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Photo stolen from Ermanno Picco http://lagardenianellocchiello.blogspot.it/

Esxence 2015 seems to be the weirdest and best edition ever. It started a couple of weeks ago with “Né carne né pesce” (Nor fish nor fowl) an exclusive dinner/performance by nose and former chef Angelo Orazio Pregoni, with fashion journalist Anna Mascolo and former musical journalist and tv host, now David Icke wannabe, Red Ronnie.
The menu was composed of “Nouvelle cousine” dishes made with pop ingredients, such as Simmenthal, a popular italian brand of canned meat. Performers stripped and kissed and Red Ronnie managed to expose Yoko Ono’s secret: she had John Lennon killed by a ritual performed by a south american warlock. Seriously.
What was it about? An opportunity to realize how much marketing strategies influence our tastes and our thinking, imposing a “collective taste” on everybody’s individual taste and making anybody nor fish nor fowl: a passive mass, ingurgitating and regurgitating meaningless messages. Even Red Ronnie’s.
Pregoni provocation continued with the installation “Né carne né pesce” currently on display at Esxence and the performance he held yesterday “Citofonare Gigi” (Buzz Gigi), a reference to a famous italian commercial of the Nineties for “La Cremeria” a brand of ice cream.

In the video kids ask “Is Gigi here?” and Gigi’s mom says no,so they ask “Do you have La Cremeria ice cream?” She says yes and they all say: “We’re coming!!!!”
What has all this to do with fragrance?
According to Pregoni, fragrance marketing follows the same line as any kind of marketing: somebody (like Gigi in the commercial) sets a trend, which influences everybody’s else tastes. The performance tried to debunk the “pathetic” claims of niche fragrance marketing, such as absurd personal stories of fragrance creators (I’m a single mother/rocket engineer and I make fragrance in my kitchen*) and impossible raw materials (I extract them form the bonsai in my living room*). He uses kitsch imagery, as an antidote to the “pathetic” imagery. “Since kitsch stuff is not considered classy and exclusive, it forces us to think with our own head and nose and ask ourselves: “Do I really like it? Is it really worth something?” he explained.
Last year Pregoni chained himself outside Esxence, to protest against the “pathetic” brands inside. Speaking of a nose he and I consider serious and very creative, he told me: “Inside Esxence, he’s like a pine seed on a nouvelle cousine dish. Without the seed this dish would just be what it is: a small portion of very uninteresting food. I refuse to be a pine seed.”
This year, reminded of this statement, he said: “Only idiots don’t change their minds. Esxence offered me the opportunity to be myself inside it. Why should I have remained outside?”
Somehow, his provocations seem to be spices, adding taste to the plate, than a pine seed put on the side.
Many of the “pathetic” brands are still there, but so are many authentic luxury brands and some truly innovative ideas appeared this year.
*actual claims I heard.