Editor’s Note: Here we go with Part III of the talented Neil’s Vanilla series. If you have missed Part I and Part II, make sure to have a look. Neil really knows how to make a perfume sound irresistible…
VANIGLIA DEL MADAGASCAR/ I PROFUMI DI FIRENZE
The Golden Fleece of vanillas: glinting, concentrated, swimmingly smooth and sweet; a potent and very gorgeous little vanilla that can send you nuts. I say this because it happened to me personally: my Japanese neighbour had just been to Florence on her first trip abroad and was very pleased with the three perfumes she had brought back from the lovely Profumi Di Firenze boutique there. I quickly snapped them up to borrow and review. Dolce Amaro, yes, very nice. Iris Di Firenze, yes, yes, perfectly fine. But unstoppering the bottle of Vaniglia Del Madagascar I unleashed a dolcissimo, furious, cascade of vanilla…
Besotted, yet shocked by the exultant sweetness, I found myself using up almost a third of her bottle despite myself: a catnipped, autoerotic frenzy that filled the house with maddening, tooth-loosening scent (I have since discovered that vanilla is made up of certain brain-altering chemicals that include epinephrine, or adrenaline…..)
The perfume’s perfection came a whole day later, after a very long sleep, when I awoke in my bed with a golden, delicious smell all over my body: the delectable, creamy Bourbon edibility of the very best Florentine gelato.
COLOGNE DU 68/ GUERLAIN
While some perfumists might string me up alive for including this zingy scent in a vanilla review, to me, this delightful cologne, despite its citrus beginnings ( clementine, blood orange, limette); herbs (lavender, thyme); its delicate, petalled floralcy (magnolia, ylang ylang, immortelle); its hint of spice (star anise, ginger, nutmeg) and its subtle woody undertones (sandalwood, vetiver), this is ultimately a Guerlain – that is to say, powdery, vanillic and oriental. Basenotes of vanilla pod, benzoin, opoponax and amber grace the aforementioned eye-opening notes most pleasantly, and the result on the skin is fresh and modern, yet soft and carnal. Clearly a descendant of the great Roma (Laura Biagiotti, 1988), but clarified for a new generation, this is a great summer vanilla. (Olfactoria’s review of Cologne du 68 is here.)
VANILLE 44/ LE LABO
Le Labo make good quality, quirky takes on classic notes – stripped down and modern – and their minimalist, unclogged take on vanilla is very pretty.
Vanille 44 is a light-as-an-egg scent with a lovely bergamot, orange and mint opening that melts into a slightly floriental, warm vanilla note before settling onto a lightly wooded structure of guaiac. It is an optimistic smell: sensual, cute, yet it eschews the heavy-lidded, high-calorie butteriness of some vanillas. I find it distinctly wearable, but perhaps not inventive enough to be considered essential considering its exorbitant price. (Take a look at Olfactoria’s take on Vanille 44 here.)
JOUR DE FETE/ L’ARTISAN PARFUMEUR
I have always loved the vanillic, candied coating on Tic-Tac mints and the powdered glazed dusting on sugared almonds, and in 2004 L’Artisan released this rather unique fragrance – a scent designed to evoke a French Spring fair: the taste of sugared almond dragées dusted with vanilla sugar.
Sweet, airy and fun, the initial top note is like cassia trees in the wind you pass under on the way to the fair; the sultry vanilla / smoky almond base note the story of what happened next…. (Olfactoria’s review is here.)
More next week….