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I had a chance to take a quick sniff of “the new one”, a perfume preview version sprayed quickly on my neck while I was attending an Unum event held in Milano, during Esxence 2018. There was something strange about it, even at a quick sniff…it caught my attention right there and then.

I learned that I’ll have to wait for it until Pitti Fragranze in Florence in September when the launch is planned, and that most probably this current version will undergo slight changes.

All I knew was that the main inspiration came from the movie Hannibal! Florence seemed like a logical choice for this launch. Well, I had to wait. I didn’t stop thinking about it. Five months later, one of the top priorities on my Pitti to-do list was the new perfume in Unum collection. Now it had a name: but_not_today.

Hannibal Lecter: …”Now then, tell me. What did Miggs say to you? He hissed at you. What did he say?”

Clarice Starling: “He said, “I can smell your c**t.”

Hannibal Lecter: “I see. I, myself, cannot. You use Evian skin cream, and sometimes you wear L’Air du Temps … but not today.”

Florence always leaves me speechless. One of the most beautiful cities in the world! Such a logical choice for dr. Hannibal Lecter, a man of well-refined taste.

No wonder Ridley Scott fell in love with it while checking out locations for this movie. Even when I saw this film for the first time, I was impressed by photography (John Mathieson), broody mood and angles, scenes and the moment when soft tones of Italian opera fill the air above the ground of Santa Croce, visual elements chosen, and spots of captivating Florentine beauty. I also made an obligatory stop at Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy while I was there: this is where Lecter makes his perfumed purchases for Clarice, buying – almond soap.

Timeless beauty. Just like Palazzo Capponi. Lecter chose to stay in it during his exile in Florence. This is where he did his research in the library, played piano for Clarice, wrote her a letter (yes, the famous red curtains are still there…):

Filippo chose Palazzo Caponni for but_not_today’s launch, playing the piano himself that night. When I entered that courtyard, I almost expected to see Sir Anthony Hopkins, dressed meticulously as dr. Lecter, to walk down the inner staircase and join us.

Food was served (inspired by the movie), champagne and Chianti poured. Red perfume bottles with trails of blood trickling on caps were exhibited on silver platters. So divine and yet so decadent: Dr. Lecter would have enjoyed this evening. Clarice? I doubt it:

Hannibal Lecter:

Would you ever say to me “Stop. If you love me, stop?”

Clarice Starling:

Not in a thousand years.

Hannibal Lecter:

“Not in a thousand years”… That’s my girl.

The concept behind this perfume is multilayered: you wouldn’t expect less from Filippo Sorcinelli. An Artist (with a capital A), a “Renaissance man” with a finely chiseled body, brilliant versatile creativity streaks, and a vulnerable soul:

Constantly in search of divine beauty, soul-deep Harmony of the Beauty, through diverse activities.

A perfumer, a painter, an organist, a photographer, a graphic designer, manufacturer of sacred vestments, suffering from his own dramatic vibrations of inspiration and letting us see, smell or touch pieces of his soul.

I enjoy his morning FB statuses: Buongiorno Amici/Buongiorno Nemici, and all the black and white photos. Pitti Fragranze was the place where we met again:

but_not_today , the way I see it, is a reflection of one crucial moment, those seconds when we see Hannibal leaning towards Clarice, his face so close to her skin that he can smell her. We look at that scene fearing that he might decide to bite her, kill her, thus regaining his freedom. I never doubted that he would not: I knew that the moment he smelled her skin, he would kiss her! I’ve read somewhere that our natural skin scent is the strongest at the central area of our face! He loves her (he smells her), and he couldn’t have done anything else but kiss her…pulse racing, one tear rolling down her cheek.

This kiss made two opposites touch, two worlds collide, and at that moment they were both – perfectly imperfect. Human.

As described by the brand:

One runs looking for elegance, art, hating the mediocrity of human, arriving to an extreme and insane point against “rude and unsophisticated people” or who in some way could upset the Universal Beauty.
The other one runs among the cold and impersonal choices of her life, falling in love with an institution who never will repay its adept. Perfection would be boring without that shiver of twisting fear that anybody should have just to cross a glance.
Fear is a very good seductress.

but_not_today reflects this duality, playing with innocence and dark seductiveness of fear. The fragrance changes rhythm and tempo in time, adding depth and another dimension to used notes and accords. Carnation, for instance, has a bright facet of sweetness at one stage, and dark, heavy, almost black licorice-like quality at another.

Yes, carnation is present in “L’Air du Temps” as a symbol of hope and innocence. This perfume shows it’s totally opposite, dark side as well and these two collide, circling and pushing against each other, creating friction and sparks.

but_not_today opens on my skin with a sharp bloody-metallic accord. It feels as a set of razor-sharp knives are suddenly exposed right in front of you, their blades pointed in direction of your heart. Like the taste of blood on your lips or tip of the tongue. Even in this expressive first-sniff appearance, the fragrance is refined, in a strange way: like you are looking at something scary, but you simply can’t stop gazing.

Metal blades cut through space and bloody-red carnation boldly protrudes – it is now openly exhibiting its intense, spicy passionate facet, showing us its “dark side”. I feel pepper-strong spice layer around it, like strings of black licorice are wrapped around its stem. It is wild, filled with desire. Red on black, and in such a fine contrast with that sharp metallic opening.

The fragrance evolves further. Desire now begins to show its animalistic character: lustful, passionate leather encompasses you as Castoreum shines in its characteristic warmth with an outspoken carnal impression, giving these layers of leather additional depth. A small trickle of blood is still running, random metallic sparks jump up every now and then.

As time passes, this heavy red curtain is pushed aside: suddenly, without prior notice, performing a stunning salto mortale, white Lily comes forward (Lily stands for Florence), and this abrupt change seems like the fragrance has turned its other cheek to us: it becomes a strong, almost green floral, but it is carefully laid upon a softer version of leather, like lambskin. You can still feel an undertone of carnation, but it is so much softer, gentler, even sweeter. In this phase, you can feel the connection with L’Air du Temps (it stands for Clarice), although it is distorted, like if you were looking at its image reflected in a broken mirror. This was a phase when I kept sniffing my wrist, trying not to miss a second of it. Just when I thought: enough! but_not_today took me to yet another level.

This floral, green wetness makes a retreat to the background at a much slower pace, reluctantly, as swirls of Frankincense become more intense: this is a moment where I felt all the previous layers unite. I could smell metallic notes, carnation, leather, and incense at the same time, multiple components shifting slowly and deliberately. I suddenly heard a Gregorian chant in my head: Attende Domine, et miserere, quia peccavimus tibi…/Hear us, o Lord, and have mercy, because we have sinned against Thee…How appropriate.

but_not_today evolves further: incense becomes dryer, progressing into the smoke-filled (smoke stands for fear…) woody-oakmoss finale, still allowing random drifts of now more matte leather tones all the way to the drydown.

I remembered the first scene from the movie, when Clarice is running alone through a forest, feeling that she is not alone. Back to the beginning…or is it the end? No. Because hours later, I am surprised again: the fragrance lingers on my skin like the finest, waxy-a little-bit-soapy – men’s cologne. That felt somehow reassuring, calming. Everything is as it’s supposed to be…

I gave this perfume much thought and wearing, and have to admit that it made me think about those scary, exciting, knee-trembling moments when your own desire scares you, the fear you feel just before kissing your lover for the first time… Desire, fear, passion-fueled moments. Intense. Making you feel alive. Just like but_not_today makes me feel.

Ultimately, but_not_today IS a love story. A different love story.

Longevity is lasting, sillage noticeable. but_not_today is extrait du parfum, available in 100ml/210EUR and 10ml (new!) travel size/35EUR. Filippo Sorcinelli Brand didn’t divulge perfume notes in the official description.
Presentation and packaging follow the above-described context:

This perfume is not “challenging” (whatever that might mean), “intimidating” nor “scary”. It’s avant-garde, artisan, definitely different, unique, but at the same time – intriguing and beautiful to wear.
Dare to be different!

Thank you, Filippo: it was worth waiting for!

The Plum Girl

Elena Cvjetkovic

Photos: The Plum Girl, Filippo Sorcinelli Brand/photographer: Rita Francia.

Samples provided by Filippo Sorcinelli Brand at Pitti Florence 2018., opinions of my own.

Disclaimer

Giveaway!

I’d like to share my experience with you: you will have a chance to win 2x2ml samples of but_not_today, thanks to Filippo Sorcinelli Brand. The giveaway will be announced on The Plum Girl Instagram page!

I wrote a short overview/review of St.Clair Scents perfumes not long ago. As I continued to wear Frost, it just asked for more. When a fragrance keeps calling me, I answer. With love.

Frost is named after famous New England poet Robert Frost, whose summer writing cabin in the woods still stands 25 miles away from Diane St.Clair’s farm.

When I read this information for the first time, it made me curious. To name a fragrance after this great poet? I admit I love Frost’s lyrical expression. My favorite poem by Robert Frost is “Acceptance”: we all need more of it! So, what was the first thing I did? Sample the perfume? No. I read the poem “To Earthward” over and over again.

Frost, as the poet. Yet, come to Winter and first C-minuses, I became aware that Frost (fragrance) is so soothing – a perfect cold-weather fragrance, capturing the energy of Spring and warmth of Summer, releasing it in deep and slow fragrant breaths, reminding me of a famous quote:

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.” – Albert Camus

I am not a “Winter person” (as I take a closer look at St. Clair Scents’ newest fragrance, Casablanca, I sense that Diane isn’t either…). The more temperatures drop, the more I tend to seek out perfumes that will keep me warm, fragrant stories or poems one might describe as cozy, like “fireplace fragrances”. Or the ones with breath heavy with roses, spices or vanilla. Trying to keep that flame of invincible Summer in me burning…

On the dark, gloomy and cold January mornings, lacking sunlight, while I dream of sizzling hot seaside beaches and warm hugs of Adriatic Sea, I am still grateful for all the varieties that living in a mild continental climate provides: to watch four seasons change is a blessing. When it comes to perfumes, it is also interesting to observe how they perform at different times of a year!

Frost slowly became my first choice fragrance this Winter. If you prefer that classification of perfumes, yes, this is a unisex Winter fragrance by all means! It felt so comforting to wear Frost and read a book of poems, cuddled at home and wrapped in a warm blanket on peaceful holiday afternoons. Frost felt like…home. Like…hope. Like…life.

Paradoxes and complexities of life: without shades, we would appreciate sunshine less, without tears, smiles would be taken for granted.

Without poets and artists, this World would be a sad place!

Without artisan, indie perfumers…the term “niche” would become just an overused word in the perfume world.

Paradoxes and complexities of a perfume: Diane is well aware of cycles of Nature. There’s no better teacher than farm life to provide you with first-hand experience of its ways, and she managed to translate that longing for warmth (of emotions and weather) in fine olfactory sentences and rhymes, earthbound in the sense of knowing how sweet warm earth smells, how it’s breath mixes with yours, and how connecting with Nature nurtures our souls. Olfactive poetry does the same. Can’t you just feel the scent of a foggy farm morning just by looking at this photo?

As a poet, the perfumer thinks about composition, balance, notes as words forming sentences and meanings. You instinctively “feel” extraordinary poetry – just as you can instinctively “know” when a perfume is a fine work of art. If you can feel it singing, whispering on your skin, if it touches your soul – you can never forget that feeling!

This fragrance also follows stages of love as described in the famous poem “To Earthward”.

Love and attraction change over the years or stages of a relationship, fragrances change in their development and life cycle.

Frost is a journey starting with young love, full of hope:

“Love at the lips was touch

As sweet as I could bear;

And once that seemed too much;

I lived on air.”

The opening is a bright, soothing and comforting verse of freshly cut chunks of citruses, peel living its scent on your warm fingers, juices marking their trail of condensed sunshine. First whiffs are softened around the edges with petals of a bright rose, smooth like lips going over lips, exploring, tingling and warm at the same time. That warmth is gently dark: like a fire burning in an open stove, earthy-woody comfort.

We remember all our first kisses as sweet, musky, intoxicating and passionate. Yet, even at its very beginning, bergamot bright, filled with sparkling sunshine, there is a fine darkness present: bitter bark and the feeling of rough earth, clove-infused.

You are flying, living on air and the feeling of love is so strong that it almost hurts:

“I craved strong sweets, but those

Seemed strong when I was young;

The petal of the rose

It was that stung.”

Sprays of a juicy rose stream through, flying on wings of lush green tones.

After a couple of minutes, darker layers shift upwards, circling gently, like soft fog rising from the ground. Patchouli-like earthy tones are in the background, clove lingering in shades. Burnt, dry clove, bittersweet…like a romance withering and dying slowly.

Just as the poet intentionally engages all the senses – from taste, scent, touch, and sound, and makes a very strong comparison between the past and the present, moving from honeysuckle sweet vibes to its opposite: a tears-salty taste, so does the fragrance shift, like liquid poetry. Dynamics of relationship and the fragrance change…

After the initial introduction, florals seem thoughtful, almost sad. Roses and jasmine are present, but more like a dry bouquet placed as centerpiece decoration on a solid wood table. The fragrance reflects a feeling of a late afternoon breeze rolling down from a woody hillside, its waves ripping above a flower garden, traces of incense-colored smoke lingering above. Memories of happier days…of love and passion that used to be.

Just as the narrator in the poem at the end longs for the feeling of earth against all the body, the fragrance changes its mood:

I crave the stain

Of tears, the aftermark

Of almost too much love,

The sweet of bitter bark

And burning clove.

As time passes, the “earthward” element becomes prominent. I feel the softness of dark earth, there are no sharp angles or anything to disturb this balance: earthy and woody feeling grows and glides, with an almost vetiver touch, yet I do sense occasional citrusy sparks. In the end, the fragrance stays quite skin close, refined and elegant. Seamless and voluptuous, lingering like feelings that refuse to go away.

The longer I enjoyed it, the more I thought that this fragrance is brilliant. It’s small yet expressive nuances and the very cadence in which the perfume performs is absolutely spectacular.

Please bear in mind that this is a “natural” fragrance: although the concentration is 20%, which would put it into Extrait perfume category, naturals desperately need your skin (and patience) to breathe and live, to bloom fully. Frost has a dream-like quality, but if you expect bombastic sillage or performance – you might be disappointed. If you think that naturals are boring, prepare to change this assumption!

Top Notes: Bergamot, Mandarin Yellow and Green, Coriander, Petitgrain sur fleur, Meyer Lemon

Middle Notes: Honeysuckle Accord, Rose Geranium, Elderflower Absolute, Petitgrain Absolute

Base Notes: Cistus, Labdanum Absolute, Vanilla Absolute, Vetiver, Cedar, Smoke, Clove Absolute

Frost is available at St.Clair Scents: 30 ml/125USD, or 2ml sprayers/10USD.

The Plum Girl

Elena Cvjetkovic

 

Photos: The Plum Girl Blog, Diane St. Clair

Samples provided by St.Clair Scents, opinions of my own.

Disclaimer

To Earthward

Robert Frost, 1874 – 1963.

Love at the lips was touch

As sweet as I could bear;

And once that seemed too much;

I lived on air

That crossed me from sweet things,

The flow of—was it musk

From hidden grapevine springs

Downhill at dusk?

I had the swirl and ache

From sprays of honeysuckle

That when they’re gathered shake

Dew on the knuckle.

I craved strong sweets, but those

Seemed strong when I was young;

The petal of the rose

It was that stung.

Now no joy but lacks salt,

That is not dashed with pain

And weariness and fault;

I crave the stain

Of tears, the aftermark

Of almost too much love,

The sweet of bitter bark

And burning clove.

When stiff and sore and scarred

I take away my hand

From leaning on it hard

In grass and sand,

The hurt is not enough:

I long for weight and strength

To feel the earth as rough

To all my length.