Sweet, delicious and comforting, for many the scent of vanilla serves up some serious nostalgia.
However it’s not always the good kind, of sweet treats and warm baking.
Recollecting the cloying and unsophisticated scents of our youth (often with a celebrity-of-fleeting-fame attached, or wafting from pre-teen changing rooms post-P.E.) it’s little wonder even those that love the smell, less often reach for it in a perfume.
It’s worth reconsidering however, as there are now a number of fragrances using the element, once considered a powerful aphrodisiac, in stylish modern mixes.
In combination with bright, white florals the element is chic and buoyant, when paired with deep, intense wood or smoky notes it becomes the perfect cosy and warm scent.
Perfumers are turning to the scent regularly to bring an element of familiarity and positivity to their blends, something that is particularly desirable right now.
Bee Shapiro, founder of perfume brand Ellis Brooklyn, says vanilla has been “big” for a long time.
“It’s a scent that almost needs no description, because they say in the perfume world that it’s the most recognised note for any layperson,” Shapiro told WWD. “Actual vanilla extract smells a touch creamy, a touch powdery and with subtle floral notes. There’s a comforting aspect to it not dissimilar to warm milk,” she says.
Here are five fine perfumes that use vanilla as a key aspect of their composition
The newest arrival on the vanilla fragrance landscape, Byredo’s Vanille Antique is pushing hard to extend vanilla’s respect as a ‘grown up’ perfume with added dark and earthy notes. Intended to be worn at night, the amber woody fragrance has top notes of plum and musk; a heart of white wood and labdanum with a base of amber and vanilla.
Vanilla Diorama, a new addition to the French house’s high-end La Collection Privée Christian Dior line, places the spice is front and centre. A gourmand delight, Vanilla Diorama’s composition apparently pays tribute to a dessert that was one of Monsieur Dior’s favourites. It has a warm, intense trail with accents of rum and patchouli, contrasted by fresh citrusy notes and a denser cocoa note.
Inspired by the adventure and freedom of the open road, contrasting notes of salt and vanilla give this a more fresh, summery attitude than many of the other more ‘warm and cosy’ vanilla releases. Orchid absolute fills out an elegant heart in a scent that settles into a base of musk, tonka bean, bezoin absolute and sandalwood absolute.
Don’t let the name throw you off, this is a vanilla scent but in an unexpected form. Inspired by stellar science fiction it’s an intelligent blend of vanilla beans, citrus, florals and an unexpected hit of green tea.
Part of the brands intense collection that offers up deeper, richer, headier scents. This head-turning mix, easily a unisex wear, is an ode Madagascar’s prized ingredients of the scent’s name. Opening notes of grapefruit give way to the earthy depths of native vetiver, warmed and enveloped in precious vanilla bourbon.