Sweet Little Thing – The World Of Vanilla Part IV

Let’s enjoy Part IV of the delicious vanilla perfume reviews by Neil (click here for Part I, Part II and Part III).

By Neil



Continuing on our journey through the fragrant realm of vanillas, we settle for a moment on the unlikely house of Creed, known more for its sharp masculines such as Green Irish Tweed and Imperiale Millésime than for the fluffy or gourmand. Yet in fact this monarchical perfume house does have two very contrasting, effective vanillas that couldn’t be more different in atmosphere or execution.

In 2009 Creed released Sublime Vanille, a rather beautiful, simple and delicate scent of vanillic translucence that begins with flighty initial notes of lemon zest and Calabrian orange hovering above a gentle floral eiderdown of climbing Tahitian vanilla orchid. A soft diminuendo down to the opalescent base of tonka bean and South American Bourbon vanilla leads us to that familiar metallic, light-infused ambergris-laced sheen that is the signature of Oliver Creed.

Sublime Vanille is a very subtle perfume (some might say too much so, more a veneer of vanilla than a full-blown concoction,) but this was apparently the point, as it is furtively aimed at being the world’s first men’s ‘soliflore’ vanilla. It is also extraordinarily expensive, housed in a very suave and regal hand-blown Pochet glass bottle that very much adds to the perfume’s appeal.



If Sublime Vanille is a blushing and introverted handsome prince, he is nevertheless very much the hen-pecked husband, and his consort – buxom, burnished Vanisia, wears the trousers. Creed tells us that the illustrious forbears of the house created this lusty perfume for the queen of Spain, who “happened to be the great niece of Marie Antoinette of France. After assuming the throne, the Spanish queen wished to make a style statement like her French relative. She commissioned from Creed a fragrance that was rich, sensual and mysterious: the unforgettable Vanisia.”

Believe none of it. Salacious, dry, and libidinous, this perfume couldn’t be more eighties powerhouse if it tried – it is big, voluptuous, curvy, smells exactly like the year it came out – 1987 – and I have the memories to prove it.

Back in my home town as a pop-obsessed teenager, I would often go round to my friend’s house to listen to his new Madonna 12”s on his superior powerhouse stereo system. His mother, large and very proud of it, wore Vanisia, and would be quite happy to stroll about in her lacey white lingerie despite (or because of) the generous flesh on offer, leaving behind her in the air a crude, heady (but delicious) scent of mama.

I had no idea where to look each time and I think she loved watching me blush: smoky, dark vanilla with Bulgarian rose and thick, heady jasmine over sandalwood (always a lewd, suggestive accord), together producing a womanly, ‘big event’ scent that though perhaps Creed’s most vulgar offering (if you exclude Royal Delight), is extremely magnetic.


shalimar parfum

And while we are on the subject of queens, why not finish today with Shalimar, not only possibly the finest vanilla you can buy, but one of the greatest perfumes of all time. In the unlikely event that you haven’t properly smelled this classic, I will try to describe it for you. In the extraordinary vintage parfum especially, wearing this scent is like being lathered in the finest Fauchon vanilla ice cream; smothered all over with baby powder, while eating the most delectable, lemonest, cheese cake, during wild and filthy amour on a new soft leather couch. Champagne is optional.

The genius of Shalimar was its balance: enfathom a velvety, rich vanilla note in a balsamic envelope of tolu, benzoin and opoponax; harmonize it with a cooler earth-toned counterpoint of patchouli and vetiver, then, slowly, to reveal hidden, almost smoky depths of leather, ambergris, incense and civet. Romance, temperance, was provided with a powdery accord of iris and rose; and over this, in those glinting, sharp, almost cologne-like top notes, a fresh, gourmet prelude of exquisite lemon and bergamot oils.

The composition is a joy, and one of the sultriest, most genuinely erotic perfumes ever made – the skin-clinging, luxuriant vanilla sex a base note of pure perfection.

Editor’s Note: Neil’s delectable series will be continued after the Holidays on January 4th!


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39 Responses to Sweet Little Thing – The World Of Vanilla Part IV

  1. brie says:

    LOVELY…..you make me CRAVE vanilla now! We had a perpetual bottle of Shalimar in our house from the 1960s through the 1980s and I loved it. I think at my age I would enjoy Sublime Vanille, a vanilla that is a bit more on the subtle side. And by the way, that story about your “zaftig” flesh flaunting best friend’s mother was hilarious! Thanks for great read..hope there are more to come…
    alabaster wrists

    • ginzaintherain says:

      ‘Zaftig’ is a great word, and fits her perfectly. Her smell and those…..thighs are fused in my brain forever….

  2. Tara says:

    brie’s right, your reviews do make a great read. Although there’s a lot more to it than vanilla, Shalimar is the one I keep coming back to in my search. I also actually managed to wear it in the day on Tuesday which was a step forward for me!

    • ginzaintherain says:


      It is so much more than vanilla, as you said, and yet Shalimar for me, in those final, voluptuous stages, is all vanillin, lustful balms and leather…God I love it, the problem being that I once had the most stunning vintage extrait, and the new versions are just so tinny and flat in comparison.
      I am never satisfied with them..

  3. ringthing says:

    Thanks for the entertaining read. The story of your friend’s mother is hilarious. Shalimar is one of my greatest perfume loves; on a bad day, I love to come home and spray on big clouds of it that I can waft through the house. That intoxicating billow of scent goes a long way toward smothering those pesky irritations.

  4. Suzanne says:

    Your writing is just … wow!! Vanilla has never been seen in such a provactive light.

    Thanks for making me laugh and also for your delightful way with words (and your terrific description of these scents, the only one of which I’m familiar is Shalimar).

  5. mridula says:

    you are a fine writer. words words words but only the best ones. ‘salacious dry and libidinous’ kind of horrifying but also riveting,

    wish I could get a sniff of vintage shalimar, I will remember your words meanwhile.

  6. Sandra says:

    I enjoy your posts so much! The descriptions are wonderful. I have tried two of the three and must try now Vanisia. Actually liked Sublime Vanilla – much to my surprise. Love my Shalimar but have always feared trying vintage for fear of falling head over heels in love with it.

    • ginzaintherain says:

      Sandra, be afraid…Vanisia is sultry but pretty chunky and vulgar….

      With Shalimar, I must confess I have never been satisfied with any other formulations of it after having the vintage parfum. It was honestly stunning. Birgit also writes about it, the way it has more depth and sensuality, but she also says that the newer parfum is perfectly OK so….In Japan the only vintage you ever really come across a lot is Mitsouko, which I can appreciated, but have never fully loved. I would like to swap every mossy peach I find for an opoponax vanilla instead….

  7. Ana says:

    Neil, I just wanted to say your perfume writing is exquisite!I can truly feel your passion!You write like a red blooded guy, you have cojones, man!Love itI There’s nothing septic, level headed, calm and collected about it! It’s just like a river of fire that reignites my own passion every time!

    • ginzaintherain says:

      Wow, that is such a fantastic thing to say. Over at my blog The Black Narcissus I can be more cool-headed and calm about many scents, but not vanillas, as they truly are the smells that make me the most excited. For some reason I can carry off very sweet smells quite effectively – I have no idea why!

      • ginzaintherain says:

        It is also very nice that you say that because even though this is truly who I am and how I react to things, I am aware that a lot of it must sound very over the top…I am a total Sagittarius and we are supposed to repel people quite frequently (especially with the amount of scent I wear…..!)
        Glad someone out there is drawn to the vanilla-drenched flame!
        Can I ask what your favourite scents are?

        • Ana says:

          I dont’t know that many vanillas but I truly love and own Shalimar;;indeed is a vanilla with attitude, grown-up and sexy, even a bit slutty but not in a stupid, bimbo way.As a note , I like leather very much:I have Dzing which I adore,I also have Montale Oud Cuir d’Arabie which somehow smells very primeval and raw:needless to say, I totally dig it.I would very much like to own Onda in the extrait but it is so expensive, that I don’t think it will happen very soon, but at the moment I’m not too sad: I have Absolue pour le soir on its way to me. I fell for it very hard, ‘cos it ticks all the right boxes: smells opulent, animalic, sensual, daring, memorable and I can actually afford it (sort of).Carillon pour an ange it’s also on my wish list. I like dark roses very much and I find Rossy de Palma very satisfying in this category. Ormonde Woman is mesmerising and I’m lucky enough to have a travel spray.There’s many , many more that I like but you have an idea now of my taste.

  8. Dubaiscents says:

    Another great installment, Neil! Now I need to try Vanisia after that great image of your friend’s mother in her lingerie 🙂

  9. serafinarose says:

    Divine writing! You have such a beautiful style and totally convey the elegance of these magnificent scents. You are a true connoisseur X

  10. ginzaintherain says:

    Please do, Dubaiscents, but don’t expect pretty, nor even that much vanilla to be honest. This is the Giorgio of vanillas….

  11. Undina says:

    I do not really care for any of the perfumes you reviewed (I’m staying away from Creed and still can’t make myself love Shalimar) but I extremely enjoyed reading about them in your interpretation: you painted some vivid pictures 😉
    If I do not “see” you here or on your blog, Happy Holidays and come back next year.

  12. brie says:

    Ana, Sandra, Suzanne and mridula,
    You MUST get over to Neil’s own blog (the black narcissus) since you enjoy his reviews so much!

  13. Civava says:

    I don’t like anything very polished in perfume. I like the description of powerful Vanisia. I tend to wear challenging perfumes, and this one has got my attention thanks to you ;-).

  14. Another great post Neil. Am going to town next week and am definitely going to check out the Creed Vanillas. Undina’s comment refers to the fact that when you click on your name in your replies, it takes you to Scentrail ( a blog which has been deleted) and not the one you have now: The Black Narcissus. http://theblacknarcissus.com/ All you have to do is update the link in the website field when you make a comment.

  15. flittersniffer says:

    Oh, I really should try Shalimar again. When I first tried it it was at the height of my civet aversion, from which I have climbed down considerably now, or somewhat, anyway. I like the lighter versions and 180 ans de creation, which is a lot like Shalimar I think, and am currently bonding with Parfum Initial, so maybe the time has come to broach the fully monty version again.

    Then you have reminded me to get my sample of Sublime Vanille out again. I may even wear it today!

  16. Alexandra says:

    I love Shalimar enough already, but your description of the vintage perfume is almost too much – I will just have to join in the general wishful thinking – sigh… thank you for a lovely set of reviews again!

    • ginzaintherain says:

      ..Seriously, the one I had in that purple velvet box, which I took to Nagasaki….

      I remember that night, and the voluptuousness (even, especially, on a male, knew no bounds….it was HEAVENLY, that particular parfum….and everything else has felt like a jigsaw puzzle with pieces missing….)

      I don’t usually go for those kind of tedious cliches, but this honestly is the case regarding Shalimar.

      There were fluids; balms; smooth things that are not in the current quite strident bergamot/leather/vanillin/ opoponax thing )which is lovely, but which feels like bricks without mortar to me, which needs to be licked by some ambrosial being….)

  17. Pingback: Sweet Little Thing – The World Of Vanilla Part V | Olfactoria's Travels

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