Just a few days ago I was still in Milan enjoying beautiful Italian spring, magnolias blossoming all over the city & most of all having a great time at Esxence. It was a special edition as 10th anniversary calls for more effort to make it even better than usual. To highlight the occassion of such round birthday the entrance hall of the Mall was decorated with huge statue symbolizing number ’10’ with golden garlands twinkling under the ceiling and golden flakes scattered all over the floor.
It was a bling but in classy and elegant way. Out of 4 days of the show I attended 3, but it didn’t go as smoothly as in previous years… You see… I was supposed to arrive in Milan last Wednesday in the evening but it turned into a nervous story of how I did NOT get to Milan. The thing is – I missed my flight! I was taking the direct bus from Poznań where I live to Berlin Schonefeld airport and maybe 20 minutes before the scheduled departure time all passengers were informed that the bus will have 1 hour delay. When it eventually arrived there was a huge traffic (accident?) on a motorway near Berlin. In the end when we arrived at the airport it was 40 minutes after my flight.
Stressed and all in nerves I didn’t know what to do, I missed my flight for the first time in my life. I even contacted the airport but there was nothing that could’ve been done to help me. And since I was flying with Ryanair my plane ticket was not refundable or exchangeable. I had to buy another ticket for a different flight but there were none more on the same afternoon – I had to wait until Thursday morning to fly to Milan, therefore I also had to rent a hotel room for the night. It was a rough start but I made it there in the end. Thank God my Airbnb host wasn’t causing trouble.
After getting to my sleeping place, quick unpacking and a change of clothes I immediately went to The Mall at Piazza Lina Bo Bardi where Esxence is held for a few years now. I arrived around noon, so I only missed first 1,5 hours of the show. Still not that bad as for such a rough start of my trip. My first appointment at 12:15 (so I made it just in time) was with Jacques Fath team. They were launching a perfume which was a result of a very exciting project. They asked perfume historians, connoiseurs and vintage fragrance collectors who were familar with the smell of Iris Gris to become judges of an open submission contest to recreate this masterpiece. There were around 5 versions proposed by different perfumers and after blind testing by the experts they unanimously chose a version by Patrice Revillard, a young perfumer who only just graduated.
After the announcement of 5th annual Art and Olfaction Awards finalists that took place right after my first meeting I continued to explore the place until I saw Joaquim Carner in the crowd. He had a free moment so I decided to use this occasion to discover novelties from Carner Barcelona. The brand is launching an oriental collection featuring trio of fragrances: resinous Megalium, ambery Ambar del Sur and incensy Botafumeiro. Design of the bottles remained the same, it’s the brown wooden cap that is a signature element of the new series. The brand seems to want add a new trio each year.
Olfactive Studio and brand’s head Celine Verleure were showcasing their 12th fragrance – Flash Back in New York. Despite the fact that part of its name is shared with with one of their previous launches this is not a case of a flanker in niche. It’s a completely different perfume that was inspired by a photography of New York City in a snow storm. The perfume is a fusion of warm and cold with quite a heavy accent on violet leaf and leather. There’s also a lot of spiciness to it.
The most sensational discovery of Esxence 2018 was probably a new perfume from Neela Vermeire and her brand. I felt connected to these fragrances since a debut of this maison de parfum and I just loved the iris hiding within Ashoka so I was super excited to learn that new composition is going to be all about iris. And it is absolutely amazing! Bertrand Duchaufour made an iris that is creamy, buttery, gently sweet, entwined with notes of tea and champagne fizz effect. Their pretty flacon got a purple veil that goes from transparent at the base and more saturated at the top. And packaging of Niral uses silk for even more luxurious and sensorial experience. I know I want to have it!
Fragrance house of Angela Ciampagna had a break last year due to their laboratory collapsing after an earthquake but this year they were back with some new fragrant ideas. First of all they presented Laetitia, a water-based perfume for children. They also had two complex, resinous new fragrances named Miracula and Materia. Both were well made, I will be further exploring my samples.
Masque Milano is always one of the brands that attract a lot of attention at Esxence. Each time they work with a different perfumer and for their 2018 release they chose to work with a young perfumer Fanny Bal from IFF. They presented a perfume called Hemingway and it smells mostly of vetiver (they used couple of different species) but there was also tart rhubarb in the opening.
Anatole Lebreton was there too! Last year I totally fell in love with his Grimoire. New composition that was being launched at Esxence is named Cornaline and is completely different from all the perfumes in the range. It’s very easy-going and casual. It features quite tropical ylang-ylang combined with bergamot, iris, carrot and benzoin among other notes. I think it’s a great addition.
Aether is the brand from Nicolas Chabot who is also owner of Le Galion and it focuses on synthetic aroma molecules. This spring 4 new fragrances were introduces: Hypær, Supær, Ultræ, Xtræm. Each of them contains an abundance of one of the iconic perfume synthetics like Iso E Super. It’s kind of like Escentric Molecules but the fragrances are made from more than just 1 ingredient.
In mid-afternoon I was going out for a while as I had planned a meeting with Atelier des Ors. Their team wasn’t present at Esxence this time but they had a ‘salon’ organized at a hotel just across the street. I knew beforehand that they’ll have 4 new fragrances to show me and since it’s one of my favorite brands my expectations were really high. Jean-Philippe Clermont – owner of the brand together with Megan who works for the brand presented me with their novelties. They extended their existing line with 1 perfume called Bois Sikar, it’s a super heavy one with lots and lots of dry tobacco and rum. I also noticed a lot of dark tar in it. They also launched White Collection inspired by synesthesia of Klimt art and music. Fragrances are named Nuda Veritas, Crepuscule des Ames and Choeur des Anges. They are lighter than black collection fragrances but still very pretty and interesting. Personal favorite was Nuda Veritas. White details of the packaging look really good too.
Jardins d’Ecrivains joined Esxence this year in order to present their latest development, a trio of splash colognes. They come in 300 ml glass bottles with a trigger spray (like a window cleaner or Moschino Fresh). They are light and not very concentrated and the idea for them is to prolong a feeling of freshness after a shower or during a hot day. You are meant to spray these all over your body. L’Eau de Leopardi is a super refreshing verbena, L’Eau de Kakuzo is more green and smells of tea while L’Eau de Marceline is more floral and feminine. At a very affordable price I think they could serve really well in the summer. I loved the display with sponges to smell them.
By the end of the day I also managed to stop by and say hi to Gabriella Chieffo. She composed a new fragrance that stands out due to being different and more approachable than other perfumes from this Italian brand. Lattedoro smells creamy, sensual and comforting, like a warm glass of milk with honey our mothers made for us when we were young. The perfume has coconut, iris, ginger and some other notes. It’s a gourmand scent but a very well-made one. It’s appetizing but not sickening, you won’t feel as if you were wearing a whole candy shop on your skin.
My last stop for Thursday was Nishane, who inspired by Le Petit Prince launched a duet of fragrances themed around this novella. B-612 is housed in brand’s usual bottle with a blue metal plate (decorated with tiny planets and stars) and it’s focused mostly on lavender that’s been paired with other ingredients. I summarized it as a ‘baby lavender’ because it smells rather soft and powdery. 2nd fragrance is Vain & Naive and has a red metal plate. It’s a rose perfume, a tribute to Little Prince’s rose. I liked that one less but it definitely wasn’t bad. One more thing from Murat Katran and Mert Guzel was a Colognisé, a lemon cologne – fresh and as simple as that.
After the show I had a delicious day with Atelier des Ors team. It was a tiring day, especially that just the same morning I had that second flight to Milan. But all in all I was happy that I got there in the end. I still had two more days to talk to people and smell the perfume. About that in part 2.