Imagine all the people
Living life in peace
You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one –John Lennon, 1971
As simple as these words and piano melody may seem, this is a complex song.
The vision behind it historically runs much deeper, just as the vision behind the perfume Lost in Heaven does, although it presents itself as seemingly simple happiness & well-being providing a fragrance that makes you want to hug the whole world.
That part is true but there’s more to it, so much more. Francesca Bianchi-style more.
My Lost in Heaven review was first published in Cafleurebon, and this is the version edited in 2021.
Lost in Heaven
“Now I understand what you have to do. Put your message across with a little honey”. John Lennon said this about Imagine, the most successful single of his solo career.
A song full of positivity and hope, a melodious depiction of a utopia and vision of a world inhabited by sinless, perfected humans. Heaven on Earth?
Francesca Bianchi presented Lost in Heaven (30 ml extrait du parfum) together with The Black Knight during Pitti Fragranze in Florence in September 2019, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.
Mixed chromosome twins were born: Lost in Heaven belongs to her Freefall collection, alongside Etruscan Water, and The Black Knight is a part of the regular collection.
Both fragrances differ in expression from all the other creations, yet they definitely have Francesca’s fingerprints all over them.
Lost in Heaven pulls you tenderly in immediately after opening, offering you a Proustian Madeleine moment of utter bliss after the first sniff, a feeling of primal and overwhelming inner happiness sprinkled with indolic flowers, bits of candied orange, gentle and powdery mimosa puffs, creamy-white lush Magnolia petals and mouthwatering spices.
It feels like you have just consumed delicious, ambrosial, and divine nectar straight from Paradise, and its effect spreads throughout your body and mind, bringing an instant smile upon your lips.
An illusion of divine perfection is created, comforting and soothing, and you can’t help it but feel good – about yourself and the whole world. In all that heavenly and delicious almost-gourmand fruitcake made of your best childhood memories and overcast with clouds of floral dust, there’s an undertone of the weakness of the flesh, rooted in the way in which Francesca constructs her distinctive Orris accord, a fine weaving skilfully intertwined with Castoreum and Opoponax tones.
Temptation rolls in with a well-balanced animalic breath, and if this is Heaven then you can observe it becoming saturated enough to give way for the Original Innocence to turn into Original Sin: despite the almost gourmand feeling at the beginning which is mirroring sweet innocence, there’s a touch of finely integrated, elegant sensuality always present.
The depth-adding Cinnamon and Cumin pave way for the fragrance to turn its other cheek, with musks and resing rising. Beeswax and powdery Heliotrope alongside Tonka Bean pour some honey over this latently sensual floral-oriental facette, while buttery-warm Orris adds a darker dimension of lust.
In Lost in Heaven Francesca Bianchi tames Castoreum and Opoponax, together with a smoothly polished sultry Ambergris thus creating a refined vintage-resembling, lurking animalic vibe with a Civet without any fangs flashing openly – its beauty lies in its fusion with floral chords!
There’s no drama in this change of the atmosphere toward the drydown, layered with honeyed resins and streaks of leathery Orris, the intimacy of musky-warm human skin, and with a halo-effect of all-encompassing tenderness.
If you wonder what the deeper message is, the one put across with a little honey, I’ll give you the full disclosure. The officially published text by the brand describes Lost in Heaven as “a fragile, sensual, emotional scent that represents the dichotomy of the longing for a place of uncontaminated innocence and the inevitable and controversial burden of life.“
Every work of art or artisan perfume embodies the vision of its creator and a small facet of the collective mind.
I’ve spent a lot of time contemplating Lost in Heaven, scratching the surface in search of the vision behind it, asking questions, even having philosophical debates with Francesa Bianchi in order to grasp the fragrant message fully – because I could clearly feel that there was a one.
Every artist attempts to express their inner truths, reflections of their inner worlds, to create an expression that touches us at various planes of consciousness and moves our souls.
The vision behind Lost in Heaven contemplates the philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, a rebel-rebel of his time (18th century), a servant, tutor, philosopher, writer, and composer with a must-read biography that could make a great plot for a period romantic drama movie, larger than Dangerous Liaisons.
Rousseau kept returning to the thought that people are good by nature but have been corrupted by society and civilization. He did not mean to suggest that society and civilization are inherently bad but rather that both had taken the wrong direction and become more harmful as they became more sophisticated.
Imagine…as Lennon sings. Places of uncontaminated innocence…To simplify, Rousseau’s belief was that people are naturally good and that human goodness would overcome only if political and social conditions were…well, right, or like Lennon sang – based on a brotherhood of men.
Rousseau also pushed forward what later became a characteristic idea of Romanticism – that, in art, the free expression of the creative spirit is more important than strict adherence to formal rules and traditional procedures. Freedom, utter human goodness, and creativity set free should suffice for creating a Heaven on Earth.
These aspects of Rousseau’s philosophy are reflected in Lost in Heaven, in the first stage of the fragrance – a longing for a beautiful, yet unsustainable idea. Francesca Bianchi, therefore, weaves further a fragrant story of innocence lost, of how are all sometimes Lost in Heaven – sometimes we forget true values under the burden of everyday, material world.
She also inserts elements and shadows of Original sin transferring itself in temptations that all mankind faces, by adding some indolic dirtiness in florals and lighter than ever animalic notes to all those ambrosial-nectary notes – to show that we are simply not perfect beings.
In reality, we are tempted, make mistakes, exhibit negative feelings, and complicate needlessly – and that is also perfectly natural and inseparable from the nature of mankind.
What we need to do is to forgive ourselves for not being perfect in each and every situation in life, accept and love ourselves for what we are, rejoice in our uniqueness, and share this kind and comforting love with all the world – being the best possible versions of ourselves. Imagine…and enjoy being Lost in Heaven.
Notes: Grapefruit, Green Tangerine, Orange Flower Absolute, Jasmin, Ylang Extra, Mimosa, Magnolia, Cumin, Cinnamon, Coriander, Ambergris, Musk, Castoreum, Beeswax, Iris Butter, Ciste Absolute, Opoponax, Heliotrope, Vetiver, Sandalwood, Patchouli, Tonka Bean.
Bonus: In 2020 Francesca launched a line of sublime dry oils to accompany some of the perfumes. Lost in Heaven included. I haven’t tried it yet, but I do own Under My Skin Sublime Oil: this oil&perfume layering is perfect, and something else, that I discovered just recently: you can use it on your hair, too!
The Plum Girl
Samples of Lost in Heaven and The Black Knight were given by Francesca Bianchi forThe Plum Girl’s consideration during Pitti Fragranze 2019. Opinions are of my own.
If you like what I do, you can always: