Ex Nihilo the most fascinating niche perfumes we discovered this year

Filling in a gap between appointments in Paris? Then you’ll find me in Galeries Lafayette. Every time, I go there. But I usually don’t get any further than the perfume department on the ground floor. For me, it is the proverbial sweet shop. Or Walhalla, if you will. I usually pick one specific brand and sniff. Fragrance, after fragrance, after fragrance… in order to unravel the identity of the perfume house and/or its different collections. But this time, our discovery (of niche perfume brand Ex Nihilo) was so surprisingly different from all the others that we decided to devote an entire article to it.

Mid-November, our attention was caught by a series of bottles with gold or silver cap. Neatly lined up and bathing in light thrusted through the glass from below via the presentoir. Without looking at the name of the brand or the fragrance, we take the first bottle and sniff the spray nozzle. We smell and sniff again. Immediately, we are triggered by the richness of the fragrance. We continue smelling. ‘Gold Immortals’, ‘Idle Hour’, ‘Venenum Kiss’, ‘Santal Calling’ pass the revue. Some scents are more our thing than others. ‘Love Shot’, ‘Musc Infini’, ‘Outcast Blue’, … the perfume names are as fascinating as the name of the brand ‘Ex Nihilo’ itself.

Ex Nihilo worships a radical ethos: select the most exclusive perfumery materials, push them to their limits, and do not forget that rules are made to be broken…

Out of nothing
Ex Nihilo was created by Sylvie Loday, Olivier Royère and Benoît Verdier out of nothing. Hence the name ‘Ex Nihilo’, a Latin expression, applied to a new creation with no previously known reference. Since its inception in 2013 the House has cultivated an outsider mindset. By offering the perfume creators a Carte Blanche, Ex Nihilo promotes a new disruptive and uncompromising vision of perfumery, without any creative or cost constraints. Ex Nihilo worships a radical ethos: select the most exclusive perfumery materials, push them to their limits, and do not forget that rules are made to be broken…

The story only begins
In Galeries Lafayette we continue smelling at the spray nozzles until we have smelled them all. There are about 30 different scents on display. As always, we decide to apply the two scents we like most to our skin. Eau de parfum ‘Fleur Narcotique’ on our left wrist and the other ‘Honoré Delights’ on the right. As we still have time we decide to take the escalator a few floors higher in the Galeries Lafayette, stroll briefly through the shoe department (women can’t do without) and enjoy the view of Paris at the very top of the rooftop terrace. An hour later, we notice that we like the scent on the left side of our wrist the most. We decide to spray it on our neck too, throw our scarf back around it and jump into a taxi towards Brussels-Midi… Never thought that the story would only begin…

You smell nice
As the hours evolve, the complexity of the scent emerges. We smell an elaborate floral bouquet with peony and two of our favourite flowers – jasmine and orange blossom – but also musk (another favourite), moss and a fruity top note. An intriguing scent that we just can’t seem to get enough of. On my welcome kiss, my partner immediately remarks that I smell nice. In the following days, the scent will be several times the topic of the conversation. Every time I throw on my scarf, that deliciousness resurfaces. I can’t get enough of it. I go on the internet to find out more about this brand, which was a great unknown to me.

Inspiring sensations
Ex Nihilo draws inspiration from the creative talents of perfumery, but also from architecture, design or art glass. By opening new paths of collaboration between the perfume creators, the latest technologies and the artistic community, Ex Nihilo wishes to answer the desires of a generation seeking some of the most exciting and inspiring sensations.

Demi-bespoke perfume
Besides its fragrance collections based on the most exclusive materials, Ex Nihilo offers an immersive experience and a unique olfactory journey across all its locations. They are venues for discovery and experimentation, fully dedicated to the senses: personalized perfume consultation, discovery of exceptional new raw materials, electronic fragrance testers… In these venues you can experience the complete collections, limited editions and artistic collaborations. In the Top Tier locations, the possibility is offered to create your own demi-bespoke perfume, thanks to the Osmologue©: an exclusive and futuristic version of a high precision fragrance blending system, which cradles the heart and the ‘raison d’être’ of the brand.

How can this be?
Two weeks after our discovery in Galeries Lafayette, we still smell the Ex Nihilo scent intensely on our scarf. We can’t remember ever trying a scent that lasted so long. It is a pleasure to put the scarf on. And it is this scent that we want to explore further. We request samples from Ex Nihilo. These are delivered neatly by post a few days later. But the ‘Fleur Narcotique’ we have in out hand is not the fragrance that won us over in Galeries Lafayette. No in this scent we smell lily-of-the-valley or iris, not the warm flowers we smelled in the other scent. How can this be?

Jo Malone‘s world of Cologne Intense is a collection of alluring, powerful scents inspired by faraway lands, captivating rituals and
treasured ingredients. From February ’23 onwards in this new packaging.

For days the question keeps playing around in our head until we realize that it must have been a combination of my own perfume Vetiver & Golden Vanilla by Jo Malone and this Fleur Narcotique by Ex Nihilo. So we put on the mix. First Vetiver & Golden Vanilla by Jo Malone and an hour later Fleur Narcotique by Ex Nihilo. And indeed we find these two scents appear to be a match made in heaven.

French perfumer Quentin Bisch

So we are already looking forward to the moment French perfumer Quentin Bisch will blend his iconic Fleur Narcotique with the notes of Vetiver & Golden Vanilla by Jo Malone or vice versa. In the meantime, I am combining both fragrances because after all, Jo Malone fragrances are made for layering.

For his iconic Fleur Narcotique French perfumer Quentin Bisch intensified the hypnotic heart of floral notes with a mesmerizing Peony and adorned it with an overdose of blooming ingredients for an everlasting effect on the skin.

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