper), moss and vetiver. I found it highly addictive & I adore the flacon, which this times bears a bright red color.
Afterwards I met Roberto Dario who was with the brand DFG 1924. He introduced me to the collection, one after another I smelled the fragrances. I didn’t like all of them but there were some that were standing out to me so I got a couple of samples as well, so that I can explore them further in the comfort of my own home. Another stand I visited was just a few steps away.
It was Art de Parfum. I came as few days before the show I was invited on Facebook by the brand founder, Ruta Degutyte, to come and smell her line. So that’s what I did. There were 5 fragrances to smell, all showcased at the front desk. I quite liked Gin and Tonic Cologne and Excentrique Moi. Others weren’t bad either, just not my sort of thing. Especially Sea Foam, a perfume with marine and sea notes was “acceptable”, not to hurt anyone’s feelings.
My next stop was Evody. I know this brand and the founders: Cerine Vasseur and Regine Droin (daughter & mother) since my first trip to Esxence. This year they were showcasing their brand new development named Collection Gallerie, a set of 3 fragrances inspired by three different art styles. Sens Abstrait, Couleur Fauve and Tubereuse Manifestev were developed with Cecile Zarokian. Actually when Cerine was explaining first fragrance, Cecile appeared at the stand and joined to add more details about them. I love how perfumers talk about work.
After that I was able to steal Cecile for a few minutes so that I could give her a present I brought with me – a box of ptasie mleczko, a Polish sweet treat. She opened it immediately which was great as many people save such gifts for later & she liked it. Throughout the day I was able to see her sneaking more cubes out of the box or sharing them with others. So sweet!
Walking down the corridor I met Victor Wong, founder of Zoologist Perfumes. He seemed like a mix of excited and terrified by the experienced. It was lovely of him that he shared a set of samples with me (never tried any of these before). There is even an extra one that is yet to be released.
Nishane was next in my agenda. I met Murat Katran and Mert Guzel, founders of the brand as they were eagerly presenting their new trilogy inspired by shadow play. I actually didn’t know what that is but it turns out it’s an old way of telling the stories with flat puppets/silhouettes moving on the screen that stands in front of the light source. Three characters that they turned into perfume are Hacivat (male, wise & wealthy), Karagoz (male, hot-headed) and Zenne (female, attractive & provocative). The latter one was my favorite.
Once I finished my meeting with Nishane I moved to the conference room to attend the announcement of the finalists for The Art & Olfaction Awards. There was Saskia Wilson-Brown who started this movement as well as 4 judges. Everyone had some comments about the judging process or remarks about perfume industry (eg. Luca Turin saying Mon Guerlain is a bad perfume) and then the finalists were announced. You can see the list here.
Next I mad a meeting with Puredistance which I started with presenting a box of Malaga pralines to the team to celebrate 10th anniversary of the brand. Then I sat with Mary Gooding and we talked about life and perfume. She was curious to hear aboutWarszawa. This perfume will be available worldwide in a few months but until now it’s only exclusive to Poland so I had a chance to wear it. It’s glamorous, sophisticated. Old-fashioned and femme-fatale like. At least in my opnion.
1 hour later (yes, I talked with Mary for full hour) I had another meeting, this time with Atelier des Ors. And here a surprise – this is the brand Megan works for now! They had a lovely stand with two tables that served as a perfume display. Each bottle was resting on a marble plate and was asissted by a decoration in a glass vase. It looked very neat & classy. They focus on Iris Fauve at the moment but also work on new creations for the future. Plus they’re about to launch a Harrod’s exclusive scent named Musc Immortelle.
My next step was to visit Pissara Umavijani of Parfums Dusita. Her stand was medium-sized but pretty nicely decorated at the front with a bunch of roses in two colors, pink and red. She told me about her latest work, about the preparations to launch Le Sillage Blanc and La Douceur de Siam. She’s also shown me a packaging prototype for these novelties. It’s a simple, elegant box that reminds a book in its shape and the way it opens.
Farther in my explorations I noticed Giovanni Sammarco and since there was an opening as someone just finished their talk with him I was able to get a few minutes of his attention. He introduced Naias, his latest creation that is a floral fragrance of a more lighter, airy and innocent kind. It’s one of those cheerful compositions that make you want to smile when you smell them.
But it was my next discovery that was a biggest hit of the day for me. Remember when I introduced you to Anatole Lebreton last year. He attended Esxence again, this time with a completely new composition. The perfume is named Grimoire, which supposedly means a spellbook & that’s the kind of visual he uses to advertise this scent. I loved the complexity and true identity of this fragrance. It starts with a medicinal lavender. It’s quite herbal and floral, almost liquorish and after a while it transforms into a very warm, woody incense. Truly magical.
Last but not least I managed to try Naja, an anniversary creation of Vero Profumo & Vero Kern. It was a very green and intense leather, completely not my cup of tea. I immediately perceived the perfume as bizarre and wicked but I’ve heard lots of people complimenting it. To each their own as they say, the perfume will have its admirers for sure.
As my last point I made a stop at the stand of Neela Vermeire who had a gorgeous decorations with lots and lots of beautiful, real flowers. I especially liked the panels on the walls. Each of them had one of NVC creations placed in the center and it was all surrounded by different kinds of roses. People were coming very often to see her, she’s always very popular with guests. Rahele was the main attraction and I was confirmed that I love it.
After this fruitful day I had a dinner with Megan, Jean-Philippe Clermont (Atelier des Ors founder) and a few of their friends they work with together. We went to some fancy restaurants with dimmed lights and lots of old mirrors everywhere. We had some good food, cheese and lots of wine.
This sums up day 1 of my Esxence 2017 adventure.