I've said it before and I'll say it again. For vanilla lovers (I mean the fragrant kind and they're legion) every little twist has the potential to make them want to sample and exhaust their repertoire. It's not enough to have dessert-like baking type vanilla fragrances while dark, smoky vanilla perfumes can be too serious and demanding sometimes. For men this presents an even greater problem: in the kakistocracy of cheap, syrupy vanillas addressed to air-headed teenagers popping bubblegums, i-Pods super-glued to the ear and slouchy PVC bags dragged above butt-crack revealing jeans, finding something that excels and is gentlemanly at the same time becomes an exercise in futility.
So, yes, a more sophisticated category playing on the register of B flat minor is apropos: appearing calm, composed, unruffled, though there is something more volatile hiding under the lid.
(If you'd like to see some E-flat minor vanillas -I feel weird just typing that, can vanillas ever be eccentric?- you have to wait for the next installment in the Vanilla Series.)
Annick Goutal Vanille Exquise: angelica and guaiacwood make this vanilla very unusual with a melancholy backdrop
Ava Luxe Vanilla Musk: though purported to be musky, this isn't funky, but rather woody, milky and with a nice coziness that is not foodie
Bvlgari Black: brawny, with rubber notes that become gentle very soon
Dior Homme Intense: a masculine vanilla, with a nice elegant background that keeps it from becoming nauseating sweet
Kiehl's Vanilla and Cedarwood: austerity meets vanilla, there you go little miss!
Korres Vanilla Freesia Lychee: don't mind the "components" on the label, this smells of chypre-woody with a slice of Coco Mademoiselle
L'Artisan Parfumeur Dzing: this is the smell of antique, used book stores, soft and animalic and very very intelligent indeed. A cult favorite composed by Olivia Giacobetti.
Le Labo Vanille 44: this Paris city exclusive is poised between a delicate French madeleine and smoky black tea
Montale Boise Vanille: many of the Montale fragrances are orientalized, but this is maybe the most approachable.
Parfumerie Generale Cadjmere: the Mediterranean woods of myrtle and cypress join Brazilian rosewood to put a decidedly sombre feel to vanilla (one of the beloved ingredients for Pierre Guillaume).
Rochas Man: a unisex take on woody vanilla with a hint of coffee, marketed to men but enjoyed by women as well, and composed by calorific "dishes" master chef Maurice Roucel
Serge Lutens Un Bois Vanille: the reference woody vanilla, it infuses the woody spicy blend of Feminite du Bois with a silky veil of vanilla fondant.
Do you like woody vanillas? Which are your favorites?