Ah…Summer! No, you won’t be seeing any „SummerTop 10“ or whatever lists here, simply because I believe that you can wear any fragrance you please – anytime you want to – if it feels good and makes you happy!
Isn’t it fun to sometimes step out of your comfort zone, change your daily routine and fragrances in rotation, relax and enjoy being comfortable in your skin (yes, your skin – the largest human organ!), to enjoy Summer, because:
„Hair gets lighter, skin gets darker, water gets warmer, drinks get colder, music gets louder, nights get longer…sex gets better!“
Sex and the Sea.
I’m talking about perfume, what did you think? Did it get better with Neroli? Or…just different?
What is it about suntanned, sun-kissed skin and sensuality that comes with it?
Summer (for me) means stripping off your clothes, lazing on a beach, relaxing, unbuttoning your life a bit.
It’s not at all just pure imagination, biochemists did thoroughly research the effect of sunlight on the human body, Vitamin D, sex drive, hormones and everything in between.
Do you think that the ancient Summer Solstice celebrations in any culture had nothing to do with it? Oh, they did: these were always linked with sexuality…
While we are nowadays getting our ample dosage of Vitamin D, let’s take a closer look at two perfumes from Francesca Bianchi Perfumes: Sex and the Sea and Sex and the Sea Neroli.
All Bianchi perfumes are…intimate. Sometimes so intimate that I’ve heard people saying (blushing) that they even won’t wear the fragrances they own in public, reserving their fragrant experience for themselves.
These perfumes come as 30 ml extraits with great longevity, noticeable sillage, and obvious quality – always with character and that typical „Bianchi base signature“ – featuring a rooty Iris and amber&resins accords, smoothly blended, more or less animalic, depending on the overall idea, concept, and composition. Skin-caressing, intimate, radiating from inside…
Francesca, in her own words, about her use of naturals:
„On a very general basis (use of naturals) can vary from 55%-70%. I tend to use lots of naturals. Simply because they are usually richer than synthetics, but there are synthetics that can impart complexity and intensity as much as many naturals.“
It’s all about proportions…
Let’s take a closer sniff at these two fragrances. You’ll probably recall quite a few popular or famous perfumes along this line – featuring pineapple, coconut, and ambergris – but: there are no watery notes here, no aquatic accords…Just feel what she did with those notes we’ve all seen used before: there’s no tutti-frutti-Tropicana-on-the-synthetic-aquatic-Ambergris-marine-beach kitsch. I’d say there’s even no sea in sight! It’s all about the mood, feelings, and your own– beautiful skin…
Sex and the Sea, 2016
It’s now back in stock again, available from the end of this June, so this is actually why I came back to it. I dug it from my samples storage box and prepared to face it (again).
This is how Francesca describes it in just a couple of words:
„The SS – classic version – is basically generated by my research to reproduce the smell of my skin at the seaside. To this experiment I added the „naughty-sexy part“…and that was that.“
Hm. Aha. Don’t fall for “just like that”, it seems so simple, so familiar, so…well known, but…It’s not that simple at all. „The smell of my skin at the seaside.“ Now, I know that feeling, or better said, the diversity of that feeling, coming from a country with 1001 islands just near the beautiful coast of Adriatic Sea.
There’s that morning freshness scent, when I take a swim early in the morning, before 9 AM: my skin smells fresh, like a just emptied glass of cold lemonade with a few Basil leaves thrown in, fig leaves breathing as the first sunshine rays touch them, red earth and brownish pine needles crushing softly as I walk upon them, green algae on grayish rocks and wet salty white pebbles on the beach.
In the afternoon, after 5 PM, this scent is more immortelle colored, with deeper hues of aquatic blue, cicadas-singing-loud toned, saltier, warmer, Sandalwood-like smoother.
As the Sun sets, the whole sensation is warmer, muskier, leathery-earthy, saturated and…well, plain carnal-sexy. This is when you feel the scent of your skin more intensely, as it cools of, as it starts radiating accumulated sunshine just as night closes in.
Sex and the Sea fits into this „as the Sun sets“ description: yes, it opens with a mimosa-sour hint of pineapple and milky coconut, so thick and creamy. I feel a touch of very subtle vanilla too, adding some dryish sweetness. I’m not a fan of either (pineapple of coconut), and I didn’t mind them here because they do not dominate and this phase is soon over with. This opening felt just like a swift blast, soon settling into a dusty floral with ancient roses – not a light, transparent, „morning freshness, sweet and innocent“ floral, oh no.
It became almost apothecary bitter, now definitely salty, never aquatic. Warmer notes break through, dustier, Iris-powdery and displaying occasional sparks of resins in the background. The base is rather contrasting to the opening: soft animalic, even a bit smoky, slightly woody and on my skin Civet is present, although restrained.
Sex and the Sea is not about rolling around on a sandy beach in the middle of the day: it feels sensual like skin touching skin later at night after a day spent by the sea, after an Apres-Beach party with laughter and cocktails, after the lights and sounds surrounding you diminish, when cicadas sound almost tired and their rhythm slows down, when you and your lover stop talking and just start feeling each other.
Notes: Mimosa, Pineapple, Coconut, Immortelle, Rose, Iris, Sandalwood, Myrrh, Labdanum, Benzoin, Ambergris, Civet, Vanilla. Longevity is excellent, projection with moderate application noticeable, never too loud.
If Sex and the Sea Neroli is a fresh, sparkling, joyful „introvert“, then Sex and the Sea is a sensual and seductive, deliberate, slow-moving „extrovert”!
Sex and the Sea Neroli, 2019
Why did Francesca make a flanker? Because she could.
Recently she was a guest perfumer in the FB group Eau My Soul, answering all kinds of questions. I asked „Why did you „flanker“ Sex and the Sea“, and she answered:
„ Why? Mostly for fun and anti-snobbish attitude! I had an idea of adding something to SS, something that would be its opposite, something innocent and introvert – as Neroli.“
Please don’t think that all it took was to add some Neroli to the prior version: the whole composition is now changed, different in more than one-added-note way. It feels like a completely different creation!
If I try to think about these fragrances in terms of colors, I think about SS as being dark brownish-orange and SSN as orange with yellow streaks, more transparent, yet not losing its inner strength in the drydown phase.
Now, this fragrance fits more into that „early in the morning“ description above: there’s a definite rush of freshness in the opening, the whole composition is brighter, with an absolutely lovely and sharp Neroli. Without pineapple (!), keeping that milky-smooth-creamy-coconut somewhere in the shades behind. The feeling of Immortelle is here more prominent, adding a yellowish-dry-bitter-almost honeylike-mimosa touch, underlining that skin-salty feeling. The whole composition, despite powdery and distinctive leathery feeling seems uplifting, optimistic and more…fun. Introvert? Aha, with a devilish little smile, and a sparkle in the eyes, changing all the time…that is what I love about it.
The drydown does bear similarities to Sex and the Sea, yet it is very different -leaving an overall much „greener“ impression, even though it does settle in so-Francesca-like animalic, even a bit smoky accords, with whiffs of coconut still protruding every now and then.
The fragrance is intense and very long lasting, so be careful not to overspray (extrait!). Once again, it flows smooth, exhibiting careful blending. What I liked about it is that it feels more complex, more changeable, showing it’s different facets every time I wear it, flirting shamelessly with my skin.
Notes: Bergamot, Petit-Grain, Honey, Neroli, Mimosa, Coconut, Immortelle, Rose, Iris, Sandalwood, Vetiver, Labdanum, Benzoin, Ambergris, Civet, Vanilla.
Which one would I suggest? Sample before you buy. If you are new to Francesca Bianchi Perfumes and like your fragrances Neroli-green-slightly animalic – I’d say start with Sex and the Sea Neroli. If you are already familiar with the Dark Side or Angel’s Dust, things get more complicated: Sex and the Sea gives that sexy post-beach vibe, yet Sex and the Sea Neroli takes it to yet another level, adding a healthy dose of youthful freshness to it….choices…choices!
If I had to choose just one, considering that I own Under My Skin, The Lover’s Tale and Angel’s Dust…I would opt for Sex and the Sea Neroli. First. Both. I swear, I’m collecting them like Pokémon…
These fine fragrances are available online, at Francesca Bianchi Perfumes – 30 ml Extrait/ 98EUR, Discovery Set (1,5 ml of all 7 fragrances)/48 EUR, or 1,5 ml samples/8EUR.
Whatever you decide I hope you enjoy these fine fragrances – do let me know which one is your first choice!
While I’m finishing up this review I’m expecting my Etruscan Water to arrive (yay!).
When it does, and when I take it „home-where-it-belongs“, I’ll let you know all about it. In the meantime, you can always find some other posts, thoughts, and musings on my Instagram account: the_plum_girl!
The Plum Girl
Photos: The Plum Girl, Francesca Bianchi Official
Samples were provided by Francesca Bianchi Perfumes, opinions of my own.