Pitti Fragranze 2022 – Best of Show
2022 . 10 . 13 |
Pitti Fragranze is the event traditionally marking the end of summer and the turning of a new year for perfumery professionals. Although Covid-19 messed up the 2022 schedule by postponing Esxence just before summer, on September 16-18 the Leopolda Station in Florence gathered almost 1.250 business operators from 50 countries, 13% more than the year before, and more than 200 among journalists, influencers, and media partners.
Among the 160 brands attending the Pitti Fragranze No. 20 edition there were various affirmed ones, even if some distributors regular to the event were noticeably missing. Though, this left the spotlight to newcomers some of which debuting from countries not yet represented in the market.
Starting from the claim of the official communication “Touch my smell, Hear my skin, See my lips, Taste my scent, Smell my eyes”, The 5 senses issue, the edition devoted to the five senses reminds us that the perfume doesn’t involve smell only, but deeply pervades us and encourages us to follow all the connections existing between the senses as a powerful key to unlock a new perception of the world around us, more and more vivid and engaging.
Main protagonist of this multisensory journey was the rose, which was the focus of all the Pitti Fragranze educational events like the usual talk RAW by MANE / “The Rose: Reinventing Iconics”. Showcasing all the Company’s exceptional raw materials palette, the freshly appointed Mane Italia Fragrance Director Melanie Duhamel, the Director Ingredients EMEA Cyril Gallardo, the Marketing Manager Mathilde Voisin and Perfumer Mathieu Nardin, recently awarded by Accademia del Profumo for By Kilian L’Heure Verte as the Best artistic fragrance affiliated brand. The greatest breakthroughs of this overview rediscovering the Queen of flowers are hands down Rose Moldova, a rare cultivar of ancient rose native to Ukraine nowadays grown in Moldova giving for the first time an absolute bearing blackcurrant acidulated crispness and warm tobacco hues. Another beautiful outcome of a continuous innovation is the joyously floral and juicy Litchi Rose obtained by the co-distillation of Bulgarian rose and litchee pulp.
The Osmothèque lands for the first time at Pitti Fragranze represented by the President of the Scientific Committee Isabelle Chazot, who didn’t fail to pay homage to the rose. The exciting round-up of “Trésors de l’Osmothèque” started with Parfum Royal according to Pliny the Elder’s recipe (I century AD), later passed to the XX century with the iconic fragrances of Parisian fashion designers: Paul Poiret with the luxury Le Fruit Défendu (1914) by Henri Almeras who first used the peach note, Pierre Balmain with the fierce Vent Vert (1945) by Germaine Cellier, or again Jacques Fath with the unrivaled Iris Gris (1947) by Vincent Roubert. Special emphasis has been put on the first legendary soliflore of contemporary perfumery: François Coty’s La Rose Jacqueminot (1904) that still strikes nowadays for its modern liveliness. Madame Chazot also underlined how Coty understood the importance of marketing by telling the fabled story where a flacon smashed on the floor of the Magasin du Louvre attracted many customers (malicious mouths say they were his wife’s friends) convincing this way the Director of the Luxury Mall to sell his fragrances.
Pitti Immagine has given great prominence to the Osmothèque assigning it a position of honor welcoming the visitors with a cross display and a wing expressly devoted to the rose featuring creations spanning more than a century till the most recent ones like Frédéric Malle Portrait of a Lady (2010) by Dominique Ropion, and Lazarus Douvos Rose 1845 (2020) by Christophe Laudamiel.
The place to be was the ALCHEMIC WALL conceived by Alessandro Gualtieri as known as “The Nose”, author of Nasomatto and Orto Parisi, as well as this year’s Special Guest. The proof was the steady stream of visitors looking forward to make this cathartic experience until the last minute. Many funny and amazing stories allowed me to live vicariously this sort of collective ritual. Some were shared by who lingered over more or less time while trying to find a negative thought to be exorcised. Other were from people wondering whether the vials to be thrown against the wall figuratively getting rid of the burden contained just plain water or perfume (betting on the notes included). The only deterrent that made me give up from experiencing the installation was the average wait of more than 30 minutes in line, due to the entrance policy to the wall one person at a time. This impacted on people visiting only for a few hours I guess, so I suggest alchemic walls with company for the future.
To follow here is my personal Best of Show far from being exhaustive, for I surely missed something interesting in just three days.
The visit through the booths starts with the ever-present jewelry and scent creator Olivier Durbano, veteran of Pitti introducing his 18th “Parfum de Pierres Poèmes” inspired by a vitreous concretion tha originated billion years ago in Czech Republic from the impact of a massive meteorite. Verging from pale green to deep jade, translucent M:oldavite – Green Light reflects the stellar collision’s light through the sparkling piquancy of elemi and pink peppercorns heralding angelica, the prima Donna of the juice. Its musky vegetal fluorescence resonates with the floral hints in the heart and radiates shamanic swirls of palo santo from the bottom, empowered by a whiff of the brand signature incense.
The italian touch of domestic independent perfumers always gives pleasure. Antonio Alessandria offers a sneak-peek at his next launch once more related to Sicily and to a romantic love story from the post-war period, the one of his maternal grandparents. A young guy smoking a cigar, maybe to look for confident and overcome shyness, declares his love to a girl offering her a rose. The skilled hands of the perfumer distill this inspiration into a passionate kiss between the Queen of flowers and sweet tobacco tinged here with shimmering hues, from the metallic twinkle of thorns to the blushing pulp of succulent fruits for a unique alchemy among the most original proposals. The fragrance name is still top secret but be sure it will be among the most googled of the next months.
Another indie perfumer, Michele Marin also strikes with his creations for EXTRA VIRGO. Established in 2020 by Prince Ne Min Gi of Limbin, a descendant of the last Burmese King Mindon, the house introduces its “Forbidden Botanicals” Collection. In Eastern philosophies plants are manifestations of the Gods on earth and perfume is their soul. Their cultivation and use to awaken the soul are essential to the Myanmar culture. “I’m attracted to perfumes that make you want to eat them, like kissing the one you love” confesses the Prince. If the first creations inspired by fungi and weed signed by Sileno Cheloni are more intimate, the roaring muscular opulence of the three dissolute perfumes based on tobacco, coffee, and cocoa mark a new chapter in the line fully capturing this unapologetic desire, above all in the narcotic Cocoa Ritual made even more unctuous and animalic by a sly pinch of jasmine.
From Royalty to Royalty, let us move from Burma to Hungary with ESTORAS, brand established by Paul-Anton Esterházy as a tribute to his grandfather Prince Antal Esterházy. Enthusiastic racing driver, almost 100 years ago he made headlines with an adventurous tour de force across the Sahara along with his best friend, fearless Count László Almásy who inspired the incredible history of “The Patient English”. The only fragrance in the line is an ode to reckless adventure and to the era of great explorers. Created by independent perfumer Marie Le Febvre (founder of Urban Scents), ANTAL kicks off with the dry breath of desert swallowing us down the red dunes with extreme temperature changes. From the metallic chill of pink peppercorn, Sichuan pepper, and geranium we skip to the aromatic warmth of camphor which unusual balsamic register makes its character memorable. The woody-mineral signature is provided by vetiver, cedarwood and patchouli smoothed by a whiff of tobacco assuring a restrained contemporary elegance.
On his second participation to Fragranze, Tsovak Voskanian is once again a great addition to the independent scenery. Self-taught perfumer based in Yerevan, Armenia his debut tetralogy shows stylistic consistency mixing classicism and freshness with a personal touch. Last year he had me at first sniff with the ‘70s barbershop vibe in Patchouli et memoires, the violet lean elegance of Iris Boisé, the narcotic floral Lonicera de Nuit, and above all with Pèche Chyprée, a contemporary pulpy twist on the chypre just ready to be bitten. Even the latest addition Soir Vert shows Mr. Voskanian makes magic with fruity notes in a crisp vegetal juice dressed up with the juicy insouciance of watermelon and cantaloupe. If one point is a start, two points make a direction and here we have totally a crescendo.
A missing item in the official brand list at first, this brand made a last-minute appearance thanks to its distributor who decided to include it among the other independent ones in his portfolio. Talented British tattoo artist, Freddy Albrighton is a long-time perfumista even before becoming a self-taught perfumer. Anyone who has never read his blog Smellythoughts, certainly recalls his artistic collaboration with Vero Kern for the visual concept “The Rose Tattoo” for Vero.Profumo Rozy.
Decadent rock imagery and a hint of nostalgia make his fragrance line a fascinating mix of classicism, provocation, and imperfection. Charming are 11 Candles in Antwerpen, immaculate white florals and lit candles in a gothic cathedral, or again Bernadette Margaret Evelyn Theresa reinterpreting present-day fruity florals as love letter to women with a dedication to the ‘60s aldehydes perfumes.
Astier de Villatte made a welcome return under the arcades of the Leopolda station after their last appearance in 2016. Established in 1996 in Paris by Benoit Astier de Villatte and Ivan Pericoli, the French house was born as a pottery workshop to renovate the traditional techniques from the XVIII century. Since then, the creative duo has ranged from designing stationery to perfumes, as well as a number of publications among which the atypical tourists guide for bon vivants “Ma vie à Paris” (my life in Paris). The latest collection Trois Parfums Historiques springs from the collaboration between Dominique Ropion and Annick Le Guérer and summarizes in a box an essay with the research of the eminent anthropologist of perfume, as well as three modern-day reconstructions of mythical fragrances. Le Dieu Bleu brings us to ancient Egypt with the mystery Kyphi unfolding wine and incense hints. Aromatic and balmy, Artaban brings back Pliny the elder’s recipe for the Parfum Royal used by Roman patricians of which also the Osmothèque made a reconstruction. Then, Les Nuits reproduces the dusty smell of iris and patchouli housed in a nameless flacon left on her dressing table by novelist George Sand. Moreover, the incense Gerusalem joins the home fragrance line with its oud and olive wood that have a calm-inducing and meditative effect.
The demand for all-natural ecofriendly products by consumers who are increasingly attentive and sensitive is taking hold across both the commercial and the niche segment. Founded in 2018 by Bridget Plant and by the parfumeure-maison Beckielou Brown, the British brand ALTRA fully meets this need. Thanks to a collection of vibrant multifaceted scents reconciling humans and nature in the renewed environmental awareness, they go so far as to say they are more than sustainable, they are Profuture®.
The five 100% natural and cruelty-free scents are housed in a rechargeable glass flacon inspired by natural shapes with comfortable grip. The stylish peacock blue architectural pack is hand-made from recycled paper and contains within also a recycled aluminum recharge. Dualist intrigues with the twofold nature of mimosa blossom, watery and vegetal, yet voluptuously honeyed at once. Then again, for fans of moleculars Altra Skin offers the musky softness of natural ambrettolide extracted from ambrette seeds for layering with the other perfumes, if desired, to magnify lasting power and sensuality.
The home fragrances section for this edition has grown, given the increased interest of the public that spent more time at home inevitably in the past, and today thanks to smart work. Among various debuts, the most amazing is NAO, brand that exudes luxury made in Italy down to the last detail. NAO means boat in Ligurian language, and each scent like a vessel makes us travel caressed by the Mediterranean breeze. Both the purple navy fluted glass bearing a golden monogram, and the two fragrances developed in collaboration with the young Messinese perfumer Fulvio Ciccolo, more ozonic Creuza de ma and more aromatic Natua, bring to life the Ligurian landscape from the coast to the inland. Interesting also the choice of the cylindrical pack like the one of high-quality rhums.
During three days spent in the show, I was able to exchange ideas with several players and consider many items, running into a number of “sins of naivety” common especially in newcomers to this business. So let me close this Best of Show with three suggestions for a successful brand launch.
Coherence – It’s the master key to success. By the way, I love this quote by Milan Kundera “If a love is to be unforgettable, fortuities must immediately start fluttering down to it like birds to Francis of Assisi's shoulders”. If a brand is to be unforgettable, everything must be coherent in every detail, so as to seem an accident to the untrained eye, almost a miracle. This will give an effective credibility to the product. So, if you say you focus on the territory e.g., be careful that most of your manufacturing process is made locally.
Avoid the cliché – If you think a cliché might provide you immediate appeal to the eye of the consumer, sit down and count to ten. A cliché is the most obvious thing that comes to mind, and probably thousand people have come up with that before you, starting with cheap touristic souvenir shops. Therefore, unless you had an epiphany in this regard, avoid falling into copying thousand summaries.
Know thyself – That is, don’t be caught unprepared on the technical details of your product. Especially today, in addition to the usual production information, details about sustainability shall be provided for example. Now even food in shops lists the percentage of recycling of the product and disposal information. So, it’s not a great leap to imagine it will be like that also for the beauty industry in the near future.
If you have questions, or need advice, don’t hesitate to contact the team at Essencional.
Image credits ©Ermano Picco, unless otherwise specified