Ever since I first heard the news about a new addition to the Francesca Bianchi‘s line of perfume, I had itchy fingers, impatient to try her most recent creation. And no wonder, since months felt like years at the time we all lost count of days in a week, and everything stopped almost overnight during March.
Sticky Fingers is available since late June, and now we’re talking!
Better said – rocking that patchouli, and here comes my complete review!
At the beginning of this year, there were so many things regarding perfume that I was looking forward to. Plans were made, tickets booked, arrangements scheduled – mostly revolving around Esxence Milano 2020 – the international niche fragrance exhibition that usually takes place in April.
To inhale hundreds of fragrances, to reconnect with many wonderful people of perfume, and meet new brands and perfumers seemed just weeks away when everything, rather abruptly and tragically, came to a halt.
I knew that Francesca was working on a couple of perfumes for some time, and it seemed back then that the only decision to be made was whether to launch one or both of her new fragrances in Milan. Esxence was canceled, and most of the brands went on hold with new launches.
To go on hold obviously didn’t mean to sit still and do nothing, and I never thought I’d say this but after Francesca Bianchi did finally launch Sticky Fingers in June 2020, at that precise moment I felt glad (for just a second) that Esxence Milano was rescheduled!
Blasphemy, I know, I know, and I’ll never say that again, but on the other hand, I hoped that all these unexpected challenges that many niche perfumers and brands encountered and are still facing could also be regarded as a chance: to re-think, re-organize, maybe even re-write formulas that might have been rushed just to meet this exhibition or any previously set 2020 deadlines. To slow down in terms of quantity of new releases, and raise the level of quality: I still like to believe this is happening right now in some cases, and with some perfumers/brands.
Although patchouli is no stranger to some of Francesca’s fragrances as a supporting note, this time she focuses on it. And the possibilities of diverse interpretations of this material are always fascinating to me. It’s exhibiting totally different facets in all these perfumes, providing different interpretations and feelings. I would, therefore, place Sticky Fingers – a creation of its own heart and mind – right between The Black Knight and Lost in Heaven: if you’ve found Lost in Heaven to be too fragile and emotional (I reviewed it in detail), and The Black Knight (also reviewed) too intense, dark-gothic, and captivating – here comes a change of mood with Sticky Fingers!
Tempting, dangerously delicious, and yet a well-blended smooth operator, Sticky Fingers hits the patchouli-desire spot in a very original and playful way. As you might already know, I am strongly drawn to all Francesca Bianchi Perfumes creations and have reviewed almost all – starting with highly personal Under My Skin and The Lover’s Tale.
I won’t even compare it to any other well-known fragrances it might feel similar to – what you can immediately feel is that Sticky Fingers definitely has Francesca’s handwriting all over it, that the orris butter special formula she always weaves into her creations is hidden beneath layers of vivacious and boozy patchouli, and yes, I can almost see her mischievous smile and witty replies when I wear Sticky Fingers.
I also admit that I could have written my review months ago, but what always mattered to me is to dive into the fragrance, research, test thoroughly, and gather my thoughts instead of rushing to publish first.
The inspiration behind this perfume is all about those sweet joie de vivre moments, ones that feel so good that you wish you could literally eat them, and the finger-licking good vibes of enjoying life here-and-now.
Francesca also gives a creative interpretation of patchouli as a material to explore and conquer in a unique expression of her own.
The Rolling Stones Sticky Fingers album that she kept bumping into on her way to her lab was a secondary inspiration that just closed the deal: rock-chic it is! That suggestive and erotic cover photo of a crotch packed in slightly unzipped tight jeans, all the juiciness of the famous red lips logo, the imagery of Mick Jagger‘s swaying hips, and rock-and-roll as a synonym for freedom finally completed the puzzle of a new perfume-in-making by giving it a name: Sticky Fingers!
Although the secondary inspiration leads to Rolling Stones, while I was testing and wearing Sticky Fingers, not for one second did it relate to Mick Jagger in any form of an association to me: if I need to put a face to it, Sticky Fingers feels like Bianca Jagger meeting Mick at an after-party, rubbing shoulders with Andy Warhol, while relaxing in the VIP zone of Studio 54, but in a very up-to-date way.
As much as I tried to find one single photo of Bianca Jagger wearing jeans & leather jacket, I found none. All photos available are documenting her exquisite style and taste, and seemingly effortless elegance – like the famous white suits she wore:
And yet, Sticky Fingers leaves me with an impression of what would a contemporary Bianca J. look like, going out incognito to party all night long, wearing a pair of old jeans that she took from Mick‘s wardrobe, buckling them up with a big belt (boyfriend-cut style) and completing this outfit with a plain white top underneath a tightly-fitting leather jacket that he left lying around.
The one that she just took en passant – thinking „I can pull this off perfectly“. Even if it means wearing that leather jacket over a fancy dress. Add a deliberately messy „as if just got out of bed“ hair-do, natural-looking make-up featuring nude eyes and perfectly applied juicy-red lipstick to this glam-rock styling, and you’ll get the feeling: smooth, relaxed and bright, witty and playful with hints of wild and uninhabited brewing below the surface.
Well, Sticky Fingers also gives the after-party feeling: when you get home after careless partying just before sunrise and undress on your way to bed, leaving a scattered trail of clothes behind you.
When I first tested it, my mind went analytic and my thoughts revolved exclusively around the dominant patchouli-fueled heart of the fragrance. No wonder, since it’s very addictive: Francesca pours creamy, deliciously boozy patchouli abundantly and playfully over just a suggestion of tobacco tainted leather that’s elaborately spiced-up. It’s very comforting too – she admits using a very impressive fractioned patchouli, without harsh-herbal or dirty-earthy facets, a sort that provides a very bright and optimistic overall feeling, and blending it smoothly, her own way.
An illusion of chocolate enhanced by tobacco-vanilla tones is here to lure you closer, and then – just when you start to think that the fragrance might flip further and deeper on the syrupy-sweet side, this delicious temptation is gently transformed into a very refined orris-butter clad sensuality.
Later, in the dry-down stages of Sticky Fingers, rich tobacco tones melt into fruity, cherry-almond heliotrope accords, and reveal the naked skin underneath that leather jacket that emanates its own scent: slightly darker, castoreum colored shadows emerge. And yet, they are spicy-sweet like memories of what happened earlier that night and playful promises of what still might happen.
I’ve got the moves like Jagger. Bianca, thank you very much. Now let’s just wait and see what she’ll do to us with her “Muuuuusk”!
Notes (as listed by the brand): Coriander, cinnamon, iris butter, patchouli, sandalwood, heliotrope, musk, castoreum, leather, tobacco, tonka bean.
Sticky Fingers is available at Francesca Bianchi’s webshop as 30 ml extrait du parfum, as well as 1,5 ml samples. Test before you buy. Note: Francesca just posted that at this very moment Sticky Fingers is running out of stock, so please make sure to contact her via webshop (I knew it, I knew it: those were my thoughts exactly – before I finish my review, she’ll run out of stock :-D).
The Plum Girl
Photos: The Plum Girl, Francesca Bianchi Perfumes, CR Fashion Book, Pinterest, photo of Francesca Bianchi/art by Marco Fabri (IG @traforello)
Disclaimer: A sample of Sticky Fingers was kindly sent to me by Francesca Bianchi, my opinions are – as always- of my own.