Sitting before me on my desk is a pretty little pack of six scents that form the Van Cleef&Arpels Collection Extraordinaire.
Taking on an entire collection is a daunting task, and a time-consuming one. But after I started to make my way through these perfumes, I really had fun, I rediscovered how exhilarating it is to find beautiful perfumes. To find so many, so closely together, in this tiny package was interesting and somewhat unexpected.
Since mini-reviews are tops, to speak in the words of my best friend in perfume, the kind and wonderful Dee, here are all six perfumes of the Collection Extraordinaire.
Created by Randa Hammami in 2009, it includes notes of Mandarin orange, litchi, bitter almond, dark chocolate, Bulgarian rose, violet, vanilla pod, cedar, tonka, and white musk.
Orchidée Vanille is a wonderfully smooth gourmand that goes back to the root of vanilla – the tropical flower. Orchidée Vanille reminds me of Guerlain Spiritueuse Double Vanille in its boozy, languid and sensual sweetness that always safely stays on the far side of too much.
Created by Natalie Feisthauer, Gardènia Pètale includes green notes, citrus notes, lily of the valley, jasmine, and gardenia.
An awe-inspiring gardenia rendition, although I am in no way an expert on gardenia perfumes, as I usually tend to avoid them for the simple reason that I have not like any before. Gardènia Pètale is deliciously creamy, ranging from green buds to mature blooms, it offers great sillage, but no headiness, a hypnotic pull, but no narcotic heaviness. The most feminine and beautiful floral perfume, perfect for a bride.
Created by Emilie Copperman, Bois d’Iris contains notes of iris, exotic wood and ambergris.
A simple, uncluttered iris. The star ingredient stands on the stage only accompanied by a pianist (woods and salty ambergris) and sings her grey-powdery heart out. Elegant and timeless. It occupies the middle ground of “irisness” between The Different Company Bois d’Iris and Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist.
Created by Mark Buxton, Cologne Noire includes notes of bergamot, bitter orange, mandarin, ginger, cardamom, pepper and woody notes.
Fresh, bracingly so, spicy, very much so and woody, smoothly so. That is Mark Buxton’s entry in the Van Cleef&Arpels canon. A classic cologne, made interesting and modern by its flower-less spicy kick.
Created by Natalie Cetto, Lys Carmin includes notes of lily, pink peppercorn, ylang ylang, vanilla and sandalwood.
Lily – soft, sweet, spicy, creamy and warm. A beautiful lily scent, Lys Carmin shows us a bouquet of lilies through rose tinted glasses, filtered of its heavier aspects, rendered mild and pretty. A de-weaponized lily, but very, very nice. I like this salty lily better though.
Created by Antoine Maisondieu, Muguet Blanc includes notes of lily of the valley, white peony, neroli, and white cedar.
This is the one I did not exactly run to try. I am not a huge fan of lily of the valley, although Diorissimo was my grandmothers signature scent. I associate it with her, but I don’t necessarily want to smell like it. Another huge lily of the valley (lotv) perfume, Andy Tauer’s Carillon pour un Ange cemented itself in my brain as the reference lotv, and it can be a bit overwhelming. Let’s just say, my lotv need is minimal. Maisondieus’s creation is subtle and minimalistic (at least when your comparison are the two perfumes mentioned above). It is very fresh and ozonic, a freshly cut stem of lotv still wet with morning dew, or even rain. The aquatic aspect is considerable. All in all, my least favorite of the lot.
A seventh perfume of the line is out now, which I have not smelled yet – Precious Oud. I guess a house does not feel complete these days without their very own oud rendition. There is a pretty damning review by Octavian Coifan about Precious Oud, I’d like to take a sniff eventually anyway.
Of the six I tried, I am content with my small samples of four of them, and will probably wear them from time to time. If I received a bottle of Orchidée Vanille, I would be very happy, but the one perfume I am considering getting more of, a decant, maybe even a bottle eventually, is Gardènia Pètale. The surprise winner for me, I never smelled such a likeable, beautiful and easily wearable and elegant gardenia. A must try.
The Collection Extraordinaire can be bought at First in Fragrance.