SCENTXPLORE 2023:
NAVIGATING THROUGH FRAGRANCE WONDERLAND

In the heart of Chelsea, a neighbourhood on the west side of Manhattan New York, on the gloomy and rain-soaked days of December 1st and 2nd, fragrance enthusiasts, perfumers, brand owners and creative directors gathered for ScentXplore 2023. Showcasing the olfactory wonders of the world, it’s one of the biggest and most awaited niche fragrance conventions and a spectacular event to visit.

Written by Ally (@docfragrance)

Photo source: ScentXplore

Founded by fragrance curator Max Forti; started in 2019 with the idea of bringing niche brands and fragrance enthusiasts together. The event’s mission is to provide fragrance lovers the opportunity to share and discover top leading, innovative, exclusive, creative, and high-quality driven niche fragrances whilst connecting with brands, industry professionals, and other fragrance enthusiasts in a fun, educational and inspiring way, as per the event website. ScentXplore is both in person and hybrid; the online event is a culmination of different brands, perfumers and brand owners that is both educational and interactive. I have not experienced hybrid, but it is definitely the second-best thing if you are not able to go in person. This year is my second time attending the event. I have come mentally and physically prepared this time around.

Armed with a coveted media pass, I ventured into this aromatic haven 40 minutes before the official opening, allowing me to explore the venue at my own pace before the bustling crowd descended.

AMOUAGE

My journey began with a leftward trajectory, leading me straight to the haven of Omani heritage brand – Amouage. It was an exquisite realm of the event space that held treasures – captivating fragrances of both past and present. The flagship fragrances Jubilation 40 Man and Dia 40 Woman were masterpieces in their own category. I could not begin to explain my fascination with both their craftmanship and artistry. The exceptional extraits constitutes some of the boldest high perfumery known to men. Dia 40 Woman is an elegant vintage aldehydic floral scent that contains 40% perfume oil, while Jubilation 40 Man is a spicy and fruity fragrance that exudes elegance and masculinity – a statement perfume that is both addicting and magical. A testament to Amouage’s dedication for the past 40 years.

 

Amouage Creative Director Renaud Salmon

Surrounded by the fragrance symphonies, I found an open space dedicated to masterclasses creating an atmosphere of learning and discovery, which I thoroughly enjoyed and spent a good portion of my time on both days; famous perfumers Cécile Zarokian, Pierre Negrin, my favourite and most sought-after perfumer Alexis Grugeon (who created King Blue and Search together with Amouage’s very own creative director Renaud Salmon, whom I also had the pleasure of meeting), headed the masterclasses. I felt like a student learning from great minds. This was easily the highlight of the event. The air was permeated with rose and frankincense infused coffee. The gloom outside contrasted with the warm, welcoming ambiance inside, creating a sensory haven for eager attendees.

KAJAL

My feet, seemingly guided by fate, steered me to the other side of the event space where I found the area dedicated to the Middle Eastern brand Kajal, one of my personal favourites. The signature gold-shimmering bottle and dazzling star-shaped cap instantly captured my attention. I had the privilege of conversing with one of Kajal’s brand ambassadors Javier and later that day with the brand owner Moe Khalaf.

Javier unveiled the latest releases, sharing insights into the creative process and the stories behind each fragrance. His passion for Kajal’s fragrances was palpable with every spray and shared anecdote. We started our journey with Masa – the newest creation, adorned in a green bottle as a vibrant green herbal burst, enriched with the warmth of grapefruit. The heart notes, featuring patchouli, aquatic accords, petitgrain, and cardamom, created a fresh blend. The base notes, a mélange of amber, vanilla, vetiver, guaiac wood, cedarwood and violet added depth which transformed the fragrance into this luxurious spring-summertime signature scent.

Photo source: Kajal Perfumes

Another spirited vibrance added to the collection is Kajal III- a testament of determination and fortitude. Top notes delivered a refreshing citrus burst, intertwined with grapefruit. Heart notes are a combination of soothing blends of rosemary, neroli, lavender and spicy ginger. The base notes of ambroxan, patchouli, musk and warm amber harmoniously tie it all together. This was an instant love for me; I was thinking to myself “isn’t it too early to buy?” I have only been here 30 minutes, but I guess if you own 150+ fragrances; you know what love is.

As I continued navigating through the new releases I was met with Kajal IV- a nomadic exoticism as the website describes it but for me it is a leather perfection wrapped around dates and vanilla, which really adds a layer of enriched sweetness. Kajal will always have a special place in my heart, as the house continues to surprise us with amazing new releases and takes us on an innovative olfactory journey.

DAY THREE FRAGRANCES

Another gem uncovered in my aromatic exploration through the scent pavilion is the promising brand Day Three Fragrances. A budding company that sprouted its roots in 2022, this venture reflects the rich Dominican heritage of its passionate owners, a husband-and-wife duo. Their journey has swiftly proven to be a resounding success, captivating fragrance enthusiasts with their distinctive scent profiles. Meet Mike, a magician by trade, who seamlessly intertwines his love for magic with the art of perfumery. Just as magicians create wonders through illusion, Mike channels his fascination with the mystical in order to craft his fragrances. The result is a collection that not only captures the essence of their heritage but also weaves spellbinding narrative through each meticulously curated scent. My magical adventure of Day Three Fragrances started with La Tacita de Café; a luxurious extrait de parfum that has won a prestigious 2023 Art and Olfaction Award. A sophisticated coffee scent with notes of orange, spices and sweet cream, Dominican coffee, rum, caramel, rose and base of amyris, sugar, vanilla and tonka absolute. This fragrance was a revelation not only to me but to a lot of people at the event. I am not someone who normally gravitates towards coffee fragrance, but this was a welcome exception. It was love at first sniff and I at once added it to my wish list. La Tacita de Café is a harmonious symphony of familiar comforts and unparalleled artistry.

Photo source: Day Three Fragrances

Another noteworthy creation by Day Three Fragrance is Filosofia, a fragrance that pays homage to Philosophy – an integral part of the owner Mike’s life, often discussed with family with a cigar in hand. Black pepper and cardamom dance in the top notes, paving the way for the rich ensemble of cypriol, tobacco and hint of oud. The base elegantly balances earthy tones with chocolate, hazelnut and an exquisite vanilla absolute, leaving an indelible impression that instantly earned its place on my fragrance wish list. Bani is another photorealistic fragrance with mango from Dominican Republic. I cannot wait to see what more this house can offer. The passionate owners are excited to share the untouched aroma treasure trove straight from the Dominican Republic. I got myself a discovery set for $30 that holds all 9 fragrances from their lineup. Additionally, anyone that buys the discovery set is entitled to a $30 credit on a future purchase of any full-sized bottle (what a buyer-friendly business concept!). As I left the Day Three Fragrance booth, my heart swelled with inspiration and delight, knowing that this up-and-coming company is poised to grace us with exceptional creations.

LORENZO PAZZAGLIA

On the other side of the pavilion, I discovered Lorenzo Pazzaglia, a brand named after the owner and perfumer himself. Lorenzo’s booth exuded versatility, instantly capturing my attention with its approachable and down-to-earth ambiance. Lorenzo, the mastermind perfumer, welcomed with an approachable demeanour, inviting fragrance enthusiasts to explore his diverse offerings. The gourmand fragrances presented by his brand were nothing short of extraordinary – dark, rich, and steeped in the essence of vanilla.

Photo source: Lorenzo Pazzaglia

Among them, Van Exstacyx stood out as a favourite, a gourmand masterpiece intricately woven with seven vanilla notes sourced from around the world. Unlike many vanilla fragrances, this one captivates with its signature richness and a delightful undertone of brown caramel confection. Lorenzo Pazzaglia’s repertoire boasts other noteworthy creations, such as Van Py Rhum, where patchouli takes centre stage with compelling focus. However, the real stars that stole the spotlight were Sugar Kisses and Sweet Xplosion. Sugar Kisses unfolds with beautiful notes of frangipani, dates, and toffee, while Sweet Xplosion dances with the enticing combination of honey, lime, and coconut milk. This brand is a must-try, offering a delightful array of fragrances that span the olfactory spectrum. From the seductive richness of Van Exstacyx to the patchouli prowess of Van Py Rhum and the sweet symphony of Sugar Kisses, Lorenzo Pazzaglia brings forth a fragrance experience that is both captivating and diverse.

REINVENTED PARFUMS

A fragrant house with dystopian elegance. Reinvented Parfums reminds me of a Matthew McConaughey’s movie Interstellar. I wasn’t certain if it was the bottle, the scent or maybe both. The scents are more than fragrances – they are an out of the body experience. An exploration of realms between the visible and invisible, possible and impossible. Much like the cinematic moment in Interstellar, each fragrance invites you to witness a dance between emotion and memory at the same time. The house consists of Illusion, Epiphany, Eureka, Pheromones and Sacred Bond, and the emotional depth of each fragrance goes beyond borders.

Photo source: Reinvented Parfums

CULT OF KAORI

I stumbled upon my most cherished discovery at the event: a brand named Cult of Kaori. To my surprise, a familiar face welcomed me at the booth none other than Chris, a fellow fragrance enthusiast I met a year ago at the same event. We exchanged pleasantries, and as he began to introduce me to the brand, I couldn’t help but inquire if he was a brand ambassador. To my astonishment, Chris revealed that he not only owned the brand but also served as a perfumer for his line-ups. Cult of Kaori launched November 2023, a month before ScentXplore, is a testament of Chris’s profound passion and dedication to fragrances intertwined with his fascination for Japanese culture. The name itself, translated as ‘Obsession of Scent’, mirrors Chris’s deep love for fragrance and all things Japanese; from its name to packaging and overarching theme, revolves around this cultural and olfactory fusion. He described his fragrance harmonious blend as “quiet and rebellious” born from uncommon ingredients to craft scents that transcend the ordinary. Cult of Kaori birthed with two exceptional fragrances under its banner: Onsen Minerale and Melon Masu.

Onsen Minerale is a winter soaking-scent that transport you to Japanese hot spring during winter. Chris masterfully combines yuzu, lychee, hot steam, and hinoki that give us that serene experience of soaking in an Onsen during colder months.

Among the captivating fragrances from the brand, Melon Masu emerged as my favourite of the event – a summer sake symphony that beautifully harmonizes floral melon, Japanese cedar, and a warm amber. Inspired by rituals of savouring cold, crisp sake to escape the sweltering heat of summertime. Melon Masu unfolds as a fruity, floral, and amber infused scent with unmistakable essence of sake.

 

This encounter with Cult of Kaori and Chris’s personal journey into the world of perfumery is a testament to the magic that unfolds at events like ScentXplore. It is more than a brand, it’s a manifestation of passion, cultural exploration, and the boundless possibilities that fragrance can bring. As I left Chris’s booth, I carried with me not just the scents of his brand but also a story of a fragrance enthusiast turned perfumer who crafted a brand fuelled by the love for Japanese culture and art of scent.

Cult of Kaori Founder Chris Undi

This event was graced with at least 75 niche fragrance brands. There was a healthy balance between industry pillars representing heritage and culture and upstart houses representing innovation and creativity. Master perfumers from Amouage, Navitus, Spirit of Dubai, Parfums Micallef, Arquiste, Pantheon Roma, Sospiro, Fragrance du Bois, Spirit of Kings, and Vertus Paris presented masterclasses which provided valuable insight into their creative process. The event was also visited by some of the industry’s biggest influencers such as Jeremy Fragrance, Michela of Curlyfragrance, Andrea of Curlyscents, Oliviaolfactory, Andresperfumeman, LuisJordao, Joescentme, Neeb of Aromatixneeb, Joe of Unaveragejoe and many more. ScentXplore wasn’t merely an event – it was a celebration of the artistry, culture, personal connections that fragrance brings. A one-of-a-kind fragrance journey that truly never ends. Until next time, when fragrant tales converge once more, may the essence of ScentXplore linger in your memories, like the captivating notes of a cherished perfume.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ally, also known as @docfragrance is a part time and passionate fragrance content creator on both Instagram and YouTube. From the vibrant Philippines to the golden deserts of the UAE, and now rooted in the eclectic energy of New York, USA — her journey is a mosaic of diverse cultures and boundless horizons. Amidst the cosmopolitan hustle, she found solace in the world of fragrances and what began as a personal journey through scents, evolved into a healing odyssey during the toughest of moments.