Rock and roll chic encapsulated in a moreish, tempting scent.
Patchouli, tobacco, leather, iris.
The Francesca Bianchi line oozes a very specific kind of rock and roll sex appeal and Sticky Fingers, one of the newer releases from the brand, encapsulates and concentrates that perhaps to a greater degree than any of the fragrances released before it. The tagline for the company is “Liquid intimacy” but this isn’t a tawdry, male-gaze based intimacy. Instead it is an active, participatory, vibrant sort of intimacy which places both partners on an even footing. Perhaps because the company was founded by a strong woman, or perhaps just because the line has a modernity to it, there is something quite empowering about the scents found here, and they will suit people of all persuasions wanting to project an air of confidence rather than passivity.
Sticky Fingers opens with a rolling swell of warm, rich tobacco and leather coupled with a chewy sort of patchouli. The marketing blurb for the fragrance hints at desire and hunger, and that is here, but it’s coupled with a friendly warmth from the tobacco which is almost protective. The face of the scent has the barest hints of greenery from the tobacco – that memory of what the dried leaves once were, now faded and curled to that rich brown.
The opening of the fragrance feels like quite a lot all at once. The complexity seems to come from the multifaceted aspects of the materials used, rather than there being a surfeit of different ingredients. Instead we are given the space to examine the speckles of green on the leaves of tobacco, the warm glow of the patchouli which almost feels like basking in sunlight. It’s a nice way to bring interest without the fragrance feeling overbearing.
Tobacco, leather and patchouli are all ingredients which might be categorised as smelling rather brown, but there is nothing dowdy in Sticky Fingers. Instead of flat and insipid brown, this is rich tones of amber and chocolate in sinuous ribbons, almost glowing at times. This might be a rock and roll scent, but it isn’t dirty to my nose. Instead it’s rounded, rolling, and rich.
The leather, which was very present in the initial few minutes of the scent calms down a little and whilst it would be unfair to say that it recedes, it does become softer and a little more buttery once the fragrance has had time to settle and fully open on the skin.
The patchouli is sweet, quite powerfully so, but held in check by the leather nicely and then later, by the orris. It would have been quite possible for Sticky Fingers to become an overly sweet scent, gourmand even perhaps, and whilst it does have shades of that about it at times, it manages to stay further towards the leathery/tobacco end of the scale. Without a doubt though, there is something “sticky” about this scent. It’s not quite honey, not quite chocolate, not quite syrup, but has echoes of all of them. Intoxicating, rich, dangerous if you have too much. Sticky Fingers feels like the sort of scent which will either satiate cravings or inflame them to inferno levels.
The iris/orris in the base of the fragrance is, to my mind, the masterstroke. It just stops everything from becoming frivolous and instead makes the scent more chic and much more in keeping with the rock and roll aesthetic that it aspires to.
Imagine the leather jacket, warm, pliable, buttery. Imagine the expensive cigar peeking out of the inner pocket. Imagine the heat of bodies on a warm summer evening. And then undercut all that with this earthy, papery, slightly damp orris. This brings the insatiableness, it brings the desire and it brings the whole composition together, anchoring it in the real world. Whilst there might be elements of fantasy about the scent, the iris ties it all in nicely and makes it more believable somehow. It might bring the dirtiness to the scent but it also brings the realness, and for something to be truly sexy, it has to revel in its realness more than its fantasy. Sticky Fingers says “This is who I am, take me or leave me like this” but it manages to make you believe that if you leave it then you will be missing out on a wild ride.
The other stuff
We need to talk about the longevity of this scent, which is more than acceptable at about 4-6 hours following application. We tested this on two people though and neither observed the 12+ hours that the website mentions. To my mind this isn’t a problem, but you might want to test it on your own skin before purchasing as longevity may vary.
Whilst the notes and personality of the fragrance may sound like they should be bombastic, Sticky Fingers is actually quite polite when it comes to projection. It goes to around handshake distance, but isn’t the sort of fragrance that will fill a room as you enter it. It definitely has a robust structure and wearability, but it isn’t overpowering and it won’t choke everyone in the club out should you decide to wear it to go see a band, for example (oh there is the real fantasy!).
Sticky Fingers conjures up nights out, sweaty clubs (in a good way), dancing to live music and all that fun sort of stuff we used to do before the pandemic. So that is where I would suggest you wear it (once we are allowed and it is safe to do so, of course).
Francesca Bianchi perfumes are confident expressions of modern sensuality. If they were people they would know about consent, pleasure and how to ask for what they want. Thankfully, they manage to not become tacky or gimmicky at all though whilst referencing mating rituals with a degree of regularity. Think minimalist packaging, empowering scents, and a forward-facing vibe which is upfront and honest.
Francesca herself has studied in Italy and now lives in Amsterdam.
Sticky Fingers is available from the Francesca Bianchi web boutique where it is priced at €98 for 30ml of extrait de parfum (25% concentration).
We were kindly gifted a sample of this fragrance by a friend of The Sniff who has no association with the Francesca Bianchi brand.