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.
Vanille Galante engages my curiosity and my sense of wonder.
Not bad for a vanilla fragrance. 😉