The majority of vanilla perfumes focus on the end result of vanilla production – those calorific cupcakes and cookies. However, Orchidée Vanille takes its inspiration from the start of story: The orchid flower which produces the vanilla pod.
This floral vanilla creation manages to prove that vanilla perfumes can be grown-up and refined while still possessing that addictively satisfying quality many of us love so much.
Orchidée Vanille is part of the Van Cleef & Arpels high-end Collection Extraordinaire. It was created by perfumer Randa Hammami (Cruel Gardenia, Epic Man) and released in 2009 as an eau de parfum. Notes include mandarin orange, litchi, bitter almond, dark chocolate, Bulgarian rose, violet, vanilla pod, cedar, tonka and white musk.
Sparkling mandarin and smooth chocolate meet in front of a vanilla back-drop for a striking opening scene. The litchi (or lychee) adds a feeling of freshness and the bitter almond gives it some bite.
For those familiar with UK confectionary, it doesn’t resemble Terry’s Chocolate Orange too closely because the mandarin is tart and the chocolate dark. I thought this first act would be brief but it lasts on me for a good hour.
The next stage is my favourite and when it arrives it’s a nice contrast. The violet and rose merge to form a fine cosmetic overlay to the vanilla. The effect is extremely pretty and feminine, with the colour and texture of lilac devoré velvet.
Most vanillas are best suited to colder weather because of their heaviness and comforting sugar content, but Orchidée Vanille feels like a summer perfume. The vanilla seems aerated, so you get the volume without the weight. It’s not too sweet either, only peeking over the fence into gourmand territory.
The base is lush, creamy vanilla and I could still smell remnants of it on my skin the next morning. So despite not being thick and gelatinous, longevity is outstanding. It projects nicely too, leaving a pleasing trail. It’s the kind of fragrance you and others would be subtly aware of.
During his wonderful evening of vanilla perfumes for Perfume Lovers London, Neil Chapman of The Black Narcissus said Orchidée Vanille is beautiful but lacks backbone. Being someone who has struggled with vanilla-centric perfumes, this suits me just fine. The vanilla is a captivating scent in the breeze rather than an all engulfing pudding.
Neil also described it as a good “pulling perfume”. I would venture to say this is not because it’s overtly sexy but rather because it is highly alluring. It’s a lingering fragrance which would draw you in rather than get its claws into you, femme fatale style.
It’s perhaps unlikely to satiate those who like straight-up, tooth decaying vanillas such as Tihota but for those looking for a vanilla based perfume with style, Orchidée Vanille is a classy option. It has a similar balmy, romantic feel – if not scent – to Annick Goutal’s Songes. Both are the kind of fragrance I can imagine being worn for a wedding ceremony on an island shore.
If you’d like to read more about the Van Cleef & Arpels Collection Extraordinaire do see Olfactoria’s mini-reviews of the first six fragrances.
Have you tried Orchidée Vanille or any others in the Collection Extraordinaire?
Which perfumes do you think would be fitting for a tropical beach wedding?