Francesca Bianchi Libertine Neroli

Francesca Bianchi Libertine Neroli, photo by Nicoleta

Libertine Neroli is the first fragrance from the Francesca Bianchi line devoted to a specific ingredient, with Unpoken Musk and Byzantine Amber following not long after. Far from what your first assumption might be, it’s not a simple rendition of the flower but a complex composition built around neroli as the central pillar – and as always with Francesca’s creations – with great longevity, body, and structure.

This creation draws inspiration from the vibrant settings of Italy’s social life and all the glorious places of the bygone eras: the carefree atmosphere of the Roman Dolce Vita, the sense of freedom of Wyler’s Roman Holiday, or the refined-yet-casual vibe of Minghella’s The Talented Mr. Ripley.

Inspiration for Francesca Bianchi Libertine Neroli

Francesca Bianchi Libertine Neroli, mood photo via the brand

Re-reading the inspiration behind it, and looking at the mood picture chosen by Francesca for Libertine Neroli, my mind wandered, thinking what fertile ground it would be for a very cinematic, deeply Italian video ad campaign. And in an imaginary world where one would have all the possible resources to accomplish this, one name came into my mind as the best cinematographer for her (for now) imaginary ad: Luca Bigazzi. One of Italy’s most acclaimed directors of photography, he is an award-winning genius with movies like La Grande Bellezza (2013), Youth (2015), and Sicilian Ghost Story (2017), to mention but a few. If one would translate the use of light into the olfactory realm in the same flawless manner that Bigazzi does on film, that would be Francesca. Intense, bright, blinding lights, juxtaposed by extreme darkness, edges blurred in a soft haze, an artistically idealized sense of time delivered with a cruelly realistic macro vision of history – and above all – the lavish type of abandonment in the embrace of the senses only an Italian can convey – these are the olfactory set of lenses we are invited to watch the world through.

Francesca Bianchi perfumer

Francesca Bianchi, photo via the brand

“This scent represents the abandonment of pleasures, or Luxury intended as enjoyment of life with a sense of freedom and relaxation. The protagonists are neroli, in its refined light-heartedness along with the sophisticated and seductive leather. A Chypré structure presents an animalic facet that makes this fragrance seductive and intense as well as sophisticated and somehow vintage.” – Francesca Bianchi

In a crisp, snow-filled, sun-with-teeth-peeking-through-the-window morning, after reading Francesca’s words, I placed it generously on my wrists and neck and went about my morning routine, expecting the quite stern but loving leather-chypre embrace I remembered from the paper blotters. While smudging the black kohl under my eyes, I looked in the mirror and smiled, still under Bigazzi’s spell, as a scene from one of my favorite TV series came to mind. And if one can daydream of directing imaginary ads, at least let’s dream BIG when thinking of the protagonist.

Best John Malkovich

John Malkovich as Sir John Brannox, the New Pope TV series (2020) HBO©

 “He’s persuasive, seductive. He envelops you,” remarks the Holy See’s marketing chief, Sofia (Cécile de France). “The man seems to be made of velvet.”

John Malkovich’s performance in the New Pope TV series (2020) as Sir John Brannox will forever be embedded in my mind whenever I think of the perfect embodiment of the intellectual, introverted, fragile, yet majestic type of aristocratic elegance. And if one scent can encompass all of this, Libertine Neroli would surely be it.

 John Malkovich as Sir John Brannox, the New Pope TV series (2020) HBO ©

The first notes are fresh, deceptively crisp, and green, making you feel a familiarity that makes you come closer, eyes wide open, unsuspecting of the darkness yet to come. It scratches at the edge of memory; for sure, you have smelled this before, maybe in your childhood, perhaps a freshly shaven, half-forgotten distant relative, hugging you in a railway station in a sequence of memory that has blurred away to oblivion. Or is it that bright spring day you skipped school, the green nettle shampoo that used to sting your eyes, and the thick cough syrup mixture that tasted like medicine dug from the forest’s undergrowth? Time shifts and perception changes, leaving the nostalgia behind and morphing the scent to a type of old-world elegance only an Italian soul would know how to balance in just the right proportions. From one gorgeous facet to the other, the chypre path winds between sleek leather, warm sticky labdanum, and sweet resins until it reaches the base – where shadows elongate into the mossy dark green realm and the animalic whispers of arcane secrets.

Main accords: bergamot, petit-grain, neroli, geranium, iris, animalic accord, leather, labdanum, benzoin, oakmoss

Also, check out the reviews for Unspoken Musk, Encounters, Byzantine Amber Luxe, Calme, Volupte, Dark Side, Sex and the Sea, Sticky Fingers, Angel Dust, Lost in Heaven.

Nicoleta Tomsa, Senior Editor

Disclosure: A bottle of Francesca Bianchi Libertine Neroli was kindly offered by the brand, opinions are my own.

Francesca Bianchi Perfumes, Libertine Neroli

 Francesca Bianchi Libertine Neroli, official brand photo

Thanks to the generosity of Francesca Bianchi we have a 30ml bottle of Libertine Neroli for one registered reader in the EU, US, or UK. You must register or your entry will not count. To be eligible, please leave a comment saying what sparks your interest based on Nicoleta’s review, your favorite Francesca Bianchi Perfume and where you live. Draw closes 2/2/2024.

Francesca Bianchi was named best 2019 Indie House in our Best of Fragrance awards here by our Editor-in-Chief Michelyn Camen

Byzantine Amber, a top ten perfume of 2023 by Nicoleta

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