Colognoisseur 2016 Year-End Review Part 1- Overview

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2016 will probably go down as a pivotal year in the perfume business. As an observer of much of the field this year I have seen change in almost every place I can see. Which leads me to believe it is also taking place behind the scenes where I am not able to know the entire story. Change like this can be unsettling which has made for some worrying trends but overall I think it has contributed to another excellent year. I smelled a little less this year than last year; 680 new perfumes versus 2015’s 686. Surprisingly the amount of new releases has also plateaued with 1566 new releases in 2016 versus 1676 last year. Maybe we have defined the amount of new perfume the market can bear. Over the next three days I will share my thoughts on the year coming to an end.

We are told in Ecclesiastes, or by The Byrds if you prefer; “To every thing there is a season” and so it is in perfume as the season of the Baby Boomers has ended and the Millennials have taken over. This younger generation is now larger, has more discretionary income, and is spending more on perfume than the Boomers are per multiple sources. While the public at large was made aware of it this year the industry could see the change coming a year, or more, prior. What that meant for 2016 as far as fragrance went was every corporate perfume entity was on a fishing expedition to see if they could be the one who lured this group of consumers towards them. The drive for this is huge because lifelong brand loyalties can be formed right now within this group. Certainly, the enduring trends of the next few years in fragrance will be determined by where they spend their money. All of that has made 2016 fascinating because at the end of the year that answer is no clearer than it was at the beginning. The prevailing themes, based on what was provided to them, is they want lighter in sillage and aesthetic, gourmand, and different. That last category is the ephemeral key I think. The brand which can find them in the place where they Periscope, Snapchat, and Instagram is going to have an advantage.

Christine Nagel (l.) and Olivier Polge

There was also generational change taking place at two of the most prestigious perfume brands, Hermes and Chanel. The new in-house perfumers for both took full control in 2016. Christine Nagel released Hermes Eau du Rhubarbe Ecarlate and Galop D’Hermes. Olivier Polge released Chanel Boy and Chanel No. 5 L’Eau. This shows both talented artists know how to take an existing brand aesthetic and make it their own.

Cecile Zarokian, Quentin Bisch, Luca Maffei (l. to r.)

The next generation of perfumers exemplified by Cecile Zarokian, Quentin Bisch, and Luca Maffei loomed large this year. Mme Zarokian did thirteen new releases in 2016 all of them distinctively delightful from the re-formulation of Faths Essentials Green Water to the contemporary Oriental Puredistance Sheiduna. M. Bisch brilliantly reinvented one of the masterpieces of perfume in Thierry Mugler Angel Muse. Sig. Maffei released ten new fragrances with Masque Milano L’Attesa, Laboratorio Olfattivo MyLO, and Jul et Mad Secrets du Paradis Rouge showcasing his range. 

There were also fascinating collaborations this year. Antonio Gardoni and Bruno Fazzolari contributed Cadavre Exquis an off-beat gourmand. Josh Meyer and Sam Rader conspired to create a Northern California Holiday bonfire in Dasein Winter Nights. Victor Wong the owner and creative director of Zoologist Perfumes was able to get the most out of independent perfumers like Ellen Covey in Bat and Sarah McCartney in Macaque.

Some of the independent perfumers I look to surprisingly released perfumes which did not please me. Thankfully there were new ones who stepped up to fill in the gap. Lesli Wood Peterson of La Curie, Ludmila and Antoine Bitar of Ideo Parfumeurs, and Eugene & Emrys Au of Auphorie did that. Chritsti Meshell of House of Matriarch made an ambitious economic move into Nordstrom while producing two of my favorites from her in Albatross and Kazimi.

The mainstream sector had another strong year as the mall continues to have diamonds hidden amongst the dross. In 2016 that meant Elizabeth & James Nirvana Bourbon, Alford & Hoff No. 3, SJP Stash, Prada Infusion de Mimosa, Thierry Mugler Angel Muse, and Chanel No. 5 L’Eau were there to be found.

If the beginning of the year was all about rose the overall year was a renaissance for neroli perfumes. Jean-Claude Ellena’s swan song for Hermes; Eau de Neroli Dore. The afore mentioned Green Water along with Jo Malone Basil & Neroli and Hiram Green Dilettante showed the versatility of the note.

The acquisition of niche brands continued with Estee Lauder buying By Kilian and L’Oreal doing the same with Atelier Cologne. The acquisitions of Frederic Malle and Le Labo, two years ago, seem to have been positive steps for both brands. Especially seeing Le Labo in my local mall getting such a positive reception made me believe that if the good niche brands can become more available the consumer will appreciate the difference.

Tomorrow I will name my Perfume, Perfumer, Creative Director, and Brand of the Year

The next day I will reveal my Top 25 New Releases of 2016.

Mark Behnke

Sniffapalooza Fall Ball 2016 Wrap-Up- A Peek Behind the Curtain

Sniffapalooza has been putting on a biannual event in New York City for perfume lovers since 2004. This past October the aptly named Fall Ball 2016 was the twenty-fifth of these to take place. In the past editions, it has been the opportunity for attendees to be exposed to all the shopping delights NYC has to offer. For this landmark edition, the organizers Karen Dubin and Karen Adams decided to give those who would be spending the weekend the opportunity to see something special.

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It was a chance for a consumer to peek behind the curtain to see how perfume is made, which is where Saturday of Fall Ball began. Symrise invited the group up to their Park Avenue offices where the perfumes they work on are composed. Over the course of two panels we were going to go “From Idea to Shelf”.

The first panel was comprised of Symrise employees as they would talk about how Symrise worked as a company in creating fine perfume. The second panel would bring in two of their clients who would interact with some of the same panelists as they gave us the background on their brands.

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Symrise Panelists (l. to r.) Doreen Bucher, Dave Apel, Juilanne Pruett, Caroline Catherine, and Sophie Bensamou

The first panel was moderated by VP of Marketing Doreen Bucher. She introduced us to perfumer David Apel, Julianne Pruett VP of Fine Fragrance who represented sales, evaluator Caroline Catherine, and VP of Fine Fragrance Creation for North America Sophie Bensamou.

The panel was a fascinating look into how it takes an entire team to both land an account and eventually turn it into a fragrance to be sold. It starts at the beginning as all the panelists spoke about how when Ms. Pruett is vying for an account they will all learn as much as they can about that potential client. I learned that the cooperation that takes place in bringing a perfume to life occurs before the first raw material is chosen. Once the account is brought in each of the members of the panel do their jobs. Mr. Apel designs the fragrance, Ms. Bensamou and Ms. Catherine act as liaison between Mr. Apel and the client. That job of evaluator is often that of being the behind-the-scenes influencer. Hearing from both about their jobs is something rarely spoken of in the process of perfume making but it is a critical piece of the process. After the perfume is designed Ms. Bucher works on the marketing of it helping decide on the bottle.

For over 90 minutes this panel kept the entire room leaning in to absorb every word.

After the panel, we took a break to do some shopping at Bergdorf-Goodman on our way to the second panel at Brasserie 8 1/2.

Once again Ms. Bucher was moderating and was joined by Mr. Apel and Ms. Bensamou from the morning panel. The new additions were Eric Korman and Anne Serrano McClain of the brand Phlur along with Joseph Quartana of the new line Les Potions Fatales.

Throughout this panel we gained insight in to that give-and-take that happens during the creation of perfume which lives up to what the client wants. In the case of Les Potions Fatales Mr. Apel had been imaging an idea around the plant foxglove and the fairies who live in those flowers. As Mr. Quartana explained his concept Mr. Apel presented his idea to him. This would result in Digitalis becoming part of the initial collection.

I must thank the team at Symrise for being so willing to spend a Saturday with the group. For the rest of the weekend what we heard in these panels became starting points of discussions which took place as we spent our day walking around sniffing the new perfumes.

This made the twenty-fifth Sniffapalooza one of the most unique events I’ve been to.

Mark Behnke

Sniffapalooza Fall Ball Oct 21-23- Visit a Perfume Company and Shop NYC

Sniffapalooza has been doing events twice a year in New York City for over ten years now. The upcoming Fall Ball will be the twenty-fifth edition of these events. For this anniversary the two founders, Karen Adams and Karen Dubin, have put together a very special program.

On Friday October 21 everyone is invited to visit Twisted Lily in Brooklyn for a special cocktail party where you can mix and mingle with your fellow perfume lovers from 5-9PM while trying the latest new releases.

Here is the very special event for this year’s Fall Ball.

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On Saturday October 22 we will begin the day at 9AM inside the offices of Symrise one of the major perfume companies in the world. At their NYC site while we eat a light breakfast we will listen to a presentation called, “From Idea to Shelf”. We will hear from an entire Symrise team on how a perfume is created and marketed using a recent example of a perfume on the market. This first part is, unfortunately, limited seating so only the first 75 people to sign up will be admitted.

After leaving Symrise we have a little time to stop at Bergdorf-Goodman before heading to lunch at Brasserie 8 ½. Over lunch you will hear a continuation of what we heard from the Symrise team in the morning as two of their most recent clients from Phlur and Potions Fatales talk about their experience creating a new perfume collection with the staff at Symrise.

If you have ever wanted a peek behind the curtain at how perfumes get made Saturday at Sniffapalooza Fall Ball will give you unsurpassed access to the process.

After lunch you will be able to visit the midtown NYC locations of Molton Brown and Penhaligon’s.

The day ends with a luxurious cocktail party sponsored by Parfums de Marly.

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Sunday October 23 is all downtown in what I call The Fragrance District of NYC where single boutiques of some of the most famous niche perfume brands are located.

At 9:30AM Annick Goutal invites us in to their boutique for a mini Master Class and the debut of their latest fragrance, Rose Oud.

After that there are open house events at Diptyque, Le Labo, Atelier Cologne, and Red Flower. Each has special surprises for all Sniffapalooza attendees.

At 1PM yours truly is the host of the lunchtime EAU (Emerging Artisans Uncorked) de Sniffapalooza Showcase. I will open with some thoughts about our fabulous speakers; Stefania Squeglia of Mendittorosa, Stephen Dirkes of Euphorium Brooklyn, and Irina Adam of Phoenix Botanicals.

After lunch you have two choices. One is to visit The Scentarium where for an additional cost you can be guided through the process of designing your own perfume by expert Sue Philips.

Or you can visit the Byredo Flagship Store where their new Unnamed fragrance will be displayed. Then you can end at Harney & Sons Fine Teas to have a cuppa to allow you to reflect on this jam-packed weekend.

If you’ve attended Sniffapalooza before the entire program around Symrise on Saturday is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a consumer to see how perfume is made. Remember the attendance at Symrise is capped at 75 so if this is what you want to see you need to register early.

All of the details can be found at this link.

I really hope to see some of you at the end of the month in NYC. I’ll be the one in the hat and Hawaiian shirt.

Mark Behnke

Chandler Burr Scent Dinner 10/14 with EB Florals and Chef Michael Hung in LA

One of the things all perfume lovers enjoy is finding new settings in which to experience perfume. One of the most unique of these are the Scent Dinners hosted by Chandler Burr. Mr. Burr has traveled the globe hosting these one-of-a-kind experiences since 2007. What happens is he collaborates with a chef to create a meal which mirrors the perfumes being sniffed. They have been so popular that they are usually private affairs. On October 14, 2016 in Los Angeles, CA he is holding a Scent Dinner in conjunction with Eric Buterbaugh of EB Florals and Chef Michael Hung of Viviane Restaurant. This is the first US Scent Dinner open to the public in over three years.

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Chandler Burr

For this particular edition Mr. Buterbaugh is using it as the premiere for his latest addition to the EB Florals collection called Kingston Osmanthus, by perfumer Alberto Morillas. All of the courses served by Chef Michael will be associated with other of the EB Florals fragrances. Before you receive the food course Mr. Burr introduces you to the raw materials within each fragrance; then the perfume. After that a food course follows using the raw ingredients you have been experiencing in edible form. It is an eye-opening experience as you get the chance to really interact with the basic building blocks of a perfume. It attunes you to those notes and as you try the perfume and eat the haute cuisine you will experience the impact of fragrance from a new viewpoint.

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Eric Buterbaugh

Mr. Buterbaugh is hosting the dinner in his gallery on Beverly Boulevard in Los Angeles where his fabulous floral designs will help set the stage for the evening. There are 25 seats available to the public for the price of $395. What that provides is a cocktail hour prior to the dinner where mixologist Ryan Wainwright will mix aromatic cocktails. A full 100mL bottle of the new EB Florals Kingston Osmanthus (which retails for $395 by itself) as an avant premiere gift. This all leads up to a five-course meal served by Chef Michael Hung inspired by EB Florals fragrances with Chandler Burr guiding you through an equally intricate menu of scent.

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Chef Michael Hung

These Scent Dinners are singular experiences as each is different because of the chef and the perfume featured. If you have ever wanted to be part of one and can be in LA October 14 here is your opportunity. For more information and to reserve a seat you can e-mail gallery@ebflorals.com

Mark Behnke

Cosmoprof North America 2016 Day 3 Wrap-Up- The Final Toss of the Dice

I started the final day of Cosmoprof North America 2016 learning about the new brand i smell great. Co-founded by Randi Shinder of Clean and actress Sophia Bush. i smell great is a full-service beauty line but it was the fragrance part I was most interested in. They currently have four releases; Angel Cake, Wild Honey, Candy Crush, and Beach Babe. It is a line with Millennials in mind. They have dedicated social media channels for users to post what they’re wearing and layering daily. Ms. Bush also joins in with her scent of the day. The first three are all variations on sweetness with Wild Honey having the most balanced approach. Beach Babe is an outlier for its suntan lotion and ocean vibe. The other interesting thing is the perfume is formulated in micro encapsulated spheres which over the course of the day open up as you apply friction to where you applied. I put some on today and found I would get a surprising boost of scent throughout the day. I also got a kick how my scent strips from the morning turned in to scratch and sniff by the evening. This is another one of those Millennial targeted fragrances which I will be following.

It was great to have the opportunity to reconnect with Mark Crames of Demeter. I have always admired his straightforward sensibility when it comes to making perfume. Oh and he also has a lot of fun at the same time. Mr. Crames gave me a preview of something that will be a bit of a new direction for Demeter. In time for the Holidays they will release a Zodiac collection. One perfume for each of the astrological signs. The fun part is those signs which are supposed to be attracted to each other have been formulated so they can be ideally layered. Brings a whole new twist to the old pick-up line, “What’s your sign?”

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Myself and the Karens of Sniffapalooza

My last two stops were to acquaint myself with two fragrance collections; one new and one which has been around for a few years.

Parfums Berdoues is the one which has been around. I had tried their original 1902 collection of which the Violet is still a favorite. Over the years they just sort of drifted away from my awareness. Jose Penalba of Amerikas brought me up to date. Starting last year Berdoues released a six fragrance collection which has a new entry Vanira Moorea. They also did a three fragrance Grand Cru collection focused on oud. My favorite of that line was the Oud Wa Misk. The brand has evolved significantly from the last time I checked in. The new direction and perfumes are worth taking a look at if you also let Berdoues fall off your radar.

Then new line is called Paglieri 1876 and will be launched in the fall. An Italian line Working with perfumers Henri Bergia and Eric Fracapane. Each of the first six releases is inspired by a city in Italy. Each bottle has a laser etched colorful logo to also go along with the fragrance to identify its city. It is a well-balanced collection which I enjoyed but the one which stood out for me was Romae based on Rome. It had a wonderfully sophisticated spicy core sweetened with rose and vanilla.

I had a fabulous time in Vegas covering Cosmoprof North America 2016.

For the last time Colognoisseur has left the building.

Mark Behnke

Cosmoprof North America 2016 Day 2 Wrap-Up- The Crossroads of Tech and Scent

One of the overarching themes of this year’s Discover Scent at Cosmoprof North America 2016 is that there is more to fragrance than just perfume. I started Day 2 speaking with the team behind X Sense. Co-founder Dr. Ashok Gowda presented a product where specific scent blends are meant to provide boosts to memory (worksense), sleep, (restsense) and athletic endurance (playsense). Each of these were studied in clinical trials which showed significant percentage increases. The blend is meant to be rolled on underneath your nose with a rollerball design to make it convenient. I find the idea interesting backed up with data gathered in clinical settings. Dr. Gowda has his degree in biomedical engineering which makes me more confident in their conclusions.

The next stop was my first meeting in real life with perfumer Christi Meshell the founder of House of Matriarch. This past year or so has been a transformative time for Ms. Meshell’s brand as she is one of the rare independent perfumers who has expanded into a wider retail space. She began having her perfumes carried by Nordstrom. I’ve written often about how important I think it is to have an independent perfumer breakthrough at the mall. Having the opportunity to check in with her shows a perfumer and brand representative who is passionately dedicated to trying to achieve this. More importantly I got a preview sniff of her next new release, Kazimi. I wore this on one arm for most of the day. My first impression is this is one of her best.

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Abby Wallach co-founder of ScentInvent Technologies introduced me to Linger Lasting Fragrance Primer. Certainly one of the more prevalent consumer complaints is the lasting power of some of their favorite perfumes. Linger is a skin treatment you apply prior to spraying on your perfume. This morning I treated one arm with Linger and the other with nothing. The perfume I sprayed on the Linger patch lasted hours longer than the untreated arm. If you have wanted something which can increase the longevity of a lighter perfume Linger seems to be able to do the trick.

As a blogger with a long time relationship with many brands it can sometimes be frustrating waiting for something I’ve smelled years ago to be released. This was the case with Raw Spirit the fragrance line which has made it a point to use indigenous materials from around the world. What had me anticipating this new release, Mystic Pearl, is the second word in the name. The perfumers have made an extract of pearl which adds an incredible brininess. It is very different than ambergris. This seems saltier which allows it to become more of a focal element to the rest of the perfume.

One more day left in Vegas.

Until then Colognoisseur has left the building.

Mark Behnke

Cosmoprof North America 2016 Day 1 Wrap-Up- The Wide World of Fragrance

As I walked back to my hotel room, through the Manadalay Bay casino, at the end of Day 1 of Cosmoprof North America I realized my thought processes on “the world of fragrance” that according to my logo I like to muse upon had expanded. My HQ for the exposition is the cross roads right inside the entrance where the Discover Scent exhibition is set up. Up and down two crossing aisles are a curated selection from the women behind Sniffapalooza; Karen Adams and Karen Dubin.

For the first part of the day I spent time at the Sniffapalooza booth and talking a bit with the other brands in the Discover Scent section. What I saw was the most diverse international crowd I have seen at an exposition. It is also the largest by a lot. It is an interesting experience to see fragrance in the form of perfume playing a smaller part. Even with that reduced footprint there was constant interaction. I spoke with attendees from every continent except Antarctica. They also had very different ways they want to use scent for the consumers in their countries. This new perspective would be reinforced as I wandered around the show floor.

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The Sniffapalooza booth on Day 1

There are two other curated sections similar to Discover Scent; Discover Green and Discover Beauty. As I walked through them I was struck at how much a factor scent was for these brands.

Discover Green is as you might imagine the section highlighting the eco-conscious natural and organic brands. It could also be subtitled Discover Millennials. It was very clear that the products were aimed directly at that demographic. Nearly every product was scented according to aromatherapy principles. There is a clear desire to use the natural oils which have a cleaner profile. It means there was citrus, lavender, rose, and most unusually avocado. I realized those scents have become an important part of the natural/organic brands. Seeing it all in one place it brought home something I had never put together which in hindsight seems obvious.

Walking in Discover Beauty which gives the opportunity for small entrepreneurial brands a chance to participate in Cosmoprof. In the hair and nail categories scent wasn’t as important. Skin care was another thing. There were choices to make some products smell “serious” by eschewing additional scent. Most of these products touted a new ingredient. There seems to be a thought that you need to smell that ingredient without having some more usual floral ingredient masking it out. It made me consider if the scent of “serious” actually makes an impression on consumers.

By the time I returned to Discover Scent the announcement that the convention hall was closing for the day rang out over the loud speakers.

Tomorrow I will be spending more time with the exhibitors in Discover Scent returning to my more traditional part of the “world of fragrance”

Until tomorrow Colognoisseur has left the building.

Mark Behnke

Colognoisseur is Going to Cosmoprof North America 2016

I am very excited to reveal that I have been invited to attend one of the largest Business-to-Business beauty conventions in the world, Cosmoprof North America 2016. Taking place from July 24-26, 2016 at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas; 30,000 members of the beauty industry will convene.

Cosmoprof covers every conceivable area of the beauty industry. Last year they started a specific section for perfume. Curated by Karen Dubin and Karen Adams of Sniffapalooza the Discover Scent section is an island of fragrance among everything else going on.

I am going to be covering the participants in the Discover Scent area over the three days of the show posting daily wrap-ups as I usually do when attending these kind of expositions.

Some of the brands I’ll be interacting with are:

Demeter Fragrance Library

Fath Essentials

Amerikas, Inc.

House of Matriarch

DefineMe

Scent Invent Technologies

Paglieri 1876

xSense

Besame Cosmetics

I FEEL GREAT

Life Therapy

I am looking forward to seeing what the new brands have to offer and to see what is new for the brands I know of.

Six weeks from now I’ll be channeling my inner Elvis, humming Viva Las Vegas, and bringing you the sights and sounds of Discover Scent at Cosmoprof North America 2016.

Mark Behnke

Sniffapalooza Spring Fling 2016 Wrap-Up- Profumo Comes to the Perfumed Apple

I attended my first Sniffapalooza in October of 2010. For this edition Sniffapalooza Spring Fling 2016, my twelfth, it was the most unique of them all. The reason was in addition to the usual strong lineup of American perfume brands; Europe sent some of their best too. It made the entire weekend feel like it was a summit of perfumery.

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Mark and Team Twisted Lily (Photo: Brooklyn Fragrance Lover)

In what is starting to become a tradition Twisted Lily owners Stamatis Birsimijoglou and Eric Weiser invited the early arrivers to a party on Friday night. Inside the best smelling storefront in Brooklyn we mingled and enjoyed wine and camaraderie. Amongst hugs there was sniffing as attendees discovered the latest additions since last fall. We all headed home prepared for the next two days.

Saturday morning began on the Beauty Floor at Bergdorf-Goodman. The hot new addition to the store was The Fragrance Kitchen. Just the week before there was an SRO party to celebrate its arrival. It is an extensive line but it seems like Bergdorf’s managed to convince them to provide one of the best exclusively to them called A Rose With a View. It is a very NYC modern rose. The brand has been around since 2012 but sold exclusively in Kuwait. Now Sheikh Majed El-Sabah is looking to expand to the US and Europe.

I also got the chance to try the new Ex Nihilo Sweet Morphine and Christian Dior La Colle Noire. I liked both quite a bit. Next it was off to lunch at Brasserie 8 ½.

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Stefania Squeglia presenting a Spring Fling 2016

The presentations began with the owners of Masque Milano Alessandro Brun and Riccardo Tedeschi representing Associazione Caterina. That group is about the heritage and future of Italian perfumery. Over the next hour they took us on a journey from the Roman origins of perfume to the present day. Which turned out to be a perfect segue as Stefania Squeglia of Mendittorosa was one of the later presenters and she represents the current exciting state of Italian perfumery quite well.

Holding up the American end of things Barbara Herman introduced her new perfume brand Eris. Ms. Herman has moved from writing about perfume in her blog Yesterday’s Perfume and her book Scent and Subversion to collaborating with perfumer Antoine Lie. My first impression was they managed to find that tricky balance of vintage aesthetic with a contemporary feel.

A drizzly Sunday morning found us in the Annick Goutal store downtown. Annick Goutal is one of those early pioneer brands in the niche space and it is nice to see it continuing to thrive as the market has diversified around it. It was nice to be reminded of that.

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Mary Gooding (l.) and perfumer Cecile Zarokian presenting Puredistance Sheiduna

After some more wandering around downtown we arrived at lunch where I was the MC. I thought this year’s group was the strongest of all the years I have been doing this part of the weekend. It started with Sigs. Brun and Tedeschi finally representing their own brand Masque Milano. Both of the newest releases Romanza and L’Attesa were revealed. Mary Orlin of Wine Fashionista gave a fabulous presentation tying together the aromas of the wine we were drinking to perfume. A real treat was the European brand Puredistance was presented by Mary Gooding accompanied by perfumer Cecile Zarokian where they told us all about this fall’s new release Sheiduna. The first Oriental for the brand. I had it on my forearm for the ride home and kept returning to it for the rest of the day. Irina Adam presented her Art & Olfaction Finalist Phoenix Botanicals Peach Tree Garden. Paula Pulvino is translating the perfume recipes of her Italian grandmother into her new brand Villa of the Mysteries. The final presenter was mad impresario Stephen Dirkes of Euphorium Brooklyn who took us inside his creative process for Cilice.

It seemed appropriate to finish with a Brooklyn-based brand so we sort of ended where we started.

As always it was another fun, and exhausting weekend, in NYC. Thanks to Karen Adams and Karen Dubin for putting it all together.

Mark Behnke

Colognoisseur Esxence 2016 Final Wrap-Up Part 2- The Top 10 New Fragrances I Tried

This year Esxence 2016 was bigger than ever. As a result, I felt like I was constantly running around trying to get to everything new. I tried 103 new perfumes over the three days. I’m almost certain I left some unsniffed. I’ve spent the 48 hours since being home giving a few of them a second sniff without being in an exposition hall full of fragrance. The list below carries the usual caveats. These are the ten fragrances new to me. There were some premieres, like Olfactive Studio Still Life in Rio, that would have made the list if I had experienced it for the first time at Esxence 2016. The other thing to remember is these are snap impressions off of smelling on strips and having them on a small patches of skin. Here is my list in alphabetical order.

Bruno Acampora Azzurro di Capri– I have been surprised at how much I have been drawn to new aquatics after ignoring the class over the past few years. Azzurro di Capri has all the reasons I have come to reconsider the category. It is at first a typical Mediterranean riff of citrus and jasmine. When it arrives at the musk, patchouli, and amber base this all gains some presence which I found very appealing.

Gabriella Chieffo Maisia– I think a good fig perfume will always capture my attention. Maisia is much better than good. Using fig leaves as green contrast to lemon in the top notes it is in the heart where the fleshy fig bursts to life swathed in spices. What really makes Maisia stand out is the use of broom and narcissus which twist the fig beautifully.

Homoelegans Quality of Flesh– One of two new brands which made a big impression on me. Quality of Flesh is inspired by Francis Bacon. Perfumer Michele Marin composed this as a triptych of triptychs to represent Mr. Bacon’s artistic style. The central note of the top, heart, and base are juniper berry, narcissus, and leather. This has only gotten better the more time I have spent with it.

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Le Galion Cologne Nocturne– My most anticipated perfume of Esxence 2016 did not let me down. Perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux working in collaboration with creative director Nicolas Chabot created a cologne for the evening. What Sr. Flores-Roux has dubbed an “amber water”. It is a fascinating construction which surrounds traditional cologne components with an overload of wood and amber. I love the way this develops on my skin.

Maria Candida Gentile Rrose Selavy– Following up the unique Elephants & Roses perfumer Maria Candida Gentile delivers a densely layered rose. Dedicated to Marcel Duchamp, RRose selavy does not suffer that comparison. Every part of the plant is represented and there are multiple different extracts of the flower itself. If you can’t get enough rose in your perfume Rrose Selavy might be your new favorite.

Masque Milano L’Attesa– The creative team behind Masque Milano, Alessandro Brun and Riccardo Tedeschi, have been giving some of the most creative young perfumers an opportunity to impress. Luca Maffei is the perfumer for L’Attesa. He uses three extracts of iris to elongate its development from first moments until the last. What shows his originality is a fermenting champagne accord. This has a yeasty sour wine aspect which is much better in conjunction with the iris than it might be sound. The key to creating the champagne accord, CO2 extract of beer. Masque Milano is becoming a reliable brand encompassing originality and quality.

Mendittorosa Nettuno– Last year I hit this brand late in the day and did not give it a proper assessment in my rush. This year I stopped by when I had time to chat with creative director Stefania Squeglia. Working with perfumer Amelie Bourgeois again Nettuno is an otherworldly paean to the planet Neptune. I enjoyed the slight chill it opens with before warming up considerably as it folds in leather and rum. This is before bringing the chill back with some white musks in the base.

Nishane Istanbul Fan Your Flames– If you’ve ever wanted a perfume to capture a day smoking tobacco, holding a snifter of fine rum Fan your Flames is it. Creative directors Mert Guzel and Murat Katran have captured their desired shisha experience in this opulent perfume.

Sammarco Bond-T– I’ve been chronicling the lighter gourmands coming out in 2016. It was a pleasure to find a new brand going for an old fashioned deep chocolate gourmand. Owner and perfumer Giovanni Sammarco rolls out a 70% Cacao dark chocolate bar infused with osmanthus. I enjoyed the fearless intensity with which Sig. Sammarco composed Bond-T with.

The Different Company Adjatay– Last alphabetically but first on my list as best in show Adjatay’s brief came from a real life moment from creative director Luc Gabriel. After returning from a trip he left some tuberose flowers in an old leather suitcase. When he returned to it he realized he wanted perfumer Alexandra Monet to capture that smell. Mme Monet has made a mesmerizing perfume of tuberose encased in leather refined and roughened as a well-used suitcase should be. Her leather accord is just right to ensnare the boisterous tuberose. The more I wear it the more I fall under its spell.

This concludes my coverage of Esxence 2016. Longer reviews of everything on the list are forthcoming as well as many others not mentioned here. Thank you for following along the last few days on Colognoissuer.

Mark Behnke