Esxence, Milan, is always an exciting event but this year felt extra special with the conference and trade show having taken a break of several years due to the ongoing covid-19 pandemic.
The format of the four-day event is basically trade show in nature. A labyrinthine walkway weaves its way through a maze of stands, each housing one of some 280+ perfume brands vying for attention and keen to present their wares to members of the trade and press and then, latterly, members of the public.
As you may imagine, I smelled an amazing amount of perfume during the four days of the event. New favourites will doubtless emerge over the next few months as I work my way through the samples I was gifted, but here is the first part of the brands and fragrances which immediately caught my eye, and nose, during the event.
A firm favourite of us here at The Sniff, I was excited to hear that Angela was ready to release two new fragrances as part of a duo of oudh-based scents. It’s been a while since we have seen a new release from this intelligent and Gothic house, so to get two scents at once is very exciting.
The fragrances aren’t out yet, but one of the scents is fresh and upbeat, and the other has the most scintillating strawberry accord. Juicy, sticky, sweet, it doesn’t get overpowered by the oudh. More on these fragrances soon.
No trip to Esxence is complete without a visit to the Pierre Guillaume stand. Pierre kindly talked to us about his new fragrance, Dialogue with Venus, which is a celebration of female empowerment and a rather beautiful scent to boot. With notes of vanilla, sea spray, ylang ylang, peach, sandalwood and white musk, Dialogue with Venus combines femininity with sensuality, a fragrance with a strong character with a sense of softness and grace.
Along with the new fragrance, we had the chance to try the dark blue exclusives line which has recently been revamped and revitalised. The standout from that range was Femme En Smoking which is a gorgeous conjuring of a woman in a tuxedo. With notes of black calla lily, cardamom, incense, iris, honey, cedar, sandalwood, Femme En Smoking has to be one of the jewels in the crown of this creative and focused house. A superb creation, this is one which will haunt us no doubt about it at all.
A new house to us here at The Sniff, Anfasic Dokhoon were showcasing a form of AI which would predict a scent for you based on words you typed in, a recording of your voice or a video. Whether it was by AI or by luck, the algorithm pointed me in the direction of Arqa Shay, a beautiful sweet oud fragrance which sings in the heat. A blend of labdanum, vanilla, oudh and amber, Arqa Shay is the sort of addictive, spicy scent which I will keep going back to for more – really beautiful and rather different.
Manos had to be one of the friendliest and most welcoming people presenting at the fair, and he whistled through his perfumes in record time for us. Many of the scents are thrilling, with Immortelle being an absolute delight. It’s strong, sweet, nuanced and really packs a punch, but at the same time is soothing and comforting. Manos has a new release in the works and coming soon which takes his signature approach and boldness and applies it to fig. It’s a gorgeous new scent and one which is very much worth looking out for the arrival of!
If, like me, you find milky fragrances just the most soothing thing around then you need to stop what you are doing and check out Lait Concentre by Chabaud. This elegant and understated French house have made the best milk scent I have ever smelled (and believe me I have smelled a LOT of milk fragrances). Lait Concentre is both wearable and delightful, a beautiful fragrance which will offer some soothing respite in our troubled times. The rest of their line is lovely too, but this one for me was a total stunner.
A really interesting new house making both perfumes and scented candles, Tobba really impressed us with their poise and presentation. A standout fragrance from them is the beautiful Serendipity. With notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, saffron, rose, rock salt, sandalwood, vanilla and musks, this fragrance talks about luck, about balance and about finding a little place of harmony in the world, where all the stars align for you.
The Tobba scents aren’t overly bold or brash, but they are a bit different and have a character all of their own. One to watch for the future.
Another new brand (to us at least), Mesonsol (meaning heart of the sun) fuses oudh with interesting pairings. My favourite from the three scents they currently offer was O which is a bright combination of oudh and orange. It feels new, fresh and unlike other oudh fragrances smelled before. A very nice combination which is elegant and very approachable if you aren’t all that into oudh.
Sly John’s Lab are a new brand from the creators of M.Int Parfums. The idea behind the new brand is a pared back, stripped down scent line designed to appeal to those who want a more straightforward wear than the original, very complex M.Int scents. Despite this toned down approach, the house have still utilised the talents of very good perfumes to formulate the scents.
The standout to me from this new line was Cherry Passion which includes a very beautiful and very fulsome cherry accord. It leaps out of the bottle and is effusive, energetic and fun.
Well crafted, well thought out, and rather lovely. These were our first impressions of meeting Argentinian perfume house, Frassai. Many of their line were really beautiful, including Verano Porteno which we have already reviewed as part of the HooHaa subscription box. This is a house which oozes coolness and calm. Their latest fragrance, Victoria, is a riotous clash between tuberose and oud. It’s fruity, floral, spicy and unique with a lychee note which adds a sweet, juicy facet. Whilst my favourite from the house may always remain Teisenddu, Victoria is definitely giving that one a run for its money!
My overall take-home impressions from Esxence were that perfumery is both alive and kicking very well indeed. The level of creativity – even where brands have tried to calm down or pare back fragrances – remains very high. We’ll be taking a deeper look at trends and more stand out fragrances in the next article.
The other stuff
All images by The Sniff. We were gifted samples from all these brands, none of whom had any expectation of us reviewing them or their brand.