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Following a postponement due to the pandemic, the 2022 edition drew in a large crowd: 106 exhibitors, 57% of them from outside France, and more than 2,000 visitors! All arrived ready to smell without masks, embrace and multiply hugs with genuine and real people, in flesh and blood! It comes as no surprise that the “green-upcycling-ethics” thematic that was prevalent in communications has impregnated the extraction methods, delightfully changing the perfumer’s palette. Impressions on the fly (as it would take us more than two days to fully see the entire panorama of the expo!) and captured in photographs.
I will be kicking things off with Robertet, who is fascinated by the work of Japanese artist Dai Dai Tran, himself occupied by his creation of a big rose out of colored touches and recycled paper. The tone is set: From squander, beauty can be born. A white sandalwood from Nepal, saffron from Greece, oak wood and its delectable licorice-Armagnac side, the surprising Civegan (an animal note obtained by co-distilling white peppers with patchouli spreads), rice bran and finally the sparkling green Sichuan pepper extracted from CO2 with accents of verbena, lime and mandarin have yet to be discovered.
At PCW, it is by a family that I am being introduced to the nuances of the different varieties of frankincense: Boswellia occulta, which is quite aldehydic, Carterii, which is more classic, Boswellia sacra, also known as the green incense or luban in Oman, and finally the Papyrifera, very fresh and evoking verbena. Despite being known for its medicinal properties, I never had the chance to smell it before. The leathery note of Commiphora myrrha reminds me of … a diving suit! The Himalayan costus, with its osmanthus facets and its feminine leathery notes is a scent to remember! The spotlight on the possibility of purchasing everything in modest quantities is useful information for freelance perfumers!
Moving on from the Middle East to Bulgaria, where the star ingredients of Triglav-Edelvais are rose and lavender. When inquiring to the founder about how her lavender sector in her nation is faring in the face of French overproduction, she expresses her anxiety about future shortages owing to the Ukraine situation. We also live through the realities of the real world in real time during SIMPPAR…
What is going on elsewhere, with a special focus on the other end of the world? Quintis makes us travel to Australia, where we may sample the richness of Santalum album throughout different batches. Ranging from the milky ones, due to their abundance in beta-santalol, passing by the powered “cedar” ones, to finish our journey with the most “grapefruit” ones. The company is using the occasion to reveal the 10 finalists in its “Sandalwood Reimagined” competition. Congratulations are in order; the two winners will be announced at the WPC in Miami.
Let’s travel south of Australia to Tasmania. Are you familiar with kunzea? It gets its aromatic note, quite terpenic but truly unique, from a wild shrub with gorgeous pompon blooms. Jonpaul from Jandico seized the occasion to make me discover its range of exotic names: coastal tea tree (far sweeter than the standard), southern scoparium (nearly eucalyptus) and finally the southern rosalina. At a time when perfume may interact with aromachology and the active characters of ingredients, anything is possible…
Our transition to the next stand is the easiest one yet to make: Verger, whose founder left Australia (and his life as a banker) to return to his homeland of Sri Lanka. He allows us to explore the flavor profiles of CO2 extracts of major local ingredients such as cinnamon’s leaf and bark, vanilla, green tea and a wild pepper. To be closely monitored, if you want my opinion!
Let’s go further north towards India, until we hit jJasmine concrete. Throughout this year, numerous source producers, including Raja, have opened their own stand at the expo. Starting with the headline component: a fresh jasmine grandiflorum treated with CO2, followed by jasmine sambac, its delicious, animalistic little brother. Its tuberose is delectable, its vanilla tantalizes the senses (he has been dreaming about it for four years now)! And finally, its white and pink lotus. “Can that ingredient really be used in perfumery?” “It’s Zen for the Japanese market!” Personally, what makes me find Zen is seeing Raja’s smile; even his colorful touches carry the aliveness of the Indian spirit.
If you’re seeking something different and exotic, go to Nepal: Aarya Aroma offers powerful local materials. I’m not sure if it’s the terroir or the treatment, but all of the ingredients appear to me to be different: jatamansi, palmarosa, lemongrass, black cardamom, Timur pepper, mint avensis, even the calamus… I went through my old student notes in perfumery and found my first ever description: “horse perfuming itself with iris, dry, greasy hair.” So, curiously enough, when the founder’s daughter offered me the opportunity to taste it, I wasn’t too motivated. She explains, “The roots are chewed to cure sore throats in Nepal.” I take the tiniest portion she offers me, which is high in essential oil and I immediately understand I don’t have a sore throat any longer; it is because I no longer have one!
I then fly to Van Aroma in Indonesia, the patchouli capital of the world. Joshua introduces me to patchoulol crystals, a natural substance created through molecular distillation and centrifugation, which are 99% pure. This is something I could eat as a candy…
I make it to the busy Nelixia booth by some miracle, and it’s easy to see why: The sweet, warm, leathery aroma of guaiacwood draws guaiacwood fans. It’s much better when it’s handled with care. It immediately makes me want to travel to Paraguay to witness the regeneration of these tiny trees. The co-founder, Elisa Aragon, shows me her latest creations: UEBT-certified ambrette (which is similar to guaiacwood), cardamom, styrax balm… And she invites me to try ambrette seeds. I’m hesitant after the previous experience: They resemble miniature snails. “Yes, they’re excellent. It is indeed crispy and flavorful, with a slight cereal flavor!
Fair Oils shares the same sense of authenticity: The brand, which has built a name for itself in cosmetics and aromatherapy, is now branching out into fine fragrance. The major Madagascan and Kenyan items can be smelled. Welcome to perfume, says the team (which includes a former Firmenich employee!).
Three letters are murmured in order (and disorder) about Firmenich in the main aisle: SM… DSM? “Were you aware of it?”… “Of course I wasn’t!” Astonishment, wonder, delight and differing viewpoints are expressed in response to Firmenich’s merger with the Dutch nutrition behemoth. But who is going to eat whom? Meanwhile, the Swiss business is continuing the “Beyond muguet” line with the ozonic Muguissimo, as well as reintroducing Sylvamber and the robust, woody Z11 HD, Damask rose Firad, obtained by condensing rose water, and a vanilla planifolia infusion.
Let’s keep going with the titans: On the synthetic side, IFF offers Veraspice, a spicy molecule with clove undertones, a hint of vanilla and a similarity to iso-eugenol. There are three collections at LMR, its naturals subsidiary. The first honors citrus fruits (sweet and bitter oranges, lime, mandarin, bergamot, lemon) and depicts CitraSource’s creation of an innovation center in Florida. The second group of items are “Conscious green extracts,” which are the result of a revolutionary extraction technology that uses a green solvent, but don’t tell anyone because it’s patented! Lavender, blackcurrant bud, jasmine, narcissus (not green, but coffee grounds), and lavender enfleurage CO2 extracts, including the exquisite Timur pepper, with passion fruit notes, round off the flavor.
The Givaudan school class comes to the Capua stand, famous for its citrus fruits (but not only!). I argue my position in order to uncover the “Natprofile” technology, which recycles the water from volatile compound-rich extractions. It’s extracted from resin columns and rinsed with ethanol to create these new gentler, less zesty bergamot or lemon “Peel Water” items. The Natpro Rose Water, the neroli (which smells like petitgrain) and the licorice (which comes in two concentrations) were other favorites.
But, by the way, where is Givaudan’s stand?
While Marc-Antoine Corticchiato and Alexis Toublanc of Parfums d’empire discover the fabulous Andalusian beeswax and its very sunny notes (coffee, amber, cistus, liqueur) at Floral Concept, Julien, the son of the founder Frédérique Rémy, explains to me that the bees gather immortelle, which gives the warm, very “flamenco” note! Other items he shows me include rosewood from Peru, rectified petitgrain from Paraguay, and an ambrette which makes me think of Chanel N°18…
Why not take a break from the distillation process? Naturamole, biotech-derived natural compounds, opens the door for pure innovation. Abdelkrim founded his company 20 years ago and has since assembled a formidable workforce! This is where I’d put my money if I had a few million (but obviously I’m not the only one looking…)! The molecules have names you don’t remember, but they’re formed of champi, which is tripping…
There is only one step between the Naturamole stand and the Nez stand.
There is only one step between the Naturamole stand and the Nez stand.”I adored your book,” we hear over and over for Dominique Roques, our source-poet, who is signing copies while Anne-Laure Hennequin examines our perfume culture with a flip of her cards.
It’s 7 p.m., and I’m approaching the cocktail area when I run into Sébastien, a perfumer friend who shows me around his new house, Voegele. I’m handed a glass filled with a pink drink the same color as the carpet while being asked to sniff a guaiacwood accord (absolutely in style!): “a gin and tonic produced from concentrate.” “Is it alcohol-free?” “Of course!” I notice a trap.
I realize I’m still a long way from seeing all of the exhibits, so I’ll have to pick up the pace a little. “More with less” is how I begin my second day in Japan. Takasago has everything in order: symmetry, chirality, and their Hedirosa, with its flowery, fruity, green, slightly metallic aroma, puts my nose back in the square. My favorite part is the exchange of business cards, which is done in Japanese tradition with both hands and always with reverence.
I take a closer look at the gorgeous paintings that depict the Symrise molecules three short strides further on: another way of seeing the notes through color… But how do we feel as we flee from the house next door? Other well-known molecules…
So, these are the notes that fled from the Synarome stand! When we compare the bases with and without Ambrarome, rhodinol, ethyl levulinate, vetiverol, algenone and isopulegol, ah yes, it goes beyond the thin walls of the stands…
Matthieu introduces us to six ingredients at Mane: purified pink grapefruit, the famous jasmine grandiflorum in the enfleurage method, which I find extremely fresh; and a specialty called Greencatcher, which is made up of 50% bigarade and is quite good and very clean.
The exotic Cocotone (coconut, tonka bean, almond, fig) obtained through biotechnology; Vayanol, a vanilla-clove note that reminds me of popcorn, which is amusing; and the patchouli Gayo, in Pure Jungle Essence, which is lovely with its salty, almost oakmoss impact.
In the evening, I go to Payan Bertrand, the “like at home” stand, which is as full as a kitchen: gentian resinoid, CO2 pink pepper, oak shavings extract, bleached mastic extract, iris resinoid MD, very cocoa-red fruit and finally the famous Process E leather flower whose reputation precedes olfaction: If you like cat’s fur and apricot that comes in velvet steps, this ingredient is for you!
At Bontoux, I meet Maxime from Scentree – that’s also how SIMPPAR works; you start with one and work your way through the others. Marine entices us with her pure heart lavender before storming the booth with a bottle of bitter almond essential oil: “It’s created from apricot kernels!”… “Really? I had no idea!”
At Biolandes, I distract myself from Renaud’s retirement by sniffing the latest discoveries with Cédric, which have had some success of their own: a very greedy popcorn extract with notes of cocoa, butter, hot milk and iris. An unusual blend: vetiver by absolute, made from the plant’s brew, with a smoky note and a very unique oak-Armagnac chip; a very fruity ylang-ylang for a complete essential oil; and a frankincense from the Boswellia sacra tree in Oman.
As fate would have it, I end up with Egyptian components. I discovered at Hashem Brothers that the country has a citrus produce industry that matches Spain’s. I detect sweet orange petitgrain, which is highly aromatic, as well as home specialties: neroli on fruit, between flower and zest; petitgrain on flowers; a jasmine essence, but it’s conceivable! Their basil verbena is fantastic, and I end with the tomato leaf, spinach absolute, and violet leaf absolute that I had smelled before.
Hussein proudly displays his pride at Fahkry: a new and very delightful jasmine fragrance that I noticed in a green tea accord. Let’s take a detour with olive leaf, nettle absolute (which smells like watercress) and artichoke absolute, which is a cross between rose and powdery chocolate. We end with cassia absolute, powdered as a mimosa pompon, and its magnificent carnation, as honeyed as you like: We’d happily make an Opium 2023 out of it. Beautiful materials that show how much love the pair has put into them!
When 5:40 p.m. strikes, it is time to go back to reality. The organizers uninstall the lighting, the gin and tonic-colored carpet is untucked as rapidly as the Cannes red carpet. I leave SIMPPAR peacefully; farewell champion components.
However, I hope to see you again next year! We’ve gained a year thanks to last year’s postponement! Hooray!
Please note that you will find some of the SIMPPAR exhibitors mentioned in this article in our book, published in 2021 on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the show and re-published in June 2022: De la plante à l’essence – un tour du monde des matières à parfums (Biolandes, Bontoux, Capua, Fahkry, Firmenich, Floral Concept, Givaudan, Hashem Brothers, LMR naturals, Mane, Naturamole, Nelixia, Payan Bertrand, Quintis, Robertet, Symrise, Takasago, Van Aroma, Verger Naturals).