The Fall and Rise of Delectable Vanilla in The World of Scent

By Jo Phillips

In the past few years, Vanilla as a perfume note has been somewhat pillaged; her reputation, sullied, muddied. The once regal note has been relegated to perfumes concocted to be reminiscent of cupcakes and other rather sickly baked goods and sugary treats. Created to tap into a youth market it has done some real damage to this historic, infamous bean, cosigning her to the level of high street chemists where cheap spray ‘perfumed’ deodorants, reign supreme. But she has risen, her sexy head, and has made it out of the faux candy sugar high. Now her deep, rich, and smoky notes are back lifting higher, and reminding our nostrils just how divine she is. Find out more in The Fall and Rise of Delectable Vanilla in The World of Scent

Thankfully a new wave of Vanilla scents have made their way to the best perfumed cabinets. But let’s start with a bit of clarification. Why do we need to celebrate this? Simply because real Vanilla is one thing; faux Vanilla is something else; completely.

In recent years there has been a plethora of ‘gourmand’ sweet, creamy chocolate, candy, custardy, almondy, and even sugary-smelling perfumes. Targeted at younger customers these ‘scent profiles’ with the Lactonic bent remind us quite simply of the mothers’ breast-feeding, birthday cakes, and ’emotional safety’; they soothe, seduce, and even increase arousal.

But these uber-sweet scents made of this ingredient are not actually vanilla at all but cheap synthetic versions, in fact, a wapping 99% of vanilla-titled perfumes are not vanilla at all. They are made of synthetic notes which are of course much cheaper than the real thing. Recognisable names such as vanillin and ethylvanillin both of which are also sweeter than the real thing.

After all real vanilla comes from the exotic orchid family. In its wild state, it is a climbing liana that can reach around thirty meters in height. Originally from Mexico, it is now cultivated on the islands of Reunion, Madagascar, Mayotte, and Java. It is made up of three different botanical forms, Pompona Vanilla, with a fruity facet, Tahitensis Vanilla which is slightly more floral, and Planifolia Vanilla, with woody and phenolic facets.

Planifolia Vanilla which is grown in Madagascar and the Reunion Island is called Vanilla Bourbon. It takes about eighteen months to obtain its fruit, the pods that turn black after being picked unripe and dried from 2 to 6 months. Not so surprising that the Vanilla bean is exceptionally rich in aroma and expensive as it often has to be pollinated by hand.

It is this style of Vanilla that has again risen to reign supreme with recent Vanilla scents making their way to only the very best shelves, reminding us thankfully of what vanilla really smells like. The latest fragrance from French fragrance house, Parfumes de Marly has brought Althaïr to us an expression of what a great Vanilla brings.

 I wanted to build a House of Haute Parfumerie where tradition matches the present. “

Julien Sprecher

The brand is known for celebrating the regal history of France and this new elixir is no different. An unexpected, modern ode to a universal Bourbon vanilla, a direct descendant of the vanilla introduced in France under the reign of Louis XV. Althaïr explores a majestic, subtle, and surprisingly fresh vanilla that is elegant, generous, and charismatic.

The newest scent in the family is encased in a copper-toned bottle and opens at the top with the warming spice of Cinnamon alongside fresh, floral, green, Orange Blossom and bright Bergamot.

Resin and herbal facets come via Elemi which highlights and offsets the rich heart of Bourbon Vanilla, with its facets of creamy, amber, and woody notes alongside almost smokey, and boozy slithers to it too. This majestic, fleshy Madagascar vanilla bean is actually not so sweet.

The scent is finally wrapped in a warming comforting soft musk, a praline note of sweet nuts and chocolate alongside an ambery odour with musky and woody tonalities via Ambrox, and finally majestic
Guaiacwood with its balsamic, smokey, honey tones brings a binding and harmonising of the different woody notes together and pulls the scent into one harmonious exploration of Vanilla Bourbon.

Image Joel Stanley for Joel Ryder Media Ltd 

Wear this fragrance with abandon, hot, hot nights bring the warmth and heroine vanilla to the fore, or on cool winter nights remind of far-off sunny island days.

Now fancy going darker? well then step into the world of DS&Durga perfumes and their latest which is also a celebration of the depth of vanilla, with their essence Deep Dark Vanilla

This superb New York Based perfume company doesn’t do things by half, always pushing boundaries, always challenging in the best way possible, so their take on Vanilla is quite the left-field exploration

The opening is definite in its vanilla connection but with it comes a dark woodiness and even dampness that is somewhat reminiscent of the places where orchids grow in tropical forests, and it thought here that the very essence of the whole plant has been captured in a bottle.

Opening with a resinous oily wood note of Brazilain Cabruva a tree of Leguminosae family, alongside this dark damp deep woody not comes the whole orchid with facets of sweet musky notes. bringing a little warmth to this is Pink Pepper with a peppery spicy scent with rosy elements all this wraps up the initial scent that greats as the elixir is first sprayed.

Next comes a heart with Vines, green Vanilla notes, and Cypress roots again backing up the deep green earthy, dark damp woody tones. The base brings Vanilla Absolute which is rich, sweet, woody, animalic, with hints of tobacco and balsamic facets. The Vanilla here is at its absolute best with the fullness and honesty this ingredient has to offer. Also accenting this Hay with its sweet, dry-grassy, earthy warmth and dark Patchouli with its earthy ‘dirty’ animalistic notes that pull the whole scent together

This sexy seductive yet multi-depth ingredient is finding her way back to her crown. Through intelligent explorations via dedicated and talented noses, again we are able to indulge in this most faceted elegant note. Vanilla has returned triumphantly.

To find out more about Althair by please visit her

To find out more about DS & Durga Deep Drak Vanilla please visit DS& here

If you enjoyed reading The Fall and Rise of Delectable Vanilla in The World of Scent then why not read Circle of Life here

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