New article on Fragrantica perfume magazine about Fanfarone Italiano by Elena Prokofeva
Published on fragrantica.com at 09/03/23
I got acquainted with Fanfarone Italiano by State of Mind right after the exhibition in Milan, but since Igor had already introduced it, I decided to wait until September, when the perfume is expected to arrive in my city. I spent the entire summer with Fanfarone Italiano, wearing it in the heat and in the rain. I had the opportunity to calmly compare it with the coffee and tea scents that I enjoy most from State of Mind…
I came to a conclusion: it’s different.
It doesn’t resemble any of the coffee scents in my collection, although I particularly love the coffee note in perfumes. In addition, it does not resemble any State of Mind fragrances.
Fanfarone Italiano is also a bitter coffee with hints of masculine cologne… However, that’s where the similarities end. Since Fanfarone Italiano is entirely different in every other aspect. It is much more lavish and multilayered. It suits not only gentlemen but also ladies who like to dress in men’s suits. Or simply elegant business suits.
And it also smells of a forest…
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Fanfarone Italiano has five unveiling stages: coffee-chocolate, cognac, nutty, sour-sweet fresh, and green forest. They emerge one after another, making the perfume increasingly complex.
First, you smell the coffee: a very strong, very bitter, very aromatic espresso. There isn’t a drop of milk or a speck of sugar. Just coffee, but brewed to perfection, invigorating by its aroma alone. Cocoa beans are served with coffee: roasted, but not further processed, more aromatic and more bitter than the darkest chocolate. The coffee note in Fanfarone Italiano is delightfully authentic: when you apply the perfume, you instinctively anticipate the surge of energy and vigor that a cup of delicious coffee brings. What’s more, it feels like Fanfarone Italiano genuinely works like coffee!
Then follows cognac. Not in the coffee cup, but separately, allowing one to swirl a round glass in hand, admire its color, and savor its scent… The cognac note in Fanfarone Italiano is so realistic that it evokes the taste of cognac on the tongue, a gentle warmth, and an oily texture… At this moment, Fanfarone Italiano reminds me of Aldous Huxley’s “feelies” and the gum with shifting three-course dinner flavors in Roald Dahl’s writings, because the perfume gives very lifelike sensations, as if you drank both the coffee and the cognac.
But then it’s time for the nuts: walnuts and hazelnuts, and perhaps pistachios as well… They smell so vibrant that they almost overshadow the cognac, and even the coffee notes take on a nutty hue.
After that, the adventure begins, as this coffee with cocoa beans, cognac, and nuts is not served at a table in a Parisian or Milanese cafe, but in the middle of a forest, on a large tree stump.
The bright and hot coffee-chocolate surge of the initial notes spreads over a green backdrop: leaves and grass, tree trunks and moss, green sap, green rustle… The fresh notes are so strong that they remind me of a masculine fragrance. But besides coffee’s bitterness, they share a masculine perfume theme. While Caravansérail Intense has something old-fashioned and classic, in Fanfarone Italiano I find something like Aventus by Creed: pineapple, blackcurrant, green apple, jasmine, and chypre notes. A gentleman (or a lady in a man’s suit?) applied Aventus before heading into the woods to drink coffee, relishing the combination of invigorating bright bitterness with trees’ fresh green breath.
But no, it was a misconception.This isn’t Aventus.
It’s a tart apple, plucked from a wild apple tree.
It’s the aroma of blackcurrant leaves. Perhaps there was once a garden here? But it’s long been abandoned and overgrown, and the blackcurrant has almost turned wild, barely producing any berries, yet its leaves still emit that recognizable sharp aroma when accidentally brushed against. The morning air is so crystalline clean that it seems to carry the scent of crisp and resilient fruity freshness…
The tart-sweet fresh and green forest stages of Fanfarone Italiano’s development unfold almost simultaneously, or rather, they alternate: first, you feel that the bright coffee scent has a green backdrop, then a translucent fruity note emerges, a ghost of cologne, which transforms into quite tangible fruits and leaves.
The forest closes in around the coffee cup.
It’s the end of summer, and most of the trees are still green, but there’s already a hint of autumn chill in the air. Yet, the coffee effectively keeps it at bay.
Coffee is the heart of Fanfarone Italiano. No matter what happens around, no matter how the perfume changes, the primary and constant note will always be this bitter coffee aroma.
From Fanfarone Italiano, I expected gourmand and spicy notes, some playful extravagance, flamboyance. this is what the name promised, and after conversations with the brand’s owner and the fragrance’s creator, Catherine Laskine-Balandina, I imagined something sweet and spicy, something in the style of Versailles, which had discovered the invigorating drink made from coffee beans. Intrigue and scheming, love and politics, powdered wigs, beauty spots, red heels… And in the coffee cup, presented with a bow by a page, spices, honey, poison!
But Fanfarone Italiano turned out to be restrained and slightly melancholic, unpredictable, built on a multitude of contrasts, warm on the skin and cool in the sillage. It brings together a coffeehouse and a forest, but there’s no hint of Versailles.
Fanfarone Italiano seems introverted to me. Endlessly elegant and utterly unpredictable. Drinking coffee in the forest, not out of a thermos, but freshly brewed from a porcelain cup – that’s unusual… But what a delight it must be! To breathe in the aroma of coffee and chocolate simultaneously with the forest’s fragrance, treat a squirrel to a nut, listen to the silence that settles in the forest towards the end of summer. Absolute silence will reign when the first snow falls, but that’s a long way off. Now, it’s not even autumn, and the forest still smells of rich, mature greenery.
Autumn will never come in the bottle of Fanfarone Italiano.
Despite the originality of the coffee and forest combination, I would still call impeccable elegance the main quality of Fanfarone Italiano. It is as elegant as all those outfits I’ve never been able to wear. For example, straight wool coats in a cream color, which other women wear effortlessly, even in the rainy weather when there are puddles and mud underfoot, keeping the coat clean. Or small ladies’ handbags, which only have handles to carry them by hand or on the elbow. It is not possible to sling them over the shoulder because they lack a long strap. Or long flowing embroidered shawls that I can only admire because I inevitably get tangled up in them…
Fanfarone Italiano is impeccable, like Alain Delon as Jef Costello in Le Samourai, like Jin Dung as Min Lou in The Pretender (Wei zhuang zhe), or like… Like Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada ! I hope these examples, spanning different eras, resonate with everyone. Fanfarone Italiano is seriously and fundamentally impeccable, without a hint of self-irony.
(I hope someday I’ll find a perfume that’s ironically impeccable, like Colin Firth in nearly all of his roles but especially in Kingsman, or like Mark Gatiss in Sherlock…)
It turns out that for me, Fanfarone Italiano isn’t a “fanfaron” at all… The antonym for “fanfaron” is “modest”. However, Fanfarone Italiano is not modest. It’s restrained, self-sufficient, outwardly exquisite, and internally complex. Aristocratic? Perhaps. However, it’s time to conclude because this is drifting away from being about the fragrance itself.
If you love bitter coffee, cognac, nuts, and forest freshness, and appreciate non-trivial perfumes, you should definitely get acquainted with Fanfarone Italiano.