Where to start? I’d drafted a list of brands that I wanted to visit before I left for Esxence that numbered around thirty. I imagined that I’d easily get around all of the stalls, go to a sprinkling of workshops and have time for sightseeing, window shopping and sampling Italian delicacies in addition to people watching. Plus I intended to visit Campomarzio70, try all of the Vero Profumo perfumes, and visit Santa Maria Novella whose products I adore.
Well how wrong could I be? Very wrong it would seem! Esxence is a little mad in its frenetic pace and it’s nigh impossible to navigate through all of the stands. Next time I intend to have a completely different line of attack. Anyhow …
The first day of Esxence finally arrived and after a hotel breakfast that consisted of an unusual mix of cake, fruit and of course my required caffeine hit or two, I headed for the exhibition. The space was already buzzing. A pianist was playing in the entrance that got the thumbs up from me straight away. I then received my press pass, the wifi code and proceeded to check out the lay of the land. I have to say that the wifi code did NOT come in handy as it seemed to only work for about ten minutes a day which proved a tad frustrating as I’d envisaged myself happily Instagramming updates, but it wasn’t to be. Anyhow … onwards we march.
The hall at Esxence was a cavernous space filled with enough perfume to sink a ship or two. So to say that this was a perfume lovers dream is an understatement.
First stop – Teo Cabanel. I’m a fan of this classical French brand with an elegant heart. There will be upcoming mini reviews of their line so watch this space. I spoke with Caroline Ilacqua, Présidente of Teo Cabanel about their new release Lace Garden which is a lovely spring / summer floral ( a review will also be forthcoming). I was also guided through their olfactory experience, sniffing naturals and synthetics that served as a stimulating refresher and is well worth a visit to their Paris atelier for a sniffing session if you’re visiting the city. You can look on their website for further details.
I was then fortunate to spend some time with Neela Vermeire before she was inundated with other attendees. Her perfumes have a cult following and not only are they incredibly well crafted, but Neela is also extremely friendly in person. She relayed that she enjoys a close working relationship with Bertrand Duchaufour, helping to guide the creations to an extremely high level of quality and creativity. She made it clear that her opinions are ensconced within the creative process. To me, her fragrances breathe a delicious combination of luxury and the allure of escapism.
Pichola, Neela Vermeire Creations new perfume, (that I will review shortly – I know so many promises) is a quieter fragrance than its stable mates. However I believe Pichola provides an excellent entry point to the brand. It’s a white floral that for once doesn’t dance in stilettos and tread on toes. It’s blooming gorgeous.
Next stop was Ann Gerard perfumes, all of which are signed by Bertrand Duchaufour. Ann is a jeweller and met Bertrand when he was a customer buying jewellery for his wife. At some point they decided to collaborate on a perfume collection. She intimated that there is a lovely link between jewellery and perfume and that of course is the skin. I have Rose Cut in my collection and I absolute love this gourmand, boozy rose, so was very keen to try her other perfumes. Ann took me through her range and I was also attracted to Ciel d’Opale, with its hints of orange blossom, linden and honey.
She had fabulous new atomiser sprays on display that function as a piece of jewellery on its own accord. Customisation can occur through colour, diamonds and engraving by hand. I must also mention that Ann is engaging, warm and friendly to boot.
Next I met with Olivier Durbano, a jeweller and perfumer who radiates a gentleness and intelligence that is instantly calming. His jewellery was displayed alongside his perfumes and stones, including some impressive crystals. All of his scents have a story to tell and my favourite was his most recent Prométhée, a gorgeously unusual incense accompanied by a hint of fennel that was an instant hit with me. Olivier prefers to think of his perfumes as artistic creations and likes to take the time to ensure that his scents are imbued with emotion and feeling. He told me he doesn’t believe in releasing a swathe of perfumes and fails to see the excitement generated over the constant pace of new releases. He’s been making perfumes for ten years and has exactly ten in his collection.
There’s more to come but I thought that would suffice for the first account. Day 2 coming next.
Main photo : Neela Vermeire : Olivier Durbano : Caroline Ilacqua : Ann Gerard