My 2nd day at Esxence was a whirlwind of olfactive stimulus. On that day I managed to discover a couple of new brands as well as visit the stands of brands that are already more established on the market. It was also a bit educational thanks to talks and events taking place in conference room. And outgoing thanks to an evening meeting with Art and Olfaction Awards people and dinner with Tanja. 3rd day was not even one bit less interesting. It was also my final day there.
DAY 3 – 2nd of April
It was a sunny Saturday with a bit of a morning chill. As soon as I arrived at Piazza Lina Bo Bardi where The Mall was located, my steps were directed to the conference room. Each day the fair was opening at 10:30 and on that day it was also the hour of the first event in auditorium. I wanted to attend a lecture titled: “New Fragrances: A ten-years Review, 2006 to 2015” and the speaker for it was Michael Edwards, who became famous thanks to his book “Fragrances of the World” that many of us consider a perfume bible every perfumista should have. I got a chance to meet Mr Edwards the evening before during the meeting with Saskia Wilson-Brown. We talked a bit, exchanged our business cards. And you know what? This got me astonished because when I gave my card to Mr Edwards he reacted “Chemist in the Bottle? I know who you are, I follow your blog” and I felt incredibly humbled. With that in my mind it was even bigger pleasure to listen to his lecture.
During his speech Mr Edwards kept showing us various charts with fragrances categorized in different ways. First one presented total number of fragrances between 2006 and 2015 divided into female, male and shared fragrances. Digits prove that the amount of male and female fragrances is decreasing at a cost of increasing number of unisex offerings. Next chart was a spectrum of fragrances divided into categories such as haute parfumerie, creators, perfumers, heritage and perfumeries. The rest made a focus on fragrance families and sub-families. Of course the main conclusion was that the amount of perfume launches per year is becoming incredibly high but according to Mr Edwards there are still fields that can be further explored, such as fruity or fruity-floral scents for example. Everyone seemed mesmerized by his passionate talking an at the end he received two rounds of applause. Not surprised at all, it was a great lecture.
Off to smell some more perfume, I grabbed Yukiko (The Perfume Magpie) and we went to discover more scents. We stopped by a booth of the brand named Raw Spirit, attracted by their simple, sleek and elegant bottle design. We have smelled 6 of their perfumes and to my surprise – I liked their vetiver the most!
My next stop was Extrait d’Atelier, a new brand that was just debuting at 8th edition of Esxence. They arrived at the exhibition equipped with 3 fragrances, inspired by 3 different craftsman professions. Maitre Couturier was all about the fashion and was supposed to evoke the designer studio. The scent of lavender, violets, woods, musk and aldehydes was reminiscent of smelling a brand new and clean fabric that has just been ironed. Maitre Chausseur stands for a shoemaker and the perfume smells of smoke, leather and resins. The final one was Maitre Joaillier, the jeweller – the perfume was crispy, woody and a bit clean and had that surprising metallic effect!
Then I decided that I want to try the fragrances by Anatole Lebreton. Anatole himself used to be an actor in theatre, then he was also selling fine chocolates and rare teas. Eventually he ventured into perfumery field and as an amateur he started to learn. Finally he launched a perfume collection. I was quite smitten by his L’Eau Scandaleuse, which was a rather bold and captivating mix of tuberose, leather and castoreum. But it was Incarnata, the powdery smell of iris, violet and other notes that was very much like a lipstick, that was a winner for me.
Right beside there was a booth of Angela Ciampagna. I have met her for the first time half a year earlier at Pitti in Florence, she remembered me from back then. I was introduced to a new collection named Cineres consisting of 2 scents bearing names of Ignes and Fauni. Both smelled very unusual to my nose, they had a lot of pungency and richness. Unfortunately the fragrances were finished very shortly before Esxence and the batches are still in the maceration process so there were no samples available, maybe I will get them later.
Later, after I have made a couple of rounds next to their stand on previous days and it was always busy, I got lucky to pass next to Nicolai stand when it was relatively quiet there. At the stand I met the perfumer herself, renowned Patricia Nicolai who shared with me the details of her latest creation. So… she has done an oud perfume – Oud Sublime that sources a real oud oil from Cambodia (priced at 18,000 EUR / kg) She paired it with deep, dark rose, saffron and other spices. When you hear that you first think that it doesn’t smell innovative because there are a couple oud + rose + saffron perfumes out there. Believe me, Oud Sublime is worth the try as I find it really beautiful. The fragrance was presented in a new bottle as well as in a special coffret in which a bottle has a capacity of 250 ml and comes with a refillable small flacon.
Then I met Megan again who was swooshing around Esxence venue left and right because those were her last hours, she was going back home in early afternoon on Saturday. We briefly discussed what we have tried, what we liked and gave each other some recommendation on what was worth attention.
Then I made it to Neela Vermeire Creations stand once again to photograph their gorgeous stand filled with beautiful flowers. I also briefly stopped by Norwegian house of Malbrum stand but they were busy and had nothing new so I didn’t bother to wait.
Maria Candida Gentile was my next stop. After I really fell for Leuco last year I kept checking new things from this brand. This season they have launched Rrose Selavy, inspired by Marcel Duchamp artistic alter-ego. This perfume had a very green opening reminiscent of cut grass and morning dew. The fragrance also incorporates 3 different rose essential oils. It had a retro vibe that is definitely worth exploring.
One of the most occupied stands at Esxence was one of Project Renegades. Why? Because it was a project born from combined forces of Bertrand Duchaufour, Geza Schoen and Mark Buxton. Each of them created one fragrance. Unfortunately I didn’t get to smell them. I think I was repulsed by the tackiness of a bottle. Plus I’m one of those who don’t follow the hype of a perfumer name. As long as I like what I smell, I don’t really care who composed it.
As it was getting closer to the end of the day I kept spending less time at each stand in order to make as many visits as possible. For a few minutes I stopped by a display of Room 1015, who had a debut at previous Esxence. This year the house presented Power Ballad. As explained by Michael Partouche – brand founder, Power Ballad is inspired by the very first kiss in your life. A perfume mixes the mojito-like accord with a smell of a bubble gum and fresh spicy notes.
As part of our lunch break we needed some fresh air for our exhausted noses, so together with Tanja and Yukiko we decided to grab us some food, coffee and go outside. We couldn’t sit right outside the exit because the smell of cigarettes was too intense. Luckily on the rooftop of The Mall there was a small park – a few young trees, some fresh green grass and wooden benches – just enough for us. We enjoyed our meal, had a few funny moments and took a couple of photos together. Then we came back in, Tanja returned to her booth and Yukiko and I continued our exploration.
Attracted by the very refined look of the bottles we decided to stop by and smell the offerings of Dali Haute Parfumerie. The fragrances had a very refined smell to them, they were rich and expensive, done without compromise. Each fragrance was housed in a beautiful bottle with black lacquered cap that on its top was decorated with one of five artworks of Salvador Dali.
Our next stop was at CorsicaEssences a brand that had various things in their offer. At first we smelled very high quality candles, each dedicated to a different season. Even by smelling the glass cloche you could tell that the fragrance in the candle is really strong. Then we moved on to smell 4 personal fragrances. They were also really lovely and they had something different to offer. Finally we also tried room scent diffusers from their offer and those also didn’t disappoint.
Then we tried Nettuno from Mendittorosa. It was a captivating blend of iris and leather with a rather smoky opening phase. The bottle is unusual as the cap is covered with mirror and front of each bottle is decorated with some glass mosaic ornaments. Those decorations are applied by hand ensuring that each bottle of Nettuno will look different. It’s a nice way of having a more personalized version of the scent, even if you cannot exactly influence how it will look like in the end…
Next we have tried Pantheon Roma Dolce Passione, the sweetest perfume I have ever smelled in my career. The smell of hazelnut and dark chocolate was entwining with aroma of honey, strawberries and plums. To me it smelled more alike cherry liquor praline. It was very sweet, seductive, almost toothache inducing but as it kept drying down it was becoming more and more mellow and intriguing. I’m not a gourmand fan myself but I will definitely give this one a try on skin.
Before that I some point I had a short visit at Nu_Be stand. Apparently the brand is changing their name to One of Those. This year they introduced Curium, a perfume inspired by Marie Curie-Skłodowska. It was another perfume at Esxence that was focused on iris accord. In it iris was matched with pepper, red berries, cinnamon and coumarin among other ingredients.
Last minute visits were to a booth of Making of Cannes who debuted in 2015. Together with Yukiko we smelled their 5 perfumes and we were also allowed to smell the not released yet perfume numer 6, done by Cecile Zarokian. It will be introduced in coming months. The shape of a black, 75 ml bottle truly reminded me of a large dice.
Last we did try some offerings from Bahoma London. They had quite a lot of fragrances in their offer but I think what attracted us more were scented candles packaged in fancy jars with animal prints such as zebra, tiger, snake and more. Actually I didn’t smell any perfume there but we got samples so nothing is lost in that matter.
When the clock was showing 18:00, meaning that there are only 30 more minutes until closing, I had to make a round around The Mall to say goodbye to all my friends. After doing that and after having a few more quick chats with friends it was time to leave Esxence. My stay in Milan was almost over. Almost, because in the evening we met with Yukiko again and decided to take a metro to visit Duomo. We took a direct line that made us arrive just in front of the cathedral. We took some photographs there, having fun while doing so and we also had a dinner nearby. Of course we also ventured into Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele so once again I could stand next to Prada boutique.
As it happens since the last couple of years, on Saturday night of the show, Esxence is organizing a themed party for all brand owners, distributors, retailers, shop owners and press people. This year the party was held at Palazzo Giureconsulti, just outside the Piazza Duomo. The theme was La Dolce Vita so many people dressed black & white to match it. I went to the party only for 1 hour because I had to wake up very early the next morning to catch my flight back home. The party with many red lights, stylish music, snacks seemed to last until very late hours. Together with Yukiko and Tanja who was also there we were standing at the balcony, which was having a gorgeous view at Duomo. This was an amazing way to finisz my visit in Milan and to conclude 3rd Esxence in my life.
On Sunday I left at 6:00 in the morning and within 10 hours total I was back home. I truly enjoyed my time spent at Esxence and all the people I’ve met there, be it friends from before or newly met people. From now on it is the time to peacefully go through the numerous samples and decide what I like and what I don’t like.