Sarah Colton is the well connected journalist that introduced me to niche perfumery. I was not really hard to convince since I love perfumes, beauty, fashion and sensorial delights.
Sarah invited me to an avant garde fair in Paris with small and fascinating perfume companies. I met the perfumers and spoke to them about ingredients, smells and concepts. The air in the building was filled with aromas of much more expensive raw materials than the commercials brands normally use. I was in Paradise. Thank you, Sarah.
This fragrant fair does not run any longer, maybe it was ahead of it times, and Pitti Fragranze in Firenze is one the new niche perfume venues to attend for curious writers, perfumistas, buyers and bloggers. Up and coming brands, as well as smaller more established companies, presents their flacons with interesting liquid content. And guess who told me about Pitti Fragranze? Oh yes, it was Sarah again, my fragrant friend.
These perfume houses and their creators have interesting stories to tell. The enthusiasm, the pioneering spirit and the artistic touch are evident. Pitti Fragranze has become a divine venue for the perfume addicts.
Sarah, what did you discover at Pitti Fragranze?
– Malbrum, a remarkable Norwegian brand. I was immediately impressed with the quality of the fragrances, they were so very different and avant-garde. Kristian Hilberg, the founder, was communicating and really ‘channeling’ about a high tech and very exciting future (and present) in which the synthetic and natural worlds take us to a new dimension. It was very inspiring. I only got to smell the ‘Psychotrope’ which was jolting and soft at the same time, maybe from the cashmere note. It was as much an experience as it was a fragrance. I think all his fragrances are Extraits de Parfum and made with great care and love for detail.
Could you reveal your other favourite fragrances and brands at the last show?
– Of course, because I love the city of Florence and Pitti Fragranze is one of the top niche fragrance shows on the planet! It gives an opportunity to meet the niche fragrance community, which for me is as important as the fragrances themselves.
Sarah Colton is the Paris correspondent for Beauty Fashion Magazine, gives lectures on perfumes and is writing a book about fragrances to be published this spring. Here is her impressive list of her favourite niche perfumes from Pitti Fragranze 2015:
‘Adr_ett ‘ by the new brand, Nomenclature, by Karl Brandle and Carlos Quintero. Karl is the also the co-owner and founder of Aedes de Venustas fragrance boutique and brand in NYC.
Nomenclature is a streamlined, finely chiselled brand whose concept is to celebrate design in fragrance. There are 4 fragrances, each of which features a single synthetic note surrounded and brought into perspective by naturals.
My favourite of the four is Adr_ett. Similar to ‘adroit’ in English and German. Its central synthetic note is Helvetolide, a ‘captive’ (under copyright) synthetic note in the musk family. It’s known for its fragrant pear note and ozony feel which makes some people refer to it as the ‘zero gravity musk’. Adr_ett has a futuristic feel and an agreeable totally modern warm plastic-y and slightly sweet smell that makes me think of edgy graphic arts or a design studio in an airy glass-walled loft space with a bunch of glossy freshly printed ad pages on an idea board with lap tops, large-format printing machines, and quirkily perfumed designers and product managers comparing notes over their Nth Nespresso of the day. (How’s that for a crazy image!)
The brand Arquiste’s New Launch, ‘Nan Ban’, by owner Carlos Huber, known for his architectural purity and detail, working with perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux. Based on the ancient trade routes between Asia, Europe and the Americas, I love ‘Nan Ban’ because it’s an unusual and very wearable leather fragrance with woody and oriental spicy incense notes.
MiN New York established in 1999 by Chad Murawczyk and Mindy Yang.
I was totally blown away last summer when I visited the MiN boutique in SOHO. NYC co-founder and olfactory artist and designer, Mindy Yang, invited me into the MiN ‘perfume vault’ for a fragrance ‘trip’ through Volume 1 of their ‘Scent Stories’ collection. ‘Scent Stories’ is an unusual, other worldly collection of contemporary ‘wearable art’ fragrance ‘landscapes’, meant to transcend time and space. My experience was bordering on the surreal, as I became totally wrapped up in the development of each chapter, with names like ‘Dahab’, the exotic and spiritual ‘Chapter 9’, whose name means ‘Time goes where the desert meets the sea and stars’, or ‘Moon Dust’, the futuristic and poetic ‘Chapter 11’ whose caption states “It was said that the moon smells like burnt gun powder after a desert rain”.
At Pitti 2015, MiN launched its five chapter Volume 2 of the ‘Scent Stories’. With the philosophy “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” Volume 2 fragrances are designed to offer various facets of the world to be experienced as single fragrance ‘potions’ or a mix of several ‘potions’ at a time.
For obvious reasons, my experience in the busy and brightly lit space at Pitti was totally different from the one I enjoyed in the quite semi-darkness of the MiN boutique scent vault. What I liked best of the MiN Volume Two was a combination of Chapter One: ‘AD LUMEN’, a sheer, and rosy invitation to close intimate encounters, and Chapter Three, ‘Chef’s Table’, a fresh and green Mediterranean black current and lime fragrance that reminded me of a zesty fruit salad on a summer afternoon. Something like having a picnic on an Amalfi coast beach with my current Italian lover.
All fragrances in both Volumes 1 and 2 are made from a single annual batch, and each bottle is presented as a signed and numbered limited edition work of art.
‘Fetisch’ by J.F. Schwartzlose Berlin. I’ve loved this brand since the first time I met the the co-founders, Tamas Tagscherer and Lutz Herman. It is an old company from 1856 for men and woman of strong character. Marlene Dietrich and Josephine Baker used to wear these fragrances. J.F. Schwartzlose Berlin was revived in 2012 by co-founders, Tamas and Lutz, with the objective of reflect the old and the modern Berlin. The brand is minimalist, authentic, and definitely not mainstream.
The 6th perfume of the brand ‘Fetisch’, was launched at Pitti. The idea of ‘Fetisch’ is to modernize one of the original fragrances, ‘Spanish Leather’ with the addition of notes such as saffron, incense, and vanilla by French Perfumer, Veronique Nyberg. What I really love about this fragrance is the distinctive though mellowed out smell of leather.
Making of Cannes, created by Audrey Courbier from Grasse. She has been inspired by the ‘behind the scenes’ atmosphere of the Cannes Film Festival and has made fragrances with names from cities. Cannes is ‘Premier Rôle,’ Monaco is ‘Rocher Princier’, Paris is ‘L’Amour, La Mode’ and my favourite is San Tropez ‘Inavouable’ – a hot and sultry floral oriental fragrance evocative of the charged atmosphere of a French celebrity film city like the mythical San Tropez and its wild and fantastic night-life.
‘Romanza’ by Masque Fragranze brand, founded by Riccardo Tedeschi and Alessandro Brun in Milan in 2012. A very philosophical, authentic and dramatic brand. Their philosophy is: ‘Take your time. The world doesn’t need more perfumes. Rather itneeds better ones.”
‘Romanza’ launched at Pitti, was inspired by Oscar Wilde’s novel “The Picture of Dorian Gray” and created by the Italian Perfumer Cristiano Canali..Of course it must smell like narcissus, but what I smelled more than that was cedar, jasmine and hyacinth, narcissus, and spicy amber which, perhaps because I was also looking at the fabulous set design. Masque owners Riccardo and Alessandro erected an exhibition in a hotel lobby near the Pitti show and it made me think of what a late Victorian Era dandy might smell like.
Voilà. That’s it.
If you want to know more about my fragrant friend in Paris, Sarah Colton, see her blog: http://sarahcolton.com