There are travels that become not only physical transitions from one place to another, but turn into inner journeys, intimate and spiritual, that weave delicate and invisible webs made of emotions, feelings, and memories of experiences shared that bond a traveler’s soul to the places traveled to – forever.

My Varanesi by Meo Fusciuni review, edited in 2021, was first published in Cafleurebon in 2020.

Sometimes, you cross oceans and seas to experience this feeling, and sometimes don’t even have to leave your home to become spiritually one with this feeling and places that had moved your soul: the power of perfume can take you to those places in one swirl of a scent that rises invisibly, its development powered by warmth of your skin. This is the beauty of journeys that feel like first loves, visceral emotions translated to scent, and movements of soul on wings of poetry: ah, the magic of perfume!

“To me, its smell is a contemplation of all the stories of man, the stratification of so many generations and a thousand stories, only in this way can I describe the first olfactory encounter with India, there, at that moment I seem to feel it all at every moment, and I wanted it never ended.“ – Meo Fusciuni

Meo Fusciuni’s Varanasi, the eleventh perfume in the collection, is the extracted essence and a personal diary of a trip that Giuseppe Imprezzabile, the owner, the nose and creator of Meo Fusciuni Parfums made to India in 2017 together with his partner Federica Castellani (artistic director of the brand), and their two close friends.

At the exact time when all traveling was canceled, a perfume that opens a new chapter of the brands was conceived, marking the beginning of “The Timeless Trilogy“ (Trilogia Senza Tempo) line that will feature sincere olfactory impressions of Asia, starting with India.

Varanasi bottle Meo Fusciuni

Scented poetry of  Varanasi is accompanied by a printed booklet with recorded moments and memories in words and poetry, wonderful postcards from India, and a suggestion of inspirational music: this perfume was created and brought to life while listening to the album Stockhausen&Mortazavi – Hamdelaneh. “When you listen to Varanasi, imagine the water, flowing in the bowels of the earth, touching the roots of everything, nourishing our soul. Varanasi is an olfactory mandala.“

Spiritual and carnal, intense and flowing, spicy, and animalic, Meo Fusciuni’s Varanasi is composed of contrasts placed in a deliberate pattern that form an unusual olfactory structure.

Staircase in India

In its configuration, the first gate that opens upon immediate contact is sultry with spices and dense like the late afternoon air hovering above a wide river that flows slowly. It pulls you in unapologetically – the bowels of earth growl intensely.

Yet this animalic muffled roaring, eons old, is warm and rich on the surface, with thick layers of saffron and cardamom, and as it soaks in deeper into your pores, as you become one with it in mists of incense that blur the borders of reality, the second gate of this fragrant journey opens, revealing the heart of the fragrance, the deep underlying aquatic current throbbing like pulse points.  Although the pace has changed, these all-encompassing sounds of silence feel like a chant, mesmerizing. I guess this is what Meo Fusciuni must have felt.

Meo Fusciuni in India

The third gate, one with a body made of flowers appears, with a rose so dark and ripe that it feels more like an illusion, an imprint of a rose in oud and ambergris-tainted soil it fell into. Time stops as these serene flowers melt, blurring the outlines that define floral, earthy, and woody, stained with amber and still warm from trails of spices that linger on your skin.

As you reach the fourth gate, descending the spiral staircase leading to the dry down, the chant of oud is more and more audible. It’s slightly smoky, radiant, and rooted in vetiver, soothing and nurturing, and soaked in balsamic chords that vibrate gently, remaining soft without any sweetness or sharpness that would disturb this fine balance.

Varanesi perfume bottle

You are the river, the land, and the heritage of all that have crossed this path you are walking on, long before you: this is Meo Fusciuni’s India. It’s complex, it’s powerful and intense, and long-lasting memory of it is now a soulful fragrant blend of Varanasi.

“Every human time is the heritage of our time, of our gaze, it is gold in the mist of emptiness.“

Notes (listed by the brand): Saffron, Nutmeg, Cardamom, Incense, Ambergris, Jasmine, Rose, Ambrette, Cypriol, Spikenard, Vetiver, Oud, Gurjum, Leather, Animal Notes

The Plum Girl

Elena Cvjetkovic

Photos: Elena Cvjetkovic, Meo Fusciuni

A sample of Varanasi was kindly sent to me by Meo Fusciuni / via Cafleurebon/ for my consideration. Opinions and feelings are – as always – of my own.


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