There is an old saying that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. As a perfume reviewer who smells hundreds of new releases a year, I think that can be a double-edged sword. Especially in the independent perfumer space. I write all the time about consistent improvement before finding an inflection point where the creativity soars. If my first impression doesn’t allow for that to be seen it is my shortcoming. When it comes to independent perfumer Francesca Bianchi, I think I deprived myself of this pleasure because of that. Francesca Bianchi Luxe Calme Volupte allows me to continue to fix it.
I’ve mentioned this in my reviews, and I think this is why it is such a difficult brand for me. Sig.ra Bianchi makes perfumes I would describe as on the edge of excess. She stands right on a line where just a little bit is going to be too much versus getting the balance just right. Also that line is not the same for every perfume lover. Which is why I applaud her for making the perfume she wants and lets the rest of us decide for ourselves.
Luxe Calme Volupte is a repeated line from the poet Baudelaire. It translates to Luxury Peace Pleasure. She has created another voluptuous perfume. One which I found full of anticipatory sensuality. It also sits perched on an emotional edge of excess. I see this as a perfume of lovers.
To begin they are feeding each other tangerines. Sig.ra Bianchi uses a very juicy citrus here. This is a wedge shared between two mouths the juice drips onto each person’s chin. Anticipation is built through the insistent green pulsing of galbanum underneath the fruit. It is like a slowly deepening heartbeat. Other fruits are threaded through the early going but it is the citrus and galbanum which are on top.
The heart is all ylang-ylang. I adore this floral for the sensuality it carries. Most perfumers neuter it or restrain it. Whenever I smell my vial of pure essential oil it just oozes carnality. Sig.ra Bianchi is using this type of ylang-ylang. It slinks through the top accord while some orris provides even more depth. This is that moment when you have your hand on the midsection of a lover waiting for permission to move it lower. The anticipation is delightful.
The base accord is a luxurious resinous aftermath of whatever happened before. Benzoin and opoponax sit atop a creamy sandalwood. Vetiver recapitulates the green from the top while harmonizing with the wood in the base. Languidly sprawled in the middle is a sated floral.
Luxe Calme Volupte has 12-14 hour longevity and moderate sillage.
Over the last four releases I have come to realize that Sig.ra Bianchi is among the best independent perfumers we have. I have gone back to re-try her previous releases and learned that I need to pay closer attention to those working at the edges. Given time they might prove to develop into something special. I need to make sure a first impression is not permanent.
As for Luxe Calme Volupte if you are looking for an unabashedly sexy perfume this is it.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.