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Top Takeaways from Esxence 2023

Published May 28, 2023
Published May 28, 2023
Sarah Baker Fragrances

By all counts, Esxence 2023 was a resounding success. As Silvio Levi, co-founder of Esxence and Director of the Essencional Study Centre, attests, “This 13th edition of Esxence has confirmed very clearly what a fundamental role Esxence has played in recent years at the international level. I am very pleased that it validated the extreme verve of the sector at the international level.”

Extreme verve indeed! According to a recent MarketWatch report, the global luxury niche perfume market size, which was valued at $2,949.89 million in 2022, is expected to reach $6,207.16 million by 2028.

Clearly reveling in current buoyancy, and these projected numbers indicating room for huge amounts of growth well into the foreseeable future, players in this unique segment of the industry have been boldly investing renewed energy in and dedication to the production of an even larger and more diverse niche fragrance offering of high-quality, inspiring, and original products. It was a heady experience to participate in the yeasty atmosphere at Esxence 2023, in which individuals and brands, spurred on by their own and fellow players' passions, added their inspiration, talent, and plain-old hard work to the task of blasting niche fragrances to the next level.

True to Esxence’s own predictions, the number of 2023 visitors and brands was up considerably compared to 2022: 10,300 visitors (up from 9,000) and 298 brands (versus 279). While Esxence 2022 was still very much about the end of COVID lockdowns, with people emerging like moles from tunnels of isolation to the happiness of simply being with people again, Esxence 2023 was about the happiness of doing business again.

Esxence 2023 was also significantly different from 2022 because of continuous and numerous increases in virtual communications by which people never completely disconnected from each other between formal events. Speaking from personal experience, conversations, projects, and relationships begun during Pitti Fragranze 2022 or Cannes during TFWA 2022 hardly even slowed down before the beginning of Esxence 2023, and instead continued to build and blossom virtually, when not physically.

In addition to keeping people connected, this inexorable increase in virtual communications eliminates a lot of the “chitchat" necessary for opening or reopening communications, thus freeing up time for deeper relationships, increased imagination, creativity, and confidence. The perfumes, the programs, the entire ambiance at Esxence radiated this additional energy.

From conversations with players in every category, people were both exalted and exhausted during the weeks immediately before and after Esxence—passionately and deeply committed to the niche fragrance industry, thrilled to have found their place in it, and inspired to make their contribution one of excellence and inspiration. As Ulrich Lang, owner and founder of brand Ulrich Lang New York—which celebrates its twentieth anniversary in 2023—and who has attended every edition of Esxence since the very first one, notes, “I can definitely say that Esxence 2023 truly acknowledged that niche is here to stay—with so many new brands emerging onto the scene. Opportunities and choices galore for retailers and consumers alike but more than ever, as with any ‘bandwagon business,’ it will need a close look and sniff to find out what’s really new, different and—dare I say it—authentic.”

Brands to Watch

In addition to continued and growing success of the large, established players, such as Nishane, Amouage, Pierre Guillaume Paris, Calé, Xerjoff, Ex Nihilo, and The Different Company, a number of smaller brands, including one rapidly rising star, caught my eye with powerful and innovative fragrances and concepts.

Rising Star - Thomas De Monaco

Everything is brilliant and burnished about Thomas De Monaco—the vision, the fragrances, the packaging. Thomas De Monaco, the man and his work, embody what one might dream of when crossing the threshold to the rarified world of truly artistic niche fragrances: source energy channeled through immense artistic talent, honed through meticulous work with first-class raw materials, and attuned to the human dimensions of desire and sensuality.

The Thomas De Monaco story is also the real thing. Based in Zürich and Paris, Thomas De Monaco is a photographer and artist, as well as Creative Director of Thomas De Monaco Parfums.  In the three short years since the 2020 launch of Raw Gold in a limited first edition by perfumer Fredrik Dalman, the fragrance and the brand have risen to cult status among perfumistas worldwide. Inspired by sharp-edged, sometimes aching memories of the late ’60s / early ’70s, an unbridled desire for absolute personal and sexual freedom, and by Michelangelo Antonioni’s equally sharp-edged 1970 film Zabriskie Point, Raw Gold is a highly seductive take-no-prisoners fragrance. Thrilling and intense in its opening, Raw Gold, like its wildly sensual inspiration, delivers a profound and carnal perfume experience through notes that include leather, lipstick, civet, and opoponax, and which like the fleeting moments of its inspiration, never looks back and is gone before dawn.

In the autumn of 2022, Thomas De Monaco launched two more fragrances, Eau Coeur and Grand Beau, both by perfumer Maurus Bachmann, and both offering a softer sensuality than Raw Gold. Eau Coeur, grounded, reassuring, sensual like honey, and warm like softly pulsing skin, seems destined, as its name suggests, to be worn close to the heart. As for Grand Beau, less integral and more outgoing and social than Eau Coeur, it still feels intimately connected, like the life experiences and people whom over time I can claim as my own, and who, unlike Raw Gold, will still be with me in the morning. 

Parfums Dusita Paris

All Parfums Dusita fragrances evoke some personal aspect of Pissara Umavijani, the lovely owner and Creative Director of Parfums Dusita. Inspired by the poems of her late father, the distinguished Montri Umavijani, world traveler, public speaker, and dreamer, all are emotionally evocative, classy, exotic, and shimmering.

Founded in 2016, Parfums Dusita is an expression of Pissara’s upbringing in Thailand, interpreted for Western tastes through her life and experience as a Parisian. In 2017, a year after its founding, Parfums Dusita won a prestigious Art and Olfaction Award for the fragrance Mélodie de l'Amour, a perfume love song with the gentle seductiveness of flowers and honey. At Esxence, Parfums Dusita presented its newest creation, Rosarine, a fruity, spicy and earthy rose-centered fragrance to be released in May.

Comporta Perfumes

Founded in Portugal in 2017 by Pedro Simões Dias, Comporta Perfumes recreates experiences, olfactory moments, and stories around Comporta, a “boho chic” village on the northern Alentejo coast of Portugal.

Perfumer Miguel Matos first introduced me to Comporta Perfumes at the Pitti Fragranze trade show in 2021, where his full-frontal fragrance, Bravo, a wild and unusual take on fig, spoke directly to the disturbing, unpredictable craziness of the times immediately following COVID lockdowns in Europe. Indeed, Miguel’s explanation of how he created Bravo seems uncannily similar to the way people coped with COVID lockdowns. As Miguel told me, “I don’t like fig fragrances, so I twisted and turned the notes, added oakmoss, marine notes, and an overdose of stemone to come up with something that worked for me.”

At Esxence 2023, Comporta presented the extrait de parfum Will, the newest fragrance in its Master & Apprentice Collection line by perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour and his former apprentice at L’Artisan Parfumeurs, the perfumer Stéphanie Bakouche. Will is a vertical scent fusion perfume representing desire for the unknown, a turning point, and new beginnings.  Pedro Simões Dias describes its concept as that of “the purity to be found on the vertex of a diamond.”


I learned about Romeo Oh, founder of OHTOP, from Nathalie Garnier of the Paris-based PR firm What Ever She Wants. Intrigued by the originality of Romeo Oh’s story as a Parisian cosmetics and perfume brand owner of dual Franco-Korean culture, I made an appointment to meet him at Esxence, and was immediately charmed by the wide-open youthfulness in his smile and demeanor, and surprised by the wearability of his unusually conceived fragrances.

My favorite, Ohsphalte, is a bright, uplifting fragrance, in which I smell the old and dusty asphalt of the myriad concrete roads we all know, and perhaps deplore as we regret paving over the earth. It reminds me that there’s always at least one positive element in any negative situation. In Romeo’s case, Ohsphalte represents the promise of a brighter future offered by the only paved highway leading out of the small rural hometown of his boyhood in Korea.

All OHTOP fragrances address existential tensions: Paranoïaque represents that space between the face we show the world and the mind we hide within; I Hate Rose conjures the smell of pain and injury in the broken branch of a rosebush.

LilaNur Parfums

A fragrance brand born in Madurai, India, crafted in Grasse, France, and co-created by Anita Lal and Paul Austin, LilaNur Parfums is a selection of majestic flora, honoring the ancient olfactive heritage of deeply sensuous oils such as attars (a traditional Indian scenting tradition), teamed up with the resources of Firmenich Innovation Lab in Grasse. Composed by French perfumers Honorine Blanc, Clément Gavarry, Fabrice Pellegrin, and Olivier Cresp, each fragrance of the introductory line showcases a particular note, such as vetiver, jasmine, sandalwood, and tuberose. In addition to seven eaux de parfums, there are three attar absolus: rose, tuberose, and jasmine.

Marc-Antoine Barrois Parfums

Marc-Antoine Barrois is a couturier turned perfume brand owner, in the tradition of Paul Poiret (1879-1944), considered the first fashion designer to introduce his own perfumes, and the better-known couturière Coco Chanel, whose fragrance Chanel No. 5 led her to fame and fortune. The debonair Barrois launched his first fragrance B683 in 2016 with Givaudan perfumer Quinten Biche. The name is inspired by the asteroid of The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and by the birth date of the couturier who made it his own imaginary planet. The Marc-Antoine Barrois / Quinten Biche team, a match seemingly made in heaven, launched Ganymede in 2019, another leather-based perfume with a fresh and mineral quality.

At Esxence 2023, Marc-Antoine Barrois Parfums launched Ganymede Extrait, a sophisticated and carnal spicy leather, sprung from yet another imaginary universe, a planet covered with warm velvet dunes where the spicy and caramelized everlasting flower is preponderant. The fiery heart of this fragrance reminds us that the gods gave Ganymede eternal life so his beauty would never fade.

Nobile 1942

Our inner strength comes from our fragility. If Nobile 1942's fragrance Rudis (2014) is dedicated to strength, Shamal (2018) to perseverance, and Malia (2015) to the art of seduction, Petali e Spade (which translates to “Flower and Sword”) (2022) is dedicated to fragility, not as a synonym of weakness, but rather as an inner strength. Petali e Spade first seduced me in 2022 in Cannes during TFWA when Stefania Giannino, co-founder of Nobile 1942, introduced me to this floral aldehyde fragrance by perfumer Antonio Alessandria. Its inspiration comes from Xiao Mei, the blind dancer protagonist of the film The Forest of Flying Daggers, and is dedicated to all the Xiao Meis of the world who advance with steady steps even on paths they don’t know, and who bend but do not break under the hardships of life.

All this speaks directly to our current transformative times, during which increasing awareness that seeming opposite and clashing masculine and feminine energies such as flexibility and strength have equal weight and value. Those who have read Riane Eisler’s seminal book The Chalice and the Blade (1987) will recognize the aforementioned shared theme with Petali e Spade. On another and more personal note, the sky-blue Petali e Spade bottle, encrusted with grainy gold flakes, is a pleasure to hold and behold and is one of my favorites of all time.

Sarah Baker Perfumes

American-born artist, actress, writer, perfumer, brand owner, and long-time resident of London, Sarah Baker first began developing perfumes in 2014 as a contemporary art project with the Institute for Art and Olfaction in Los Angeles. In fact, the first time I met Sarah was at the 2017 Art and Olfaction Awards held in Berlin, and a year later when she was a judge for the 2018 edition of these prestigious awards, this time held in London.

In 2015 Sarah founded Sarah Baker Perfumes as a fragrance house in its own right, describing her fragrances as works of art that simultaneously stand their ground in the grand traditions of the best perfumery. In 2016, the Sarah Baker Perfumes brand launched its first two fragrances, Leopard and Greek Keys by perfumer Ashley Eden Kessler. In 2020 Sarah Baker signed her first two fragrances as a nose for her house, G Clef and Flame & Fortune.

My favorites, among other of her notable fragrances, are Jungle Jezebel by Miguel Matos, inspired by cult performer and singer Divine, with a heady mélange of tropical fruits to express a wildly out-of-control attitude, and Charade by Andreas Wilhelm. Sophisticated and classic, Charade combines notes of tuberose, ylang-ylang, styrax, leather, and others to illustrate the best qualities of a good double agent—impeccable taste with a few surprises.

Kajal Perfumes

Kajal Perfumes is a self-declared luxury fragrance house whose inspiration comes from the beauty world. Kajal is the natural kohl product that protects and beautifies the eyes, while the Arabic word “khajal” means humble, modest, and viewing others with dignity and respect. Seductive by nature, all Kajal perfumes, whether floral, spicy, or fruity, exude luxury and well-being through their refined and distinctive sillage.

The Kajal fragrances launched in 2023, in the core Classic collection, are Masa, the Arabic name for a singular diamond, representing patience and hope, created by perfumer Marc Daniel Heimgartner; and Faris (from perfumer Urs Castelletti), a name of Arabic origins meaning knight, and representing strength, respect, and courage.

Ellen Dahlgren

Ellen Dahlgren is owner and creative director of Ellen Dahlgren, an eponymous, bespoke, and tailored—by appointment only—niche fragrance house, launched in 2018 in Stockholm, Sweden. Ellen chose Esxence 2023 to launch the commercial side of her brand, also named Ellen Dahlgren. Inspired by psychology and the Jungian theory of archetypes, Ellen chose to break onto the commercial scene with two “disruption scents” as she calls them, yin/yang versions of each other, each with its own persona, character, and traits.

First, The Jester, mischievous, green, and sunny, with only a faint shadow lingering in the background, and second, The Ruler, aristocratic, elegant, with green and velvety warmth. Defining the ethos of her brand as the embodiment of subversive, artisanal haute perfume for freethinkers, Ellen believes that embracing a dark eccentricity is the most authentic representation of life. People are complicated. Beauty is flawed.

Created and refined in her independent laboratory in Stockholm, and bottled in small batches in Grasse, Ellen's perfumes celebrate her gift for reimagining classic raw ingredients to attain evocative contemporary scent profiles.

As for my own reaction to her new fragrances, I’ve found that simultaneously wearing The Jester and The Ruler on opposite wrists reminds me that when confronted with situations that pull me too far in one direction or another, I can, without abandoning who I am, regain balance by simply “leaning” in the other direction until I find the correct nuance of my character with the stability I need.

High Demand for Talented Perfumers (Noses) at All Levels

A clear indication of the massive demand for talented perfumers at all levels was the large number of perfumers circulating at Esxence. In addition to major perfumers from large houses such as Olivier Cresp (Firmenich) and Jean Claude Ellena (former in-house perfumer at Hermès ), Esxence visitors were happy to catch glimpses of, and even a word with, important independent perfumers such as Nathalie Fiesthauer, Mark Buxton, Antoine Lie, Cécile Zarokian, Luca Maffei, Antonio Alessandria, Michele Marine, and Celeste Lombardo; as well as perfumers for small independent groups, such as Flair (Amélie Bourgeois and Anne-Sophie Behagel), and Maelstrom (Patrice Revillard and Marie Schnirer).

I was especially happy to spend some quality time with the following perfumers and to learn more about how their fragrances for large and small brands have shaped and continue to define the present and future of the industry.

Nathalie Feisthauer 

A graduate of the prestigious Roure (now Givaudan) perfumery school in Grasse, Feisthauer began her career in major companies, Givaudan (1983-2008) and Symrise (2008-2014). Since then, she has flourished as an independent perfumer, creating for a diversity of both commercial and alternative prestigious niche brands of brands, including Putain des Palaces for Etat Libre D’Orange, Eau des Merveilles for Hermès, Must for Men for Cartier, Cuir d’Orient for Sous Le Manteau, Pélargonium for Aedes de Venustas, and Nam Chaa for Parfumeurs du Monde.

Mark Buxton

A self-described globetrotter with a distinctly recognizable signature, Mark says, “I look forward. I don’t look back, always looking for something new.”

The first time I met Mark Buxton was at Esxence 2013 when I felt the gut-wrench quickening, sharp, and uplifting powers of vetiver in his fragrance Emotional Rescue. Later I discovered another one of my all-time favorite fragrances, Fulgor, one of several he created for Silvio Lévi’s brand, Calé Fragranze d'Autore, which Silvio describes as a perfume for our times—lightning striking on granite.

Mark’s company, Mark Buxton Perfumes has created fragrances for some of the most iconic and inspiring brands including Comme des Garçons, the Brooklyn Soap Company, and Atelier PMP.  On a personal note, Mark was one of the first people to encourage me when I confided my thoughts to him about writing my book, Bad Girls Perfume: Tips & Tales (2016). I’ll always remember the moment, while standing in an aisle at Esxence 2013, when Mark exclaimed, “Now you’re talking!” Just another example of the importance of Esxence, year in and year out, for bringing perfumes and perfume people together.

Miguel Matos

I have to admit it took me several years before I got up the nerve to approach Miguel Mathos, so impressed was I by the insightfulness of his writing as an editor for, the forcefulness of his fragrances, and the powerful confidence of his personage.

When I finally did, I was bowled over by his openness, and sincere, thoughtful answers to questions, reflective of the carefully honed values he holds dear for the niche perfume industry—and, by his wicked humor. His fragrances are about all of this. Jungle Jezebel for Sarah Baker Perfumes and Bravo for Comporta are among my favorites. In addition to creating for his own fragrance line Miguel Matos Olfactory Art, Mathos creates for numerous other brands including Bruno Acampora, A13, Azman, Calaj, Der Duft, Le Frag, Livia Rus, Mai Senza Profumo, Manos Gerakinis, Mirads, nBitor, Nishane, and Renier.

At Esxence 2023, Miguel launched Punk, a woody spicy fragrance composed for the new brand The Anarchist, and (outside the Esxence venue) presented his upcoming scent for Kinetic Barcelona, Insomnia.

Alexandre Isaie Helwani

Alexandre Helwani first appeared in my life in 2018 through his astute and poetically written blog The Perfume Chronicles, and over subsequent years we got to know each other through fragrance events in Paris and European trade shows.

Over coffee at the Marché Saint Honoré one afternoon in early 2021, Alexandre shared his hopes about possible perfume collaborations some time in the near future. Near it was! Less than six months later at the December 2021 launch of a new collection for the brand Parfumeurs du Monde, he confided that he had to pinch himself to believe he had signed his first fragrance, Makeda, as a perfumer in such rarified company as Michele Rudniska, Nathalie Feisthauer, Bernard Duchaufour, and Thierry Bernard. A few months later at Les Rives de la Beauté 2022, he presented Tong Ren, his creation for Deana Wyland’s brand Elementals, and Personne for Olivia Bransbourg’s brand Attache-Moi. Later in the same year, he created Nusa Dua for TikTok influencer Manon Pasquier.

If you think I’m going to stop long enough for you to catch your breath, don’t kid yourself. There’s more, so much more, coming up in the near future (i.e., now) for this talented and lovable (Helwani means “the sweet” in Arabic) young writer, dreamer, and now perfumer.

Taking Care of Other People and the World Through Fragrances


Ruth Sutcliffe, founder and owner of The Scent Guru Group, and formerly the fragrance designer at Coty New York, began creating fragrances for awakening the senses when her own mother began suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. In 2016 she developed Essential Awakenings, a collection of scents with the watchwords “smell,” “recall,” and “connect,” for retirement communities, for whom she gave programs and developed partnerships.

Her most recent sensory kit project is a more comprehensive MindScent replacing the watchword “recall” with “discover,” designed for people with developmental disabilities and speech communication impairments such as autism. Both kits are being purchased and used for sensory integration by educators, assisted-living communities, and hospitals, as well as occupational and speech therapists worldwide. Later in 2023 Ms. Sutcliffe will introduce her Scent Therapy – Hierarchy of Needs Fine Fragrance Collection. The hierarchy of needs are water, sanctuary, love, freedom, and full bloom.

Parfumeurs du Monde

I first met Thierry Bernard, Creative Director of Parfumeurs du Monde, in front of the Jovoy booth at Esxence 2017 where he launched his fragrance brand Parfumeurs du Monde, composed of 100% natural raw materials. While clamoring for photos in the dense crowd surrounding the event, Michelyn Camen, Editor-in-Chief, Publisher, and Director of Ç and I remarked to each other how people seem to be instinctively drawn to a good thing when they see it. Good thing, indeed! Parfumeurs du Monde was an early pioneer in what was once considered a fringe category in the beauty industry. “Eco-friendly” and “clean” fragrances, as they are called by industry watchers, continue to become more mainstream, and are in particularly high demand among Gen Z and millennial consumers.

Parfumeurs du Monde is a finger-on-the-pulse highly ethical brand doing good things for perfumery and the world. Both in the ethos of the brand, as one would expect in terms of sourcing and production, but also at the deeply personal level in the way Thierry Bernard manages his brand, with a kind and gentle approach too often missing even in supposedly ethical brands, which engenders mutual respect and support among all players, often through humor. Thierry clearly values raw materials and people, and there is an amazing good-humored cohesiveness among the independent perfumers he brings together around an olfactory palette, admittedly limited by its 100% natural boundaries, but which in the hands of such a daring and talented group proves to be a rare, complex, and luxurious palette.

His perfumers include a healthy mix of experienced players and newcomers, the well and lesser known, all extremely talented. In alphabetical order they include:  Ellen Dahlgren (Tjärn), Bertrand Duchaufour (Petite Fumée), Nathalie Feisthauer (Nam Chaa), Isabelle Gellé (Androgyne 16020), Jean-Claude and Eric Gidodot (Tundzha), Alexandre Isaie Helwani (Makeda), Clémentine Humeau (Brin de Peau), Michele Roudnitska (Agua Nativa), Perrine Scandel (Izwe), and Thierry Bernard himself (Les Larmes d'Aden).

Thierry Bernard’s raw material sourcing is impeccable, through Olivier Maure’s company Accords et Parfums, as it is original and diverse, through Stéphane Piquart, an independent perfume raw materials sourcer who travels the world searching for unusual and original scents.

Two’s Company, Three’s the Charm, Four on the Floor, and Going for More!

Though not a new phenomenon, since Rania Naim, François Hénin, and Anaïs Biguine have owned more than one brand for as long as I’ve known them (approximately 10 years), there’s been a clear upswing over the past few years of brand owners taking the leap of creating second and third brands.  Even more evidence of the enormous and variable potential in the market for well-conceived and managed niche perfume brands.

While at Esxence, I asked the question, “What motivated you to create multiple brands?” to brand owners Nicolas Chabot (Le Gallion, Aether, and HeadSpace), Luc Gabriel (The Different Company, Wide Society, and Cherigan), and Rania Naim (Jacques Fath, Isabey, Matières Libres, Panouge Paris, and Masaki).

Luc Gabriel, who sometimes refers to his three brands like a family, said, “You need to have a solidly successful first brand, to start with. Then a clear idea of each brand’s separate identity and which segment of the market each would serve, manage them like separate children at different stages of development, and have a sense of adventure.”

To the best of my knowledge here’s the current score among niche fragrance industry figures:

Four or More Brands

  • Rania Naim, 5 brands:  Panouge Paris, Jacques Fath, Isabey, Matières Libres, and the masstige brand, Masaki. 
  • Anaïs Biguine, 4 brands: Jardins des Ecrivains, Chapel Factory, Gri Gri Parfums, and Les Cocottes de Paris.

Three brands

  • Luc Gabriel: The Different Company, Wide Society, and Cherigan.
  • Nicolas Chabot: Le Gallion, Aether, and HEADSPACE.

Two Brands 

  • Gérald Ghislain: Histoires de Parfum and Olbanium.
  • Etienne de Swardt: Etat Libre D’Orange and La Second Affaire du Pommier
  • François Hénin: Jovoy and Jeroboam.
  • Karl Brandl: Aedes de Venustas (with Robert Gerstner) and Nomenclature (only Karl).

Creative Sample Packs

Full of bright creativity, humor, and great PR, an array of creative sample packs has been descending on the perfume scene lately, like tiny jewel-toned comets of micro-charged energy. Yet another indication of comfortable-enough budgets among players to devote even more creativity to supposedly “nonessentials.” Bring them on! First, because they’re so pleasurable to see and hold, and second, because … they simplify my life. Especially the ones that simply slide in and out. No tuck-in cardboard corners that tear and break off, and unlike traditional mesh bags or cardboard “foldovers,” they protect samples from being crushed and broken. I’m sure they also help sales, and I imagine my buyer, distributor, and agent friends agree. Why?

Imagine the situation: I’ve just arrived home, exhausted after four days at Esxence with a suitcase full of samples. Which do I pick out first? The “eye candy,” of course—the colorful ones, the fun ones, the unique-looking ones. And of these, which do I most appreciate? The most efficient ones. For me, these are the little slide-out (matchbox style) sample packs (ideal measurements: 3.5 x 2.5 x 0.5 inches).

My favorites this year? Sarah Baker’s matchbox sets in several sizes, containing three to eight samples each, with a tiny full-color illustrated fold-out description notice tucked inside; Etat Libre D’Orange’s flip-top reinforced cardboard four-pack that resembles an elegant pre-war cigarette box, the kind some debonair spy would casually pull out of his inside vest pocket as proof of identity to his elite underground unit; and of course, Perfume.Sucks’ cylindric “crayon” pack of seven samples. After all the hard work of a show like Esxence, can my inner child come out to play?

Connecting the Dots – Awards, Conferences, Parties, and Celebrations

Announcement of Art and Olfaction Awards Finalists

In partnership with Silvio Lévi and Esxence 2023, The Institute for Art and Olfaction announced the finalists for the 9th Art and Olfaction Awards. Launched in 2014, the Art and Olfaction Awards have become a highly distinguished recognition of excellence in the field of independent perfumery. The Art and Olfaction Awards are designed to raise interest and awareness for independent and artisan perfumers and experimental practitioners with scent by shining a spotlight on perfumery’s most outstanding creators, and to help generate support for independent practices in perfumery as a whole.

The winners were announced in a gala ceremony at the historic Cicada Club in downtown Los Angeles on Thursday, May 11, 2023. 

For a full list of awards and winners, please refer to my article  entitled, “Keeping the Edge of Niche Fragrances Sharp: Art and Olfaction Awards Winners, Finalists, and Honorable Mentions” in the online fragrance magazine

Esxence 2023 was the scene of two important anniversary celebrations. One was the 75th anniversary of Robert Piguet Parfums’s all-time cult fragrance Fracas (which in French means “noisy disturbance” or “quarrel”), an over-the-top white floral tuberose created in 1948 by one of the first woman perfumers, Germaine Cellier.

Not to be outdone, Ulrich Lang celebrated the 20th anniversary of his namesake brand Ulrich Lang New York with the launch of his newest fragrance, the positive and optimistic Suncrest that smells (and seduces) like a ripe, juicy peach.

The Vast Reach of Silvio Lévi’s Influence

Every spring, a week or so after Esxence, a strategically coordinated “Scent Bar” party takes place in Paris, at the NOSE Paris perfume shop. This perfect coordination of the party with Esxence is no accident. Silvio Lévi is co-founder and co-owner of NOSE Paris.

Guests are invited to sniff the contents of unmarked goblets, and only after they choose one (or more) are they told the name of the fragrance. What did I discover at the NOSE “Scent Bar” party? None other than BDK, a fragrance brand I had been disappointed not to visit at Esxence due to a scheduling issue. Specifically, the fragrance I chose was “Gris Chanel Extrait” by perfumer Mathilde Bijaoui. Ah, happy endings…

And the Beat Goes On…

Thus ends the intense excitement of Esxence 2023, the most important event in the niche fragrance year. Yet, the end of Esxence is only the beginning of a crucial new cycle in which players at every level follow up on what had only just begun there— promises, plans, agreements. Retailers review and complete their spring/summer orders for new and existing brands, while in turn, brands coordinate with large and small composition houses for fulfillment and delivery of their precious fragrances around the world. Michael Edwards’ team at Fragrances of the World applies itself to the arduous task of evaluating and classifying fragrances for the 298 brands presented there. Journalists and bloggers do their best to tell the tale. PR teams spin it. Influencers boost it. Meanwhile, somewhere hidden deep behind the scenes, brand owners and creative directors are already conferring with perfumers and raw material providers in the top-secret elaboration of new fragrance creations for end-of-year/holiday collections to be presented at the autumn trade fairs: Pitti Fragranze, in Florence (September 15-17), and Cannes during TFWA (October 1-5). Another full year’s cycle in the fabulous history of niche perfumery.


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