Guerlain’s ten-word-long flanker to its classic oriental Shalimar, just recently came out as a limited edition. Shalimar is a perfume I like it almost all its many incarnations, and I also own the first Ode a la Vanille, that came out in 2010 and featured “infused” vanilla from the island of Mayotte.
The classic Shalimar features notes of mandarin, cedar, bergamot, lemon, jasmine, rose, iris, patchouli, vanilla, benzoin, peru balsam and leather. All I could find for the new Ode was: spices, balsams and Madacascan Vanilla (via parfumo.net)
Ode a la Vanille sur la route de Madagascar (shall we call it just Madagascar for the sake of brevity?) will surely make every Shalimar lover happy.
Deep, smoky, with a feeling of “noir” (REAL noir, dear Chanel!) and the accent on the basenotes, Madagascar is truly bewitching.
Upon spraying we are hit with the familiar bergamot-lemon-cream opening, which is very sweet and almost reminiscent of Eau de Shalimar, the lighter, summery version of Shalimar. It dissipates after a while to showcase a smoky vanilla-leather in a big way. That is a kind of preview of things to come in the drydown. The sillage is very big at the beginning, but after half an hour it shrinks back (to my relief actually, I will remember to spray this on a good while before I have to leave the house!) to more comfortable levels. Now the floral heart becomes apparent, always with an undercurrent of dry patchouli, smoky leather and sweet benzoin.
Wrapping this arrangement like a soft, but warm cashmere throw, is the vanilla. Dark, spicy and nuanced, this is far from your run of the mill sweet ‘n happy vanilla. It is complex and alluring, it shows depth and sensuality, but it still manages to be roll-your-eyes-back-and-curl-your-toes delicious.
What are the differences to the 2010 edition of Ode a la Vanille?
The latter opens with a sharper, brighter lemon note, it is a tad sweeter as it develops, creamier, a bit more gourmand, it is softer, less smoky and less leathery. But we are talking nuances here. The differences are not dramatic, but noticeable.
I think Ode a la Vanille, in either version, is a very well done perfume and a splendid addition to the Guerlain line. It reworks and updates a classic in a respectful way and thereby helps to keep the legacy of such a venerable house intact.
I wrote in my review of the 2010 edition that Ode a la Vanille made me feel like a real woman, two years on I’d like to specify that a little:
Shalimar Ode a la Vanille sur la route de Madagascar adds curves where there are none and replaces a frown with a smile. It makes me feel like Joan Holloway, and that – at least certain times – is not a bad feeling at all.
Ode a la Vanille sur la route de Madagascar is available in 50ml Eau de Parfum in a special box (oh, I wish all Guerlains came in those!) I believe distribution is limited, similarly to the first edition (which is broader than the exclusive line though, at least here in Europe). It is available at Place Vendome for 96€.