One of my favorite movie and literary characters is Wiily Wonka. As created by writer Roald Dahl in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and assayed on screen by Gene Wilder and Johnny Depp Willy Wonka is a genius of confection. His factory turns out the most amazing candy but chocolate is his specialty. What I enjoy about the character on either the printed page or the silver screen is despite being childlike in his desire to create sweets there is a hidden sour underneath which peeks out when provoked by poor behavior. That concealed danger beneath the faux(?) innocence creates a complex character. When I was at Esxence 2016 I met a young perfumer by the name of Giovanni Sammarco. He showed me his line of four perfumes he has released under his name, Sammarco. When he handed me the strip with Bond-T on it I was immediately reminded of Willy Wonka. Bond-T is a chocolate gourmand with hints of danger within.
Sig. Sammarco was inspired to create Bond-T by his own visit to a real chocolate factory. On his website he wrote that he wanted Bond-T to be, “It is the smell of the chocolate factory, it is a smell of exotic place, the cocoa absolute with patchouli, and a touch of osmanthus.” If Bond-T was just that it would be a terrific slab of chocolate fragrance. Except Sig. Sammarco also has a bit of a subversive side as a slug of animalic ingredients provide the hidden sneer.
From the first moments I wore Bond-T I was enclosed in a deep cocoa and patchouli chord. This has been done many times over the years except Sig. Sammarco has elicited something different. I am not sure if it is the specific materials he is using or the amount of them in the formula but together there is a rich alcoholic component sort of sweet like brandy. I like the unpredictable arising from the predictable. Osmanthus provides a fascinating intermezzo as the apricot and leather quality adds the expected and sets the stage for the unexpected. That is the leather nature of the osmanthus is but a prelude to a feral stalking castoreum. The animalic nature transforms the innocence into something with a dangerous grin you might be best advised to be wary of.
Bond-T has 18-20 hour longevity and above average sillage.
I haven’t encountered a truly great gourmand in a long while. Bond-T ends that drought. This is a fabulously complex construct from the mind of Sig. Sammarco. It is so good I am going to check for Oompa Loompas the next time we meet. If you’ve ever wanted a bit of subversive growl with your sweetness Bond-T will fit the bill.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Sammarco at Esxence 2016.
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.
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.
One of the perfumes I was most excited to try prior to arriving at Esxence 2016 was where I began Day 2. At Esxence 2014 I learned of Nicolas Chabot’s resurrection of Le Galion and was impressed by his dedication to returning a heritage brand so faithfully. As impressed as I was with that; over the two years since M. Chabot has delivered modern new creations in the brand’s style. The two newest are from perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux called Cologne and Cologne Nocturne. Cologne is a classically executed version of the style. Cologne Nocturne is Sr. Flores-Roux’s version of a Cologne Nouveau which takes cologne from the light of day and through a heart of spicy lavender deep into the darkness of patchouli.
Luca Maffei is one of those precocious young talents who with each new release I find new respect for. When I stopped by Masque Milano to try the new L’Attesa I received something completely surprising. Co-owner/creative director Alessandro Brun handed me a card with the perfume sprayed upon it and talked about it being an iris fragrance which would float on a surface of a unique champagne accord. Sig. Maffei wasn’t looking to recreate the bubbly effervescence of the finished product. Instead his accord would be earlier when the champagne is fermenting with a bit of the yeasty lees apparent making it more sour. It is a perfect complement to the three rich sources of orris used. When I asked about the creation of this accord I was informed the key ingredient was a CO2 extract of beer. This is a fascinating new riff on iris from a brand who is excelling at using young talent.
Of course the perfumers who have been part of the artistic perfumery movement from its earliest days are also not to be overlooked. Mark Buxton showed me his Rock and Roll rose called A Day in My Life. It is a densely layered rose which deepened the longer it stayed on my skin.
At this time I was part of the panel who presented the finalists for this year’s The Art and Olfaction Awards. I was one of the finalist judges this year and I was very curious to find out what it was I had been judging in those anonymous little vials a month ago. Here is the list of this year’s Finalists:
Albino (A Study in White)- DSH Perfumes
Bird of Paradise- Thorn & Bloom Perfume
Cape Cod Wild Beach Rose- Nomaterra
Incendo- La Curie
Love for 3 Oranges- Aether Arts Perfume
Musk Rose Attar- Rising Phoenix Perfumery
Namibia- Frazer Parfum
Peach Tree Garden- Phoenix Botanicals
Salome- Papillon Perfumery
Panorama- Olfactive Studio
Waiheke Dreams- Juliana Parfums Co.
Fougere Nobile- Nobile 1942
Salim Attar- Tabacora Parfums
Nea- Jul et Mad
Past | Presence- Roads
Dark Ride- Xyrena
Elephant & Roses- Maria Candida Gentile
Rose de Taif Extract- Perris Monte Carlo
Bat- Zoologist Perfumes
Century’s Breath- Cat Jones
Dark Enemy- Christy Gast
The Juice of War- Maki Ueda
Signal- Carrie Peterson
Western Drive- Kellen Walker
Being part of this process has been one of the highlights of my time writing about perfume. Now I get to go back to being a fan waiting to see who the winners are in a month’s time.
After the announcement it was back out to try a new brand Sammarco. Owner perfumer Giovanni Sammarco has opened with four releases. The one which caught my attention was Bond-T. Inspired by a visit to a chocolate factory Sig. Sammarco has gone Willy Wonka with a mix of deep cocoa, patchouli, tobacco, and osmanthus. The osmanthus is the note which pulls this together into something very interesting. The apricot character provides a bit of leavening fruitiness the leathery nature of osmanthus provides an animalic grace note. A really nice way to end my day encased in a shell of dark chocolate.
I’ll be back tomorrow with my last day at Esxence 2016.