April 2019


“Here comes the rain again, falling on my head like a memory, falling on my head like a new emotion…”

It keeps falling, and I long for sunshine, brighter skies, bare feet, and floral dresses. A rainy day in April, this song and the perfume I’m wearing, bringing memories that refuse to go away. It’s all because of The Lover’s Tale (released in 2018) by Francesca Bianchi.

I wrote about Francesca Bianchi when reviewing Under My Skin, here.

It took me months of living with this fragrance, quite a few sleepless nights and a whirlpool of emotions to put my thoughts in writing.

Because it’s personal and intimate. Again. It’s about things unspoken, soul-deep feelings that this perfume brought to the surface, and Francesca bottles nuances of emotions, artistically expressing them in her creations.

These two are inseparable for me: Under My Skin is one side of the coin, The Lover’s Tale another. So intimate that I rarely wear them in public.

This is a story about a lover’s secret encounter. Rich in natural raw materials, jasmin and leather are the protagonists of this perfume. The opening evokes the sparkling mood of the very moment they meet; attraction and romance then trap the lovers, and a narcotic Jasmin softened by a powdery rose, recreates this tension. Passion then takes over, with a sophisticated leather, developing on a chypré accord.”

Well, this is not soft, powdery, the divine kiss of Angel’s Dust, it’s not your inner, soul-deep glow, I-feel-sexy-in-my-skin-and- I-love-you- unconditionally feeling as with Under My Skin – this is not just another romantic sweet-and-tender love song. Oh, no. It never is…

The Lover’s Tale is intense and fatal from the first moment of secret lovers meeting: eyes locked, lips parted, pupils dilated. Its heavy breath is filled with the animalic roar of raw leather with a prominent barnyard tone at the beginning. Burning desire…

That specific leathery tone is present all the way, stronger or weaker – and this perfume has an excellent staying power. It has been said that it carries similarities to CuirdeRussie, but in my opinion -although Francesca (willingly or unwillingly) might have drawn some inspiration from it, this perfume is something completely different: raw leather meeting a floral chypre, dancing with it cheek to cheek is tantalizing!

Even the feeling of smokey rubber somehow manages to float over that rough-leather structure, as if you’re running your castoreum soaked fingers over it, tanning your own skin with it.

After initial fatal attraction drama, streaks of recognizable Bianchi handwriting emerge, powdery tones mixing with floral ones. There she goes again, playing with beloved iris, making it’s now harsher tones fluff around the edges of leather a bit, introducing the Jasmine-sensual, floral heart of the fragrance – because once you’ve willingly surrendered to it – there’s no need to play rough or dirty.

Now you can follow the leathery trail all the way to the base, wonderful “Bianchi” base, tender newborn-baby-skin smelling, soft as puffs of mimosa flowers settled in creamy erotic sandalwood cocoon, and yet there’s still leather surrounding it, just so that you don’t forget how it all started. You never will forget that “after sex” feeling…

Let me try to bring the atmosphere it portrays closer:

It feels like when overwhelming seduction pulls you in, breaks all your defenses, walls crumble, the world around you ceases to exist, and you surrender, knowing it won’t last forever, but you are willing to take that chance, feeling deep down inside that something like this happens once in a lifetime. Consequences? You can only hope you’ll find strength when they come, and come they will.

Because there are moments that change your life forever, sliding doors opening and closing, choices made that irrevocably change who you are and what you are, moving the axis of your existence from its foundations, leaving you breathless and speechless, trying to find balance and steady your feet and yet you feel like flying, you feel like you’ve never felt before. It was unforgettable and it was worth it.

Because: “…At that moment, everything I knew to be true about myself up until then was gone. I was acting like another woman, yet I was more myself than ever before.” – Bridges of Madison County

Because…it smells like his dark green-almost brown, well-worn leather jacket, and wild, forbidden love consumed.

You can also find a short video of Francesca speaking about The Lover’s Tale on my IGTV channel, taken at Pitti Florence 2018.

Listed notes: Bergamot, Honey, Mimosa, Jasmin, Bulgarian Rose, Peach, Iris Butter, Heliotrope, Leather, Castoreum, Labdanum, Sandalwood, Vetiver, Oakmoss.

The Lover’s Tale is available at Francesca Bianchi Perfumes website or listed stockists – 30 ml extrait de parfum / 98 EUR which is, in my opinion, a very fair price for a superb perfume you get.

Francesca Bianchi is now preparing to launch two new fragrances: Sex and the Sea Neroli and Etruscan Water (May 12th, 2019). I will test and wear them and let you know – I just hope that this time it won’t take six months…Maybe this time it won’t be so personal. Just maybe…

The Plum Girl
Elena Cvjetkovic

Photos: The Plum Girl, Francesca Bianchi official web site, Pixabay, and a YouTube-clip-photo of the film scene.
The sample was graciously provided by Francesca Bianchi at Pitti Florence in September 2018, opinions of my own:

New York, NY April 11, 2019.: Fragrance writers, journalists, fragrance entrepreneurs, and influencers gathered to find out the Winners of the 2019 Perfumed Plume Awards. While they were gathering in New York, sipping champagne, I was at home sound asleep. Time difference… But what a difference the morning after made!

Maria McElroy of Aroma M Perfumes, a finalist herself, kindly agreed to represent me at the Awards Ceremony.

When I woke up at 6 AM the next morning, there was one unread message blinking: “You won!

“The Perfumed Plume Awards™ celebrated the 2019 winners at the 4th celebration attended by a lively guest-list of writers, journalists, entrepreneurs, influencers and industry notables from the world of fragrance, media, art and design:

The fun and festive party took place at the Society of Illustrators, a New York gem, where the prolific skills of each winner in creative fragrance journalism were recognized and greeted with warm applause and congratulations by all who attended. Both Lyn Leigh and Mary Ellen Lapsansky agree that it is a highlight of the year and a great joy to honor such gifted writers, all of whom elevate the art and craft of fragrance through their perfume stories. Winners were each presented with a signature Tiffany pen.”

I’m so honored and humbled! Thank you! Here’s more about the Awards:

“PERFUMED PLUME AWARDS™ FOR JOURNALISM: “is an independent recognition of creative storytelling that engages and educates the consumer on the art and craft of fragrance. It celebrates stories that give the reader an inside view of the cultural, historical and personal approaches to fragrance design and what it takes to create an evocative scent. Stories that illuminate why some fragrances can instantly evoke memories of a person, time or place. The Perfumed Plume Awards™ specifically targets the many talented writers and visualists who bring to life the craft, the inspiration, the emotion and the sensory journey that are at the heart of fragrance creation, quickly becoming an annual, iconic symbol of media excellence that will positively impact the fragrance category. The Awards provide a new way to create a broader awareness & appreciation for fragrance through high quality, informative, enlightening and of course entertaining storytelling.”

I’m also grateful to Filippo Sorcinelli Brand for providing me with a sample of but-not_today perfume, at Pitti Fragranze in Florence, which inspired me to write a very heartfelt review and an Instagram short story.

Here’s the complete list of winners:
Perfume Stories in Mainstream Media – Print – Magazines, Newspapers
“Chemical Romance” – New Beauty — by April Long
Perfume Stories in Mainstream Media – Digital – Magazines, Newspapers, Blog Postings, Webzines
— A Tie! —

“How Britney Spears Built a Billion Dollar Business Without Selling a Single Record”
InStyle — by Rachel Syme
“Fragrances of Film Noir: Scenting Five Femmes Fatales” CaFleureBon — by Despina Veneti, Sr. Contributor
New Category: ‘Short ‘n Sweet’ Perfume Stories – Print & Digital
“Blind Faith” New Beauty — by Brittany Burhop Fallon
Visualization of Perfume Stories — Print & Digital
“Travels in France, Part One: Everything Is Lavender” The Fragrant Journey — by Cynthia Lesiuk
New Category: INSTApost — Perfume Stories on Instagram
The Plum Girl — by Elena Cvjetkovic
Fragrance Book Award
“Spritzing to Success — With the Woman who Brought an Industry to Its Senses”— by Annette Green

“The awards were established in 2015 by Mary Ellen Lapsansky and Lyn Leigh, both experienced fragrance and cosmetic executives, to honor and recognize fragrance stories and the many talented writers and visualists who give the reader an inside view of the cultural, historical, scientific and personal approaches to fragrance design and what it takes to create an evocative scent.”

Congrats to all the winners, finalists and organizers!

Thank you for reading and following me here and on Instagram! :-*

The Plum Girl
Elena Cvjetkovic

Photos: Perfumed Plume Awards/The Plum Girl
Awards information: Perfumed Plume Awards

Less than three weeks to EsxenceThe Scent of Excellence in Milan! So much to do: breathe, Elena, breathe…(and don’t forget to pack a pair of sneakers). Spring has sprung and so have many new perfumes!

I’ve given up detailed planning: I have a couple of meetings & two parties confirmed, and a long list of must-do&sniff. I also need to back up tons of photos from my iPhone, free up space in its and my memory. I think I also mastered a bit the art of IG “pretty” photos, naah and taaa-da. There will be a lot of documentary photos from Milan…Imperfect ones, of course!

Everything else – go with the flow, it’s called Inspiration Flow this year anyway. I just hope to return with enough material for many more reviews to follow and to manage to report daily, sharing the most interesting moments with you. After all, The Plum Girl blog is a media partner with Esxence 2019!

I also hope (eternal optimist) that I’ll be completely swept away by at least three new perfumes!

Doing some creative thinking as well: I have a theme for all posts. I’ll try to do something a bit different…to bring the people of Esxence closer to you.

Here is what I managed to gather up to now:

The final and a complete list of niche brands exhibiting on Esxence this year, here.

New/Upcoming/Heard-about-it/ Reminder/Need to check out, in random and alphabetical order:

Le Jardin Retrouvé Experience Store – Grand Opening April 11 at 7 pm – 55 rue Montmartre Paris – you can book our perfume tour on Airbnb! I remember the “old” place, it was lovely! Clara and Michael put a lot of effort into this, so next time when in Paris…

Andy Tauer is working on a new perfume! He calls it “unreleased” and plans to get it done by May/June – or in his own words, on his IG account:

Nishane – something new is definitely coming up and it’s by Cecile Zarokian! Looking forward to it.

Francesca Bianchi, my sister from another mother, did it again – Sex and the Sea / Neroli and Etruscan Water – 2 new fragrances, launching in May! OK, the first one might be considered a “flanker”, but it’s not really. I’m totally subjective and…oh! I’ll lock myself away somewhere with Etruscan Water and write a proper, full review soon, I promise. A short IG review is coming up:

Puredistance – Aenotus – long-awaited and launched on 1.3.2019 – my detailed review is here

Parfums Dusita – Splendiris – launching 18.4.2019 – Dusita Boutique in Paris, presenting at Esxence. Yet another beauty from Pissara:

Rasei Fort – Kolonya – new!

UER MI – Nu Leather – new, by Luca Maffei – long-awaited

Masque Milano – Kintsugi

Filippo Sorcinelli Brand – new fragrance collection! And- new Home Collection, exhibiting on Esxence as well:


 I remember when – in Mondolfo

Filippo Sorcinelli for the first time atFuorisalone, the important show in connection with Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan during the Milano Design Week 2019 from the 9th to the 14th of April.

In the occasion of this prestigious show Filippo Sorcinelli reveals to the public a new Home Design collection entirely inspired by his Atelier LAVS, his childhood in Mondolfo (his hometown), one of the nicest villages in Italy.”

Mendittorosa– two new fragrances. Ithaca and Talento! More at Esxence!

Carner Barcelona – The Fresh Collection – new, already launched.

Olibere Parfums – presenting 4 fragrances by Luca Maffei, the spotlight is on: Madame Chan, Amelie, Miatinguet and Marie Antoinette – Les Insoumises quartet – presented last year, being launched now! (I need to find a way to organize my samples asap!):

Etat Libre d’Orange – new Experimentum Crucis!

Goldfield and Banks: Esxence launch of a new fragrance, I quote: “The fragrance is an oriental spicy resinous fragrance with Australian Wattle (native mimosa) , oppoponax, tonka, amber…. Sunburnt wildflowers in the desert of South Australia…. very powerful scent…..” You can find my review of Southern Bloom here.

More, in alphabetical order:

Alex Simione Monte Carlo – New Collection

Anima Mundi – new fragrance – Secret of Ancient Times

Antiqua Firenze Profumi – Antiqua, coming soon

Blackbird – Anemone (and just about everything else, I’m very curious), NEW: PIPE BOMB PINK -Rosy cheeks, oxford cloth shirts, plastic baby dolls, pink crayons, sparkling rosé, polluted sunsets, and Japanese candy, Pipe Bomb Pink riffs off the original Pipe Bomb’s magic ability to hide in the shadows and turn heads, this time with a colorful swipe of gentle pink to make us all blush. SCENT NOTES: saltwater, sweat, metal, roses, pink crayons (brand description)

Chabaud – Ile Mistique

Elisire – 2 new creations

Eutiopie – no 11 – Spring in Prague

Fort&Manle – Forty Thieves

Hiram Green – Hyde

Houbigant – Essence Rare (JCE, swoon, drool…)

Nobile 1942 – 2 new fragrances: Il sentiero degli Dei and Levante:

Olfactive Studio Parfums: news shall be disclosed at Esxence on Thursday morning…

Santi Burgas – the Primal Waters Collection, mmmmm the anthill one, I remember that it was intriguing:

…and so much more! A big thank you to brands that sent their press releases…

Let’s move to Awards time in April.

During Esxence we shall find out who won the Art&Olfaction Awards, the prestigious acknowledgment for independent artistic perfumery!

The Fragrance Foundation Awards finalists were disclosed in New York on the 5th of April. The winners in each of the top categories will be announced at the annual Fragrance Foundation Awards on Wednesday, June 5, 2019.
This year they didn’t disclose top 10 finalists in all categories (alas), only top 5 (I’ll fail better next year), and here are some runners up and winners (bold):

Allure, The Beauty of Living Forever Through Fragrance

Byredo Eleventh Hour
Commodity Bois
Diana Vreeland Empress of Fashion
EB Florals Gardenia Oud
Miller Harris Scherzo
Shalini Parfum Amorem Rose

Have your thoughts about perfumes that should win an award? Consumers Choice voting is open, so you can cast your vote at For the complete list of finalists – click here.

Perfumed Plume Awards: the Awards ceremony shall be held on April 10 at The Society of Illustrators, NYC. 2019 finalists are revealed and oooops! I did it again:

Finalists/New Category: INSTApost – Perfume Stories on Instagram The criteria for judging: originality/creativity of visual element(s); quality of the post content:

but_not_today – The Plum Girl – by Elena Cvjetkovic

From close-up, no-one is normal – esxenceofficial – by Beatrice Balzarotti.

I don’t consider myself to be an “Instagramer” at all…Yet, this nomination made me put a little more effort in my IG photos and posts. Of course, I really don’t think that I can compete with professional photographers but there I am, yay!

The recipient of the 2019 Perfumed Plume Awards Fragrance Book of the Year is “Spritzing to Success…With the Woman Who Brought an Industry to Its Senses” by the legendary Annette Green.

For the complete list of finalists click here.

I wish you the most wonderful April! See you soon! :-*

The Plum Girl

Elena Cvjetkovic

Photos&Info: The Plum Girl, various brand press releases/ official IG accounts/webpages, and Jakub from Persefume.

Samples were generously provided (TPG photos) by perfume brands, opinions of my own. This is not a sponsored content. It never is:


You might have noticed that I regularly explore indie & artisan perfumes, small brands, lesser-known houses, absolute beginners: let’s shine some light on them!

My personal taste is not what I write about here. Yes, there are perfumes that made me cry because I felt their beauty soul-deep, yes there are brands I fell in love with – head over heels, but that doesn’t mean the same will happen to you. Test before you buy, trust your nose: if I managed to describe some perfumes in such a manner that made you want to try them, I’m happy. We all need to expand our olfactory palate, learn and grow!

Some niche perfumes are divinely magical – masterpieces of art, others nicely composed or just – well crafted. There are also ones I call “the great pretenders”, or simply boring, badly composed, mediocre fragrances – I leave them without a word. I don’t have time to write negative reviews, I’d rather spend it reading books, doing more research, perfecting my photos, or my French…among other things.

The beauty of life lies in simple things. We all sometimes overthink, overdo or seek something groundbreaking, breathtaking, different from everything else. I’m talking about love for perfumes, right? Let’s show little love for people behind the fragrances, trying to make their own little fragrant worlds. Artisans, using good quality materials. Beginners.

A while ago I spoke with a young perfumer, Florian Legrand of Aden Parfum and I liked his assertiveness. When two of his fragrances arrived, it took me weeks to sample them (busy time of a year) and another week of wearing, testing them on my skin.

Questions were asked because I always like to learn something about the person standing behind the fragrances: people making perfumes matter. Their personality matters. I always feel as though they have given a part of themselves with every perfume, breathing life into it.

Florian is a self-taught perfumer, young and sharp-minded. Dedicated. Determined. If you are asking how can I tell, check my bio. :-). I can.

He needs to be assertive, more than ever. Perfume making is neither an easy business nor does it come at a low cost when you are just starting. The competition is brutal. There are quite a lot of sharks swimming in an overpopulated niche sea, turning the waters muddy and bloody sometimes…Even the smaller, artisan pond is already getting crowded.

Alors, Mr. Legrand is the owner of this relatively new indie French brand.

He founded it when he met his wife: “After a journey full of failures and successes, questions and challenges, he embarked on the wonderful adventure of perfumery.” – in his own words.

The process of thinking about perfumes, searching and learning lasted for years, and it took him a year and a half before he finally decided that he’s ready to offer his fragrances to the world. He also told me that he trusts his mother’s and wife’s feedback, and their say is important. It’s a family business.

Aden Parfum draws inspiration from the Middle East meeting Europe, the oils are alcohol-free, and the small, 3ml hexagonal glass bottles are roll-ons. Eaux de Parfum are 20% perfume concentrate spray bottles, with labels and logo reflecting the oriental influence. Hand-made, in France.

I sampled these two fragrances:

Rose Santal

This is a fine interpretation of a classic rose-lemon-sandalwood accord-spices profile, with stages of subtle sweetness. A bit oriental, a bit sparkling, feeling smooth in all its stages.

The Taif Rose note is Iris-dusty enough to smoothly merge with soft sandalwood surroundings, and again fresh enough not to fall into the “dark rose” category.

Whiffs of pepper and/or carnation lick the edges of its petals and the musky drydown is very enjoyable.

Elegantly composed, with average longevity and sillage, better than many very popular niche fragrances I have smelled, it flows with grace. Even when I didn’t notice it anymore, my son later commented on it, saying that it left a gentle and “pretty” trail.

Notes (as stated by the brand): Musk with notes of lemon, rose, sandalwood and white musk.

Soleil Noir/Black Sun

A patchouli-rose variation, a dark one, more Gothic-Oriental. The one that makes you feel like you are wearing a fine velvet dress. Also, a classic combination executed smoothly.

I sniffed the bottle sprayer first and got an immediate impression of a big, dark red rose dipped in thick honey.

It makes a grand opening, with greenish layers serving lavishly a rush of patchouli, vibrating between sweet and sour. As my skin moves and warms up, it gets dirtier, showing thorns and moist earth beneath them, black and heavy.

But wait!

You will feel sensual sweetness soon enough, a seductive rose looming behind veils, lush at moments, then sprinkled with dew, heavily breathing dark-eyed rose! You need to be fond of patchouli to play this game, as the rose gets a sour and “sharp” vibe at moments – at least on my skin.

Later on, it becomes tamer, a bit sweeter and gentler, slowing the tension down, lingering for hours.

A very nice transition between dark and light, ranging from sharp, bitter-sour to tender and sweet, changing rhythm and pace. I didn’t mind re-spraying, just to feel that initial burst again…

I would say that Florian needs to unleash his creative potential fully and boldly in order to create his own little pond in which to swim freely and in his own style. Yes, he needs to continue learning, yes he needs to grow, but the potential is there. Keep an eye on Aden Parfum!

Feel free to check out other fragrances from this brand. They are available at Aden Parfum website. 3ml roll-on bottle (oil) – 6,00 EUR, 10 ml Eau de parfum – 9,00 EUR. Testers are offered as well. In my experience French post functions perfectly.

There’s a new post coming up soon, about fragrant news in April!

I will be reporting from Esxence-The Scent of Excellence regularly! I also have a theme for this year’s event: you’ll see, it’ll be fun…can’t wait! Make sure to follow my IG account!

The Plum Girl

Elena Cvjetkovic

Photos: The Plum Girl/Aden Parfum Website

3 ml Rose Santal and 10 ml Soleil Noir were generously provided by Aden Parfum, opinions of my own: