–“You are under my skin.”, he whispered, holding my face between his hands, just before kissing me. We were standing on a long wooden pier at the seaside, in complete dark. I could feel the soft body-aura surrounding him, the scent of his skin closing in on me.
-“That’s what I keep telling you, you’ve stolen my line. You are under my skin. Always.”
– “Yes. So are you. Always. Under my skin.”
The moment before the kiss. Soul-deep is maybe a better expression of how I feel him. Like flows of sparkling energy, pure and spiritual, radiating from inside of me, ricocheting through every cell of my body.
Subtle, softly whispered words, meaning: “I feel you”. I feel not only your skin, I feel you, the very being, the essence of you. Almost Avatar-like. And in you I feel myself, I see my reflection. Two souls touching. It’s beautiful and frightening at the same time, to feel someone so intensely. So divine and so human at the same time: like observing Eros and Thanatos dancing slowly, tightly embraced.
Years have passed since that moment, and then came the perfume, the exact olfactory imprint of one single moment in time, before a kiss – translated into a fragrance:
Under My Skin by Francesca Bianchi (2017.):
She is something else, Francesca.
I knew that the moment we met. Energetic, bright-eyed, intense, and witty. Hard-working, a well-traveled Italian living in Amsterdam. She does things her way: after she graduated in History of Art in Florence, she got into natural perfumery and started to experiment. The Alchemist in her rejoices, mixing and blending, holding her breath as she creates formulas which are hand prepared in a lab in Italy. She is also notable for taking great care of the ingredients she uses, quite quality-driven. An Alchemist, a mom, a lover, a business-woman: and yes, emotions matter to her. Just before publishing this review, she wrote to me, knowing how long it took and why: “I like it when it gets personal. “Everything is personal” should be the motto of my brand!”
Light and shadows. Francesca Bianchi plays with this duality so well, describing the concept:
“This is my personal interpretation of the animalic theme: not loud but whispered, an elegant powdery leathery scent, more human than animalic.”
I never wanted to describe this fragrance by merely interpreting notes and accords: Francesca twists them in surprising and unexpected ways, making lavender feel like its first bloomed dainty flowers are trembling before sunrise, the milky-soft opening with just a touch of underlying sweetness reminds me of a grapefruit peel and it’s inner, whitish and soft side, leathery notes smell like sun-warmed skin and Iris! Oh, that creamy, greenish, lush, beautiful Iris rolls over a thin shiny layer of Ambergris! Spices, pepper, carnation emerge and glide together with woody tones, dancing cheek to cheek to their own music, every now and then showing the musky side of this composition, purposefully restrained in a tempo adagio. It’s never about the notes. It’s about the feeling…
Under My Skin touches you in a very intimate way, like a warm breath of your lover, when you wake up in the morning and see him sound asleep, in a messy bed. Relaxed eroticism: there’s no rush, no open, straight forward sexuality, it radiates elegant moves and seduction with style. It’s about being comfortable in your own skin, loving its texture, the way your own fingers glide over it, exploring it, gently caressing all your curves and glides.
The more I thought about Under My Skin in its drydown phase, the more it reminded me of a sleeping beast. Have you ever watched a black puma asleep in a ZOO? This facet of the fragrance perfectly matched that sight of a huge sleeping puma I observed for an hour or so, fascinated by it: a large black cat, seemingly fully relaxed, sleeping on a mossy tree, big paws hanging down. Yet, if you look closer, you notice the tip of its tail twitching slowly, strong muscles moving below the purple-black thick fur… Every now and then, seemingly closed eyes open just a little, slowly and deliberately, and you can feel that this magnificent animal is looking at you as well, observing you, smelling you and not feeling disturbed at all, slit-eyed, relaxed, but always aware of its surroundings. A purring wild black puma, relaxed in all its strength.
Intimate. Human. Animalic. Beautifully blended and so expressive! Under My Skin triggered carefully guarded and safely locked-away emotions so strongly that I kept crying every time I wore it, even while sniffing it on a blotter. When Francesca and I met, we laughed, I cried in public, we laughed again. No more tears. This is it: a one moment in time. La vita e bella:
I avoided writing about it for so long. I was too emotional, too personal: my intimate Proustian Madeleine cookie, dipped into an ocean of emotions. An extrait of my feelings in a 30ml bottle…
That’s not all: Francesca handed me a sample of her newest release at Pitti Fragranze in Florence this year: The Lover’s Tale (2018.): “This is a story about a lover’s secret encounter.”
She did it again: I froze after the first sniff, waves of emotions rushing in. It still awaits me to collect my scattered notes and finish the review. Let’s just say if Under My Skin is a fragrance describing me before this kiss, The Lover’s Tale is what happened afterwards.
With Valentine’s Day coming, this perfume would be the best gift from me to myself. And for him, it is definitely unisex. In past years I have encountered so many exquisite perfumes and given up the idea of a signature scent: until this one came along. It’s personal. It’s me.
Notes: grapefruit, lavender, black pepper, spices, bulgarian rose, carnation, iris butter, musk, castoreum, ambergris, leather accord, costus, tonka bean, tolu balsam, peru balsam, sandal mysore, vanilla, treemoss.
Available at Francesca Bianchi Perfumes website or chosen retailers, 30 ml extrait – 98 EUR.
The Plum Girl
Photos: The Plum Girl, Francesca Bianchi Perfumes.
Samples were provides by Francesca Bianchi. Memories, feelings, and opinions of my own.