Unspoken Musk is the second fragrance in Francesca Bianchi’s line of perfumes dedicated to classic materials in perfumery, following Libertine Neroli. But, with a twist: it’s more than “just a musk” you might have expected. Much more.
The first thing that crossed my mind after Francesca Bianchi presented her Libertine Neroli in June this year after I tested it for the first time during Esxence Milano 2022, was – will there be a Muuuuusk? Not that I wanted to immediately jump to another fragrance, having enjoyed wearing Libertine Neroli all Summer long (and Francesca isn’t the one to release heaps of fragrances in a single year), but there’s a funny story behind this thought.
It just happens that Ms. Bianchi pronounces the word Musk in the sweetest possible way, like Muuuusc, with a lovely Italian accent! While she was doing lives in various Facebook groups, talking about her other perfumes, every time she mentioned musk as a note, we teased her to say it over and over again (Muuuuusc), and continued teasing her that she simply has to create a “Musk” fragrance – simply because then we’d have a chance to hear her saying Muuuusc over and over again.
One year later, we have Unspoken Musk! As Francesca is a big fan of Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal, besides being driven to create a fragrance that would be her personal interpretation of musk as one of the oldest pillars of perfumery, she states that verses from the Correspondances are an additional inspiration: “That cry of the ecstasy of the body and the soul.”
After the atypical Neroli – when compared to most of the recent releases – Libertine Neroli, openly flirting with the past in a very relaxed la vita e bella way, with an impressive chypre attire, dancing in Francesca’s well-known rhythm, including a heart-melting oakmoss bliss at its core, Unspoken Musk folds out more playfully on one side of its development, and becomes fully profound on the other.
Fragrances that bring us perfumers’ works dedicated to musk are a very wide field you can play on, there are epic and ambery ones, ballades with florals, sonnets that make your heart melt, haikus with a linen effect, and free verse compositions that boldly display “linear” or alicyclic musks.
Musks, as raw materials (synthetic and obtained from plants, of course), are also present in abundant odor profiles, they are a whole grand class of various substances. With big, fat molecules. Sometimes so big that you easily go nose-blind on them (it happened to me once, with THE musk, real deer musk, an exhibit in Museo Villoresi in Florence, do visit when you’re there). And yes, I was anosmic to it.
Musks in perfumery are very versatile, and you can describe them in so many (sometimes contradictory) ways – from airy, cold, clean, powdery, floral, angelic, fruity, metallic, waxy, sweet, creamy to dark, leathery, and very animalic. Some are cheaper, some are more expensive, and some are better than others which don’t necessarily relate to the price: what matters is the overall impression they yield to the fragrant composition. I rather like Muscone (Firmenich), being soft, elegant, warm, and slightly animalic, but that’s another story.
Francesca Bianchi lists these traits that define her Unspoken Musk: humanity, gentleness, intensity, and passion. Back to Baudelaire, I see the influence of his poetry in her playing with dualities and oxymorons in this creation (and not only this one). And yes, I can feel the fragrant expression of something else Baudelaire was famous for mixing “beauty” and “ugliness” (florals and animalics), highs and lows (bergamot and Castoreum), “bitter” and “sweet”.
Purity and corruption, divisions and contradictions – all our perfect imperfections, everything that makes us – human.
Unspoken Musk feels very gentle, smooth, rounded, and inviting. Softly spoken in the beginning, murmuring sotto voce. The first time I sprayed it on my skin, I couldn’t stop thinking that it FEELS like my skin, only better, like the best version of my own, clean, warm, smooth skin. Reassuring and comforting.
It reminded me at first of the moments when I test more than two fragrances at the same time, and then bury my nose in my elbow to clear it. The stronger the perfume that made me take this break, the better I feel the gentle, reassuring scent of my own skin – only much, much better.
Whispering of Unspoken Musk on my skin at the beginning feels like healthy self-love, projecting outwards like a smug smile, a contended smile – the one that replaces many words that might fail to describe the feeling. Powdery and sweet, gentle and embracing. This stage feels so elegant, so tender, and yet deeply intimate.
As the fragrance develops further, what you might call “Francesca’s signature” rises: underneath the cozy and familiar outer perception, rivers of feelings flow, deep beneath the feeling of softness. Unspoken Musk purrs on my skin, dancing between tamed animalics, soft fur (Muuuuuuusc!), and persuasive sweetness.
Unspoken Musk is familiar and haunting at the same time as it further develops. This intricate web of different facets, some sweet, some powdery, some silky, and some animalic does feel like deer musk, only expanded, forming a fragrant film on your skin that becomes an integral part of your whole being. And again! It feels like your skin is emanating it, naturally.
The fragrance becomes thick and sensual in the drydown, with the captivating power of smooth vanilla, steadily warming up with your body heat, beguiling and, oh! so gorgeous – and you might already know how picky I am about vanillas in drydowns. It remains engaging at all times, leaving you with a fine layer of a powdery skin-warm luscious bliss many hours upon initial spraying. I got carried away one evening in Florence spraying more than five sprays – the trail of Unspoken Musk followed me and my friends at all times, all night long. This is not Under My Skin – Unspoken Musk is MY skin, at its best.
Accords: Musk, Tonka Bean, Iris Butter.
Pyramid: Bergamot, Immortelle, Magnolia, Iris butter, Musk, Castoreum, Civet, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Cypriol, Tonka Bean, Vanilla. / Available as 30ml Extrait de Parfum at Francesca Bianchi Perfumes.
Interview With Francesca Bianchi (Pitti Fragranze, Florence)
FB: It’s rather simple. As you know, I was obsessed with Baudelaire as a teen. I still know many of his poems by heart. So, Baudelaire mentions musk in CORRESPONDANCES:
“There are perfumes as cool as the flesh of children,Sweet as oboes, green as meadows— And others are corrupt, and rich, triumphant,
With the power to expand into infinity,Like amber and incense, musk, benzoin,That sing the ecstasy of the soul and senses.”
You have this synesthetic combination here, and the sublime smells mentioned: musk, incense, amber…I used musk in Jasmine Absolute to boost the Magnolia, and it’s just a facet, not even a protagonist. There are quite a few supportive role players in this composition. The more “technical” ones.
EC: You’re five years old now. (the brand) From your current perspective, would you have done anything different as a perfumer and a brand owner?
FB: I’m working on quite a few things currently. One creation is ready to be launched sometime in February next year (Editor’s Note: I’m not allowed to disclose the name), an amber interpretation. Remember? Baudelaire? Musk, Amber… I read somewhere that good writers are obsessed with only a few ideas, so yes, it’s Baudelaire-related again!
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