One of my most exciting Esxence moments was witnessing the triumphant re-birth of a fine old French perfume brand, Le Galion – Maison de Parfumerie, more than 30 years after its creation.
Originally founded in 1930 by a certain Prince Murat, Le Galion was later sold to perfumer Paul Vacher, best known as the nose for Arpège, created in 1927 with Andre Fraysse. Following Paul Vacher’s premature death in 1975 the company changed hands and languished for years before its purchase eighteen months ago by Nicolas Chabot. An industry professional of many lives, and clearly passionate about his new brand, Nicolas Chabot has begun working with several perfumers (notably Thomas Fontaine, the in-house perfumer at Jean Patou) to re-formulate some of Le Galion’s rare perfume treasures from its golden age.
Eight of these treasures were presented to the public for the first time at Esxence.
While Nicolas was leading me through the fragrances, I had the same inspired feeling I’ve experienced when smelling find classic fragrances at L’Osmothèque. Starting with ‘Sortilège’ Galion’s signature perfume of the 1930s, evoking glory days of the famous Stork Jazz Club in New York City, the collection also includes ‘Special For Gentlemen’, ‘Snob’, ‘Whip’, ‘Eau Noble’, ‘222’ and a series of soliflorals, ‘Iris’, ‘Tubéreuse’, and ‘La Rose. “Yes.” I was thinking. “These are the fragrances I long for: complex and full of vitality.”
Set for a retail launch in September, Nicolas says he is not in a hurry about choosing where. A suivre….Closely!
‘Or du Serail’ by Naomi Goodsir
Naomi Goodsir’s fragrances make me think of small, extremely resilient, yet delicately plumed birds, somehow blown from Australia to land on French soil. ‘Or du Serail’, Naomi’s third fragrance, and the first to be created in collaboration with perfumer, Bertrand Duchaufour, sings in Naomi’s inimitable muted and textural tones of fine haberdashery, leather, tobacco, aromatics, and animalic elements.
‘Mohur Extrait’ by Neela Vermeire Creations
Neela Vermeire of Neela Vermeire Creations offers yet another perfumed voice to her warm and uplifting song of India. Though similar in name, ‘Mohur Extrait’ is, in fact, much more than a concentrated version of ‘Mohur Eau de Parfum’. Most striking to me, is its softly melodic iris, jasmine, rose, and violet heart flawlessly paired with its exquisitely modern rendition of a classic French flacon. All Neela Vermeire’s fragrances are created in collaboration with Bertrand Duchaufour.
‘Nuits Blanches’ by Prudence of Paris
Like Prudence Kilgour herself, the Prudence of Paris stand at Esxence was disarmingly lovely. The most important new fragrance from Prudence of Paris is ‘Nuits Blanches’, which will be officially launched in St. Petersburg later this year. Not surprisingly, ‘Nuits Blanches’’s heart is overflowing with seductive white flowers — Tubéreuse, Jasmin Sambac, Rose Centifolia, Orchidée, and Freesia. As an additional touch, Prudence’s best selling perfumes can now be purchased in a choice of flacons, delicately adorned with one of Prudence’s most cherished emblems, a golden bee.
‘El Born’ by Carner Barcelona
Photo: Sara Carner, owner of Carner Barcelona, at Esxence stand with brother, Joaquim Carner
Carner Barcelona’s delightfully unusual fragrance, El Born, is named after a historic neighborhood of Sara’s hometown, Barcelona. The hint of a liquorish note mixed with citrus and florals gives it a sparkling and lovable quirkiness grounded in soft woods and musk.
The Color of Shadow in Perfume
Olfactive Studio’s ‘Ombre Indigo’
Photo: Céline Verleure at the Olfactive Studio stand at Esxence
“What is the color of shadow in perfume?” Céline Verleure’s latest Olfactive Studio fragrance, ‘Ombre Indigo’ (Indigo Shadow) suggests an answer: smoky, warm, watery, and indigo. Inspired by Gustavo Pellizzon’s photograph of a man wading in a river and the shadow he casts on the water, ‘Ombre Indigo’ introduces color for the first time to Olfactive Studio’s remarkably focused collection.
‘Prima Rugiada’ by Profumi Del Forte
Photo:Perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour at Esxence Profumi Del Forte stand
In ‘Prima Rugiada’, a Bertrand Duchaufour creation for Profumi Del Forte, I sensed another kind of shadow, dew-covered, and in soft contrast with a quickening morning light.
‘Aperture’: A Fragrance Silhouette
Photo: Uli Lang, owner of Ulrich Lang New York at NOSE pre-launch party in Paris
‘Aperture’, Ulrich Lang New York’s 5th fragrance, is inspired by an Olivia Bee photograph and deploys the cool of wood and the heat of spices to evoke the sharp contrast between an introspective human silhouette and the fire-y colors of sunset.
I couldn’t leave you without saying that two of my favorite Esxences discoveries this year were, in fact, colognes.
Photo: Jean-Christophe le Greves shows off Thirdman at the Paris launch at Liquides, a few days after the close of Esxence
New to markets outside the US, Thirdman (founded in New York in 2012) brings cologne to a new place. Or perhaps, back to a more lighthearted place in a time honored tradition. Watching Thirdman’s founder, the charming Jean-Christophe le Greves, liberally douse himself with “Eau Monument” took me back to carefree high school days of numerous Jean-Naté splashes and re-splashes.
Etat Libre d’Orange’s ‘Cologne’
Don’t be fooled. Etat Libre d’Orange’s ‘Cologne’ is more than the ‘nice’ cologne it claims to be in the tag line, “We’ve given you decadent, we’ve given you outrageous, and now we give you nice”. For lurking behind its clear citrus and aromatic notes is Etienne de Swardt’s ironic and mischievous smile. Could the bad boy niche fragrance brand, Etat Libre d’Orange, really be coming clean? Who cares? It really is a lovely cologne and I look forward to applying it liberally on bright tropical mornings while planning mischief.
Thirdman and Etat Libre d’Orange’s “Colognes” illustrate a new wave of popularity in colognes and cologne-like perfumes, dubbed “Colognaissance” by American blogger, Mark Benhke. For a witty and astute observation of this trend, check out Mark’s post, “Welcome to the Colognaissance”
And That’s Not All
Far from it. I already told you Esxence was like one huge 4 day cocktail party. Everybody had crazy schedules and I didn’t even get to visit some of my favorite French brands. Instead, we waved to each other across crowds, and agreed, perhaps rashly, that we could ‘catch up’ back in Paris: Patricia de Nicolai; François Hénin and his Jovoy fragrances, including ‘Rouge Assassin’, one of my favorite bad girl fragrances; and another new bad girl fragrance, ‘Junky’ from Anaïs Biguine’s brand, Jardin d’Ecrivains; David Frossard and Phillipe di Mio with their dark and introspective fragrances, Liquides Imaginaires; Chantale Roos’s ‘Dear Rose’ collection; Paris jeweller, Anne Gerard’s ‘Rose Cut’; and Pierre Aulas’s Ego Facto, among others. Will have to do the same catching up in Paris shops with favorite British, Italian, and American brands, as well.
Somehow floating in all this, I’m not exactly sure where or when, I met a John F. Kennedy (sic) from New Orleans who gave me a little black bag of “MojoMagique” fragrance samples. Was I hallucinating by this time? Could be. In any event, in a single whiff I was transported to the land of bayous, magnolias, night-blooming jasmine, and the lilting tones of the American Deep South. Can’t tell you any more than this because, the little bag has subsequently disappeared. If it is indeed real, “MojoMagique” may only be available in the US, and perhaps, like Rebel Yell, only sold south of the Mason-Dixon line. A mystery to solve — soon.