Esxence 2023 Part 3 – Niche Brands

Man proposes illness disposes. So I had to wait a bit to finish my Esxence experience. But here we go. My favorite category of brands tends to be smaller, and independent, and if they still have some “local” background, all the better. So – apart from the new ones that were already in the first section – I kept them as the best in the end. (Warning – this is going to be long…)

(relax after closing time)

Parfums de Nicolaï

I’ll start, of course, with the doyen of niche perfumery – the brand Parfums de Nicolaï.

It was evident that this is an experienced and well-established brand, with a large, nice, and tasteful stand, the whole collection at their disposal, and even the possibility of buying on the spot. Organized, efficient, with friendly and helpful service, just professionalism in a nutshell with a bow on the box.

Caravanserail and Riviera Verbena were introduced as new fragrances, they both came to me as very nice and refined summer scents, Riviera Verbena more lively, Caravanserail more sophisticated and slightly spicy.


But the most amazing experience was the meeting with perfumer Giovanni Festa, the creator of the Osang fragrance by Mendittorosa and owner of the Aulentissima brand. He was kind enough to give me over an hour of his time, and I’m so blown away by his fragrances that I promised the first article after the Excense series would be about him and his brand. The scents are treasures, one after the other.

Bel Rebel

If you are shelling peas at this very moment, and wondering why that wonderful aroma hasn’t been infused yet, I’m reporting that it has!!! The Bel Rebel brand has captured it perfectly, but really perfectly, in their newly released fragrance …& The Pea. Unfortunately, I couldn’t manage to take any decent photos of the bottle despite my best efforts, but it looks just like their other bottles – modern packaging in bright colors…only this one is green….pea green.


Another wonderful discovery – although not so surprising, since my friend Wendulka already sang odes to their fragrance – was the Ojar brand. Wonderful fragrances, extremely beautifully elaborated and elegant. At the stand, they took great care of me, and let me try scents from every single collection. It’s hard to say which one I liked the most. The brand proclaims that its fragrances are a fusion between East and West, and that’s exactly what they are. They’re subtly oriental-smelling but European enough for my skin, warm, soft, thick. They are either in alcohol form or as fragrance oils. For oils, they have amazing bottles that can work as a roll-on and also have a glass stick. I’ve concluded that this experience is going to be expensive for me – I’ve liked so many scents from them that I’m seriously worried it won’t end in one…

As a novelty, they’ve introduced scented Body Oil Mists, which are both a hearty body treatment and perfumed with their gorgeous scents.

Parco 1923

So this is a wonderful brand that combines perfumes and nature protection. Parco Nazionale d’Abruzzo, Lazio e Molise is a park for the protection of bears and this is one of the ways they are funded. They have 3 perfumes that are inspired by the flora in this national park – Parco 1923, Riserva Regia, and Scarpeta di Venere and all 3 are amazing, reminiscent of being in the forest in different parts of it. There are body cosmetics, not all of which are available online, some products are only available in the park shop. In addition, they offer 3 indoor perfumes Prato Rosso, La Difesa, and Pesco Di Iorio which are just as wonderful as the body ones. Of those, I think I’m most in love with La Difesa. Body perfumes are smelling more masculine or unisex, but I could wear them all. A fantastic and unexpected surprise.

Experimental Perfume Club

I was always very curious about the fragrances of this brand, they looked appealing and somehow put together with skill and insight and both the representatives of this brand and their fragrances confirmed this impression. Their new Tonka Extraordinaire is a lovely nutty scent, quite like roasted hazelnuts with a little sweetness. No, not Nutella, (but I’m sure they could put that one together too if they wanted to), but a lovely scent of hazelnuts just out of the pan, perhaps dusted with a little bit of Tonka powder.

Atelier des Ors

The brand introduced 2 new fragrances – Pink me up and Noir by Night. Pink me up is a light rose with champagne. A gorgeous, luxurious, and feminine scent with esprit, those champagne bubbles were almost sparkling in front of my eyes when I tried it. I think it’s definitely something that’s almost a must-try. I’d even go as far as to say that whoever the discovery of the year was once Néa at Esxence, there’s a good chance this one will suit them as well. It’s a completely different fragrance understandably, but that elegance combined with originality is what they have in common. Noir by Night is a very pretty, dark and dense, rather feminine scent. Slightly sweet, not too sweet…and dark, but not too dark.

Binet – Pappilon

One of my favorite brands, I couldn’t stop here. They originally started under the name Papillon Rouge, but during the covid-forced hiatus, the brand went through a complete redesign. They bought the historic Binet brand and discovered that it was originally located near their own brick-and-mortar store, so the leitmotif on the perfumes is currently a map of the neighborhood. The fragrances have also undergone improvements, in this case really improvements, not the usual reformulations. Just in the boredom of COVID-19, the lady owner cooled them down a little more. The 21 Magnolia Underground fragrance was introduced as a novelty. It’s a wonderful coffee aroma, first associated with a note of whiskey, then just a thick dark coffee as if straight from the moka pot. However, the scent doesn’t smell gourmand, and even though it’s dark, it’s not heavy or obnoxious. Really good. I don’t smell magnolia in it, but it may be the reason that the fragrance does not seem dark or heavy.
In any case, I really like this tendency of French brands to save each other and maintain tradition and intangible cultural heritage. Instead of crying out for the state to do something, they simply support each other. And when a brand falls, at least its memory and tradition are kept alive by another brand. I like it very much.
It was also nice that they were able to make a deal with another favorite brand of mine, Maison Violet, and since they are both small brands that couldn’t afford a booth at the fair, they rented one together. Just cooperation instead of rivalry.
Maison Violet
They haven’t introduced any news right now, just what they already have on offer, but supposedly, they’re up to something….so I’m very curious…


The Dusita brand launched the Rosarine fragrance, Rose one as offered, and Hair Mists as novelty fragrances. It was almost impossible to make your way to the booth as there was a lot of interest. What impressed me the most was how Ms. Pissara Umavijani was working hard the whole time. Like yes, she had hostesses there, with all the interest and the rather large booth it wouldn’t have been possible otherwise, but she was constantly on the move, constantly doing something. Even on a day when the public had already been ‘let in’ and the vast majority of the other perfumers had left it to the staff, she was still there – though not quite all the time – and working.


The perfect opposite of this was the Xerjoff brand. They only had a panel, a huge one, it took up the space of 2-3 stands for sure, so they didn’t skimp, but they only had a guy there occasionally who handed out samples (2 – Hayat and Erba Pura) saying that if anyone wants to try more or get information, can come to their boutique in Milan or call the owner. I found that approach strangely arrogant.

Ulrich Lang New York

celebrated the brand’s 20th anniversary. The brand offers a selection of very nice fragrances that I would call “disciplined”. They are nicely composed, they have an idea and a vibe, but they don’t come to the fore. Just as they’ve managed to stay disciplined and release them gradually at reasonable intervals over the 20 years the brand has been around, so neither their fans nor their retailers are overwhelmed by the sheer number of editions that are both impossible to keep track of and impossible to keep in stock. My favorite is the Léthé fragrance – the smell of skin, of human touch, it has something erotic in it too, and this year’s new release is cutely optimistic peachy Suncrest.


They were very proud of their interior scents. What’s new is that their interior fragrance (and my favorite of theirs) Zeitgeist is the scented rooms of the legendary Hotel Adlon in Berlin… yes, the one on Unter den Linden right by the Brandenburg Gate, which is definitely a great tribute. They had Rosa Centifolia as a new fragrance and mentioned that they were going to do an Etrango fragrance, but they didn’t have it available yet.

Mauro Lorenzi

He retreated from his pretty blue bottles because of the price, and switched to more ordinary ones, emphasizing that since everything is going up in price, he did so so he wouldn’t have to reach for the perfume’s raw materials and their concentration. The concentration is constantly 35%.

Room 1015

…and their iconic Cherry Punk, cherry slightly roughened with saffron and patchouli, just with a safety pin in the ear and freedom in the heart…they also had an amazing riveted-leather package to go with it. They launched Purple Mantra as a new fragrance, a herbal-hippy unisex – sort of a dried sage with marjoram and a bit of that patchouli, but somehow it didn’t strike me on the spot. Maybe it wants a retry.

Jean-Charles Brosseau

Here I had a sort of dilemma, whether it could be called a historical brand or not, it ended up here in the end. It’s one of the very first niche brands I had the chance to try back in the day, so I feel a certain nostalgia for it. And they still have cute bottles too. The newest fragrances are in shades of blue, the latest being Ombre Bleue L’Original.

Filippo Sorcinelli

Filippo Sorcinelli is an extremely charismatic guy and people were just swarming around him and his stand. Surprisingly enough, not only during the time for the professional public, which I was not surprised at all, but it was one of the most occupied stalls even when the regular customers had already got in. This was quite interesting to me, given the distinctly niche nature of his scents.

He launched two new fragrances at the show. Trompette 8 which is supposed to represent the pipe organ – a beautiful incense with no citrus undertones and Délire de Voyage: Hæc dies – a soft sweet ambergris transitioning to very cozy creamy notes, completely clinging to the skin…gorgeous, I’m thinking about it a lot.


They exhibited two collections – white and black alchemy. The black alchemy are fragrances that fully walk the line of true niche perfumery. Sophisticated, balanced, good, undercutting perfumes. White Alchemy is at first glance – or smell – “simple” floral solifloras…I put simply in quotes because making a decent soliflor is not an easy task at all. However, when Aistis Mickevicius asked me which collection I wanted samples from, I gasped that I would ask for the black one, but then spring Milan ran through my mind – sakura blossoming, wisteria in full bloom everywhere, and quite involuntarily it popped out of me that I know that the black collection is definitely more intellectual, but I just need spring, flowers, flowers, flowers!!! He looked and smiled at me:)

Brands from the Far East are a very special category for me at the moment, which of course I rarely come across and I’m very curious about them, so I specifically decided that I couldn’t let them take over.


Japanese brand planning to enter the European market. They actually had the last of the original bottles at the show, as they are going to start production in France for the EU due to import issues. Very nice, bright, and light fragrances – supposedly but with excellent staying power. Sophisticated, literally “tidy”, both in content and design. For the blotters, they had perfectly fitting packaging and stamped them with red ink. Detto samples had an exact-fitting wooden cover, which they marked the same way.

They exhibited 5 fragrances for the European market – Jardin des Mots, Kagamigoshi, Souchong Journey, Cocktail Lane, and Green Velvet. They were all excellent, but for tea lovers, I strongly recommend trying Souchong Journey.

Maison de L’Asie 

The Maison de L’Asie brand tries to connect Eastern and European cultures through olfactory storytelling. Each fragrance represents a different region of the Far East and there is a special story behind each one. The fragrances are delicate, refined, and extremely wearable.


Jijide proclaims the connection between Europe and China. They strongly emphasized imperial China ;). The regular collection is a very pleasant selection of unobtrusive, but nice scents, they are said to try to capture the nature of different people. I was very amused that the gentleman in the booth chose sunny yellow for me at first glance, which is my favorite color, and I also liked the scent – matching the color.

Then I, in turn, entertained them as they presented their latest creations – Grano and Riso, one smelling of grain and the other smelling of rice – as symbols of the most important crops on which one and other cultures stand and fall. As well, the Grano was fascinatingly apt, but when I sniffed the Riso, I was so surprised, that people in the stand were so amused they said that they should have taken a picture of my expression:))) The smell of still warm cooked rice was so incredibly captured that I couldn’t believe my nose that it was even possible!!!

Although both of these scents are perhaps meant more as olfactory symbols, I think they are original and wearable.

To sum it up, my “East Asian” experience has not only thrilled me, but it has definitely made me want to explore much, much more in this direction. And I was intrigued that all of these brands emphasized connection, and collaboration, almost as if they weren’t good enough on their own, but rather I think there’s a piece of courtesy behind it.

I will add some unclassifiable stands, but maybe even more interesting:
At the Osmotheque booth, I understandably couldn’t choose what to try. I wanted to try everything. So I started with Eau Hongrie (but which of the X recipes it’s made from I don’t know), a nice rosemary scent. Then I chose the original Après L’Ondée and was very surprised how little it had changed by now. Well yes, it has changed, but really with feeling and in the spirit of the original one, and Coty’s Emeraud, which I’ve always been terribly curious about. Anyway, finally the lady at Osmotheque recommended I try the original Fracas and that’s where my jaw dropped. I know various versions of Fracas from the last 20 years or so, but this one doesn’t even come close. It was also a gorgeous white floral, but much smoother and softer against the current Fracas, and while it’s bold and dimensional, it’s round and full, and it doesn’t make the tan feel like a punch in the nose. And I liked the story to go with it, that its creator, Germaine Cellier, who was the first female perfumer whose name was even acknowledged (before that, even when a woman put something together, it was under the “patronage” of a man), had to be given her own lab, because men didn’t want a woman messing around in THEIR lab.
The New SenseXperience
An amazing experience. 4 companies working together to create a magical toy… They can aim a scent in space to a spot about 30cm in diameter and “turn it off” again. In a space designed for this, they demonstrated this with a beautifully made marketing film and 5 bowls of materials whose scents they mimicked and somehow it worked. I still haven’t been able to figure out if it’s a miracle, incredible technology, or just some magic trick that makes me smack my forehead and “I SEE!!!”, but it was definitely an impressive experience.

The rest of what I caught only fleetly just in a nutshell: State of Mind launched Farfarone, Meo Fusciuni was nominated with their perfume Luce at the Art and Olfaction Awards, the brand Obvious launched their summer fragrance Un Été, Les Bains Guerbois had a new Raku, I finally tried Oh my Deer at Baruti – it’s a very interesting, animalic musk (and they’re going to be changing the bottles as well, probably because of glass prices), I was amused by two Sicilian brands that had very nice, artistic lids inspired by Sicilian monuments – practically identical, of course, and at Renier we agreed not to waste our time there and I’ll go to Prague as soon as possible (and I’m looking forward to it).

The End. Hopefully again next year.

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