When I lived in Rome I sometimes went to the Byzantine church. There was something about the entombed, mosaics of silence and candles; the resinous smoke of benzoin and frankincense and the sombre, Byzantinian chants, that took you out of yourself and transcended you to another realm. You could feel it. You could almost imagine believing.

Francesca Bianchi’s new release is a brooding, and slightly melancholic, amber with styrax and cinnamon, labdanum, ambergris; a bifocal of amber and leather; the amber softening and sweetening the leather, the leather giving a novel tint to the amber. Though linear and ‘solid’ – there is not much room for manoeuvre in this scent – a mood is immediately set in place upon application. And I particularly like the fact that all fades, eventually, to the unpristine, lingering – and very human, smell of benzoin.


Filed under Flowers


  1. A

    That’s funny. I had read this story and thought of you:
    Benzoin and Byzantine together.

    • How fantastic and thanks for the link.

      Without the naughty leather accord (this perfumer seems obsessed with it), Byzantine Amber might have gone in more of a coronatory direction – but I think she has found quite a nice poise between the two extremes here.

  2. I recently purchased Byzantine Amber by Francesca Bianchi and I am really liking it. Your description of the perfume is perfect. I am now anxiously awaiting the arrival of her Hedonik Obsessive Devotion.

  3. Robin

    First time I was in Europe we landed in Lisbon and dragged our jetlagged young bodies to the first church we saw. That was my first olfactory experience of the Old World. Has stayed with me to this day. Frankincense and old stone and old oiled pews. I think my favourite scent memory. Melancholic and just plain gorgeous.

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