40 Days and 40 Nights of Fragrance Notes: Vanilla
Vanilla is the second most expensive spice due to the extensive labor to grow and ferment the pods. It takes a whole lot of pixie magic to prepare vanilla for perfumery. According to Many Aftel's book Essence and Alchemy A Book of Perfume, vanilla's heavenly scent comes through a "curing process" that involves fermenting in sun and air.
"As the lower end of the pod begins to turn yellow, it releases a penetrating scent of bitter almonds. cracks open in it, releasing a small quality of its oil, which is known as balsam of vanilla. By degrees the color darkens, the flesh softens, and the true odor of vanilla begins to develop as the natural fermentation gradually progresses up the pod, which takes up to a month. The essence is exuded in thick reddish drop."
(page 95 for the fragonerds)
Vanilla smells sweet, powdered sugar-like, boozy with undercurrents of tobacco, almonds,and smoke. It can smell innocent and mysterious.
My love and appreciation for vanilla came late in my perfume collecting life. Le Labo's Vanille 44 was the scent that converted me into a vanilla fan.
The notes are bergamot, incense, gaiac wood, mandarin, vanilla, muscenone, pipol and hedione. It is a whispery, ghostly vanilla that is woody and church-like. This is not a gourmand vanilla. It is full of dark corners and twisted pathways.
Beware of falling in love with Vanille 44. It is sold only in Paris at the Colette boutique. It can break your heart and make you pine like a lovesick teen.
Serge Lutens Un Bois Vanille: This is another great vanilla fragrance. Very creamy with coconut milk. Gormandish. The Sheldrake drydown is all kinds of burnt sugar, black licorice and woods.
Atelier Cologne Vanille Insensee: A worthy contender to the Le Labo Vanilla 44 throne! Serious gorgeous.
Coty Vanilla Fields and Vanilla Musk: Classics available at your local drugstore!
L'Artisan Vanilia: Hard to get.
Hermes Vanille Galante
Rochas Tocade: Luca Turin describes it as " the vanilla too was wierd, perfectly judged between ice cream, smoke and candyfloss". (page 337 for the fragonerds)
L'Artisan Havana Vanille: A boozy vanilla
Guerlain Jicky: Considered the first vanilla!
Montale Sweet Oriental Dream
Creed Sublime Vanille
Regina Harris Amber Vanilla
I Profumi di Firenze Vaniglia del Madagascar
I Profumi di Firenze Ambra del Nepal
Comptoir Sud Pacifique Vanille Abricot: It smells like ice cream with delicious apricots.
Serge Lutens Rahat Loukoum
Dior Hypnotic Poison or Dior Addict
Givenchy Ange ou Demon
Montale's Intense Tiare
Tom Ford Black Orchid
Guerlain L'Heure Bleue
Guerlain Angelique Noire
Guerlain Spiritueuese Double Vanille
Parfums de Nicolai Vanille Intense
Lulu Guinness Fairytales
Britney Spears Fantasy
Dior Fahrenheit 32
Annick Goutal Vanille Exquise
Parfums de Nicolai Vanille Tonka
Tell us your favorite vanilla fragrance in the comments. Let me know what vanilla scents I forgot in the list.
Graphic Credit: Melanie Parker
Credits: Mandy Aftel's Essence and Alchemy and Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez's(Mr T and Tbone) Perfume The Guide. Also Wikipedia!
Disclosure: All fragrances were sniffed or purchased by the reviewer. Hermes Vanille Galante was a gift from L!
Atelier Cologne Vanille Insensee was provided by Bergdorf Goodman