Pitti Fragranze 2022, B2B exhibition of artistic perfumery hosted in Stazione Leopolda Florence from 16th to 18th September, brought together perfumers, brands, manufacturers, distributors, perfume critics, and publishers.
When re-thinking key words of the just finished 20th edition of Pitti Fragranze 2022, two words came upfront: authenticity and change.
The exquisite program, the well-thought theme – 5 senses -accompanied by smartly chosen keywords Uniqueness and Authenticity, and the accent on the Rose, once again made me feel blessed and fortunate to be a part of Pitti Fragranze.
The number of exhibiting perfume brands gave me the privilege and the opportunity to explore, not run, as if this exhibition anticipated my capabilities of sensing, thinking, and feeling without being overloaded and stuffed over the top.
I had time to do everything I wished:
At the end of the program I attended, I didn’t run directly to the next stand, or from one stand to another.
I dropped by the brands I liked more than once.
I also took my time right on the spot to rethink the new information I collected, even to contemplate the messages I gathered along the way, without that awful feeling that I’m wasting precious minutes on something I can and should do after Pitti Fragranze 2022 ends.
I enjoyed the spontaneous moments of fun with colleagues and friends who, like me, took it slow and enjoyed Pitti’s beautiful atmosphere:
RAW by Mane: Rose – reinventing the iconics
RAW is a spectacular part of the Pitti Fragranze 2022 program. Led by the MANE team, this format offers quality insights into perfume materials and biotech innovations and the unique opportunity to learn by smelling and listening to the experts and perfumers.
When Pitti Fragrance announced that the theme of this year’s RAW by MANE would be the rose – the iconic queen of flowers, I jumped!
This year’s RAW presenting team included Melanie Duhamel, Fragrance Division Director, MANE Italy, Spain and Portugal, Cyrill Gallardo, Ingredients Director MANE EMEA, Mathilde Voisin, Marketing Manager MANE EMEA, and Mathiew Nardin, the perfumer at MANE.
“Rose is a rose is a rose” is the truth on a symbolic level and if you’re not into perfumery, and if you are, smelling the different materials coming from the different roses is an exhilarating experience:
One by one, I got to smell essences, absolutes and the biotech derivations coming from very different, but well-known roses: rose centifolia, grown in Southern France/Grasse and rose Damascena, grown in Bulgaria, Turkey, and the Middle East.
Mane exclusively presented brand-new materials derived from the Crimean rose, a different sort, from the fields of Moldova.
As a cherry on top, Mathieu Nardin prepared the exemplary composition, a perfume made with presented materials: a perfume called “Cuir de Rose” was made for enjoying and learning, and provided back-and-forth unique experience of smelling and comparing the effects of the different materials in the perfume.
Three different roses, 10 materials, 5 rose accords and the perfume!
What a spectacular way to train the nose, while learning the methods of production and comparing the different effects the raw materials create from the blotter!
View the full RAW by Mane presentation HERE.
The Upgraded presentations
L’Osmothéque’s new gown
The change in the presentation L’Osmothèque presented is amazing: the new stand feels like jumping right from a carriage to the WARP, without losing any of the charm and historic allure the carriage provides!
View the full gallery HERE, and scroll through the perfumes exhibited at L’Osmothèque stand.
In a new gown, L’Osmothèque boldly presented itself as a centrepiece of any space, anywhere – and rightfully so:
On the top of the high, bright, glass centre-pillar L’Osmothèque’s name out-tops the stands while mirroring everything in its surrounding. What a symbolism!
The floor plan forms a circle:
The central pillar branches symmetrically on four sides, into the four illuminated surfaces where the reconstructions from the L’Osmothèque’s collection are exhibited.
Functionally, the stand presents a lesson in accessibility and respect, as it is fully open to each personal choice: you can start exploring from the middle, go back or forward, cover the whole circle, or not – you are welcome to explore in your way.
The kind L’Osmothèque team is there, ever-helpful and ever-smiling.
I’ve been returning to the stand many times during Pitti Fragranze: mostly to stop and smell the roses, again and again.
Especially for this occasion, L’Osmothèque presented seven beautiful rose-centred creations: see them all in the pictures. I forgot how good Lutens Sa Majeste La Rose smells, and I am very grateful for being able to dive my nose into the youngest rose exhibited – Lazarus Douvos’ Rose 1845, a perfume created by Christophe Laudamiel I heard great things about.
Thank you, L’Osmothèque!
At Mansfield stand, testing Neo, the perfume by Antonio de Curtis. The experience of smelling while riding a fast bike.
THE FACES OF AUTHENTICITY
There’s no recipe for authenticity.
Unlike uniqueness, which is much easier to pinpoint, authenticity has countless faces, but none in particular. It has delicate and spiritual roots in sensing and believing, because it comes from within, and is recognized and appreciated from within:
Our perception of authenticity rises from what we’ve learned, but also from how our smell is touched, how our skin is heard, how our lips are seen, and our eyes are smelled – and from what our 5 senses tell us we start to believe.
So, opposite to how I approached the Alchemical Wall, I let my 5 senses guide me and decide.
OLIVIER DURBANO – 18:9 Moldavite GREEN LIGHT
Meeting Olivier Durbano is always a very soul-touching and profound experience. If I had to choose a stand on the Esxence where I could I can “just be” – that would be his.
As his 18 perfume, he presented 18:9 Moldavite Green Light: a classic, timeless and vivacious creation built around the angelica.
The bright and green composition moved me on a first sniff: through light, it possesses inner strength and is at the same time soothing and vibrating, energetic and calming, fresh and deep.
The perfumes Mr Durbano creates are true expressions of his spirit, up to the point when I feel that by smelling his compositions, he’s letting me inhale the layered expression of himself.
ANTONIO ALESSANDRIA – A NEW ROSE/CIGAR PERFUME
Antonio Alessandria has the authentic talent to create short, but striking and always personal motifs that burst with vividness, Sicilian colourite and warmth, and then translate them into voluminous and complex perfumes.
The exquisite collection of 9 beautiful, well-crafted, and truly artisanal perfumes is about to get the 10th member: it still doesn’t have the name, but is s-t-u-n-n-i-g.
The perfume with a still unknown name is inspired by his family story, coming from his grandmother and grandfather about their first date. He was carrying the rose for the girl he fancied, and was at the same time smoking a cigar…
The sumptuous, swirling, dark and glittering marriage of crimson rose and amazingly vivacious tobacco cast a spell on me: it made me wish to just sit somewhere where I could be alone and just explore it from my wrists. For hours.
At the end of each working day at the fair, I usually go back to pick my scent of the day and wear it for the dinner in the town, or the off-fair events. But, at the end of my Pitti Fragranze Day 1, I did not do that:
Unnamed beauty was still shining on my wrists, making it impossible to wish for anything else.
I caught it in the evening air on the streets of Florence, the development surprised me each time I brought my wrists to my nose. Finally, the new perfume Antonio Alessandria created was the last thing I thought about before I fell asleep.
We will know the name at the time of the launch.
The face of authenticity, if it deceivingly seems simple, may sometimes be considered self-understandable. But, that is so until you take a good look around.
Essential Parfums stands for the face of the reincarnated authenticity in honouring what is truly essential:
A well-crafted collection of perfumes, all created by excellent perfumers, in simple and nice bottles, accompanied with a sustainable and transparent approach and smartly measured, in today’s terms even understated marketing – all that at a very affordable price.
The brand launched its first perfume in 2018, but my first contact with the brand happened three months ago, during this Esxence. I will be forever grateful to the colleague who pointed me to the Essential perfumes stand.
During this summer I went through half of a 100 ml bottle of Fig Infusion, the latest release created by Nathalie Lorson. What in June seemed like the beginning of a beautiful friendship, in August became a love that grows in both directions: from what I learned about the brand and what I smell and feel.
The owner of the brand, Geraldine Archambault discovered that the next perfume will be patchouli-themed, and Essential Parfums, is preparing to launch the refillable bottles.
FRANCESCA BIANCHI – UNSPOKEN MUSK
Sometimes it is enough to close your eyes while inhaling the perfume: no name is needed, no information of a brand – the authentic and unique handwriting is so strong that you can not miss it, even if the creation you are smelling is still unknown.
That’s Francesca Bianchi‘s face of authenticity.
The launch of Unspoken musk took place on Pitti Fragranze, and this Francesca Bianchi’s release is a wild pet.
Unspoken musk dominantly has the animalic profile, and the gentler, purring side of the perfume is not quite unspoken, but you surely have to tame the beasts inside to get the hidden, softer side of the pleasure.
TOBBA PARFUMS – TENDRESSE D’AUTOMNE
I skipped the visit to Tobba Parfums during this Esxence because the crowd around their stand was for me impossible to handle.
“We did not expect it, and it took us by surprise…”, said Jasper Lie, the perfumer and co-founder of the brand at the beginning of an honest and open presentation of a very nice, well-thought collection consisting of 6 perfumes.
I am more than pleasantly surprised by the sophisticated handwriting in total, but one perfume stepped out:
Tendresse d’automne gave me chills, my authentic and involuntary reaction to the perfumes I like without thinking. I love when that happens because this reaction can’t be faked and I usually think no further, even in cases like this, when there’s a lot to think about.
While Mr Lee was telling me that Tendresse d’automne is inspired by his childhood memory of how his mother smelled, I was inhaling the delicate fluffy, soft-floral/aldehydic composition.
It feels classic to the bone, and at the same time fresh and innovative as morning dew.
I picked Tendresse d’automne for my Scent of the Pitti Day 2. That says it all.
OLFACTIVE PHARMACY – TILIA and BETULA
Olfactive Pharmacy is a German apothecary brand from Köln, founded by the pharmacists Oliver and Holger Dubben. They caught my eye because of the coherent visual branding that follows the story and the concept, quality packaging and three interesting perfumes.
I liked on-the-spot Tilia and Betula – the interesting takes on linden blossoms and birch – light, wearable as a go-to, but each with a twist and the character.
The alchemical wall by Alessandro Gualtieri
That was a self-exploring experience!
Luckily for me, the Pitti Fragrance Organizers waited until Day 3 to reveal what happens once you reach the end of the long, long waiting line and face the entrance to the Alchemical Wall. So, I did not know what to expect: the colleagues who already had their experiences about what is happening on the other side were reluctant to speak about it, until I had my own experience, too.
While we were standing in line, one nice tall gentleman was observing spontaneous communication and reactions between my colleague and me, and then said that he is glad that we are entering before him because our faces will tell him what to expect.
I knew exactly how he felt – – –
After the black-painted hallway leading to the unknown, the minimalistic space opened:
On the wall right in front of me – the clear directions from Mr Gulatieri.
On the wall to my left were the shelves full of same-looking, empty-labelled bottles.
Quite unexpectedly, I felt anxious:
Which bottle to pick, which to label with the name of my trouble?
Which sentence to break, spilling the perfume out like the blood is spilt from a crashed body?
Then, I spent a moment or two on deciding my role:
Should I play safe, be just a journalist reporting from within the installation, and pick a nicely presentable, and universally troubling word,
or should I give myself in, get a properly cathartic experience, and probably not publish – much?
The words posing the targets on the wall to my right looked like they are crying and bleeding the perfume.
In the minimalistic space saturated with traces of other peoples’ catharsis, the black and white quietness resonated with confrontation, fight, and struggle.
I suddenly felt just:
I am NOT emotionally participating in this IN ANY WAY.
I’ve had my share of experiencing the Marina Abramović exhibition, thank-you-very-much, and now I know myself better.
I thought about the idea of just throwing a nameless bottle to the wall for a while, but that would be wrong – destruction is always easier if we de-personalize or detach ourselves from what we destroy.
I took a pencil, and wrote a nicely presentable, but still powerful word that discloses absolutely nothing personal:
Can you imagine the word “WAR” featuring a safe word?
I couldn’t until I faced the Alchemical Wall.
I threw my bottle to the wall – – –
and – – – it did not break.
It happened because I faked my involvement.
I regretted it, immediately, and – I did not regret it at all.
However, the magic the installation created surpassed the clear instructions and the broken bottle/spilt perfume symbol – it was the experience that won.
I stepped outside with quite a few questions answered:
I knew I could not deliberately break a bottle of perfume, but the experience of not wanting to smell the perfume I was very curious about was utterly new:
It was because I didn’t want to connect the strongest memory of all – the olfactive one – with the act of destruction.
The experience also made me realize why I, among other reasons, refused the idea of labelling the bottle I picked with the name of my precise and intimate struggle:
The choice I had made me aware of the fact that this would be the first time that I’m naming someone’s perfume.
So, since I decided to participate in the naming of my bottle of trouble, instead of just crushing the empty label into the wall, I also decided that I want a different and uniquely personal context, and withhold my personal touch.
There were more questions answered, naturally, but, sorry, I am just a reporter.
I don’t know what the gentleman behind me managed to read from my face when I exited.
Damn, even I could not be sure what my face would have told me at that moment.
But, even if he had asked, I would not have told him anything, except, maybe:
Source Adage Fragrances – The LEGENDARY FIG event
Source Adage is definitely a brand to watch.
It is a New York-born brand, founded in 2015. by Christopher Draghi and Robert Dobay.
Capitalising first 7 years of successful business, the founders and creative directors opened a new chapter and relocated their brand and their life to Italy.
Source Adage organized the special event in a beautiful Studio Dimore in the centre of Florence, very near Santa Maria Novella.
I had the pleasure of smelling three perfumes from their US collection, that were re-made for the EU market: C’i’an, Aétai, and Monto’ac, all three very nice.
I liked Monto’ac – a freshly green, airy, and aromatic perfume built around sage, oakmoss, tobacco, and leather, and was captured by C’i’an, an elegant composition based on the juxtaposition of fresh and moist sweet apple and uplifting, coldish juniper and mint.
The creative duo presented the two perfumes fully made in Italy, that will be launched at the end of the year, and I am looking forward to better exploring Clouds, a composition inspired by the moody spring sky.
I am sensing that Pitti Fragranze passes through some change, too: this year’s edition presented a noticeably smaller number of perfume brands.
The way we sense does not change, but our senses fine-tune differently, too.
Maybe the biggest challenge in all kinds of changes is to be and to remain authentic while the world transforms, trends and strategies change, old habits are replaced with new ones, and the times we live in become more and more demanding.
Like all events, perfume events rely on the concept of communication and exchange.
In that light, I have surely learned a thing or two about my own complex relationship with the whole concept of the perfume, but my joined senses tell me that instead of the live contact with the unique professional, the installation was a special guest.
I dearly miss the format of the talk.
The 20th edition of Pitti Fragrance was authentic and remains unique: the rounded concept based on presenting artistic perfumery, exhibiting authentic brands, and presenting the outstanding program presents the heart of the best part of the perfumery (the way I see it).
Maybe more than in previous years, I see Pitti Fragranze as the fortress of artistic perfumery, which is not only relevant but – especially in times of big changes – absolutely irreplaceable.