Heaven to Hell, Two from Francesca Bianchi

Ever since Francesca Bianchi appeared at Pitti Fragranze for the first time, the popularity of her and her compositions have been constantly growing. Perfume lovers even speak of her signature accord, a characteristic blend of orris butter with animalics that gives a claw to each of her perfume. 2019 has been especially prolific for this artist as Francesca has treated us to no less than 5 new scents this year. The two that I’m going to talk about today were first presented in Florence (where I didn’t go this year, as you all know) – they are completely different but share Francesca’s style.

francesca-bianchi-lost-in-heaven

Lost in Heaven begins with a naturally-smelling bitterness of grapefruit, which is supported in the background by verdant note of green mandarin. In the following minutes the perfume becomes innocently floral, with a beautiful accent on a watery, lemony & silky magnolia. Orange blossom adds a nice richness and a solar energy to this scent, without being too screechy or indolic. Speaking of solar notes, there’s also a yellow puff of mimosa here – it introduces a soft powdery sensation when Lost in Heaven evolves on skin. Over the course of the day there came the moment when this new creation of Francesca Bianchi started to smell waxy to my nose. But it didn’t have that candle-like backnote. It was more like natural waxes that cover the petals of flower. Actually it was mostly floral tonalties that I could smell as linked to this waxy scent. There’s something viscous about it, making these flowery notes less volatile and more clingy on skin. On me Lost in Heaven develops gradually and I had to wait for a few hours until I was able to smell the soft & buttery texture of orris butter. I think that like me, Francesca has a deep love for iris as she seems to be using it almost in her every creation. I can’t blame her! Later in its development the perfume becomes heavier, more dense but it never overpowers the wearer. Some ambergris combined with labdanum, opoponax and tonka create a soft, sensual base that is less innocent than it looks. Castoreum and musk add just a tiny bit of something animalic but it’s enough to provoke a sexual thought. The creaminess of sandalwood in the base helps Lost in Heaven to melt together with your skin. Additional notes that were woven into this composition include heliotrope, vetiver and patchouli, also coriander, cinnamon and cumin.

francescan-bianchi-black-knight

The Black Knight is quite the contrary of Lost in Heaven. The perfume packs a serious punch right from the start. First whiff of a black leather accord and I’m immediately transported inside of a shoemaker workshop in my head. The smell of raw leathers, the chemicals that are used to treat it, it’s all here. It’s a wild fragrance full of untamed power. After the initial kick of leather, artemisia joins the composition and adds a herbaceous, vegetal feel that is hard to describe. It’s like a resinous plant juice. Caraway note that follows after some time gives a spicy background with a bit of dirtiness to it. Later on The Black Knight starts to ooze a delightful golden lustre of honey. It’s slightly sweet, balsamic but also animalic. Iris butter also made it to this perfume from Francesca Bianchi. It adds a nice powdery feel to the scent which corresponds very nicely with the leathery accord. Iris and leather make a quite common duo that works very well. When I smell it in The Black Knight I’m reminded of my leathery favorite – Cuir Ottoman by Parfum d’Empire. Beeswax adds a glossy finish to this scent and also improves the resinous facet of the blend. Another ingredient that is more accentuated in this perfume is oakmoss. The dusty smell of lichen adds a retro vibe to The Black Knight and despite its dominantly leathery you can detect that chypre element in it. Francesca Bianchi The Black Knight also features Bulgarian rose and narcissus but I wasn’t able to smell anything floral in this perfume. I could smell the earthy vetiver and aromatic patchouli in the base. These 2 made the perfume feel darker and with more depth. They also created the impression of the uneven surface. This fragrance surely isn’t shy and it’s not smooth. But its individual elements fit together just like puzzles pieces that make 1 picture in the end. Well done, Francesca!

I love Francesca as a person and I love the honesty that her fragrances are representing. And even though her style is a bit intimidating for myself – a person generally prefers a delicacy of a perfume and a game of nuances rather that powerful compositions. But that doesn’t stop me from being able to appreciate how well done these fragrances are. Between Lost in Heaven and The Black Knight I would surely select the 1st one for me. In the end both become more bound to the skin, with a certain level of intimacy to them. These extraits are available in 30 ml bottles, a brand’s standard.

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12 thoughts on “Heaven to Hell, Two from Francesca Bianchi

  1. Holly says:

    Lost in Heaven sounds nice! I will probably try The Black Knight as well, simply out of curiosity. I ordered some samples a while back, and was gifted a decant of Angel’s Dust. I thought the latter would be up my alley and tried it first, but I disliked it intensely. On my skin, it smelled stale, and I thought of the “old lady” or “grandma” term people use. Which, come to think of it, makes sense cuz I’m old LOL. Maybe my skin itself is stale! Anyway, I have not sniffed the rest due to that experience. However, I am intrigued by the passionate way that people talk about her perfumes and I hope that one may ignite the same response in me.

    • Jillie says:

      No, no, no Holly!! You’re not old! It’s just something about your skin chemistry, or a sensitivity in your nose that detects something that other people aren’t aware of. There are certain lines that I can’t wear because each manufacturer uses a base common to all its perfumes that has a note that doesn’t suit me, and thus taints all its fragrances for me.

    • lucasai says:

      It happens sometimes that you think the perfume is right up your type but then it turns out it’s not. Probably you don’t like something that was used as a common thread in these fragrances. Age has nothing to do with it.

  2. hajusuuri says:

    Nicely described! I have the saplemset and while I have not tried all yet, in order from strong like to like: Under My Skin (very surprising since it smells like a person but the drydown was so good), Black Night and Lost in Heaven. The ones Indid not like were: Angel’s Dust, Lover’s Tale, Sex and the Sea and Sex and the Sea Neroli. I have 2 more waiting to be tried: Etruscan Water and The Dark Side. Overall, they pack a punch and seems to be made with very good quality ingredients.

    P.S. I’m glad I saw your IG story on this post!

    • lucasai says:

      Thanks my dear! I feel like I’m quite the same. Not a love for them but I like them very much, even if they are not my style in general.
      I really enjoyed Etruscan Water when I tried it in the summer.

  3. hajusuuri says:

    Oy! Not saplemset – sample set!

  4. Jillie says:

    Do you think it could be the “signature accord” that might put Holly off? Actually I love your term for this … many years ago people would refer to Guerlain’s base as “the soup” – not such a lovely description!

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your details of these two perfumes, and really respect the philosophy and inspiration behind them, but am not so sure that they would suit me.

    • lucasai says:

      I thought it’s quite a common phrase these days.
      I didn’t hear about ‘soup’ before – in case of Guerlain I’ve heard about Guerlinade more often. Just like Tauerade 😉

  5. Undina says:

    I haven’t tried anything from this brand yet, but out of the two you reviewed Lost in Heaven sounds more like something I might like. I’m not a huge fan of raw leather scent, and honey – as much as I like it as food, in perfumes rarely smells good on my skin (though, it’s known to happen).
    Small bottles is another plus in my book for the brand.

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