SUBLIME VANILLE by CREED
Continuing on our journey through the fragrant realm of vanillas, we settle for a moment on the unlikely house of Creed, known more for its sharp masculines such as Green Irish Tweed and Imperiale Millésime than for the fluffy or gourmand. Yet in fact this monarchical perfume house does have two very contrasting, effective vanillas that couldn’t be more different in atmosphere or execution.
In 2009 Creed released Sublime Vanille, a rather beautiful, simple and delicate scent of vanillic translucence that begins with flighty initial notes of lemon zest and Calabrian orange hovering above a gentle floral eiderdown of climbing Tahitian vanilla orchid. A soft diminuendo down to the opalescent base of tonka bean and South American Bourbon vanilla leads us to that familiar metallic, light-infused ambergris-laced sheen that is the signature of Oliver Creed.
Sublime Vanille is a very subtle perfume (some might say too much so, more a veneer of vanilla than a full-blown concoction,) but this was apparently the point, as it is furtively aimed at being the world’s first men’s ‘soliflore’ vanilla. It is also extraordinarily expensive, housed in a very suave and regal hand-blown Pochet glass bottle that very much adds to the perfume’s appeal.
VANISIA by CREED
If Sublime Vanille is a blushing and introverted handsome prince, he is nevertheless very much the hen-pecked husband, and his consort – buxom, burnished Vanisia, wears the trousers. Creed tells us that the illustrious forbears of the house created this lusty perfume for the queen of Spain, who “happened to be the great niece of Marie Antoinette of France. After assuming the throne, the Spanish queen wished to make a style statement like her French relative. She commissioned from Creed a fragrance that was rich, sensual and mysterious: the unforgettable Vanisia.”
Believe none of it. Salacious, dry, and libidinous, this perfume couldn’t be more eighties powerhouse if it tried – it is big, voluptuous, curvy, smells exactly like the year it came out – 1987 – and I have the memories to prove it.
Back in my home town as a pop-obsessed teenager, I would often go round to my friend’s house to listen to his new Madonna 12”s on his superior powerhouse stereo system. His mother, large and very proud of it, wore Vanisia, and would be quite happy to stroll about in her lacey white lingerie despite (or because of) the generous flesh on offer, leaving behind her in the air a crude, heady (but delicious) scent of mama.
I had no idea where to look each time and I think she loved watching me blush: smoky, dark vanilla with Bulgarian rose and thick, heady jasmine over sandalwood (always a lewd, suggestive accord), together producing a womanly, ‘big event’ scent that though perhaps Creed’s most vulgar offering (if you exclude Royal Delight), is extremely magnetic.
SHALIMAR by GUERLAIN
And while we are on the subject of queens, why not finish today with Shalimar, not only possibly the finest vanilla you can buy, but one of the greatest perfumes of all time. In the unlikely event that you haven’t properly smelled this classic, I will try to describe it for you. In the extraordinary vintage parfum especially, wearing this scent is like being lathered in the finest Fauchon vanilla ice cream; smothered all over with baby powder, while eating the most delectable, lemonest, cheese cake, during wild and filthy amour on a new soft leather couch. Champagne is optional.
The genius of Shalimar was its balance: enfathom a velvety, rich vanilla note in a balsamic envelope of tolu, benzoin and opoponax; harmonize it with a cooler earth-toned counterpoint of patchouli and vetiver, then, slowly, to reveal hidden, almost smoky depths of leather, ambergris, incense and civet. Romance, temperance, was provided with a powdery accord of iris and rose; and over this, in those glinting, sharp, almost cologne-like top notes, a fresh, gourmet prelude of exquisite lemon and bergamot oils.
The composition is a joy, and one of the sultriest, most genuinely erotic perfumes ever made – the skin-clinging, luxuriant vanilla sex a base note of pure perfection.
Editor’s Note: Neil’s delectable series will be continued after the Holidays on January 4th!