Defining Undefined at Pitti Fragranze 2018 – part 2

First day of this year’s Pitti Fragranze sure was exciting and packed with many meetings and a wide variety of perfume. I expected that following days won’t be any worse & in fact they were not. Each day gave me something different. Also for the first time in the history of my Fragranze attendance I was at the fair for all 3 days so I got a new perspective by seeing how the last day looks like.

On Saturday I started my olfactory investigations by visting a stand of Soul Couture. This is a new brand of Italian origins & some of my friends recommended it as worth trying. At the stand I met Michele Marin, who founded this brand and who is a perfumer behind it. He created 6 different fragrances presented in simple & elegant bottles and boxes. I especially liked Weekend Postmoderno (with spices and iris), and Gender Ginger (with citrus, ginger and rosewood). It’s also one of the very few brands that offers travel-friendly size from the very beginning.

When I was passing next to Uermi booth I noticed they have some news too so I decided to spend there a few minutes to learn about them. They worked with perfumer Alexandra Carlin to develop two new compositions: SO Satin and UR Silk 19, a rework of UR Silk introduced 5 years ago. They also had a third one for which they teamed with Maurice Roucel. OR Damask is a lush red rose that I really liked. It had a full body and from the start you could smell it’s very well blended.

Miya Shinma didn’t present any new things as she still wanted to focus on the L’Eau de Miya Shinma collection. I said ‘wanted’ because she told me that she has been robbed. She shipped all of her perfume to Florence and when she wanted to organize the stand it turned out that someone stole all of the bottles of the new collection that were inside that box. It’s more than a misfortune – to come to the fair (which is not cheap!) and to not be able to present your latest achievements. So sad.

Have you ever heard of an Irish perfume brand Cloon Keen? Well I did and many years ago I even reviewed one when I got a sample in a swap. Ever since I was curious to smell the other fragrances in their range but it just never happened because I couldn’t get samples locally. This year they came to Florence and had their stand at Fragranze 16 – I could not overlook such occasion. I talked with Margaret Mangan, creator of Cloon Keen, who guided me through fragrances and candles. I’m telling you – I liked all of the scents. Lunasa and Frosted Moon stayed in my memory for long.

On that day another interesting discussion took place in a conference hall. Title of this panel discussion was ‘Asia & You’Chandler Burr as a host and 5 different people were blind-smelling around 20 fragrances and commenting whether it’s suitable for Asian market or no. The gimmick was that Chandler asked 20 random brands exhibiting at the fair to select ‘the most Asian’ scent from their range. Then at a panel those people had to come to the scene, shortly explain why they think it fits. This was followed by smelling, commenting and at the very end the name of brand and perfume was revealed. I think it was brave of all those brands since comments were often not nice. My friend, perfumer Alex Lee was one of the panelists and later when we talked he said he didn’t feel good doing it. It surely was a challenge as he didn’t want to offend anyone.

Beaufort is not a brand that belongs to the group of my brands but I decided to give a try to their new composition mostly because their stand was shared with Atelier des Ors where my friends were. New Rake & Ruin was very much like gin – super metallic, tons of juniper, lots of smoke and animalic ingredients. Absolutely not my cup of tea but at least I gave it a try, right?

Nowadays I think that Laboratorio Olfattivo is one of those brands that just have something new any time they exhibit, meaning new things are added to their range twice a year at least. After introducing a handy 30 ml bottle as well as travel kits (2 x 15 ml) now they presented a new perfume. Its name is Sacreste and it’s composed by Luca Maffei. The scent itself is very incensy but with a lot of warm oriental elements like saffron, cardamom, amber. It’s nice but not very new in terms of idea.

One of the completely new brands that appeared inside of Stazione Leopolda was Maison Rebatchi. For their debut they launched 4 fragrances but even if I’m alone in my impression I’m going to say it was a let-down. The bottles look kind of like boutique collection from Dior. Each scent was done by different perfumer and even if one of them was Bertrand Duchaufour didn’t convince me. And people there seemed annoyed they have to talk to me. I quickly lost my initial interest.

Dusita with Pissara Umavijani at its front was busy all the time but I managed to have a few minutes with her. Current focus is still on Erawan of course but Pissara let me smell the fragrance she’s been working on and which she’d like to launch in spring. Oh boy, it was very good, quite different from her previous creations… and it has a lot of iris! At Andy Tauer’s stand Les Annees 25 was the newest perfume but Andy also had his 2 candles (they just launched!) that I could smell. Extrait d’Atelier still focuses on Maitre Ceramiste – not rushing things is always good in perfumery.

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In the evening many of us went to a street party celebrating the opening of Campomarzio70 boutique at it’s new location in Florence. It was super crowded and we had to be careful because taxis and buses kept passing through. Afterwards I was supposed to get something to eat together with Nick Steward but the word spread and I actually started gathering people to come with us. We ended up having a fantastic dinner for 10 people. That’s it for day 2. Normally I would pack but not this time!

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10 thoughts on “Defining Undefined at Pitti Fragranze 2018 – part 2

  1. fragroom says:

    Thanks for the post. Good to read about all these brands.

  2. Undina says:

    Even before reading that part of the post, I thought that those Rebatchi bottles reminded me of Dior’s Escale bottles.

    I don’t think it’s a good idea to do public blind testing of anything. I mean, it’s OK to test perfumes or wines (or coffee, or tea, or chocolate) without knowing the brands to find the winner, pinpoint which one you like the most/the least. But while even that is too subjective, making people to publicly express their opinions… Not within the same industry.

    • lucasai says:

      Yeah, you are right. The Escale line is even more similar to these.

      I think it was a bit reckless to do a panel like that. Apparently the brands didn’t know of the exact format how it’s going to look like so I think they were all brave to join.

  3. hajusuuri says:

    How fun, Lucas! Sometimes the impromptu dinner gatherings end up being the least pretentious (less grandstaning). A pox on Maison Rebatchi – it sounded like their launch was a flop which they probably deserve for not doing a good job and for disrespecting you. As to the panel to evaluate perfumes and their suitability for the Asian market, conceptually, I think it’s interesting, but practically, a landmine. Thanks for sharing Day 2!

    • lucasai says:

      This dinner sure felt very casual and everyone was tired at that time so nobody felt stiff. You know, many people actually liked Rebatchi – be it because of the perfume or because of the similarity to Dior Escale line (as Undina well noticed). Can’t love them all

  4. jilliecat says:

    Oh, poor Miya Shinma, that is a very sad story.

    Cloon Keen sounds good, and I rather like the romance of the names Lunasa and Frosted Moon. My mum used to wear an Irish perfume which was beautiful, and I imagine in those days (the 60s) it was probably pretty unique in being Irish. It smelled lovely, and I remember that it had the word Shee in its name, which is the Irish for fairy, so I suppose that appealed to me too!

    Hmmmmm …. the panel. The subject seems to border on racism …..

    • lucasai says:

      Indeed, sad story.

      I really liked their ideas, names, packaging and perfume itself. Those names are quite poetic and suit the brand.

      It’s not racism at all, scent culture in Japan or China is totally different, they start to wear perfume but their taste is very different from Europe or Middle East

      • Jillie says:

        Yes, you are right … I associate the Middle East with perfumes that are heavy with oud, resins and dark rose oils, and Japan with watery, light floral or green scents, so I suppose it makes sense to target your market. But I thought that now the world was more unified and boundaries are disappearing – oud is in so many western brands, and the Japanese customer buys the latest Tom Ford. It’s all in the advertising!

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