Thursday, July 26, 2007

Summer Scents, Part 2

La Maison de Vanille Vanahé
At their worst, vanilla fragrances are downright dull. At their best, they're comforting and sensual. Sadly, most vanillas fall into the former category. They are timid little scents that simply make you smell as though you'd rubbed a vanilla candle against your wrists in lieu of perfume. But occasionally you can find a vanilla scent that's provocative. For me, Keiko Mecheri Loukhoum and Lea Extreme fit that bill, and I'm pleased to say Vanahé does as well.

The notes in Vanahé are lily, orchid, bergamot, blackcurrant, wild strawberry, grapefruit, orange, lemon, and vanilla. The people at Calypso St. Barth (who, strangely enough, make Lea Extreme in addition to the toothache-in-a-bottle known as Lily) could take a page or two from La Maison de Vanille on how to keep a fragrance laden with fruit notes from turning into liquid Fruity Pebbles. Vanahé is a full-bodied vanilla, rounded with ripe fruit and softened by floral notes. It has a bourbon-like quality to it that keeps it rather adult and sensual, and actually lends a buttery quality that keeps it from being cloying. I know this description is rather foodie, but Vanahé is not a foodie scent, not even gourmand. Although the scents themselves are nothing alike, its presence—or maybe I should say its weight?--reminds me of Poison. As an EDP, it also has tremendous lasting power. If you like vanilla fragrances, do try this one.

Creative Scentualization Peace Comes From Within
The notes in Peace Comes From Within are bergamot, oceanic musk, and sandalwood. In the vial and on the wrist, the bergamot top note is warm and sunny, like a morning at the beach with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. This lasts for twenty or thirty minutes, and then you get a load of the oceanic musk. Let me pause for a second to say that I'm not opposed to a little ozone in a fragrance, a little salt air to make me imagine rubbing my toes in the sand. I think that must have been where I made the mistake when ordering this sample—oceanic musk and ozone are two completely different things. Oh yes. Ozone is a bit wet and briny, but in a breezy, healthy way. Oceanic musk has clearly been collected from the glands of some animal—whales, perhaps, dying on the beach—and added to this scent. Okay, it's not really that bad, but is the effect supposed to be animalic? On me, it comes off a bit funky, like something in the fridge that's just starting to turn. Notes like this in a perfume make me crazy because, seriously, I have no idea what “oceanic musk” is supposed to be. “Leather suitcase,” I get. “Oceanic musk”--could be anything! Maybe I'm more advanced than I thought. Peace may come from within, but something smells off from without. Clearly, this one does not mix with my personal chemistry, because even sandalwood could not redeem it on my wrists.

CB I Hate Perfume Just Breathe
The second CB I Hate Perfume scent I ordered a sample of was this one. Clearly. How clever of me to point that out. The notes in Just Breathe (Can I pause for sec here? Because I don't like the name. It reminds me of that annoying pop-country song that was out several years ago.) are “bamboo leaves, Japanese green tea, three varieties of cedarwood, forest and just the merest hint of incense.” This is light, green, clean, and a bit watery, like the forest after rain. To be very honest, it smells a bit like air freshener, but very well done air freshener. It's calming and wonderful against the heat, but that tea has some honey. I find this a bit sweet at the top, but it softens nicely to a green, woody incense on my skin. Like Wild Pansy, it has terrific lasting power. I like it, but I like Wild Pansy better--it's more crisp and refreshing, where this one is calming, contemplative. The good news is (for me, at least) that I'm enthusiastic now about trying some of his more esoteric scents. I no longer feel afraid.

*photos from Luckyscent