Spending a week in Sicily was a fantastic adventure and vacation I will remember for many years. Despite the fact that each of our trips was starting really early in the morning, so I probably should feel more tired than not, I actually felt energetic. I think it’s thanks to the magic of the place & charming Sicilian scenery that I was actually able to start charging back my batteries even though daily schedule was so busy. I surely let go of all the bothering thoughts during those 6 days.
In previous years my holidays were planned so that Pitti Fragranze was the last point in my agenda and after my return to Poland I had 2 days to gradually adapt to my usual routines before returning to work. This year I had no choice but to fly back to Poland as that was a travel agency requirement. So after a week in Sicily I came back home, where I could totally wind down for 3 days… And then came the time to return to Italy after this short break in the middle of my summer holidays. Theme for Fragranze 16 asked a difficult question: where does a fragrance start and where does it end?
Flight arrangements to get to Florence were not in my favor this year, so on Thursday (September 13) – 24 hours before the show I flew from Warsaw to Rome & then took a train from Rome to Florence. Not the most efficient way of travel (if you can’t fly directly to Florence, Pisa or Bologna are the closest) but as meticulous as I am – it all worked fine for me. I arrived in Florence around 7 PM – an ideal hour to quickly accomodate in my room (same Airbnb as in the past) and go our for dinner.
As soon as I entered Stazione Leopolda – a Pitti Fragranze venue I immediately noticed that it’s more spacious compared to last year. There was a reason to that but I’ll touch that topic later. After making a first round around the fair to localize who is where I made my very first stop at the stand of Francesca Bianchi. As independent perfumer she works at her own pace and goes with her own feelings in terms of creative direction. At the fair she presented Lover’s Tale. This carnal leather fragrance is animalic and elegant at the same time. Francesca loves the iconic Cuir de Russie but instead of copying it she composed its own interpretation – she absolutely nailed it.
30 minutes into the exhibition and the first conference was starting already. Few years ago the organizators of Pitti Fragranze started RAW – a series of ‘lectures’ about different perfumery materials. It’s curated by Mane and each year a different ingredient was in the spotlight. 2017 edition was about pepper while this year was dedicated to treasures from Madagascar. When it comes to this African Island it’s a homeland of the best vanilla in the world. Perfumer Julie Masse talked about the production process, various facets of vanilla as well as ongoing vanilla crisis & it’s extremely high prices. Bourbon vetiver and Bourbon geranium were also mentioned as Madagascan treasures.
I enjoyed listening to the presentation prepared by Mane – as a person who aspires to become a perfumer someday it’s always great to learn more about the raw materials. After this conference I bumped into Sarah Colton, a fragrance journalist, as we were strolling down the hallway. We keep seeing each other every Esxence and Pitti so it’s always great to catch up, talk about what’s new in life for us. She’s a very funny and easy-going person who makes friends easily. She’s now working on a new book while juggling other tasks. I’m sure it’ll repeat a success of Bad Girl’s Perfume.
Then I used the opportunity that someone was about to finish their meeting with Olivier Durbano and ‘booked’ him so that I could be next to have a couple of minutes of his attention. Olivier was presenting his 14th perfume at Pitti Fragranze but when I looked at it and heard his tale I wasn’t so sure. The fragrance still bears a name of the stone – Pyrit Ana Tra in this case and as explained by Olivier, this perfume is a new beginning. This also explains why he decided to change the packaging for a one with round base and cylindrical cap. Perfume itself is full of smokiness combined with earthy notes and resins. Quite unexpected ingredient in it is the use of pistachio in its heart.
Next brand that I visited had recently experienced a bit of a revolution. Unum and Sauf as names have been erased & everything was unified under Filippo Sorcinelli Brand now. The line previously known as Sauf is now called Extrait de Musique. In Unum range the brand has added But Not Today – inspired by a film Hannibal, this composition is extremely metallic and smoky/leathery. The bottle is red as if stained with blood. Extrait de Musique bottles now became transparent and this collection received additional 2 fragrances: Unda Maris 8 and Violon Basse 16. I especially liked the first of these two, which was a combination of incense and mineral, marine, salty notes.
I was surprised to see someone from Poland among exhibitors of Fragranze 16. Two years ago Polish fashion designer Bohoboco launched a fragrance line of 8 unisex fragrances but I’ve never seen them before since they’re only available in their atelier or at the airport. They have simple packaging and their names are usually a pairing of two notes – in which they highly remind me of the concept used by Jo Malone. I think Red Wine Brown Sugar was the most appealing to me. They worked with different noses from abroad to develop this line (names were not mentioned during my talk with their representative). The perfumes were ok but don’t offer anything extraordinary.
Next was the time to spend some time with Sarah McCartney and have some fun smelling new releases from 4160 Tuesdays. The stand here was very good looking, decorated with very realistic tissue-paper flowers. And there was also a ‘flower wand’ that allowed you to take a picture with your face surrounded by a floral arrangement – Sarah tried to take such pic of most people who stopped by her stand. Among novelties I tried a citrusy-aromatic Scenthusiasm, a delicious creamy-floral known as White Queen (developed for Cafleurebon) or a gourmand overdose in Over the Chocolate Shop. Everything had a bit of funk which is a signature of Sarah creations.
Pitti this year also had some new faces, appearing in Florence for the first time. Among them was Nick Steward, founder and creator of Gallivant. Formerly working at L’Artisan Parfumeur he now directs his own line of perfumes for urban explorers. We had a contact before through social media but this was the first opportunity to meet in person. We quickly found a common language. Pitti Fragranze marked the official launch of Tokyo, which to me was one of the most interesting scents I found there. Contrast between yuzu and incense, crunchy cardamom versus smooth iris. Many opposite things that go together surprisingly well. Their 30 ml bottle is much cuter in reality.
Final highlight of the day was a chance to try Parle Moi de Parfum fragrances. This is one of those brands I wanted to test for a while but had no chance as they were available in Poland only in one small store in Warsaw. Pitti gave me a possibility to discover them all. I was guided by Benjamin Almairac, creator of the brand and also son of Michel Almairac – perfumer behind all scents in the range. I had some online contact with Benjamin before through Instagram so when we met in person he made me feel like home. At first glance I really liked Tomboy Neroli and Orris Tattoo.
For the evening I had some dinner plans but all of them didn’t work out. I was in a small desperation as I didn’t want to be in Florence and eat alone when so many people I know are around me so I started searching for someone I could join. Odds were in my favor – when I messaged Sarah McCartney it turned out they’re about to have dinner close to a place where I was at that very moment. Nifty trick of sharing her location with me via Messenger and few minutes later we were together. She was my life-saver of that evening. After dinner, gelato and a stroll we were full and happy. That sums up what happened on the first day of Pitti Fragranze 2018. There’s more to follow.