Esxence 2023 – part 1

Esxence is the largest trade show of the niche perfume world. This year it was back, bigger, brighter and bolder than ever before. A colossal 300 brands showcased their wares as 10,000 visitors descended upon MiCo in Milan for four days of fragrance and festivities.

We visited the fair again this year and this is our roundup of just some of the amazing brands who caught our eye (and noses) this fragrant adventure.

Experimental Perfume Club

Experimental Perfume Club are a brand I have smelled in the past, but hadn’t had chance to meet with or smell the whole collection at once. Esxence was an opportunity to remedy that! Their Essentials collection is based on the concept of layering, and, as such is split into Top, Heart and Base note dominant scents which can either be worn alone, or combined for a unique experience. A second collection, the Signature line, contains fragrances which come already combined and ready to wear.

I already own (purchased) Rose Rhubarb, and was seduced by Tonka Sesame when I visited the stand at the fair. The brand were showcasing a new scent in the Signature line, Tonka Extraordinaire, which showcases the vivacity of tonka bean to stunning effect and is rapidly becoming a new overall favourite from the line for me as it includes Tonka Sesame elements – the best of both worlds!

Son Venin

If understated yet luxurious minimalism is more your thing then the new release from Son Venin, Ambr Super, might be up your street. As you can imagine, this is a lovely ambery scent with oodles of woody overtones, but it isn’t too sweet nor sickly as ambers can sometimes be. Thoroughly modern, very wearable, and almost urban in tone, this is a versatile scent which will be enjoyed by all ages and genders. Don’t rush to the shops just yet though – the scent is due to release sometime in the summer.


This brand was a new discovery for me at the fair this year and I am so glad that I stopped by to smell their wares. They were showcasing three new scents: Sense of Burj Al Arab (only available at the Burj Al Arab in Dubai), Darling Bogota, Blind for Love, and Amour Brut.

Sense of Burj Al Arab is deliciously fruity and wonderfully moreish and my favourite from the new ones. I expected dark and oudy, and whilst there is a sense of depth and richness about the composition, the fruity start to the fragrance is beautiful and works incredibly well in the heat. I dearly hope that they decide to make this fragrance more widely available as it is delicious and sumptuous and worthy of a large audience.


Agatho are a brand which fuse the perfumery art with a ceramic type of art in the bottles that they present their fragrances in. They have three new releases which are taking this concept to the next level. Brick-like shapes of white porcelain enclose a greeny blue glass flacon, representing vulnerability and preciousness. Buy this and you are buying a sculptural piece that you are going to want to display as well as a fragrance to wear.

My favourite from the new collection was Hera, which has all those luxurious and sumptuous connotations synonymous with the brand, but also including the delicacy and lightness of orange blossom, all resting on a woody, musky base.

Carner Barcelona

Carner Barcelona exhibited a surprise return to form with their latest release, Revolucion. This strangely metallic and leathery composition is lifted by orange blossom, before descending into an incense and leather base. It’s powerful, and exhibits the guts and strength of character that some of the brand’s older releases enjoyed. Definitely something which needs many wears to understand, so watch out for a full review on this one coming up in the future.

New Notes

New Notes aren’t a brand that has crossed our desks before, but their new release, Latte di Cherry, delighted with its realistic rendition of a succulent cherry accord. Not an easy thing to pull off in perfumery, but one which is done to perfection in this composition.

Astrophil and Stella

Taking a tour through the Astrophil and Stella fragrances is like taking a tour through the ages, with scents which all seem linked, but which all seem to have stepped from different eras. It’s fascinating to work through the compositions to find the similarities as well as the differences. They were showcasing a new fragrance at Esxence this year, Shanghai 1930. The fragrance is a very green type of tea which was unusual and unlike anything else I smelled at the fair this year.

Other fragrances from the Astrophil and Stella line which also turned heads included the intriguing Into The Oud, which isn’t like any other routine oud you have smelled before, being lighter and almost playful in tone, there was also the fabulous Madam M, a dangerous, seductive woman in perfume form, and the shiny, ambery delight of Amberlievable.

Trying the scents from this brand really made me kick myself that I hadn’t had chance to experience them before, but grateful that I was able to rectify that in Milan.

Angela Ciampagna

Favourites of The Sniff, Angela Ciampagna was showcasing three new fragrances, each containing a different take on oud, including one which pared oud with strawberry, and another which was oud and orange blossom. All the new scents form part of the Virtus line, they are bold, characterful, and nuanced in a way that is representative of Angela’s unique composition style. The new scents are all worth checking out, especially if you are an oud connoisseur.

Pierre Guillaume

Another favourite of ours here at The Sniff, Pierre Guillaume, was showing two new compositions: Costume Liquide, and L’Air and L’Eros. These thoughtful and delicate compositions evoke a kind of gentle stillness and quiet contemplation, bucking at least one of the trends for big and bold scents that was in evidence at the fair. Costume Liquide is violets made cold, metallic and moreish. It isn’t the sort of scent I would usually gravitate to, but the more I smell it, the most I find it utterly beguiling.

L’Air and L’Eros is an “abstraction of tonka”. I almost like to understand it as tonka viewed through a kaleidoscope so that different facets are visible in unusual orders and patterns. This scent is a kissing cousin of Tonka Bodykon, the previous release from the brand, but lifts that tonka sumptuousness with a lilac accord at the start – very evocative of wafts of lilac being brought to you on a cool breeze – and a white cacao note in the base. It’s an abstract scent for sure, but one which is incredibly wearable and very versatile to boot.

The summary

The Esxence fair this year felt renewed with a sense of excitement and optimism, but that was tempered by economic uncertainties and supply shortages. Nevertheless, it feels as if the perfume industry is turning to face a future which has been shaped by the last few years, but not defined or destroyed by them.

There was much to enjoy and discover, more than ever before, and inevitably, as the dust settles new, quieter favourites will emerge from the samples picked up during the four days. We will bring you those discoveries as and when they reveal themselves.

We were gifted samples of scents by most of the brands listed here, with no strings attached.


3 Comments Add yours

  1. rickyrebarco says:

    I’d love to sample the Astrophil and Stella fragrances. Are they sold in the US?


    1. The Sniffer says:

      Their website says that they are available at The Scent Room in LA, so perhaps they have samples? Here is their stockists list:


  2. rickyrebarco says:

    Thanks! I saw that, too, but the Scent Room doesn’t have anything listed yet from Astrophil and stella. It’s a fairly new business so I’m sure it will take some time.


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