Editor’s Note: Here we go with Part III of the talented Neil’s Vanilla series. If you have missed Part I and Part II, make sure to have a look. Neil really knows how to make a perfume sound irresistible…
VANIGLIA DEL MADAGASCAR/ I PROFUMI DI FIRENZE
The Golden Fleece of vanillas: glinting, concentrated, swimmingly smooth and sweet; a potent and very gorgeous little vanilla that can send you nuts. I say this because it happened to me personally: my Japanese neighbour had just been to Florence on her first trip abroad and was very pleased with the three perfumes she had brought back from the lovely Profumi Di Firenze boutique there. I quickly snapped them up to borrow and review. Dolce Amaro, yes, very nice. Iris Di Firenze, yes, yes, perfectly fine. But unstoppering the bottle of Vaniglia Del Madagascar I unleashed a dolcissimo, furious, cascade of vanilla…
Besotted, yet shocked by the exultant sweetness, I found myself using up almost a third of her bottle despite myself: a catnipped, autoerotic frenzy that filled the house with maddening, tooth-loosening scent (I have since discovered that vanilla is made up of certain brain-altering chemicals that include epinephrine, or adrenaline…..)
The perfume’s perfection came a whole day later, after a very long sleep, when I awoke in my bed with a golden, delicious smell all over my body: the delectable, creamy Bourbon edibility of the very best Florentine gelato.
COLOGNE DU 68/ GUERLAIN
While some perfumists might string me up alive for including this zingy scent in a vanilla review, to me, this delightful cologne, despite its citrus beginnings ( clementine, blood orange, limette); herbs (lavender, thyme); its delicate, petalled floralcy (magnolia, ylang ylang, immortelle); its hint of spice (star anise, ginger, nutmeg) and its subtle woody undertones (sandalwood, vetiver), this is ultimately a Guerlain – that is to say, powdery, vanillic and oriental. Basenotes of vanilla pod, benzoin, opoponax and amber grace the aforementioned eye-opening notes most pleasantly, and the result on the skin is fresh and modern, yet soft and carnal. Clearly a descendant of the great Roma (Laura Biagiotti, 1988), but clarified for a new generation, this is a great summer vanilla. (Olfactoria’s review of Cologne du 68 is here.)
VANILLE 44/ LE LABO
Le Labo make good quality, quirky takes on classic notes – stripped down and modern – and their minimalist, unclogged take on vanilla is very pretty.
Vanille 44 is a light-as-an-egg scent with a lovely bergamot, orange and mint opening that melts into a slightly floriental, warm vanilla note before settling onto a lightly wooded structure of guaiac. It is an optimistic smell: sensual, cute, yet it eschews the heavy-lidded, high-calorie butteriness of some vanillas. I find it distinctly wearable, but perhaps not inventive enough to be considered essential considering its exorbitant price. (Take a look at Olfactoria’s take on Vanille 44 here.)
JOUR DE FETE/ L’ARTISAN PARFUMEUR
I have always loved the vanillic, candied coating on Tic-Tac mints and the powdered glazed dusting on sugared almonds, and in 2004 L’Artisan released this rather unique fragrance – a scent designed to evoke a French Spring fair: the taste of sugared almond dragées dusted with vanilla sugar.
Sweet, airy and fun, the initial top note is like cassia trees in the wind you pass under on the way to the fair; the sultry vanilla / smoky almond base note the story of what happened next…. (Olfactoria’s review is here.)
More next week….
Cologne du 68 is the one I want to try as it contains some of my favorite notes-blood orange, immortelle,anise and sandalwood and sounds like an interested take on the vanilla theme. Nice review!
I remember it being really very appealing indeed and would like a bottle, actually.
I’ve always struggled with vanilla – however, I REALLY enjoyed Vanilla Marble by Agonist – have tried it about three times since being on holiday in various stores and each time I think “This is MY vanilla” – it’s an icing sugar like sweet vanilla, “cakey” and powdery, with a subtle coconut syrup running through it, delicious and still translucent – try it!!
I actually haven’t tried any of these four so need to hunt them out. Nice little write ups! 😀 I like these posts, they’re so informative for me as I never really go out and explore vanilla.
I would love to smell the Agonist take, although I find their bottles quite grotesque and ridiculously overpriced. You have sold me on the translucent, coconut syrup, seriously!
(Love your blog by the way: have stalked it many times in the past -the modernity of it, the STRICTNESS of it)
Well they released the more affordable bottles 🙂 That aren’t the big melted glass beasts – in fact I love the new bottles even more. But yes definitely go and try it!
And thank you that means a lot 😀 ❤
I just discovered your blog, it’s terrific! You cover some interesting perfumes that no one else is writing about, thank you!
Thank you mashaaa 😀 xxx
Sorry, I didn’t notice this reply first time around. Thanks a lot for taking a look at The Black Narcissus. Which perfumes were you referring to, by the way?
Really enjoyed reading about your vanilla induced frenzy thanks to Vaniglia del Madagascar.
I’ll have what you’re having 🙂
As exaggerated as it sounds, I genuinely did have a frenzy with this scent (as I once did the day I bought Serge Lutens Cedre and had a mad two hours or so in the kitchen by myself, dipping my pyjama trousers’ strings in it and going insane with pleasure – don’t think I have worn it since….)
The Profumi di Firenze Madagascar IS too sweet, undeniably, but it is rapturously thick and delicious and it drove me wild ( I sound like Betty from Mulholland Drive but never mind); however, that whole Bourbon vanilla thing is so intense that you only need a bit, not to pour it down your legs the way I did.
The first Madagascar I reviewed in Part 1 by SS Annunziata is way more wearable in the sense that it builds so slowly: all steam and citrus initially, then the arousing vanilla gradually takes hold and it is gorgeous. The Florentine version is too much, but like I say, it is definitely the ‘Golden Fleece’….
These vanilla series reviews are yummy, but what I really get a kick out of reading is the fevered way you enjoy (and apply!) perfume. I remember a comment you made over at Memory of Scent about going to a party and the way you layered a couple different Montale scents, and also had patchouli oil going on at the same time. I thought that was pretty impressive, and then you mentioned somewhere else that you doctor up your bottle of Borneo by adding more patchouli oil (am I remembering this correctly?)!! And now hearing you doused yourself in your friend’s bottle of Vaniglia del Madagascar to the point of using up a third of the bottle … wow, you are a crazy man, Neal! I thought I liked a heavy thump of scent, but you’ve got me beat by a mile. 😀
…and I live in Japan, too, where this is SIMPLY UNACCEPTABLE! I wrote a thing on the Black Narcissus about my secret olfactory life of Jekyll and Hyde (no scent for work! can you imagine?!, two separate closets – work and non-work) and I suppose that I then go overboard on weekends sometimes…..
Re Borneo, which is one of my Holy Grails, I honestly do feel that it doesn’t have enough patchouli in it to take it to exactly how I want it and so yes, I do add a particular essential oil to it. Same with lavender to Gris Clair, actually.
In short you might say I am a perfume terrorist.
Yum! I love vanilla and I love your enthusiasm! I need a perfume that makes me feel like that. How did she react to you using up a third of her bottle?
Ah, good question…..
Luckily, I had given her so much perfume over the years that when I finally admitted it to her, quite a bit later, she didn’t seem to mind (too much). By that point there was only about a fifth left as well. Immoral, but as I say, ultimately she won the bet…(I still regret giving her by bottle of l’Egoiste and Eau de Rouge d’Hermes..)
Well I’m sure she was happy that you enjoyed it so much. It does no good just sitting on the shelf. It’s meant to be spritzed or dabbed, and enjoyed.
(not that she had the chance……literally I grabbed it from the beginning. After that there were only pretexts…)
Blimey – it seems I need to step up my own vanilla search – you’ve just added ANOTHER one to the list: The I Profumi Di Firenze review is just too yummy! Thank you, I am so enjoying this series.
…thanks for indulging me!
Of the two Vanilla Del Madagascars though, the Firenze is so syrupy and delicious I don’t think I am exaggerating, although it is STRONG, and SWEET (gorgeous!). The Annunziata is much easier to wear, saltier and more graceful…
Cologne du 68 arrived last week but have a cold. thanks for telling me how it smells,
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Do like the sound of Cologne 68. I am a Guerlain regular. Vetiver is my daily bag, with the odd weakness for Habit Rouge on days when I feel like being a softie! Ta for the marvellous review. 68! It is on the ‘give-it-a-go’ list. I have to say, your reviews are exquisite.
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