Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Honore des Pres Vamp a NY: fragrance review

Forget everything you might associate with vamps, vampires or New York City; Vamp à NY by all naturals line Honoré des Prés is the perfect Hitchcockian MacGuffin. It's a fragrance that begs to be worn by someone intelligent enough to not have any aspirations of appearing brainy; someone with fuschia painted lips popping a gigantic pink bubblegum just for the heck of it or at the very least soap bubbles at a party. Or, else, by someone sporting the XY chromosome and enough humour to not be afraid to challenge smartly. Anything else and it would be a travesty. But the name is essential to the (misleading) plot.

Vamp à NY by Honoré des Prés opens on a typical light camphor note (via tuberose absolute, which also smells a bit like buttered/creamed pop corn with peaches sliced on top, due to the lactone content; see more of that "peaches n' cream" effect on Péché Cardinal) and segues into a rum-like booziness. A logical choice on the part of perfumer Olivia Giacobetti because of the coconut nuances of both the flower and the tropical associations this exotic bloom brings to mind. Indeed the hint of vanillic coconut recalls tanning oils, making this one tuberose fragrance which leans most to the tropical side than almost anything else. The effect thrives on a balsamic quality about it that were it an oriental we would be talking about a snuggly cashmere sweater scent. But it's its summery equivalent.
The intensely sweet, profusely fruity progression is full of pink jasmine (and I think I smell ylang ylang with a hint of sassafras) which naturally recalls those giant pink Bazooka bubblegums we popped as children. March notes it holds "a peculiarly synthetic quality to [her] nose — it’s just sooo much and so odd, with its root beer, banana Runts and vanilla-caramel Sugar Daddy." Luckily for me, I don't have these particular American childhood associations, funny as she makes them to be, but I can see how this would be a polarising scent.

Needless to say, if you're opposed to sweet white florals en masse, you need to steer clear away without further thought; this is, despite its botanical provenance (100% certified organic ingredients), a VERY sweet floral! Those who can appreciate the buttery quality of intensely flowery Fracas however might find that the addition of Vamp à NY into the tuberose canon is not only a sort of homage but also a thoughtful and truly wonderful chapter; a luscious scent!
The necessity to own this delightfully campy & fun fragrance only comes when comparing with other tuberose/"huge white floral scents": Fracas is similarly buttery, yet grander and with more pronounced oomph, making it more of an entrance perfume. Carnal Flower is greener overall with a mock sophistication beneath its easy veneer. Tubéreuse Criminelle is truer to vampirism than this one; it's cool, silkier, with a more mentholated opening. Compared with Manoumalia, the latter is earthy, with more vetiver, certainly less sweet than Vamp à NY, intent as the former is on the fragrea blossom and the hint of spice. Nuit de Tubéreuse is more complex with a mildew thing going on, possibly stemming from a desire to appear brainier than it is. Vamp à NY actually mostly resembles the mood and feel of Songes, especially in Eau de Toilette concentration, which is of course full of ylang ylang, and it also reminded me of the little-known (and very rare now) original version of Jour de Fête by L'Artisan Parfumeur ~when the brand was still run by Jean Laporte and this was a quirky white floral scent, instead of a nutty gourmand)

Quiet sillage with rather good lasting power for a botanical fragrance makes it even more enjoyable; I'm sorely tempted to search for more!

Notes for Vamp à NY by Honoré des Prés:
Top: tuberose, rum
Heart: Bourbon vanilla
Base: tuberose, Peru balsam, Tolu balsam, benzoin

Vamp à NY by Honoré des Prés (a niche brand directed by Christian David) is part of the "New York Collection" which debuted at French Colette and is now available at select stockists. The 2010 collection includes three fragrances: I Love les Carottes, Love Coco and Vamp à NY, created of 100% natural ingredients by perfumer Olivia Giacobetti. These organic fragrances are packed in an unconventional way; as depicted, the bottles of 50ml Eau de Parfum come in plastic cups similar to those in which New Yorkers take out their coffee in.

Photograph by John Rawlings for a vintage Vogue photoshoot.


  1. Anonymous17:31

    I love Vamp. I love tuberose, anyway, but Vamp is so cheerfully, unabashedly trashy that I love it more.

    It reads as very spicy on me - I'm not sure what that's from, but I like it. Buttered popcorn, root beer, tuberose, and vanilla, yum. I found it indispensable last summer for light-hearted fun.

  2. I love Muse. And I enjoyed your review. But I had issues with Vamp. It was akin to Songes in the way you mention--but with a bubblegum vibe.

    Which means, on the right day, I like spending an afternoon with it. On the wrong day, I have to count to 10 so I don't slap it. ;)

    OTOH, per the name, I do indeed <3 Carrottes. Which might further illustrate why Vamp and I don't always play nicely. I am glad it exists...but I find myself yielding more easily to Patricia de Nicolai's Kiss Me Tender, which seems to have a similar girly playfulness, but in a register my ears don't fear.

  3. This is on my top 10 "to try" list. I am drawn more and more to tuberose and jasmine these days and if I even sense that there is a boozy note, I'm all over it. I can't wait to try this!

  4. I'm firmly in the I love Vamp a NY camp. :)
    I love tuberose perfumes but this one is the one I love best. It carved its own place among many tuberoses and I don't see it relinquishing it.
    Btw, I couldn't agree more with your introduction. :)

  5. I'm beside myself with temptation!
    Aaaaggghh I gotta log off, your too good at what you do woman. ;)


  6. Muse,

    trashy is a good term!! I like it.
    I think what you read as spicy is a part of the tuberose and benzoin facets combined: the vanillic cuts on the camphor and reads as...somewhat spicy indeed.

  7. Anonymous12:48

    You make this sound incredibly good, and I don't even like Tuberose! :)

  8. S,

    I would think that such an unabashedly "fun" perfume would have its detractors and not just because it is what I described it to be: there are some occasions when it would be too "fun" indeed (office wear? dinner with the prospective in-laws? funeral? weddings? you get my drift) It is indeed a rather frightful as you put it fragrance.

    Carrottes is quirky!! ;-)

  9. Jen,

    it's a must try. I absolutely love it that a line of all naturals produces things that are this stellar. And you can take it from someone who loves white florals, this is a must try (said twice so you know I mean it!)

  10. Ines,

    oh good! It's gratifying to see you agree with me in such detail. :-)
    It has its own special place for sure. I need to get some more!

  11. Tamara,

    awww, sweet talking, LOL! OK, I get it, I won't tempt you any longer...today, that is... *evil grin*

  12. B,

    thanks! It is a great tuberose because it's so campy. Tuberose IMO needs to be either very campy or very snobbish (a la Tub Crim), otherwise it seems like a reheated dish.
    Do you have a tuberose scent that you actually like?


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