First be a person who needs people
People who need people
Are the luckiest people in the world..”

Barbara Straisend, People (1968.)

Something old, something new, everything more cherished

After an unwanted two-year pause, Pitti Fragranze, an exhibition of artistic perfumery hosted in Stazione Leopolda Florence, brought together perfumers, brands, manufacturers, distributors, perfume critics, and publishers for the 19th time.

Perfume business had a very hard time withstanding both the limitations of online communication only and Brexit and the languor of both spirit and market. Careful comparisons with previous years were often offset by the excitement that Pitti Fragranze happened at all.

I think the sentence of the 19th Pitty Fragranze should be: “We are finally getting back together!”, and I also felt that way, even though this is the first Pitti Fragranze in which Mirisna participates.

After experiencing anti-epidemic measures, in an almost childishly cheerful way, some people I got to know only through the very limiting online communication seemed closer than I had expected, so let me describe uniting and reuniting in “new normal” times:

Behind the mask – a bright, big smile and light and cautious remarks about the expectations.
Above the mask – the sparkling eyes. The sparkles reminded me of the eyes of a teenager, when he or she finally gets out of the house right to the Town with friends, after being too harshly grounded for something that wasn’t his/her fault:

And the sparkles in the eyes!

I toured both sections: Classico (presenting brands that already exhibited at Pitti Fragranze) and Spring (the new brands, exhibiting at Pitti for the first time). Some of the outcomes of the two-year restrictions were felt in both halls:

Among the new brands, there were those that have been on the market for a while, but due to a two-year pause, they did not have the opportunity to exhibit, and because of that are perceived as new, although they are not.

In the Classico section, a significant number of stands were held by distributors, presenting in one place a handful of brands, some of which, as I learned, before the Covid19 outbreak, had their own stands.

Ralf Schwieger – A Retrospective (1999-2021) and Conversation

For me, the heart of Pitti Fragranze events is Chandler Burr’s Retrospective and Conversation with a perfumer whose art of creation has changed the face of today’s perfumery. For this year’s Pitti Fragranze, its art director chose Master Perfumer Ralph Schwieger.

Though it is, in my own opinion, the list important (but still…), I must mention that my expectations were partially formed and thus needlessly burdened by the majority of previously published visual sources I checked through the years of following Mr. Schwieger’s work:

I believed that I will recognize the man I was so thrilled to meet in person the very second I see him.

In the last 15 years (the Pitti announcement included) Ralf Schwieger was presented with photographs showing his different and more conventional looks, so it took me few seconds to unmistakably extrapolate the person of perfumer, artist, and chemist from a group of people waiting for the Retrospective to begin.
After all, the vision is a most deceivingly reliable sense – lockdown (and media) made me more aware of that, too.

So, the heart of Pitty Fragranze, as I perceive it as a perfume lover and a writer, started with a surprise in a first second and stayed surprising until the very last:

RalfSchwieger 042
Photo: Pitti Imagine – Fragranze, Media gallery

Chandler Burr introduced Ralph Schweiger as a perfumer who, in the context of a perfumers’ age, got into perfumery relatively late, but despite that, in his 22-year career, he created a significant number of perfumes that are now considered works of art. Mr. Schweiger’s opening speech was short and I am conveying it in its entirety:

I am especially thankful that you (Pitti Fragranze) put the artistic side of the perfumery back onto the front line because in the last twenty-thirty years this has been lost, and I am happy that I could at least try to the art in perfumery forward.

You are right, Chandler, I started late, I studied chemistry, I was already 30 years old when I started, so the body of work was not so big, compared to Jean Claude Ellena, who had the honor to be presented here two years ago.

And I’m thinking about Edmond Roudnitska, perhaps the idol of the perfumery of the 20th century, also my idol and the perfumer I most admire. He started in perfumery early on, but he also retired when he was 61, so I still have a little bit ahead of my time to do some masterpieces, hopefully.

Thank you very much for being here.”


RalfSchwieger 045
RalfSchweiger 053
RalfSchwieger 029
RalfSchwieger 033
BABY DOLL (1999.)

– sukreacija s Cecile Matton for Yves Saint Laurent


– commissioned by Frederic Malle for Editions de Parfum Frederic Malle


– commissioned by Nathalie Fiesthauer, naruičitelj Veronique Gautier for Hermes


– commissioned by Sylvie Gantier i Christophe Cervasel for Atelier Cologne


– commissioned by Sylvie Gantier i Christophe Cervasel for Atelier Cologne

FILS DE DIEU (2012.)

– commissioned by Etiene de Swardt for Etat Libre d’Orange


– commissioned by Karl Bradl i Robert Gerstner for Aedes de Venustas

MOAB (2016.)

– commissioned by Erik Kormann i Anne Serrano – McClain


– commissioned by Karl Bradl i Robert Gerstner for Aedes de Venustas

QUINO (2018.)

– naručitelj Christian Bohdan for Helio

LE DIEU CERF (2021.)

– commissioned by Etiene de Swardt for La Seconde Affaire du Pommier

RalfSchwieger 034 1
RalfSchwieger 047
RalfSchweiger 056
RalfSchwieger 007
All photos presented in this block: Pitti Imagine – Fragranze, Media gallery

The Talk

The Talk gave me the opportunity to follow closely the interaction of two very different personalities – the extraordinary perfumer and the extraordinary perfume critic – both of whom I have previously known only from the works they created.
So, for me as a novice on the Pitti Fragranze, the whole Retrospective + Talk format wasn’t just a Ralf Schwieger’s thing, and my interest was, even before the Talk started, doubled:

One of my perfume bookshelves is occupied by the pillar-books of Chandler Burr’s documentarist opus: with a considerable dose of concentration and patience, I have read The Emperor of Scent (2003) and The Perfect Scent: A Year Inside the Perfume Industry in Paris & New York (2008). I also enjoyed reading Mr. Burr’s perfume reviews for the New York Times. As much as I could, I followed his interpretations and theoretical contributions to the paradigms and the discourse of modern perfumery, which reflected also on the text featured above the exhibited perfumes.

During the talk between the very expressive, American-style moderator and the Master Perfumer, I was almost immediately captured by Mr. Schwieger’s refined and heart-melting virtue of patient listening and thinking about what is being said. The next day, on the sidelines of the event, I unexpectedly had the opportunity to experience this Ralph Schwieger’s characteristic in an unplanned, one-to-one conversation.

IMG 20210917 111252 01
Ralf Schwieger – Retrospective (1999-2021)
IMG 20210917 160845 01 1
Ralf Schwieger – the Talk
IMG 20210917 165953 02 01
IMG 20210917 160845 02 01

Moving from one exhibited perfume to another, Mr. Burr gave the Master Perfumer the opportunity to present the perfume material which is significantly important in each of his exhibited creations. While listening to Ralf Schwieger and smelling both perfume and material at the same time, I got the right amount of guidance in thinking, re-thinking, and learning.

IMG 20210917 164900 01

The conversation conveyed a simple perfumer’s explanation of the purpose of tonquitone in Lipstick Rose (the urinary smell of the material really surprised me!), and then he pointed to the significant function of dissonant contrast beneath the surface of a supremely smooth, very feminine composition.

Speaking about the balance of evernyl and vanillin in Vanille Insensee, Mr. Schwieger in a direct and unmasking way mentioned the simplicity of its composition. Further, opposed to oris absolute he used in Iris Nazarena, he named the materials which work as cheap iris substitutes. I certainly did not expect him to go that way, but I was very glad he did that, too.

The story of the creation of the original chord that today represents the olfactive identity of the entire Merveilles collection was also accompanied by his vividly expressed opinion about the flankers in general and was soon after followed by his remark that he is the last perfumer Hermes collaborated, before switching to the concept of in-house perfumers.

While smelling Isobutyl Quinoline (a bitter/green/herbal fragrance material, used in creating leather accords), I was given the opportunity to hear the Master Perfumer’s thoughts on its scented profile (remember the classic chypres?) and I am particularly glad because I had a chance to smell Quino Hello, a man-made material which on its own smells like a rich and complex chord.

Overall, in a rather short time, I gained a preciously unambiguous insight into Mr. Schweiger’s profound refinement in communication, combined with an unexpectedly high dose of openness and criticism towards contemporary perfumery.

Yes, the experience of listening and learning from a perfumer who created perfumes without which I really can’t imagine how empty and limited my personal fragrant communication with the world would be was extraordinary and surprising from the first to the last second.

Having all that in mind, I’m so looking forward to reading The Plum Girl’s already announced text, soon to be published : Ralf Schwieger In Interview: The Sculptor Of Scents / Pitti Fragranze 2021 is about to bring an even closer portrait of a man who marked the art of modern perfumery.

IMG 20210918 WA0007
The unplanned conversation on the sidelines of the event and about a perfume that was not created by Mr. Schwieger.

The trends, the brands, and – the people

I listened to MANE’s Raw format and took the time for Molinard’s presentation on a Century of Habanita (1921-2021).

IMG 20210917 122302
Raw by MANE – The rebirth of enfleurage
IMG 20210917 171643 01
Clément Lerouge-Bénard, the owner and the strategic director of Molinard read the presentation. Take a look at the gallery here.

Based on the significant amount of perfumes I managed to smell, I believe that I will use the new word – massniche – more often than I would like to (For the short explanation, please check The Plum Girl link mentioned above, and thank you, Elena, for your word.).

But, massniche aside, the spirit of Pitti Fragranze is above all based on the synergy of different personalities, because in the center of all events, all perfumes and all individual presentations are – the people of perfumes:

I will cherish in my memory the attentive, very detailed, long-lasting, and serious, but also the very insightfully personalized presentation of Aurora Carrara from UERMI, and also a warm presentation of the Pekji new collection. With curious questions and encouragement for instant feedback, Ömer İpekçi and his wife watched me as I raised my eyebrows in surprise and giggled “Oops!” to the scent that was coming from the blotter.
In the late hours of the night, in a small apartment that, to my delight, was overflown from the outside by the sounds of the lively Florentine street leading to Santa Maria Novella, I thought about women-partners, organizers, and moderators and fell asleep with a smile.

I was enchanted by Olivier Durbano’s touchingly ethereal personality and Pissara Umavijani’s heart-warming cordiality and cheerfulness as much as by the depth of devotion to the true values ​​of artistic perfumery and self-consciousness Andrea Rubini of Rubini Profumi rightfully presented.

I brought home with me the news served in two Masque Milano presentations, both polished to the finest detail, and held by Alessandro Brun (new exclusive Milano collection) and Riccardo Tedeschi (Opera and Le Donne di Masque), as well as the delight with the visual presentation of the new Francesca Bianchi brand Hedonik, which is, by the way, conceptually different. The new perfume smells differently, as well.
“Francesca Bianchi DNA”?
So, try Divine Perversion, and then – if you still have the need for defining – start again.

Right after a conversation in which the Matiere Premiere team announced activities aimed at perfume writers and perfume lovers, and quite inconsistently with my usual restraint when it comes to sharing stories related to perfumes I wear privately, I told to master perfumer Aurelien Guichard how and why one of his classic re-creations had served me as an everyday life-saver in the most challenging part of my life.

People who need people
Are the luckiest people in the world

I also have to mention that at the end of the very first day, my nose died. Or fired me, literally. My sense of smell completely canceled the collaboration and occasionally capriciously started making non-funny jokes, which is a physiological inevitability after smelling dozens and dozens of fragrances in an almost hectic rhythm.

But, my first Pitti Fragranze was not just about getting to know newly launched perfumes or the new houses, or just recognizing the trends while they are still shaping – in the very core of this exhibition are the people of perfumes and the magic blend of the known, the expected and a surprise.
Despite the prevailing trends and despite all the limitations that perfume entrepreneurship had to deal with in the last two years, the spirit of Pitti Fragranze smells great!

Pitti Fragranze smells like a perfume whose balanced character presents colors, scents, and names shaped in different circumstances, like the blend of traditional business authority and ever-fresh brightness, and like a handful of unfulfilled expectations plus the utmost precious drop of a truly exciting, uncalculated surprise.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *