Bella Figura, if you have never been to Italy, is the social compact that all Italians share with one another by the terms of which no Italian shall knowingly mortify another Italian with uncouthness, especially not sartorially. Trendy clothes may be worn, but they must be worn with care. When jeans came in back in the seventies (for instance), many Italians had them dry cleaned. The same over elaborate care was taken of cargo pants, I’m told, ditto the endless parade of tiny fashions: wearing watches on the cuff of your shirt, trilby hats and so forth and so on.
Basically, anything that Lapo Elkann has done for five minutes, the rest of the peninsula must try also.* But without, above all else, looking foolish, or for that matter, smelling foolish.
Take the delicate little gourmand Dulcis in Fundo (Latin meaning “sweet in the end”) by Profumum. With that sort of name I was prepared for something caries-inducingly sweet. In fact I may have been expecting something along the lines of DKNY’s Be Delicious Creamy Meringue.
But I need not have worried, nothing of the sort emerged from the bottle. (And by the way I have absolutely nothing against lemon cream perfumes. I wear JR Watkins lemon hand cream more often than anything else!). Italian perfume companies approach the gourmand with care. They do not want people to perceive their products as dining room accidents, they want to have some dignity on display along with whatever sweet ingredients the formula has on offer.
The same protocol is at work in Dulcis in Fundo. Although admittedly the scent is a simple matter of lemon over vanilla, the lemon does not smell like lemon furniture polish, and the vanilla is not the customary dense thicket of sugar. I wore it all through dinner preparations and all during the preceding afternoon without checking my shirt even once for spills, and it lasted a good three hours on my skin, better than my averages with L’Artisan perfumes.
On paper, the lemon top notes were a great deal longer lasting than they were on my skin, but that is to be expected. On the whole it was…elegant? Did I just use such a word to describe a gourmand? Is elegance really possible in foodie scents?
I suppose on the evidence of this perfume, it is. There was something charming about Dulcis in Fundo, almost coquettish, and it could be worn equally well by a young girl or her grandmother really. Dulcis is a daytime perfume, definitely, and a good choice if you wear scent to work (though you might want to go with something just a little drier if you want to be considered for promotion). For weekends, it’s perfect.
Dulcis is also not sexy, not remotely so, but then there is no rule I know of that insists people shall be sexy no matter what. In fact all of us are excused Allure Duty from time to time, even Lapo Elkann.
Not Tom Ford though. He is doomed to be sexy forever like a seductive hamster on a treadmill, he just keeps on going. The rest of us just have to go in for a little bella figura.
*(Except orange day-glo suits. That’s not happening.)