Sleight of Fern, a new fragrance by Masque Milano (April 2022) is my choice of perfume for the Scent Semantics word of the month: brilliance!

I must admit that this word, chosen by Portia, turned out to be one of the most complicated words to pair a perfume with for me up to now, and I was thinking about it for days…until 2 samples of new perfumes arrived: Sleight of Fern IV-III turned out to be the one!

Brilliance! Well, I thought this would be easy at first. Let me tell you that I’m enjoying the Scent Semantics collaboration of 6 perfume bloggers from all around the world so much: it’s wonderful to read each one’s take on the chosen word of the month, and about the matching perfumes they choose!

As always, let’s take a better look at the word first, according to Merriam Webster:

Definition of brilliance: the quality or state of being brilliant.

Ok, obvious but this wasn’t inspiring, so I reached out for synonyms: brightness, brilliancy, candor, dazzle, effulgence, illumination, lambency, lightness, luminance, luminosity, luster (or lustre), lustrousness, radiance, refulgence, splendor.

The first association that came to my mind was – aldehydes, of course! Now, if you know me by now, you surely know that I looove me some good aldehydes! So, I’ve spent a couple of days sniffing aldehydes as raw materials from my collection, and pondering about which perfume to choose to illustrate the word Brilliant.

A couple of days later, I realized that’s too hard to choose just one, and too obvious to go ahead with aldehydes. Then one perfume with a totally appropriate name crossed my mind: Intelligence and Fantasy from The Beautiful Mind Series, created by Geza Schon. Opening with a Hedione blast, enhanced by aldehydes all along, it seemed like a perfect match, covering Brilliance of aldehydes, and Brilliance as exceptional talent or intelligence.

Two things happened: at first, I couldn’t find the sample in my (by now too demanding) archive, and when I did – these two elements were there, and yet again, something was missing. I wanted to feel dazzled by the chosen perfume, brightened up, and it needed to illuminate me from the inside. I wanted to feel being in the state of being Brilliant (if ti makes any sense)!

At that moment I reached out for the sample of Sleight of Fern, created by Stephanie Bakouche, one of the two newest creations belonging to the Masque Milano Opera collection, and providing closure to Act IV – Dreams. After ten years, the Opera Collection is now completed.

A fougere it is! An aromatic fougere, to be more precise.

Sleight of Fern Masque Milano Illustration Woman With Fern

Back to brilliance and Fougere family perfumes: I believe that the classic Fougere construction IS brilliant, for many reasons. First of all, this highly refined and elegant construction at its core has survived the times, going back and forth from being very popular to being somewhat neglected, but always present. It has also been denominated in a way, while we witnessed almost everything with something herbal in it declared as Fougere.

I adore fine fougeres and admire the beauty of fresh vs. rough contrast in all the varieties that the basic accord of citrus (bergamot), lavender, geranium, vetiver, moss,  coumarin/ Tonka bean give space to. Luminosity, herbaceousness, sharpness, roughness, and earthiness, all balanced, all in accord with each other: how brilliant! It can be dressed up or dressed down, a Fougere fragrance can be powdery, leathery, citrusy, woody, or even ambery.

And I’ve been hungry for a good fougere for quite some time now, as trends and popularity seemed to move away from them in the more sweet or burning amber direction. Enter Sleight of Fern!

It seems to me that Masque Milano has decided to end the Opera with a blast!  I’m thrilled to see Stephanie Bakouche joining the Masque Famiglia- with a proven track record in this genre (think Invasion Barbare MDCI Parfums, for example).

Stephanie Bakouche Photo
Stephanie Bakouche

Sleight of Fern opens on my skin with a perfectly balanced Fougere brilliance, skin scrubbed squeaking clean, soft, and misty as a man that just walked out of a shower. That “barbershop” moment with underlying herbal tones quite elegantly displays an interesting take on lavender – somewhat dry and soft, sunny, and relaxed.

Lentisk plays along so well with lavender, thyme, and sage, and I absolutely adore this accord! This part of the composition of Sleight of Fern is what I thought about as brilliant, swaying from bitter to softly sweet, medicinal to floral at its heart, so alive, uplifting and vibrant – calmly presenting itself in all the brilliance, blended to perfection. Sleight of Fern is fatally  attractive without an obvious effort, this is how it feels to me.

Sleight of Fern Masque Milano Perfume Bottle
Sleight of Fern, photo by Masque Milano

It moves with grace in its further development, dancing in a very slow rhythm, giving you time and space to enjoy each phase of Sleigh of Fern‘s performance, taking you ever so gently to the drydown. Moving on to this fougere’s “rough” side isn’t rough at all, it feels so natural and inviting. Bittersweet, soft, and yet firmly grounded final stage of mossy greenness on woods, with a touch of herbal elements still shining through.
Utterly elegant until the last,  musky-soapy-clean breath on my skin, Sleight of Fern won my heart on first testing and wearing.

The brilliance of a classic Fougere shines through Sleight of Fern, illuminating it from inside out, and yet giving more than enough space for a very modern interpretation oozing elegance and class through all of its aromatic Fougere pores.

Masque Milano Alessandro Brun
Alessandro Brun of Masque Milano during IG live presentation of two new fragrances in the Opera collection

Congratulations, Masque – you nailed it! With brilliance!

Notes (as listed by the brand)Bergamot Italy (Calabria), Lavender France, Fig sap accord, Lentisk EO Morocco, Red Thyme Spain, Tuberose Abs India, Geranium EO Egypt, Narcissus Abs France (Auvergne), Sandalwood, Birchwood EO, Patchouli, Oakmoss, Tonka Beans Abs. The third act of the fourth and the last scene in the Masque Milano Opera collection is available at Masque Milano. 

Perfumer: Stephanie Bakouche / Evaluator: Ermano Picco.

Scent Semantics
Please do check out the rest of our Scent Semantics crew, blogging about BRILLIANCE:
Daisy also created a LinkTreewhich has us all organized in one place!
The Plum Girl
Elena Cvjetkovic
Photos: Elena Cvjetkovic, Pexels / Madison Inouye, Masque Milano 
A sample of  Masque Milano Sleight of Fern was kindly sent to me by the brand, opinions are of my own.


  1. Love this! Your choice is especially timely because I will be in Milan later this month, and I’m hoping to visit Masque Milano. I love green fragrances, and many fougeres are pretty green, so I enjoy them.

    • How wonderful: when in Milano, you really must visit Masque. I hope you’ll like Sleight of Fern, but even of you don’t they have a nice collection to choose from.

Write A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.