Flowers In Space – Review: Hermessence Vanille Galante

Vanille Galante has a misleading name. It is many things, but a vanilla fragrance it is not.

Which, frankly, put me off it for a long time. I may be too literal a person, but my expectations and the perfume itself were so far from each other that I pouted and left it in the back of my closet, unloved and unworn.

Even I can not hold a grudge this long though (at least not with a perfume, with people I am like an elephant, I never forget), so I got Vanille Galante out of purgatory for another run. And lo and behold – it is quite interesting. NOT vanilla, certainly, but a unique and mighty strange floral.

Vanille Galante features notes of ylang ylang, green notes, spices, lily, salicylates, sandalwood and vanilla. It was created by Jean-Claude Ellena in 2009.

Vanille Galante opens on a heady accord of fruity and floral, even a little spicy notes. I smell banana (of all things!) distinctly in the first few minutes as well as a strong aquatic-melon note that screams of calone. (Not my favorite molecule…)

Then it develops into a lily fragrance. I smell wide open petals, a certain spiciness and saltiness often present in lily, a little ylang-ylang, green stems, sitting in water that has not been changed in a few days.

What comes to mind is a vanilla orchid, the flower part of the plant that gives us vanilla pods. Light yellow, pretty, but very exotic and unapproachable it sits there and judges you.

Vanille Galante is easily the one with the strongest sillage and the strongest character of all the Hermessences I have tried (I am missing only Brin de Reglisse (Update: no longer true 🙂 ) and Paprika Brasil). And while it has a lot of diffusive, statement making power, it is still a recognizably Ellena creation in the sense of its transparency and light-flooded airiness. What sounds like a contradiction when written down, is clear as day once you smell it.

It is large, all around you, but almost invisible. It feels like being inside a giant cheese cover (don’t take this metaphor olfactorily!), it is invisible, but you are surrounded.

Vanille Galante reminds me in smell of Frederic Malle Lys Mediterranée and Serge Lutens Un Lys, but in execution they are light years apart. It is like comparing a soap bubble to a piece of wood and a stone, respectively.

In the late drydown there is a hint of actual vanilla, but it is a mere puff, that makes you believe it might just be wishful thinking after all.

Do I love Vanille Galante? No.

But I am immensely impressed (once more) by the skills of its creator, to make such heavy floral notes, that hit you over the head almost in other perfumes, into something so gossamer thin and barely there in weight, while retaining their distinct smell. It is like he kept the substance of the flowers but took out their mass. Like astronauts, the flowers hang there in front of my nose, gallivanting in space, weightless, gravitation-less and free.

For that reason alone, Vanille Galante is worth a sniff. Of all the Hermessences it is not the most wearable for me, but the most interesting by far.

Vanille Galante engages my curiosity and my sense of wonder.

Not bad for a vanilla fragrance. 😉

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24 Responses to Flowers In Space – Review: Hermessence Vanille Galante

  1. Your closing line about the place of VG in the Hermessences range is exactly what I thought when I smelled the line. Not very wearable but most interesting. The most photorealistic execution of the scent of a tiger lily, it should actually be called “Lys réfrigéré” as it smells exactly like a florists refrigerator full of lilies and it exudes the same coolness. The vanilla is not of the natural variety but rather the artificial peppery vanillin subrtitute, which is fine by me because it doesn’t have any gourmand sweetness. And this peppery vanillic note is also present in the flower’s smell.

  2. Ines says:

    Well, I haven’t tried all the Hermessences, but so far, Vanilla Galante is my favourite.
    Even though like you said, it’s not really vanilla in the strict sense, it’s quite green on me.
    And the weightlessness is something I’ve been wondering about. Very sheer for a vanilla perfume but present and lasting nevertheless.

    • Olfactoria says:

      I like the idea of VG, but it irritates me when wearing it.
      We have different tastes sometimes, Ines, but we love each other anyway! 😉

      • Ines says:

        Of course we do!
        I noticed we overlap a lot but sometimes we really go off in completely different directions. 🙂

        • Olfactoria says:

          I was just thinking about you, because I am wearing the Penhaligon’s Artemisia just now that you sent. How do you like it?

          • Ines says:

            I love Artemisia! I don’t seem to wear it a lot anymore but when I bought it I wore it all the time (and now there’s not much left in the bottle).
            The strange thing is, I cannot wrap my mind around it and figure out what exactly is in there that makes it so likeable for me.

          • Olfactoria says:

            Interesting! I thought so too! I like it a lot, but I can’t get a grip on it. Will try harder! 😉

  3. Tara says:

    Very interesting, I was sure you would like this knowing you are a fan of a couple of lily fragrances. Loved the space analogy and the line “it there sits and judges you” lol! That’s enough to put me off, along with the banana you picked up (which makes perfect sense as there’s ylang-ylang in there). I’ve only tried Ambre Narguile, but all the Hermessences sounds so unique and well worth a sniff, as you say. I’ve just got to pluck up the courage to deal with those snooty Hermes SAs!

    • deeHowe says:

      Tara, the Nazgul is a fluffy-candied-kitten! LOL, wearing it next to Ambre Fetiche (on the hubby), it made AF seem dark, dry, and smoky by contrast—AF is those things, but the side-by-side amped up those qualities exponentially. I LOVED it anyway 😉

      • Tara says:

        Oh dee, I’m so excited to hear that! The Nazgul is defintely cosy and comforting and nothing to be scared of at all! So pleased you like it, especially as you’re not into testing new scents at the mo. This makes me very happy 🙂

        • deeHowe says:

          Oh, well, an Amber fragrance doesn’t count as *new*, per se. Ha! 😉

          I think I’ll be wearing it again today, since we’re old friends at this point…

          It totally cracks me up that AN got the “Nazgul” nickname (which I also LOVE, btw); that’s like calling a bearclaw pastry a pint of whiskey 🙂

    • Olfactoria says:

      Oh, those snooty SA’s so offputting, I totally understand you! Maybe you could borrow your niece when you got there, then they can oh and ah over her cuteness and you can sniff your way through the Hermessences, it works a charm with Niki. 🙂
      I love Ambre Narguilė as well, I never got why it is called Nazgul…

  4. *jen says:

    I really like Vanilla Galante. As I often do, I sampled it without re-reading the notes (I read them when I get samples, but by the time they arrive, I’ve forgotten everything!). I was surprised to find a floral and not a gourmand. Once the stunned look dropped off of my face, I realized I was quite enamored.

  5. deeHowe says:

    You know, Ylang almost always reads as ‘bananas’ to my nose! Sometimes it works, sometimes not so much, With VG, all I could smell was Yankee Candle Honeydew Melon. It was a scrubber for me (not the worst offender, but close), so I can’t comment on the development! It was so different from what I was expecting, I think that contributed to my disappointment 😦

    On the other hand, I was expecting an amber monster with Ambre Narguile, and found a sweet amber-pastry—and was very pleased with it!

    • Olfactoria says:

      I have nothing against banana actually, but ultimately VG is too blown up for me to like it, too much hot air around me. Hard to describe…anyway I am not displeased that not all Hermessences are full bottle worthy want-its for me! 🙂

  6. Suzanne says:

    I’ve not tried this, but loved your review and comparison to the astronauts hanging out in space! Like Tara said, judging by the notes and even by your description (plus the fact that you love JCE creations), I would have thought this one would be right up your alley.

    Remarking on what Dee said, depending upon what it combines with, ylang often reminds me of banana too…but in a good way. A very soft and natural way.

    • Olfactoria says:

      I like the ylang-banana connection too!
      This one I can appreciate, but it is not me somehow (or rather, at all). I guess I need a little more gravity in my perfumes. 😉

  7. Eva says:

    Like you I must say I admire and appreciate VG but I don’t LOVE it. To me it smells greeen and very much lily. It’s like when you have a vase vith tall lilies in the room and the scent is intense and heady almost narcotic? I wear VG occasionally but not on days with a budding migraine… My family (mother,brother,sister-in-law) found it too intense, but my father thougt I smelled “like A Lady”!
    Ambre Nargilé I adore it’s so warm comforting on a cold and rainy day.

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