Deadly nightshade.  How mysterious is that, as a fragrant ingredient?  In nature, of course, it’s toxic:  the Atropa belladonna plant can kill.  In perfume, it features as a ‘fantasy’ note, to conjure up mystery and danger.  Belladonna gets its name from the Italian, belle donna (‘beautiful woman’):  when consumed in small quantities, it opens the pupils, enhancing a woman’s attractiveness, and it has a long tradition of use as a medicine, cosmetic, and recreational hallucinogen (in small doses).  The poisonous, hallucinogenic black berries are what we’re most familiar with (and warned about, as kids).  Preceding the berries come green-and-purple-tinged bell-shaped flowers which do offer up a delicate scent – but the sweet, subtly floral belladonna note used in fragrances is generally synthetic.  And – we suspect – is used to give an aura of magic, dark mystery and allure to perfume, rather than for the perfume itself. That’s really confirmed by perfumer Julie Massé, who based whole fragrance around Atropa belladonna – called (yes!) Atropa Belladonna. ‘Of course there isn’t literally any deadly nightshade in the fragrance – but the overall effect of the perfume I created is deep, intense, intoxicating…’

Smell belladonna in:


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