Welcome to the Megan In Sainte Maxime Pitti Fragranze Report. It’s time to take a guided trip to Florence for the niche and artistic perfume tradeshow. Unfortunately I had only two days at the show and it’s really not enough time to see and smell the wares on offer, take photos, videos etc. Once you factor in a few appointments, meet-ups with friends, then the day is completely blown out but often in a good way too.
OK first off, I know many people are saying there’s less artistic work these days on show. I hear often that niche is dead and it’s not a relevant name anymore for the category. Well I do think over time, even the few years that I’ve been interested in perfume there have been significant changes. The market has segmented and even at a trade show like Pitti this is apparent. There are luxury brands, artisanal houses, natural brands etc, just to scratch the surface. All of these perfume brands are thrown together in one space but maybe it’s time for more separation here for the shows? I can say that creativity is alive and kicking though and you only need to look at the finalists for the Art And Olfaction Awards to see this. The awards have also become highly regarded in such a short space of time. Hats off to Saskia Wilson Brown.
I do think you need to rummage through the perfumes on offer to find those that work for you personally. One size does not fit all of course, but you will always come across new gems that hit the spot for that hallelujah moment. Of course what you and other perfume afficinados find incredible, may not actually be a huge seller for the brand. There’s often a gap between the perfume lovers thumbs up and how this translates to sales. Case in point is Absolue Pour Le Soir by Maison Francis Kurkdjian. A sales assistant at Printemps in the newly opened first floor perfume area in the Boulevard Haussmann flagship store told me that even though perfumistas rate this scent highly, in fact only 17 bottles were sold last year.
If you are a perfumer starting out, a new brand at development stage, a perfumista / blogger / vlogger / Instagrammer / Facebooker … then Pitti is a great venue to check out what’s happening in the market. Plus there are meetings to be made and people to meet.
Now if you want a complete run down of all the new launches I suggest you look to Fragrantica or Persefume who have lists of releases and have done a mighty fine job of recording these. This report is really my musings and smelling diary rather than a comprehensive namecheck or favourites from the show, as I can’t claim to have smelt everything but the following perfumes are worth tracking down, smelling and buying if you’ve tested of course.
I tend to gravitate back to my favourite houses and then do a small wander around to see if there’s anything else of interest. Unfortunately I was not able to visit every perfume house even though I would have liked to but time was limited.
As an aside why does the European perfume world use the word novelty for their new releases? This word bristles used in this context as it doesn’t translate well to English so I really refuse to use it. OK pet peeve aside …
So now onto the show and my Scent Diary.
Grandiflora : If I could hazard a guess as to the star of the show it would be Saskia Havekes and Bertrand Duchaufour at Grandiflora. I have known of the perfumes for a while now (but never had the opportunity to smell them) and Saskia’s florist store in Potts Point is just down the road from where I lived when in my youth when I ditched university for two years and took off travelling, Sydney being my first stop. The stand was a floral feast, heaving with blooms. I can only imagine how festive the store is. Two new perfumes were released for the show. Queen Of The Night, a ripe ode to Night Blooming Cereus and Boronia (a take on the Australian native flower). Both fragrances are Duchaufour delectable. The other perfumes in the line are really interesting too and I had a moment with Madagascan Jasmine from Michel Roudnitska.
Sarah McCartney, 4160 Tuesdays and Our Modern Lives : Sarah McCartney has branched out from the quirky and captivating 4160 Tuesdays with a new line called Our Modern Lives. This range has seven natural botanical fragrances and two 100% synthetic skin scents. I love the packaging and artwork and the idea behind the collection. The visuals are a great connector to the fragrance via colour and design. Plus I really admire Sarah’s style and verve and love that she has the quirky 4160 Tuesdays and now this new line. It’s not a stretch to imagine these perfumes in a yoga room or any environment actually. Sunset – Orange – Peace (orange and peach cocktail) and Indigo – Into the Night (dangerous, slightly dirty vibe) were my favourites but the whole range is brilliantly conceived.
Sarah McCartney with Ana Stoian
Naomi Goodsir : Nuit de Bakélite was released this year after a drawn out process of development with perfumer Isabelle Doyen (creator of many legendary Annick Goutal fragrances). It’s a green tinged tuberose, although I wouldn’t say it’s your average tuberose at all, it seems to be a delicate interpretation with a lightly leathered facet and quite a sweet opening. I need to spend more time with it but the first time I smelt this perfume at Pitti it seemed to have a link to Iris Cendré with its ashy iris. For those of you who haven’t seen Naomi before, she has a distinct style that is very avant-garde, totally cool and unmistakeable. She stands out from the crowd and you can always rely on her booth for artistic inspiration. She had an installation as well called Insomnia In Florence, with various objects including work from Tzuri Gueta and Noces Végétales.
Francesca Bianchi : This perfume house was on my list to smell. I’m so glad I popped by to visit right at the end of my last day. I really fell for Francesca’s line. I enjoyed all three scents – Sex and the Sea, Angels Dust and The Dark Side and had seen some buzz around Sex and the Sea especially, a really different take on a beach scent, sexed up with pineapple and an excellent disruptor to this genre. Overall these are really evocative, interesting perfumes that pop and are sold in a 30ml extrait format. New perfume Under My Skin is darkly evocative and on first sniff was my favourite in the collection. If you already like the line then this will be one more to fall in love with.
Eris Parfums : It was great to finally meet Barbara Herman in person as I’ve read her book Scent and Subversion and enjoyed it immensely. I highly recommend her book for an in-depth and informative dive into vintage perfumes. It also features perfume advertising from different decades and provides a fascinating glimpse into the era in question. Barbara now has Eris Parfums, a collection of vintage inspired fragrances : Belle de Jour (Art and Olfaction Award finalist), Ma Bête and Night Flower. Not only do the perfumes have brilliantly evocative names but they are all sexy beasts. Mx. the new release celebrates liberation from gender. Mx. is really something. It still has a hint of the animalic but is lighter in tone than the others in the collection and has something in here that is wrist sniffing good. I like this softer approach and consider it a more modern addition to the collection. A must try.
Beaufort : I finally tried the spikily beautiful Fathom V, with a garden green kick and an Art And Olfaction winner. It’s much more up my alley than the gunpowdered earlier fumes. The new Iron Duke is another great addition to the range that was getting a bit of buzz. Beaufort has a Cool Britannia of yesteryear angle but with the added value of being punked up man sexy.
Olivier Durbano : New perfume Labradorite #13 is a bit of a departure for Olivier with a more animalic slant and I need to wear this more but there’s tuberose in here as well as animalics . It’s always great to see Olivier as he has a gentle energy exuding calm. I like his concept linking stones and perfumes, as well as his jewellery and gorgeous scarfs. PS I will be visiting his store in Grasse as soon as I can and will report back.
Dusita : I’ve been a fan of Pissara Umavijani‘s line from her very first showing at Esxence last year. Can you believe it’s only been just over a year since her range launched? It already feels like Dusita is well established with legions of devotees. Pissara is always very generous with her time and is an inspiration. She let me have a sneak preview of her next perfume, Fleur de Lalita. And yes it’s another winner in my opinion. If you liked La Douceur de Siam this is even better. Lovers of the power floral this may be what you’re waiting for; creamy, floral elegance wrapped in love.
Parfumerie Generale had an interesting new osmanthus and suede perfume called Suede Osmanthe 5.1 that would be a great alternative to Daim Blond from Serge Lutens. I also took the opportunity to smell the collection as it was all laid out in front of me. I really do like Musc Maori and not just because I am tangata whenua but chocolate milkshake with a musky undertone is just pure brilliance. Other favs are Tubereuse Couture, L’Ombre Fauve, Indochine, Cuir Venenum and actually so many more. This is a great line. Don’t forget about it. With the new brands cropping up left, right and centre the older, more established brands can get overlooked.
Andy Tauer : I’m a fan of his candour and his perfumes, plus he’s really good company. He follows his own path and is a trailblazer for artisan perfumers. There were two new offerings on show. Patch Flash from his Tauerville line which is a solid patch. Not overly camphorous or earthy but not scrubbed clean either. It has a bit of a leathery feel too that really works. He also had his new Attar AT in a really cute mini bottle that smelt rather potent but also very good. Andy was inspired by a recent trip to the Middle East and apparently it’s been a success already. Of course when you see his range lined up it’s impossible not to dive in and smell the favourites. So Le Maroc Pour Elle, L’Air du Desert Marocain and Phi were sprayed just to inhale their beauty.
Gabriella Chieffo : Gabriella who has a collection of rather unusual yet interesting perfumes, especially the wonderful Acquasala had a new release called Quasicielo. It’s the first she’s signed alone as previous works were by / with Luca Maffei. Gabriella has done a lovely job here and it’s rather haunting with spicy yet powdery green facets. It’s unusual and all the better for it.
Chabaud : This is another line new to me and they have a must try chocolate gourmand perfume Lait et Chocolat in the collection (yes I’m a sucker for anything chocolate – dark cocoa to light and milky). It’s a milky chocolate and vanilla concoction and so scrumptious that I really felt like I wanted to munch on it.
Laboratorio Olfattivo : This is an Italian perfume house that I have an affinity with as their wares are a step outside the ordinary and still smell absolutely divine. Fragrances that are really special in the collection include Salina, and Kashnoir, although there are many others. New perfume Vanhera is signed by Luca Maffei. Think vanilla and woods.
La Parfumerie Moderne : A line with the most gorgeous art deco styled bottles. They are absolute perfection. This is a line with history in its story telling and some great perfumes of course, plus the perfumer is Marc-Antoine Corticchiato, the man behind one of my all time favourite lines Parfum d’Empire. They had a new iris themed perfume, Belles Rives and it’s another lovely take on this beloved flower of so many perfume lovers. It has a slight green tinge and a lovely touch of osmanthus. Highly recommended for lovers of stunning iris perfumes. I believe we have another to add to the list!
Fort & Manlé : Faith Sultan Mehmed : This is a perfume that I didn’t see at Pitti but tried on the drive home thanks to my travelling companion. I was really curious though as I adored the bottle. It just about blew the roof off – not because it was so strong but because it smelt so wonderful; like walking through the most lushly blooming garden of your wildest dreams. This perfume was a finalist in this year’s Art And Olfaction Awards. The perfume house is based in Melbourne.
Unum : Unum always has an eye-catching display and this year was no exception. There was a Game of Thronesesque village display painted black and a lot of people were checking the stand and smelling the perfumes and new candles. Fog will be the focus of the upcoming collection in November.
Other brands that I visited but didn’t have anything new were : Neela Vermeire with her wonderful collection of scents. It’s always great to see her and have a chat. Rahele is her latest release that I’ve written about here. Nishane had the three perfumes they introduced at Esxence – Zenne, Hacivat and Karagoz and I caught up with them briefly. Great guys, lovely perfumes. Atelier Des Ors had nothing new but will have something for Esxence that I know a lot about but I’ll remain mum for now.
Always a pleasure to catch up with Cécile Zarokian and to find out what she’s been doing. OR +Kanabo from Uermi was a new perfume from her at Pitti. Cécile created Tango from Masque Milano, one of my favourites in the line and I’ll always be a fan. Luca Maffei was there too and I even bumped into him on the drive home at a petrol station (as you do) and a group of us had a coffee, standing at the bar in true Italian style. He has created one of my favourite iris perfumes (also for Masque Milano) with L’Attesa so I’m a fan.
Some of the action happens outside too. I managed to meet quite a few people and sample their perfumes in the seating area.
Puredistance : Not showing at Pitti this year but Mary Gooding (yes she’s expecting) was taking appointments outside and being a fan of the line I was very keen to give time to Warszawa which I briefly tried at Esxence. Now that I had more time to smell this perfume inspired by Warsaw I really began to appreciate it. As the day wore on this fragrance .kept on keeping on. It’s a really well done chypre and this could just become one of my favourites in this genre.
The Making of Cannes : I am a little late to this perfume house but when you meet someone namely Audrey Courbier and they smell fantastic, you want to know what they’re wearing. In this case it was their own perfume Magie du Désert made by Cécile Zarokian, a heady, dusty, dry spiced oud. I like it a lot.
strangelovenyc : I’m a fan of this line and their necklaces with the teeny amount of fragrance is something I have my eye on. Their new perfume Lost In Flowers I had a sneak preview of and is pure love for me. I really feel an affinity for this floral oud touched by Christophe Laudamiel‘s magic. It could be my favourite in their collection which is saying something as I adore them all. If you haven’ tried their line yet, Silence The Sea is a great place to start.
Bogue : Finally I can sample what everyone has been raving about and it’s always nice to put a face to the reputation too. Hello Antonio Gardoni. New perfume MEM is a lavender on an epic bender. It’s a feral beauty and I’m looking forward to exploring the other samples in the lovely envelope.
Hiram Green : Being a fan of the line I was looking forward to meeting Hiram. I was lucky enough to sample his new fragrance based around tobacco. It was beautiful as expected, and I’m eagerly awaiting the finished product. His scents just really work for me, on skin they smell gorgeous and Dilettante is one of those happy place perfumes.
Sultan Pasha : Here’s another line that I’ve wanted to smell for ages now and suddenly he appeared in the flesh and I had the opportunity to smell his divine IrisSoir. Oh yes it’s superb and apparently 90% identical to the legendary Iris Gris from Jacques Fath. It was a pleasure to meet him and I will be diving into his beautiful work very soon.
Indult : The Indult range is back in business and I’d never had the chance to sample the line until now. My favourite is Isvaraya. This is a beautiful perfume, lavisciously tempting with my holy grail combination of plum + patchouli amd some jasmine to sex things up. Hopefully there will be a new perfume arriving at some point. Fingers crossed.
And that’s a wrap. Thank you to the many people I met, talked with, shared a drink and meals with. Each and everyone passionate about an aspect of perfumery : the vloggers, bloggers, Instagrammers, PRs, brand owners, staff and perfumers. There were so many wonderful people at Pitti and I have to say that’s part of the fun these days. Many of the new perfumes or lines will be written about in more detail in the coming months. So come back and soak up the perfume passion. Special mention also to Ermano Picco who brought along a few vintage scents for me to smell. He had an 80’s Shalimar that was completely drop dead gorgeous and so much more delectable than what’s on offer today. I haven’t really gone down the vintage rabbit hole as I don’t want to spend money chasing things that might be fake but after that experience I now understand why people are hunting these gems out and maybe it’s time to dip my toes in.
Here are a few more photos of Florence and food. Surprisingly I didn’t have my phone at the ready for photos all of the time and forgot to take pics of many people and occasions! Next time.
And a publc service announcement for you all : My perfumed friends I Scent You A Day, A Bottled Rose and L’Esperessence will be back on Monday with another addition of Mood Scent 4 so come back and see what we’re smelling.
Hope you enjoyed the write up. Is there anything you’re looking forward to smelling in the near future from the Pitti selection?