Monday, November 23, 2015

Annick Goutal Les Absolus Vanille Charnelle: fragrance review

The problem with the term "charnelle" (carnal in French) for Anglo-speaking audiences persists after the online mocking of Guerlain's analogous fragrances (Les Elixirs Charnels or better known as Carnal Elixirs). Of course one might argue it's hard to beat Poupée (doll in French) by Rochas... Nevertheless don't let that distract you from the creamy goodness of the latest Annick Goutal vanilla fragrance, Vanille Charnelle, part of Les Absolus d'Annick Goutal luxury perfumes trio.

Vanilla fragrances can come in various guises and heaven knows one more vanilla is not what is missing from the market, especially at this point. However the polished touch of perfumer Isabelle Doyen and art director Camille Goutal promises a milk bath preceding a lovers' tryst Popaea (Sabena) style.

The butyric note in Vanille Charnelle is held down by two interesting elements making the fluffy base more playful; one is a peppery note that tingles the sinuses with the anticipation of a session of light spanking, the other a nectarous ylang ylang which brings the floralcy of vanilla into focus. Dark vanillas exhibit boozy, dark, whiskey and rum facets, but Vanille Charnelle is more reminiscent of almonds than of booze and has that goose down feel that white musk has when done right.

For Goutal, who had already offered the moderately priced Vanille Exquise, which many vanilla lovers counted among the ones they love, the decision to offer a disproportionately elevated in the posh stakes vanilla sounds rather odd. But vanilla is a known aphrodisiac, as per pop culture (and who can forget the Guerlain claims to Shalimar being cat nip thanks to its rich, dark, leathery vanilla) and it seems one can't have too many in one line. It also ensures a steady interest at the counter...

The luxurious presentation by Annick Goutal in the Les Absolus line, that opens like the scene of a theatre production to reveal a performance by good actors, merits the asking price more than the innovation of the formula. Still...pas mal du tout.

Related reading on Perfume Shrine: 
Annick Goutal news & reviews
Top Vanilla Fragrances: a Series


  1. Anonymous17:46

    one is a peppery note that tingles the sinuses with the anticipation of a session of light spanking

    You certainly have a way with words. Love it!

  2. Miss Heliotrope01:34

    Am ambivalent about vanilla, despite an affection for Chanel 22, as sweet is not my cup of tea (without sugar, natch).

    More worried again about milk baths, which always make me think of smelling of old milk, which is less alluring than perhaps intended. & Poppaea Sabina's death - and, more creepily, the way Nero insisted on treating her memory after death - are not necessarily that attractive, although I wouldnt want to judge...

    By the way, on Poppaea & Nero, have you read Tom Holland's Dynasty yet? His Rubicon was fab & made the late republic fascinating again, despite my having read way too much on it, and Dynasty is even better -

    1. As usual a very good point. Milk can turn sour and this is not exactly a pleasant association.

      No Tom Holland reading yet. Might need to check him out. It's quite hard to beat I Claudius for sheer conniving depiction excellence surely though isn't it?

    2. Miss Heliotrope00:16

      Except Holland writes actual history & it's still more exciting - Graves' Claudius is too much fantasy, which is silly when the reality is so fab. Holland's Shadow of the Sword is also fascinating, especially given current geo-political horrors (sadly, he has been threatened bc of it).

  3. Anonymous02:26

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. No spamming of commercial links please.

      I'm copy-pasting your comment though as surely someone bothered to actually read the review which is unusual for that sort of spamming.

      "hahah a session of light spanking thats awsome"

  4. very delightful and fun review! I need a visit to the perfume counter!

    1. It's a fun frag. Nothing particularly awesome but not bad either. The prices are kinda obscene but what isn't these days?

  5. 50 shades of vanilla...! :)

  6. Anonymous21:14

    I never realized that about Charnel and the English translation, quite frankly mass grave is the common term for it, charnel is almost never used.
    French language works or doesn't work when it comes to english speaking audiences. Nothing beats Dior and Chanel, however Guerlain will never be a household name in the US, just too hard to pronounce, Saint Laurent has never been so successful since it's no more Yves Saint Laurent, but Hedi Slimane has something to do with this, he's a visionary and understands the brand in today's world.

    Back to Goutal vanilles, so unimaginative, really! Goutal always had signature romantic Parisian perfume names, there isn't any of that here, it's just another niche brand doing another vanilla.


    1. It was something that came up when Guerlain issued the Elixirs and it sorta stuck in my mind.

      French is a beautiful language and I thank my mother for teaching it to me from a young age. But it's true that many things don't work in an Anglo translation. For instance that Poupee (with the accent aigu on first "e" -no accents on this device) is monumental in the annals of bad judgement....(like imagine how it would connote if someone mistyped the word annals)

      Agree with everything you said about the various brands.
      Goutal has changed a bit since the repackaging and not in a good way. Still I love that they retain the same team and they have a more or less coherent aesthetic. The market doesn't need more vanilla scents though no matter how pleasant they are. Therefore VC won't find me amassing dough for it.

  7. Mmmmm...... wonder if this will come to Australia ? Would love to try!

    1. It all depends on distribution patterns. The new distributor has focused (again) on the US which had previously problems with availability. Let's see what happens. We usually get the AGs without problems but we do get them through the Parisian circuit. I'm not sure whether they cater to Southeastern Asia and Oz or whether it is the US distributor who does that.


Type your comment in the box, choose the Profile option you prefer from the drop down menu, below text box (Anonymous is fine too!) and hit Publish.
And you're set!

This Month's Popular Posts on Perfume Shrine