After a whirlwind of meeting new people and smelling newly launched fragrances during the 1st day of Esxence my mind was still relatively open to more stimuli. A dinner I had with a bunch of great people on the first evening was fantastic and after having a good night sleep the next day of Esxence has arrived. It has arrived a bit too soon in my case because I had to wake up at 7 AM on Friday. All because I was invited for a breakfast by the team of Fragrances of the World.
Despite early hour (the breakfast was starting at 8, Esxence opens as 10) for me this was the perfect opportunity to meet the one and only Michael Edwards again and to listen to his passionate words about perfume. It was also the occasion to finally meet Clayton from What Men Should Smell Like face to face as he recently joined Michael’s team. We almost met in Florence two years ago but it didn’t happen in the end, therefore I was happy we can finally say hi and shake hands.
The breakfast gathered around 20 people, writers, bloggers and youtubers. During this event Michael announced that he’ll be releasing 2 books this year. First one will be “Perfume Legends II” an update to the first book that was issued in 1996. Second project which will debut around Fall will be a new edition of “Fragrances of the World” – both book announcements made us very excited. While treating outselves to tea, coffee and croissants, together with other writers we started discussing more technical, regulatory aspects of perfumery, IFRA etc. Clearly these were not of interest to so called “influencers” as they all left – while we continued for another 40 minutes.
After this enjoyable breakfast with Michael Edwards we headed for Esxence as a group – together with Dana, Michelyn, Ermano. My plan for the first discovery of the day was to visit a stand of Masque Milano. Alessandro Brun, who is one of the founders invited me to sit down. Firstly we smelled a couple of raw materials featured in their new fragrance. So there was a magnolia absolute, raspberry leaf, patchouli essence. Secondly the time came to smell Kintsugi. I very much liked this modern attitude towards chypre and the perfume was blooming on my skin in a very refined way. The brand also reintroduced 100 ml size in a new and exclusive bottle based on a 35 ml one.
When I stopped at Puredistance stand to say hi to the team (as I know them for couple of years now) I was surprised to meet Mary there as well. She left the brand a while ago but decided to come and support her fragrance family one more time. Of course Aenotus was in the center of attention as the newest fragrance. It was one of the very few releases that I already had a chance to smell and write about. I was happy to talk to Mary and watch people smell and compliment Aenotus.
At noon I attended a presentation titled “AI & Future of Fragrance” in which Olivia Jezler shared with the audience a bunch of interesting fragrance projects and installations which for example involved having a virtual stroll in the mountains while special fragrance generating device would reproduce the smell of the mountain air and enhance this VR experience with scent stimulation. It was very interesting and luckily there was nothing said that in 10 years artificial intelligence will be able to compose successful fragrances from scratch. I’m sure perfumers will be still needed for many years.
After this presentation I was stopping by a stand of Mendittorosa, where Stefania Squeglia was showing two new creations. Dana happened to be there at the same time so I joined and we smelled both fragrances together. Because Stefania was barefoot during the entire show and because of her clothes many people compared her to fragrance elf which I think is a lovely description. Ithaka joins Odori d’Anima line and it was a warm blend of sensual spices, benzoin, something boozy and cosy. Talento joins Talismans collection and this perfume was a smart and elegant fragrance bringing to mind crispy aldehydes, powdery notes. It was evoking a man wearing freshly ironed shirt and a tie.
Next I directed my footsteps towards Hiram Green stand as there was one VIP that I really had to meet during Esxence. On a 2nd day of Esxence I was overjoyed to meet Val, the one and only Cookie Queen. I haven’t seen her for two years so it was thrilling to meet again. She brough her daughter with her and they were helping Hiram. Val also hosted a special event in memory of Vero Kern at a Campomarzio store in Milan. I got a couple of outstanding cookies which were life-saving at that point of the day. I hope she was happy to see me as well, although I’m not as much a VIP.
Later during the day I met with Gabriella Chieffo who was also introducing a new fragrance. Composed with a significant amount of sea salt and ginger entwined with white flowers, ylang, amber and woody touches the result was a rather intriguing musky-floral concoction. She titled her new creation 1,2,3, Stella! after a children game. Gabriella always comes up with an extravagant idea to decorate her stand. This year she used metal net to create three feminine silhouettes in long dresses. It was a clever idea and it surely took some skill to make them. Final result was impressive.
Perris Monte Carlo was getting a lot of buzz among people at Esxence. First of all they introduced a 4th chapter to their Italian Collection of iconic citrus notes that launched last year. Arancia di Sicilia is dedicated to Sicilian blood orange. The perfume was very bright and juicy but it wasn’t a plain hesperide as there was also almond and cinnamon in this blend. They also introduced a new White Collection (or Collection de Grasse) with Rose de Mai and Jasmin au Pays. These two soliflore compositions were signed by Jean-Claude Ellena, his name worked like a magnet at the show.
2018 was a year of neroli for Patricia de Nicolai. Closer to the end she released Neroli Intense which I didn’t have a chance to smell last year. But don’t be fooled, this is not a richer version of Eau de Neroli. Neroli Intense is different, utilizing orange blossom in more indolic, white floral way and blending it with petitgrain and beeswax among some other notes. It’s more sharp and punchy.
We all know that Pierre Guillaume is a prolific perfumer who is juggling between several separate lines he owns. Spotlight at Esxence was however directed on his main line (former Parfumerie Generale) and a trio of white bottles forming a new White Collection. Swim/SX, Helioflora and Sunsuality are all lighter, more summery and easy to wear. Apart from that I also smelled Sorong, his latest rework fragrance. I was also given a preview sniff of two new Phaedon compositions which will launch later this year in the visually updated packaging. You can tell he’s been a busy bee.
Among my new discoveries in Milan was this brand named L’Adone. Its origins are in Switzerland but fragrances they offer are made in Grasse. Apparently this brand is around since 2016 but I haven’t seen it earlier. 4 fragrances share Elenya as part of their name, then you have Gold, White, Black and Azur. To be honest I don’t remember what they smelled like but I do have samples so I will have a chance to develop own opinion on them at the comfort of my home.
During the day I spent a short moment with a friend and perfumer Stephanie Bakouche. We talked and we smelled together a couple of her newly developed fragrances for Chabaud. It’s always nice to connect after not seeing each other for 6 months and to smell the results of someone’s work.
My final meeting on Friday was with Marina Sersale of Eau d’Italie and Altaia. With Eau d’Italie they celebrate 15 years of existence. Their 15th fragrance (meaning they were doing 1 each year) is named Easy to Love. It’s a light fig scent brightened with peony and honey. Last release from Altaia was Purple Land (2018) and it was an interesting perfume. Slightly tropical, with guava, papaya but also green because of muguet and it had musky-ambery drydown.
And so the clock reached 6 PM meaning that Friday at Esxence was about to end. But it wasn’t the end of the day in general for many of us. In the evening, together with Elena we attended a Masque Milano Party at 10 Corso Como (this party is a staple for couple of years now), arriving fashionably late because I had to grab a piece of pizza at Eataly as a substitute of a dinner which I didn’t have on that night. Well… if it wasn’t enough you should know that after a couple of cocktails and snacks there we hopped on a metro to crash another party, this time by Nishane. We also met with Ana plus her sis and with Dana. We didn’t party that long because we had to come back before midnight – otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to use metro anymore to go back. But in the end we were all happy that we made it to both parties. That Friday was a really good day if you ask me.