By my count I tried 68 new fragrances over the three days I spent in Milan at Esxence. This doesn’t include the ones I had already tried before Esxence like the nu_be Mercury and Sulphur, Neela Vermeire Mohur Extrait, or Maria Candida Gentile Finesterre all of which probably would have made the list if this was the first time I had tried them. Keep in mind these are all the most initial of impressions as I rationed my skin space like I was Scrooge McDuck. Over the upcoming weeks you can expect much more detailed reviews of all of these because these are the perfumes which have me the most excited to wear over the next few days. In alphabetical order here are my Top 10 New Fragrances from Esxence 2014.
Ann Gerard Rose Cut by Bertrand Duchaufour– Rose Cut refers to the name of a jewelers cut of a finished stone. The fragrance Rose Cut displays itself like a brilliant jewel with sparkling facets and reflective depths throughout. Right from the start, M. Duchaufour mixes an opening accord of aldehydes and rum which sparkles and mesmerizes simultaneously.
Arquiste The Architects Club by Yann Vasnier-Creative Director Carlos Huber sets the place as 1930’s Mayfair in London. M. Vasnier first sets the mood by embellishing the clubby aspects of dark woods and leather which all changes in a flash of citrus, juniper, and cardamom. The Architects Club goes from staid to wanton in the blink of an eye and the olfactory transition is as dynamic as lemon twist added to a dry martini.
David Jourquin Cuir Altesse by Cecile Zarokian– David Jourquin has followed up his two 2011 releases with two more leather focused creations. Cuir Altesse was probably my favorite fragrance by Mme Zarokian in the entire show and considering how many fragrances she had on display that is not faint praise. The cardamom opening flows into a magnificent cumin and jasmine heart before going all leathery in the base. Cuir Altesse strummed all of my fragrant pleasure centers.
Humiecki & Graef Abime by Les Christophs– Abime is meant to be the perfume of pain. Les Christophs use an overdose of narcissus to achieve a perfume equivalent of that tightness I feel in my forehead when I am fighting off the dull throb of aches. Once again Humiecki & Graef’s creative team of Sebastian Fischenich and Tobias Muksch allow Les Christophs the freedom to create something which exposes the beauty of every facet of “la condition humaine”.
Jul et Mad Aqua Sextius by Cecile Zarokian– The story of creative directors Julien Blanchard and Madalina Stoica’s relationship is the story of Jul et Mad perfumes. For Aqua Sextius we visit Aix-en-Provence where a wedding will take place. Mme Zarokian sets up an altar of green and citrus notes draped over a woody frame. It feels like a summer day in Provence full of life and love.
Le Galion Whip– If I wanted to make this list easy I could’ve just listed the nine fragrances in this collection and added one more and been done. Le Galion was easily the most buzzed about line at Esxence this year, justifiably so. Owner and Creative Director Nicolas Chabot has resurrected this perfume house which went out of business in the 1980’s. With the blessing of the surviving daughter of the family of perfumers behind the brand M. Chabot has, perhaps, made the best Retro Nouveau re-creations yet. Each of these feel like perfume the way it used to be done but with some added modern twists of current materials. It adds the Nouveau to the Retro and it has been done exquisitely across the line. Whip’s spiced citrus leather concoction grabbed me the most but this truly was the booth I walked away from with the biggest smile on my face.
Naomi Goodsir Or du Serail by Bertrand Duchaufour– Naomi Goodsir Parfums impressed me with their first two releases but the third completely obsessed me. Ms Goodsir was the very first booth I visited and the strip of Or du Serail I walked around with all day got sniffed over and over. M. Duchaufour, under Ms. Goodsir’s and partner Renaud Coutaudier’s creative direction, created the most textural perfume I tried with tactile depths and olfactory wonders which languidly unfolded delightfully over hours and hours
Olfactive Studio Ombre Indigo by Mylene Alran– Creative Director Celine Verleure gave perfumer Mme Alran a picture of a person of indeterminate gender wading into shadowy water (seen above). The resulting perfume which also carries the deep blue liquid to go with the picture is a study of shadows. Tuberose, saffron, vetiver, papyrus, and leather form a shadowy conclave of mysterious beauty.
Parfum D’Empire Corsica Furiosa by Marc-Antoine Corticchiato– It has been over a year, since the brilliant Musc Tonkin, for perfumer M. Corticchiato to dazzle me again. With Corsica Furiosa he seems to gather every shade of olfactory green together to form a pastiche that continues to plumb the depths of what it means to be green.
The Different Company Nuit Magnetique by Christine Nagel– Creative Director Luc Gabriel assures me this is Mme Nagel’s last fragrance before taking up her new position at Hermes. She delivered it to him on March 4th and started her new job on March 6th. If anyone wonders why I think she is so special Nuit Magnetique might convert some doubters. The top note pairing of ginger and blueberry is captivating only to be followed by another weird but wonderful pairing of jasmine and prune in the heart. Nuit Magnetique exerted a pull over me I couldn’t shake.
There were so many good fragrances at this year’s Esxence that I had a very hard time narrowing it down to ten. Full reviews of these and many others will be coming over the following weeks. Leave a comment if there is one you are particularly interested in and if there is a consensus I’ll move it up the list.