Esxence 2015 Day 2 Wrap: Will the Real Oud Please Stand Up?

As everyone is aware the use of oud in perfumery has exploded. Day 2 of Esxence 2015 was bookended by experiencing a new fragrance using real oud and Michael Edwards speaking on the history of oud coming to Western perfumery. In between there was a lot more to see and experience.

I started my day out with Jul et Mad who were premiering the White collection consisting of Nea, Garuda, and Min-Shar. I was fortunate to have perfumer Luca Maffei on hand to guide me through the collection as he was responsible for Nea and Garuda. It was the latter which really caught my attention. Sig. Maffei spoke of his use of Cambodian oud in the heart of Garuda. What was very interesting was his use of rum to attenuate the strong medicinal qualities that particular oud has. The brief was to make Garuda glow like a room lined with gold in the sunlight. Sig. Maffei did that and then some.

The breakout brand of last year’s Esxence was Le Galion and the revival of perfumer Paul Vacher’s line. I was very interested to see where Le Galion would set sail for this year. Owner Nicolas Chabot presented six new perfumes to me. Of those six, three are brand new compositions. Perfumer Vanina Murraciole was responsible for the two new ones in the main collection, Cuir and Aesthete. Aesthete is the one that I like most. Both Cuir and Aesthete are leather fragrances but where Cuir feels like a throwback to the leather perfumes of the past, Aesthete feels contemporary. It is that modernity that draws me to it. Sig.ra Murraciole has made a pair of fabulous new addition that show Le Galion is well on their way to continuing M. Vacher’s legacy.

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Photo by Miguel Sandinha

If there was one note I was both anticipating and dreading trying this year it was the wasabi note promised in the new Olfactive Studio Panorama. As always it is based on a photograph. This time it is of the Sheats Goldstein house in Los Angeles by photographer Miguel Sandinha. As you can see in the picture above there are two modern aspects the skyline of LA off in the distance and the glass corner of the house on the right side. What you should notice if you want to get a sense of Panorama is that well over half of the picture is green. Panorama is a fragrance of unusual green facets. Perfumer Clement Gavarry and Creative Director/Owner Celine Verleure combined to make something very green and very current. What about that wasabi note? It is amazingly good in this perfume.

My favorite new discovery of Day 2 was X-Ray Profumo Amnesia. Inspired by the nightclub in Ibiza and not the mental affliction. Perfumer Ralf Schwieger has made a vibrant perfume which captures the beat of an oceanside club pulsing into the dawn from the night before. As with the wasabi in Panorama the keynote in Amnesia is another strange choice which works. Hr. Schwieger has developed a seaweed and sea salt accord. By itself it would probably smell like low tide and unpleasant. Forming the nucleus of Amnesia it allows all the other surrounding fresh notes to dance the night away on the beach with abandon.

Final stop on Day 2 was Michaels Edwards’ talk on oud and how it came to the West. Raise your hand if you thought YSL M7 was the first Western oud fragrance. Mr. Edwards showed us it was Balenciaga pour Homme which pre-dated M7. In a talk where he showed us a bottle of real oud extract worth $50,000 to start; we were given strip after strip to see how oud has been developed by the very best perfumers we have over the last few years. If there was ever a need to be shown that oud remains relevant in Western perfumery Mr. Edwards provided it.

That’s the end of Day 2. My final day is straight ahead and I’ll be dashing through the show like a madman.

Mark Behnke

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