Welcome to Part 1 of Scent Semantics! This is what it’s all about: six perfume bloggers from all over the world came together to write about one theme, once a month, each month, with a matching perfume. From their own perspective, in their own style. I hope you’ll enjoy different perspectives and fragrance choices!

You can blame Portia Turbo (A Bottled Rose perfume blog) for Scent Semantics: it sounded like a great idea to me, to gather a couple of perfume bloggers and do some perfume-writing- jamming. It turned out that there are six of us, and we’ll blog about one theme per month.  And we shall call ourselves Scent Semantics!

“Semantics (from Ancient Greek: σημαντικός sēmantikós, “significant”)[a][1] is the study of meaning, reference, or truth. The term can be used to refer to subfields of several distinct disciplines, including philosophy, linguistics and computer science.”

Here’s our first study of meaning, and my thoughts&musings&matching perfume on:

Brave / Scent Semantics

Just one word, so many possible manifestations. If we just consider what brave might be in the perfume world,

I think about brave independent perfumers and small brand owners, brave creations made as art, formulas pushing the limits or totally ignoring mass marketing demands, being brave each time they present a new perfume to the world – vulnerably exposing themself to the public, critics, opinion-trumpeters, distributors, and buyers.

Or those playing it safe, running away from the fear of failure with a little help of advisors, marketing people, evaluators, and sticking to paths well crossed, iterating their best-sellers per flankers, ad absurdum.

A perfume can be brave, or it can make you FEEL brave, brave as in absence of fear. I know that when I want to feel “stronger”, I usually wear red (lipstick included), and almost always reach out for a this-or-that rose-and-something combination. “Bold” roses make me feel bolder, and more focused…more powerful, in everyday life.

So, there’s a gradation: perfumes that make me feel brave(r), and therefore aid in being more courageous while facing the outside world – filled with unpredictable events and things you cannot control, and perfumes that make me feel quietly brave on the inside, facing my own inner fears and uncertainties.

I have found that to be much harder, anyway. I like to think that bravery is shaped by the mix of reality and your perceptions, validation of it coming from outside, and yet the drive is always, always – internal.

Standing above the river on an old and broken bridge

And sometimes, it’s so simple to be brave, sometimes it means to take one step, to say one word, to speak up, to move away from a stale love long gone – or to open up to a new love, to speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves, to try to stop screaming while the earth is rocking under your feet during a series of strong earthquakes (not so long ago), to endure a fear you can’t control.

I like to think that the most important part of being brave is to face your fears, and DO something about them.

Sometimes the bravest thing in the world you can do is  just to be yourself, to accept yourself, love yourself, and to live your life on your own terms. Now, that’s pretty courageous!

And there I was, considering which perfume I identify with the term BRAVE for this Scent Semantics episode, thinking I would reach for a quick and safe remedy, a bold rose-themed perfume that makes me feel courageous. Rose&Cuir for example, a Rose without the rose, and a tight-jaw leather allure. Yes, that’s a brave one from Frederic Malle / Jean Claude Ellena. 

But I didn’t. I reached for a fragrance that calls for bravery in knowing and accepting your “other” sides, dualities, vulnerabilities, sometimes clashing facets of your personality, getting to know them well: The Dark Side by Francesca Bianchi.

The Dark Side Francesca Bianchi Extrait de Parfum

It’s about finding your inner balance and The Dark Side, one of the early Francesca‘s creations, feels to me like a fine play between opposites, and I keep thinking: what is bravery without fear? It’s nonexistent.  If you take the fear out of the equation, there’s no bravery possible, right?  Is it brave to show how vulnerable you are? The duality of things, of humanity, of us.

So are the contrasts of The Dark Side: rolling clouds of incense,  so perfect in these first and chilly Autumn days, blended with honey oozing above styrax, dripping into it and mixing with animalic tones, with powdery iris raining from above.
It doesn’t open nice and easy: bam! honey and spice, and you’re inside, it leaves no prisoners.

The Dark Side makes you plunge into yourself, willingly dive deep into all the goodies, roll around in heavenly honey and Iris powder, and then it closes around you, ever so gently.
And once it does, all the dark secrets are revealed, one by one, deep currents resurface, and nothing seems out of place: all that was below fits perfectly with all that is above, it all belongs to you, and all is well. You’re  perfect just the way you are. Accepting that is quite – brave.

Notes (as listed by the brand): honey, spices, iris,, sandalwood, cedarwood, vetiver, amber, styrax, incense, patchouli, vanilla. This is an extrait de parfum, so use sparingly as the concentration is 25%.

Scent Semantics

Please read my fellow Scent Semantics perfume-jamming writers, and their blogs: 

Sheila  https://thealembicatedgenie.com

Daisy  https://eaulalanyc.com    (https://www.instagram.com/coolcookstyle/?hl=en)

Undina  https://undina.com

Old Herbaceous  https://scentsandsensibilities.co

Portia  https://abottledrose.com

What’s your take on being brave, and what perfume makes you feel courageous?

The Plum Girl

Elena Cvjetkovic

Photos: Elena Cvjetkovic, Scent Semantics logo by Portia Turbo, Unsplash (Benjamin Davies)



  1. WOW Elena! What a spectacular first post. You write brave so eloquently and give such profound depth to the exercise.
    LOVE the perfume choice and how it rolls within the parameters too. Also a great fit for our Halloween weekend just gone.
    So happy to be collaborating with you on Scent Semantics,
    Portia xx

  2. So strange Elena,
    I wrote a comment that showed and then seems to have been eaten.
    Mainly it said, AMAZING! I enjoyed your post so much and the ways you look at the word brave. The perfume also seems like it would fit the brief and also is a fab halloween spritz!
    Portia xx

    • Thanks, Portia! I actually have to approve all comments, so I guess that was a glitch!
      Thank you again for gathering us and starting Scent Semantics!

  3. I loved reading about your take on this month’s word. It sounds like perfect olfactory embrace of what is dark and unknown, in short, what is BRAVE. Looking forward to reading more!

  4. Wonderful post! The Dark Side does sound very alluring, as befits its name. It’s such fun to see what everyone else has written about the word “brave”, and I look forward to more insights in readers’ comments! I love the point you made about how brave many independent perfumers (and other entrepreneurs and small business owners) have had to be during this extraordinary pandemic and economic disruption. They truly need and deserve the fragrance community’s support.

  5. Before reading OH’s comment above, I wrote that the image you painted – independent perfumers who expose their creations to the world – resonated with me: it should be extremely hard for those who care about their creations, for whom it’s not just a job or business but calling. How vulnerable and brave one must be to present so subjective for appreciation results of their creative process to strangers.

    I’m not familiar yet with the brand (I think I tried one perfume so far), but I see that it gets a lot of love, so I plan to get to test it soon enough.

    • Thanks! I have reviewed almost all Francesca Bianchi’s creations, and I highly recommend to sample. I’m certain you’ll find at least one to fall in love with!

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