SLEEPING WITH GHOSTS by MARK BUXTON PERFUMES
The curiously named Sleeping With Ghosts may sound dark, daunting and gothic but the name is misleading: this is in fact a distinctly appealing, fruity vanillic scent that while linear and monothematic, is immediately touching and uplifting. It is a composition dominated by a sweet, spectral vanilla suggesting poignant memories; a lover’s body that has graced your sheets but has now gone, leaving nothing but the sensation that they are still there… just traces. These are the ghosts that the perfumer seems to be alluding to; those feelings of infatuation, happiness and spontaneity that love and reminiscence evoke, and a sense of yearning for those feelings again come springtime.
If vanilla is usually custard yellow, this is pink ivory white: pitched higher on the musical scale, creamily fruit-tinged, an insidious, addictive smell that dominates the scent, fused with barely perceptible touches of leather and vetiver. The beginning of the perfume is the stage I like the best though, as it is all about the vivacious smells of tagetes, peony flowers and, notably, a very bright and deliciously juicy quince, an unusual note in a perfume and one that works perfectly over the softer notes in the base. It is a perfume I would love to wear on an early sunny morning on a winter’s day in London, the fruited opening brisk and optimistic under a crisp white shirt, the softly tenacious sun-licked vanilla note rising up at various points in the day. Despite the slight disappointment I feel in the base notes, when the vanilla becomes a touch too subdued for a fiend such as myself, this is, for me, one of the happiest scents around.
EAU DUELLE by DIPTYQUE
I think of Eau Duelle as Sleeping With Ghosts‘ sister, because they share a similarly light vanilla and ease of temperament that is quite different to the more voluptuous Bourbons that we are used to in most perfumes of this type. Eau Duelle is no odalisque: she is a green vanilla, a gazelle of the forest; shy, demure even. She holds something back. Maybe too much so: like many other people who have been underwhelmed by this release by Diptyque, there somehow seems to be something, that indefinable magical extra ingredient missing in the scent, as though it needed just that extra sprinkling of sugar.
Nevertheless, the intrinsic duality of the fragrance, in which strangely verdant notes of calamus grass, juniper, tea and elemi contradict the ghostly frankincense and pepper underlying these cool and aerial groves of vanilla, makes Eau Duelle a youthful, spritely scent, delicately attractive and understated, the tendrils of chlorophyll cradling the vanilla right into the drydown as the deer disappear back into the hedgerow at the first light of dusk.
VANILLE TONKA by PARFUMS DE NICOLAI
This sophisticated, adult, even ‘difficult’ vanilla by Patricia Nicolai, who never toes the line of what is considered fashionable, but simply follows her well-esteemed instincts, is worth your consideration if you like darker, sultrier vanillas (which we will be looking into next week). Like Eau Duelle, Vanille Tonka features frankincense in its heart but far more intensely, interwoven with a incensey vanilla and dry cinnamon charge that takes the note in new directions. No ingenue, this is a feathery, silky boa of a perfume that has seen a few things: topped with tart, tangy notes of basil, tangerine and lime, she settles into her own dark corner of vanilla, ensconced in her corner; harder, more aware and brooding than her coquettish, lightweight contemporaries, biding her time, eyes lowered…