Vilhelm Parfumerie Faces of Francis Photo by Olya
Francis Bacon’s art is a dance of contradiction – chaotic yet controlled, raw yet refined. It’s in this complex interplay that Vilhelm Parfumerie Faces of Francis finds its muse. Like Bacon’s paintings, the perfume is a layered composition, a narrative told through olfactory notes that evoke the same intensity and depth found in his canvases. An olfactory rendez-vous with our deep emotion.
The mid-20th century travels of Francis Bacon to Morocco offer a fascinating glimpse into his life and the inspiration behind the fragrance. During this period, Bacon frequently visited Morocco, drawn there by his longtime partner, Peter Lacy, who had made Tangier his home in the 1950s. At that time, Tangier was renowned for its avant-garde culture and lifestyle. It was celebrated as a hub for many liberal, artistic minds, attracting creative and forward-thinking individuals worldwide. Bacon, like many others, found himself captivated by Morocco’s allure. His summers in Tangier were times of joy and inspiration, the smell and taste of smoked pistachios with a salty brine of the sea in the midnight air. The depth of the woodsy aromas surrounding him everywhere was both relaxing and invigorating. His few surviving works from the time he spent in Tangier, imbued with candid, almost photographic poses and muted color palettes resonated deeply with the tones of contemporary newspaper prints. Bacon was in a period of fervent experimentation, subject, and style, culminating in 1957 with a dramatic pivot to vibrant coloration.
Tangier, Morocco via Unsplash.
Vilhelm Parfumerie Faces of Francis opens with aldehydes and aromatic saffron dancing around it – a bold, striking introduction reminiscent of Bacon’s initial strokes on the canvas. Vibrant, daring, and filled with raw potential. A representation of Bacon’s unapologetic art, where danger, violence and even death constantly linger together. Transitioning into the heart, toasted pistachios meld with juniper wood and driftwood, creating an aromatic bridge that transports you to Bacon’s memories and travels. Like his art, these notes form a complex yet harmonious blend, evoking Tangier’s rich, earthy tones and the rugged, elemental beauty of a Mediterranean volcanic island. It’s an olfactory journey through the artist’s past, where each scent note is a stroke of color on his palette.
Faces of Francis courtesy of the brand
The fragrance settles into a base of resinous oud wood, savory sweet ambergris, and bold smokiness of cypriol. These deep, resonant notes embody Bacon’s profound exploration of the human condition. They are the dark, shadowy depths of his paintings, the textured layers of emotion and raw energy that give his work its haunting power. In particular, the oud wood and ambergris evoke the intense, visceral experience of viewing Bacon’s art. There’s a primal, earthy quality here, just as in his depiction of flesh and form.
Bertrand Duchaufour courtesy of the perfumer
What makes Bertrand Duchaufour’s work so captivating and why it was on my Best of 2023 round up list, is his ability to parallel the experience of Bacon’s art through scent. Each layer of the perfume unfolds like a chapter in a story or a phase in the artist’s creative process. The top notes are the initial inspiration, striking and unmissable. The heart notes represent the journey, where memories and experiences blend. Deep and enduring, the base notes are the final expression, leaving a lasting impression, much like Bacon’s haunting canvases.
Like Bacon used color to convey emotion and create mood, Bertrand Duchaufour used scent to evoke feelings and memories. The transitions between the notes are seamless yet distinct, like how colors blend and contrast on a canvas. Two artists are creating in different mediums. The warmth of saffron, the earthiness of pistachio and woods, the abyss of oud and ambergris – each note is a color in this fragrant painting, coming together to form a portrait of the artist himself. In a sense, Vilhelm Parfumerie Faces of Francis is a continuation of his legacy, a new medium through which his spirit and creativity continue to inspire and captivate.
Notes: aldehydes, saffron, toasted pistachios, juniper wood, driftwood, oud wood, ambergris, cypriol, vetiver, pyrogenic styrax.
Disclaimer: Bottle of Vilhelm Parfumerie Faces of Francis was generously gifted to me by Twisted where I am Head of Digital Strategy & Communications. My opinions, as always, are my own.
Olya Bar, Editor
Please read Olya’s review of Vilhelm Parfumerie Fleur Burlesque here and Room Service here.
Enjoy Ida’s thoughts on Basilico and Fellini here
Vilhelm Parfumerie Faces of Francis Photo by Olya Bar©
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