“He wove through the crowd when suddenly his heart quickened. That scent. It was hers. He had worn it first until she stole it for herself. Now, there she was before him and the magic of years past came flooding back in a moment.”These little snippets like stories out of a collection of romantic prose accompany the launch of Atelier Cologne niche scents and account for much of the brand's piquancy. Vanilla with its aprodisiac reputation seemed like the prime suspect into infusing a memorable, erotic perfume. And so Vanille Insensee arrived onto my desk. A vanilla...oh well, I thought at first!
Do you, like me, think vanilla fragrances are often juvenille and pedestrian, haunted by drugstore images of tooth-aching stuff that recalls more a bakery's back room than proper perfume? Or are you a vanilla aficionado always in the search out for the one perfect oriental which captures that elusive middle-ground between comforting and silky polish? A slew of niche brands are catering to your needs, it seems.
The comparison of Atelier Cologne's newest take on vanilla, Vanille Insensée, with others in the niche circuit, recalls both Diptyque Eau Duelle and Le Labo Vanille 44, but the effect is different enough to warrant its own exploration. For vanilla lovers (and they're legion) every little twist has the potential to make them want to sample and exhaust their repertoire. While Eau Duelle is more "clean musk" than promised woods and Vanille 44 is richer, like a sophisticated crème brûlée rather than dipping your nose into cake batter made with vanillin, Vanille Insensée brings on the freshness of vanilla to the fore. You heard that right: it's a crazy, fresh vanilla!
Atelier Cologne, founded last year by Sylvie Ganter (formerly of Hermès and FRESH fame) and Christophe Cervasel (founder of Selective Beauty, responsible for creating scents for John Galliano, Zac Posen, and Agent Provocateur to name but a few), they debuted "Petites" (30mls), soaps and candles last autumn and for spring 2011 they launched Vanille Insensée. Careful: That's not Incensée and it has nothing to do with incense! In French Vanille Insensée literally means vanilla out of its senses, vanilla in the most unexpected, profound, insane way!
Vanille Insensée was composed by perfumer Ralf Schwieger and in it the vanilla ~although front and central~ is given a diaphanous (yet lasting) treatment which seems lighter than what one would expect from the creator of waxy and intense Lipstick Rose (for F.Malle). Although advertised as "woody", I don't find Atelier's Vanille especially so. The citrusy touches on top (lime and cedrat, which is French for citron; but also spicy-orangey coriander) are classic allies in most orientals and here they lift the vanilla into the clouds, while clean notes of jasmine, white musk and mossy underpinnings (vetiver and oaky tannin smells) conspire to make the pod fluffy and "fresh" ~mind you, fresh and fluffy the way a meringue is just out of the oven, we're still on culinary grounds here. But away from choux à la crème land all the same...
If you want your vanilla intense, darkish and calorific, like Indult Tihota or Spirituelle Double Vanille (Guerlain) or rather smoky with layers of tobacco or cotton-candy & ice-cream cone, like, respectively, Havana Vanille and the discontoninued Vanilia by L'Artisan, then the Atelier Cologne version won't please. The same could be said if you're spoiled by the tropics treatment by the Comptoir Sud Pacifique line. If on the other hand you have always envisioned a vanilla to bring forth into spring and summer, with just the right amount of a sweet tooth that doesn't ruin the waistline, I think this one might do the trick.
A sample will be given to a lucky reader: What's your take on vanilla and vanilla fragrances? Say in the comments and I will pick a lucky winner. Draw is open till Friday midnight.
Notes for Vanille Insensée: lime, cedrat, coriander, jasmine, oak, vetiver, Madagascar vanilla, oakmoss and amber.
Atelier Cologne Vanille Insensée is vailable in 30 ($60) or 200 ml ($170) Cologne Absolue (15% concentration), carried by Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus and Steven Alan as well as the newly curated e-commerce website www.ateliercologne.com
In the interests of disclosure I was able to sample the fragrance assisted by the company who handles the brand.
Photo of vanilla sky via nettevivante