The entrance of Pitti Fragranze 2021 at Stazione Leopolda in Florence ©Ermano
September 17-21, 2021 at the Stazione Leopolda in Florence, many perfume lovers attended the first major fragrance trade show since 2019, Pitti Fragranze. With an autumnal symphony in minor key: colder morning air and pouring rain, seeing tourists with colorful umbrellas scattered along the walk from Santa Maria Novella Station down to Leopolda Station cheered me up. Pitti Fragranze 2021 has been more than a perfume trade show this year, it was a statement. The sensation of finally meeting people again, though with pass check, masks and proper distancing (everything managed with proper care), couldn’t be better described than looking at each other’s unbelieving, shiny eyes. Their many languages gave me the hope that I could once again see foreign buyers and fellow writers. I was so happy to be back!
The arcades of Stazione Leopolda where people could take off masks for a break outdoors ©Ermano
The first item on my agenda was RAW / E-Pure Jungle Essence™: The Re-birth Of Enfleurage, the conference curated by Mane showcasing raw materials. Since other trade shows focusing on raw materials like SIMPPAR and World Perfumery Congress were cancelled during the last two years, this was even more interesting. The focus was on E-Pure Jungle Essence™, a brand-new extraction technique that bridges the art of ancient enfleurage and the future of know-how to the future of perfumery.
People attending the RAW conference curated by Mane ©Pitti Immagine
Traditional artisan and older methods of enfleurage aimed at capturing the soul of flowers by hand placing freshly picked blossoms on greased canvases (with tallow or almond butter i.e.), and changing flowers various times until the fat is saturated with fragrance. The filtrated fat is called pomade. Then, washing the pomade in alcohol takes off the grease, leaving only the absolute. This expensive, time-consuming cold process gave the purest and strongest essence of the flowers. E-Pure Jungle Essence revives this know-how thanks to nowadays supercritical extraction technologies, resulting in unexpected, and breathtakingly beautiful new floral extractions. In this case the freshly picked flowers are drenched in cold oil (odorless jojoba oil) and replaced various times until the oil is saturated in fragrance. This maceration process has a low energy consumption. The final essence is then extracted from the infused oil through the Mane signature Jungle Essence process using a recyclable supercritical gas, offering so a green alternative to traditional absolutes.
Ralf Schwieger and Veronique Nyberg discussing the new E-Pure Jungle Essences ©Pitti Immagine
As perfumers Ralf Schwieger and Veronique Nyberg showed, the results are surprisingly emotional. Comparing various extractions of narcotic white flowers like jasmine grandiflorum and jasmine sambac, you can really sense their natural and original note, without the green and fatty undertones usually emphasized by chemical solvents. To have an idea, you can go and sniff the bubbling Etat Libre d’Orange Exit the King (Ralf Schwieger and Cécile Matton, 2020) empowered by the captivating jasmine grandiflorum E-Pure Jungle Essence. Other examples of this amazing technique could be found in new launches like Milano Fragranze Diurno (Julie Massé, 2021) where you can sense the beguiling fresh floralcy of French lavender E-Pure Jungle Essence.
The opening of the Ralf Schwieger Retrospective ©Pitti Immagine
I also highlighted in my agenda another item: Ralf Schwieger – A Retrospective 1999-2021 the exhibition perfume critic and novelist Chandler Burr dedicated to this year’s guests of Pitti Fragranze 2021 (in 2019 it was the turn of Jean-Claude Ellena). Herr Schwieger also gave a brief opening speech.
“I am especially thankful that you (Pitti Fragranze) put the artistic side of the perfumery back onto the front line because in the last twenty-thirty years this has been lost, and I am happy that I could at least try to move the art in perfumery forward. You are right, Chandler, I started late, I studied chemistry, I was already 30 years old when I started, so the body of work was not so big, compared to Jean Claude Ellena, who had the honor to be presented here two years ago. And I’m thinking about Edmond Roudnitska, perhaps the idol of the perfumery of the 20th century, also my idol and the perfumer I most admire. He started in perfumery early on, but he also retired when he was 61, so I still have a little bit ahead of my time to do some masterpieces, hopefully. Thank you very much for inviting me here”.-Ralf Schweiger
The public attending the opening of the Retrospective ©Pitti Immagine
I think Ralf Schwieger is very humble as he has already created masterpieces. I have admired Ralf Schwieger since his striking Modern Masterpiece Hermès Eau des Merveilles which he discussed in depth, also showing raw materials like carrot seed absolute, iris replacers, cetalone (a synthetic ambergris molecule). His kindness and smile proved once more to be as great at his creativity and technical skills.
Another work of art I cherish is Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle Lipstick Rose. Schwieger explained he was somehow inspired by his mother always wearing lipstick and rose perfumes, and yet this translated to anything but a vintage fragrance. He instead succeeds at perfectly balancing youth and sophisticated at the same time. What paradoxical magic!
Last but not least, it’s no surprise another ÇaFleureBon Modern Masterpiece Aedes de Venustas Iris Nazarena is featured in the Retrospective.
The wall showing all the featured creations ©Pitti Immagine
The entire Ralf Schwieger Retrospective curated by Mr. Burr featured the following perfumes:
Baby Doll (1999) Superflat | created with Cecile Matton for Yves Saint Laurent
Editions Frederic Malle Lipstick Rose (2000) Pop art | commissioned by Frédéric Malle for Editions de Parfum Frédéric Malle
Eau des Merveilles (2004) Conceptual realism | created with Nathalie Fiesthauer, commissioned by Veronique Gautier for Hermès
Orange Sanguine (2010) Surrealism | commissioned by Sylvie Gantier i Christophe Cervasel for Atelier Cologne
Vanille Insensée (2011) Surrealism | commissioned by Sylvie Gantier i Christophe Cervasel for Atelier Cologne
Fils de Dieu (2012) Abstract expressionism | commissioned by Etienne de Swardt for Etat Libre d’Orange
Iris Nazarena (2013) Realism | commissioned by Karl Bradl and Robert Gerstner for Aedes de Venustas
Moab (2016) commissioned by Erik Kormann and Anne Serrano – McClain for the Phlur Collection
Musc Encensé (2018) Realism | commissioned by Karl Bradl i Robert Gerstner for Aedes de Venustas
Quino (2018) Contemporary abstract | commissioned by Christian Bohdan for Helio Collection
Le Dieu cerf (2021) Pop Art | commissioned by Etienne de Swardt for La Seconde Affaire du Pommier
Pitti Fragranze 2021 Part 2 will feature ongoing trends and the best fragrant discoveries I made strolling through the booths. There’s oud in the air, though it’s not what you expect it to be… Stay tuned!
-Ermano Picco, Editor and Fragrance Expert
You can read Michelyn’s interview with Ralf Schwieger here
Do you have a favorite perfume signed by Ralf Schwieger? Have you attended a fragrance trade exhibition in the past?
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