“He saw the Tower itself in the burning folds of the rose and for a moment understood its purpose: how it distributed its lines of force to all the worlds that were and held them steady in time’s great helix…
“And the quiet, singing voice of the rose. The song that promised all might be well, all might be well, that all manner of things might be well.”
~ Stephen King, Wolves of the Calla
Nutmeg, geranium, salt, rose, may lily, cyclamen, ylang-ylang, acacia, cedar, sandalwood, rosewood, leather, amber, musk, vanilla.
Is it feasible to travel in time? Do other realities overlay our own? Can we touch them? With the magical, evocative perfumery from Angela Ciampagna you will feel like anything is possible. The beautiful Ducalis is further proof of their majestic command of the spellbinding language of scent and as this fragrance unfolds you will find yourself transported.
In Stephen King’s Dark Tower sequence of novels, a consistent symbol throughout is that of the rose. In King’s universe, this rose holds everything together, it is the axis on which the world spins, and yet at times it grows in a location no more exotic than a vacant lot in New York. This, strangely enough, is what the opening few bars of Ducalis smell like. The pureness of a single rose growing in an urban landscape, petals just starting to unfurl with the dawn. There is a dampness that lies heavy across the petals of the rose as it is bathed in the morning dew, a little greenery lurks around the fringes, suggesting that the rose has not yet fully matured. A saltiness permeates the air; somewhere not too far away, the sea kisses a shoreline and a gentle breeze is wafting the freshness and mixing it with the blossoming flower. The rose is still, strong, resolute in its natural beauty.
There’s a deep sense of peace and tranquility about the start of Ducalis. It’s that pause before day breaks, the held breath before a slow exhale, the first ray of sun out from behind a cloud. Something beautiful is about to happen, you can just feel it, and the hairs on the back of your arm raise in anticipation.
As the perfume ages on skin, so the rose seems to reach maturity too. In the heart of the scent it is joined by the warmth of spices and a sour, ripeness which together give a full-bodied timbre to the more floral aspects. The rose continues to hum away, vibrating in the background but becoming more diffuse as other ingredients begin to take up space, but there is harmony in their reshuffling. In Ducalis, as with all Angela Ciampagna creations, it is very difficult to see the joins or transitions between notes. The picture just shifts under your very nose.
A liquid-like quality begins to creep into the scent, smooth and flowing but rich and thick at the same time. The sweetness in Ducalis peaks in this phase of wear too. The liquid rose takes us away from the modern rosebud growing in a parking lot to somewhere much older, medieval perhaps. A densely flavoured, sweet wine in a wooden goblet, sitting atop a long table next to a fire. A rose in a vase on the table has opened with the heat in the room and is spreading its petals to the point of extremis. There’s a languid openness about the scent now as it grows much sweeter and more relaxed, even alcoholic and intoxicating. This is lovers after the first blush of ardour has passed and companionship has taken root in its place. It’s the relief of a warm evening by the fireside after a hard day’s work – in Ducalis it is even possible to smell the leather of shoes kicked off and discarded, warmed by the heat from the fire, too.
There is something really old about the heart of this scent – and indeed this is something which comes up a lot in our reviews of Angela Ciampagna fragrances. They have a peculiar magic which manage to conjure the romance and adventure of other times, other worlds. If Angela Ciampagna fragrances were turned into stories then they would surely be fairytales, but not the sanitised child versions, the real ones, dark, mysterious and never fully knowable.
Characteristically, Ducalis shifts again in the base of the fragrance and takes us to a different place again. The rose, having reached maturity in the heart of the scent, now begins to fade properly, but the lingering effect it leaves is of luxurious lotion applied some hours ago. The amber and vanilla shimmer creating a halo of fragrance which seems to hover over the wearer. The musks add a diffuse softness which feel romantic and sensual and the salt accord comes back, this time to give the effect of naked skin glazed with a sheen of perspiration. This impression is given weight too by the slightest animalic effect in the composition, making the whole scent feel anchored in flesh and earthly delights. This is never heavy or even that noticeable unless you are paying close attention, but it gives the whole perfume a bodily warmth and solidity.
Ducalis is a shimmering scent which takes the central theme of rose and transforms it across different genres, different stories perhaps, as the fragrance unfolds. Rose, being such a ubiquitous ingredient in fragrance composition, is really hard to do well or to bring something new to, but Angela Ciampagna feel like they have a particular take on the fragrant world which allows them to see well-used notes with hermetic knowledge and long-forgotten perspectives to bring something new and interesting to everything they touch.
The other stuff
The longevity of Ducalis is a strange one, at times it seems to go away for a while, only to reappear later. Other times it lasted – without vanishing – for six to eight hours. The ambient temperature and weather do really seem to have an impact on this scent. It performed best for us when worn on cooler days.
The projection of the fragrance when sprayed liberally is to around handshake distance or so and it reduces significantly once you are past the initial hour or two of wear. We didn’t mind that at all though, it feels like you are carrying with you some sort of treasured secret that only you and your closest loved ones would know about.
In terms of the gender of this scent, we could see it wearing very well by just about anyone of any persuasion. Stereotypically one might imagine rose to be a more feminine scent, but this is not necessarily the case at all here because of the dark spices and woody tones which stop this being flighty and floral. Wear it whoever you are!
The Angela Ciampagna brand started life in a small Italian village, however, they have recently located their workshop and premises to Tenerife.
The Angela Ciampagna brand are a truly artisanal one, and they pay great attention and respect to the process of perfume making and the materials they use. You can read more about the brand in our interview with them.
If you enjoyed Ducalis, you may also like Le Mat by Talismans or Ruh by Pekji. You may also like to check out further work by Angela Ciampagna including our reviews of Miracula (an earthy, fragrance which speaks of new life bursting through the cracks in the pavement), Aer (soaring above the landscape on bird’s wings), Liquo (a hay meadow drying in the last of the summer’s warmth), Materia (subtle, woody majesty) and Ignes (sour, masculine, earthiness).
Ducalis by Angela Ciampagna is available from Bloom Perfumery London, where it is priced at £160 for 100ml EdP. The 50ml bottle is out of stock at the time of writing, but would be priced at £95.
Ducalis is also available from the Angela Ciampagna web boutique.
We were very kindly given a no-strings-attached sample of Ducalis by Angela Ciampagna when we visited their stand at Esxence 2019. We thank them for their kindness.