A recent Friday Community Project made me think about one of my favorite fragrance sub-genres, which I'll call "vintage vanity" — perfumes that evoke the scent of lipsticks and the spilled residue of dusting powder, and sometimes even the wood of an old dressing table. I have a few favorites in this category: Frédéric Malle Lipstick Rose and L'Artisan Parfumeur Drôle de Rose are probably my top choices, but I've also tried and enjoyed Gabriella Chieffo Camaheu, Chanel Misia, Maison Martin Margiela Replica Lipstick On — you get the idea.
For this fragrance, indie perfumer Francesca Bianchi wears her influences proudly on her scented sleeve: she mentions Lipstick Rose's "'make-up memories" as well as État Libre d'Orange Putain des Palaces' "feminine seduction and decadent dirty sensuality" as two favorites that inspired the creation of Angel's Dust. This perfume, "reminiscent of an elegant boudoir," is intended to evolve from "powdery" and "innocent" to "intense" and "decadent." Its notes include black pepper, mimosa, rose, iris, musk, sandalwood, tolu balsam, benzoin and vanilla.
Kevin wrote a positive review of Bianchi's Etruscan Water last month, and I'm feeling favorably impressed by Angel's Dust. As he said of Etruscan Water, Angel's Dust is "old-fashioned (in the best sense)." It's definitely not going to appeal to anyone seeking something "fresh" or youthful, but if you have a taste for vintage clothing and antique furniture, you'll understand its allure. Angel's Dust is definitely dust-y, due to its notes of mimosa and iris, but it's not fluffy — it has a darker side. For example, there's something almost camphoraceous in the opening, like a deeper mint note; is one of the resins coming out to play in this manner? The woods under the dusky florals suggest cedar as well as sandalwood, with a hint of some almost — but not quite — animalic musk. (A hundred years ago, the perfumer would have added a drop of natural civet oil!) The dry down is still dusky and powdery, with a touch of creamy, rose-y vanilla.
Angel's Dust is the olfactory equivalent of an old black-and-white photo: no bright or saturated colors, but lots of shadowy textures in a range of grays. It has average sillage and persistence on my skin, and it's not as conventionally feminine as most lipstick-and-powder perfumes. Men who favor dusty, woody iris scents should also find it to their liking. In times of stress, I find "vintage vanity" scents even more comforting than gourmands, so I've been savoring my sample of Angel's Dust. We all need to find a sense of security where we can, these days.
Francesca Bianchi Angel's Dust is available as 30 ml Extrait de Parfum. It can be found in the US at Indigo Perfumery for $135; Indigo also offers samples for purchase.