Pitti Fragranze 2023 best of show

Entrance to Pitti Fragranze 2023©

When I first started attending fragrance shows about 7 years ago, it was like venturing into a synthesis of Vogue and Lewis Carroll: the air filled with drifts of flowers, resins, and spices, displays that veered from quirky to classy, and a small, rarified world of chic, inventive people I would find unexpected synergies with. I was a bit wide-eyed about it all, wanting to find the next big thing, discover that fragrance that, like a fairytale elixir, would suddenly make sense of the world to me. Now, after a gap of four years – such a long ache – I returned with a profound sense of gratitude that this Aladdin’s Cave would reopen and let me back in.

The Symbiotic Experience at Pitti Fragranze 21

Perception Reinvented Photo courtesy of Ermano©

For me, Pitti Fragranze’s theme this time – Perception Reinvented – felt personal. The pandemic, months of lockdown and relative solitude, bred distrust and listlessness in me. I yearned for connection to things bigger than myself – art, poetry, drama, music, literature and dance that have so often been a floodlit bridge over the chaotic, dislodging aspects of life. Time was ticking by with few events to mark it except the seasons and the wan hope that it would all be over soon. So the return to a regular event – always mid-September – and Italy, a country where olive trees grace the humblest paths and tromp l’oeil embellishments turn unremarkable buildings into art – was a relief. Here was the tribe of artists, inventors, thinkers, and the usual array of frighteningly fashionable folk that always make me think I brought the wrong handbag. I felt quiet joy as I walked through the entrance. And happiness that was a whole lot less quiet as I reunited with friends I had missed like hell.

Pitti Fragranze 2023 best perfumes

 CaFleureBon Pitti Fragranze Best of Show

Now on to the show. There was a bigger emphasis on gourmands (the overriding trend of the last few years, I’d say), woody scents, and individualistic, urbane fragrances that swung both ways; and, as expected, scents that comforted rather than yearned. Here are some of my favourite new releases:

Olivier Durbano White Stone Prophecy 19.1 best at Fragranze 2023

Olivier Durbano and Lauryn photo by Lauryn/ with Olivier Durbano White Stone Prophecy 19.1 (Ermano) collage by Michelyn

Olivier Durbano – ever our most soulful perfumer – introduced Pierre Blanche Prophesie 19.1, an airy, glowing composition that feels benevolent and calming, like the touch of the angels in Wings of Desire . Durbano begins Prophesie 19.1 with dry herbal notes of hyssop and sage before showering the composition with violets and ambrette. Dotted lightly with Durbano’s signature incense, and aerated subtly with mint, the fragrance seems to glimmer like morning sun on the sea’s horizon. This is one of Durbano’s loveliest creations and should not be missed.

Husen Baba of Azman Perfumes

Husen Baba of Azman Perfumes photo Lauryn collage Michelyn©

One of the best aspects of being at Pitti this year was meeting in person Husen Baba, creator of the wonderful Azman, one of the best debut lines of the last decade. Sporting a dapper hat and warm smile, Baba was every bit as lovely as his fragrances, and I am sincerely grateful to have had the chance to hang out with him.

Azman Perfumes Risk Antonio Gardoni

Azman Risk courtesy of Danu©

At Pitti he previewed Azman Risk, an all-out sexy, woody extravaganza launching this month. Made with an insane six different ouds by Antonio Gardoni, this unabashedly animalic, multidimensional take on nature’s weirdest and possibly most addictive resin is an oud BEAST. Even if, like me, you’ve gotten a bit jaded with the oud explosion of the last years, this crazy yet refined bombshell could make you think again.

Alexx and Anton at Pitti 2023

Alexx and Anton booth photo Lauryn

I nearly missed the most stylish display at the event, tucked in at the side near the front, until Antonio Gardoni mentioned these “two guys from Berlin who are doing interesting things.” Alexx and Anton from founders Alexander Weeber and Anton Cobb, introduced Coquet and Vaudou, created by nose William Inrig, two of the more unique offerings at the show (and which got one well-known perfumer reaching for his Visa card as soon as he smelled them). Vaudou is “portrays the question, the search, the journey, the dark before the light” on a “path to consciousness” and uses two vetiver oils central to Voodoo anchored by a base of resins and incense that hint at other theisms. Coquet, a carnation-centric vamp, “depicts a flirt motived by conquest and conceit.” Both fragrances are bold and a little unsettling on paper, but morph on the skin into something rich and strange and quite compelling.

Hammam and Efil are two lovely new offerings from Turkish house Regalien. The perfumes share the same soapy top note, a delightful introduction to the brand’s new Ottoman Bath Ritual collection. But then they go their separate ways. Efil is a fluffy, sudsy rose with tart fruity notes, while Hammam is a chipper herbal-green fragrance. I found them both very wearable, calming and quite pretty.

Solidly in the gourmand lineup at Pitti was Jorum Spirit Cask, from founder and nose Euan McCall, is a boozy vanilla-woods confection that smells remarkably like an old whiskey barrel in its opening stages. If you’ve ever been to a whiskey tasting, you’ll know that aroma: cedary, spiritous, medicinal and vanillic. McCall throws in a hefty handful of cocoa, malt and coffee, and leaves it all to macerate into one of this year’s yummiest new releases.

Al-Amin Abedin, Antonio Gardoni and Sultan Pasha of Shekor

Al-Amin Abedin, Antonio Gardoni and Sultan Pasha noses for Shekor

But the most stunning new perfume I tried at Pitti was not actually in the show itself but introduced at an intimate soft launch off-site. This is the advent of the first Bangladeshi niche perfume house, Shekor,  which kicks off with a creative partnership between brand founder Al-Amin Abedin and perfumers Sultan Pasha and Antonio Gardoni. Shekor will launch two perfumes – one which is still in creation and Ashar, a heartbreakingly beautiful floral. Nose Sultan Pasha describes Ashar as a very personal scent based on his childhood recollections of Bangladesh. Its story unfolds like the leaves of an old tale, bringing the wearer on an evocative, poignant journey full of hidden beauties. Stay tuned.

New To Me:

Photo courtesy of Headspace

Headspace, launched by fragrance impresario Nicolas Chabot, who founded Aether and launched one of the most successful vintage revivals, Le Galion. Headspace (first introduced to ÇaFleureBon through Emmanuelle) uses Headspace extraction technology and a stable of highly talented perfumers including Fanny Bal, Nicholas Beaulieu, and Julien Rasquinet. The perfumes are each built around a primary note such as sandalwood or tuberose and are sophisticated and elegant. Favourites were the aromatic Sauge and deliciously warm Myrrhe (reviewed by Rachel Ng). I’m looking forward to getting to know this line better.

Sora Dora, a French brand launched in 2021 whose fragrances are made in collaboration with independent perfumers Amélie Bourgeois, Anne-Sophie Behaghel and Camille Chemardin, was a happy surprise. My favourite from their collection, Vanuatu is a tangled, overgrown copse of snappy green leaves, violet and fig. This is a delicious scent for hot weather and has put this house on my radar.

Maison Tahite I_Ristretto

Photo By Nicoleta and her review here

As a coffee aficionado, I really should already be familiar with Italian house, Maison Tahiti. But I’m very glad I got to sample them at Pitti. There were many fragrances I liked in the collection, particularly the roasty I_Ristretto and transporting Velvet Coffee, which smells almost exactly like a classic French brulerie, complete with baking brioche, wood paneled walls and oversize cup of steamy café au lait.

My return to Pitti flashed by in a heartbeat, as these events always seem to. But my heart is fuller for it.

All photos by Lauryn, Ermano, Danu, Headspace and Nicoleta

Disclaimer: Samples of all the fragrances mentioned here were given to me by the brands or their distributors at Pitti Fragranze. My opinions, as always, are my own

Lauryn Beer, Senior Editor

Now that’s a wrap for our Pitti Fragranze Coverage

Please revisit Ermano’s Pitti recap here and Danu’s here and Ida’s here

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