It’s so unfair that awaiting for our special moments takes such a long time but when they finally arrive it takes less than a blink of an eye for them to be gone and only thing left is good memories and finding something new to look forward to. Same applies to Esxence. I’ve been waiting for the eighth edition of this multinational fragrance fair for months. Last week before it felt especially long and once I got to Milan the hours were rushing like crazy. 3 days passed way too fast. Can’t believe 2016 edition is now over. But that’s the reality. Only thing that explains the speed of those 72 hours is the fact that I had so much fun and enjoyed absolutely every minute of the show.
On Wednesday, 30th of March, after I spent approximately 12 hours on a train to Warsaw, on a bus to the airport, on a plane to Bergamo and on a bus to a city center I was finally in Milan. Arriving every time at Milano Centrale station made me learn its surroundings so I knew exactly which way to go to reach the room I booked via AirBnB. I got there around 22:30 so you can imagine the only thing I could think about at that time was a comfortable bed. I unpacked quickly and fell asleep fast.
DAY 1 – 31st of March
The next day I woke up at around 8:30. I felt refreshed, my energy got restored over night and it was THE day I was waiting for. After having a light breakfast and preparing little sweet packages I wanted to gift to my friends I put on my best clothes and was ready to go. I booked like the most convenient place to stay – it was just on the opposite side of the street. Piazza Lina Bo Bardi was just 5 minutes away. For a 2nd year in a row Esxence took place there, at the Mall. Upon my arrival the place was already crowded, I queued in a line to press registration desk. It didn’t take long there before I received my press pass. This time they didn’t forget to put me on the list of journalists & bloggers. At 10:30 everyone gathered at the entrance because Silvio Levi, Esxence co-founder began his speech. He didn’t talk for long and then the Italian flag striped ribbon was cut in half, marking the opening of the fair. Since that moment everyone could start discovering.
I first stopped at Carner Barcelona stand – it was one of the first ones after entering and that very moment they were not busy yet so I though that was a good chance for me. It was good to reunite with Joaquim and Sara Carner and now also Francisco Gratacos who is my friend for 3 years now. After warm welcome of hugs and kisses I was invited to sit with them to discover what’s new. I was introduced to Costarela – a new addition to their collection. It’s a beautiful, mediterranean citrus with many warm elements such as saffron or amber. It will be perfect for summer.
Second discovery of the day was new perfume by Rania J. – Cuir Andalou, which serves a powerful blast of a strong, black leather that becomes softer with time and reveals more suedey side as well as spicy notes. This is probably one of those fragrances you will either love or hate, depends if you are into cuir or not at all. Opening felt overwhelming but the perfume is not overdone.
Few steps away I found a dear friend, Tanja Bochnig who was presenting her April Aromatics line of natural fragrances. We spent quite a lot of time together during those 3 days, I even took care of her stand on day 1 when she wanted to have a lunch and some fresh air. We had a lot of fun together. She wasn’t introducing anything new prepared especially for Esxence but Purple Reign is fairly new so that counts as well. Her stand was simple yet elegant.
Next in line I visited a stand of Aedes de Venustas. Now, this brand is one of the luckiest ones because so many magazines talk about their fragrances and high quality always makes people curious about their next launch. New perfume doesn’t disappoint. Cierge de Lune, hosted in an amber glass bottle smells like a sensual, carnal vanilla of a dark shade. It’s also spicy, bright and warm. It’s facets shimmer like a gemstone. I’m sure many will love it even if for experiencing its full beauty you might have to wait until fall because I feel it will smell much better when it gets colder. It is always funny to meet Olivier Le Didroux there, a memorable thing is that he changes languages smoothly as he talks, so whatever he kept saying it was partially English and partially French.
The next perfume I was looking forward to trying was a new creation by Maison Gabriella Chieffo. We’ve exchanged kisses with Gabriella and proceeded to smell their latest release. I read about it just one day before my departure to Italy so I knew something… but the perfume itself felt really good. The combination of fresh, green tones on top, milky, floral heart (fig, narcissus) and warm, woody base felt fitting altogether. Also the imagery of beautiful young woman being accused of being a witch and convicted to burning seems very much Gabriella Chieffo style.
Little Puredistance stand was the next stop for me. It was great to see the same four familiar faces there and there was also a new girl to help this time. On the first day I didn’t stop there for long as I had a scheduled meeting the next day so I knew I will get my share of news from them.
Another discovery I made on Thursday were two new extraits from Nishane Istanbul. Mert Guzel and Murat Katran gave me an introduction to their new creations. First of them is named Fan Your Flames and starts with a milky coconut that later evolves into molases-like sweet rum accord blended with tobacco. Hundrer Silent Ways is a seductive floral-fruity-gourmand combo of mandarin, peach, iris, white flowers and lots of vanilla and sandalwood. Both of them are extremely powerful and should be sprayed carefully. Personal favorite among these two was Fan Your Flames.
After a lunch break and a breath of fresh air (or rather not a fresh air – believe it or not but just outside The Mall there were so many smokers. Hard to believe so many people in the industry enjoy cigarettes so much) I visited Cerine Vasseur of Evody Parfums. She showed me new Onde 7 which smells intensively of honey, cinnamon and vanilla. She also re-introduced me to 3 older launches that had to be reformulated. I will have to do some comparisons with old samples later.
In the middle of the day I met with Megan (Megan in Sainte Maxime) who made a last-minute decision to come to Milan for Esxence. She arrived at some point when day 1 was already ongoing but it seems we met there shortly after she made it to the fair. Since then we were smelling things together. We virtually visited Rio by smelling Olfactive Studio Still Life in Rio. I knew the perfume earlier (review) but was happy to smell again. And it was great to meet Celine Verleure.
Une Nuit a Bali presented Murmure des Dieux. The perfume was inspired by a Balinese ritual of young girls making sacrifice of some floral wreath. I have to admit this was heck of a weird perfume. It smelled mostly of cooked rice aroma combined with frangipani, star anise, ozonic notes and some more. To me it was one of those very conceptual perfumes that you might want to smell for evaluation purposes but you probably wouldn’t like to wear it on your skin.
Closer to the end of the day we went to smell fragrances made by Pissara Umavijani, perfumer of debuting Parfums Dusita. We both have quite enjoyed her three scents though each of us found a different favorite in the collection. The packaging was also very sublime.
If I remember correctly, the last stop on Friday was a booth of Neela Vermeire Creations. Shortly before Esxence I approached Neela to ask if she’s preparing any new launch for Esxence. She wrote back she’s not but she also suggested to stop by and see how things are doing. As Megan & I came to the stand we noticed that brand introduced a novelty. Take Two is an alternative to NVC fragrances hosted in the gorgeous bottles the brand is using. Putting it simple, Take Two are two 15 ml vials of fragrances in a simple travel vial bottle decorated with golden Ashoka wheel design. Fragrance is in a rectangular box and inside they are packed separately making it perfect for splitting among 2 people or using one as a gift. This is a bow to those who can’t afford a flacon.
First day of Esxence was coming to an end. In the evening I had my first encounter with Yukiko (The Perfume Magpie) who arrived in late afternoon on Friday. We had a dinner together (it was very delicious and also fairly cheap) – I shared some tips with her as it was her first time at Esxence as well as I poured onto her my favorites of the day. It was a fantastic start of Esxence. When I was there I didn’t feel like I accomplished much but now that I have written a day 1 report it seems like I’ve managed to do quite a few things. Part 2 covering Friday & Saturday will follow soon.