One Thousand Scents

Friday, February 09, 2007

Deep Dish: Vanille Noire du Mexique


Last year I ordered a bunch of stuff from Luckyscent, and I can happily recommend their service to anyone; they promptly sent just what I ordered, plus a little batch of well-considered samples, just the sort of thing I'd have chosen for myself. One of the things I ordered was the set of five vanilla scents from La Maison de la Vanille*, and, typically for me, I only just opened it yesterday, which means I'll be talking about vanilla for the next couple of weeks. That's okay with you, right? Good. Let's get started.

I left the Maison de la Vanille box on the dresser yesterday and Jim naturally enough opened it. (He hadn't seen it before: it had been nestled in the drawer in which I keep the things I haven't opened yet. He normally steers clear of all my scents, but he couldn't tell what was in it from the outside of the box.) The atomizer wasn't in the box, so he asked me what was supposed to go there. When I told him, he said, "Oh! They're scents! I thought they were different kinds of vanilla!" Which, of course, they are. I just wouldn't cook with them.


Vanille Noire du Mexique opens with a bright, sunshiny rose-vanilla accord, with the ray of sunshine provided by bergamot. It's enchanting, fresh and vivid. It calls to mind another rose-vanilla scent, Tocade by Rochas, but where I found that loud and insistent and gloppily sweet, VNdM is cheerfully understated. At this point the name of the scent is baffling. The vanilla may be black, but the scent itself isn't dark in any way.

However, in fairly short order, the bergamot whispers away, the rose note (bolstered, in classic fashion, by jasmine), dims and vanishes, and what's left is deliciously dark: a deep, only slightly sweetened vanilla with a faint chocolate nimbus (bestowed by tonka bean). It's edible--not sugary, not patisserie, but gourmand for all that. It's still not the masculine rose scent I eternally search for--not because it's feminine, but because the rose isn't the focus of the composition--but it'll do, for now.

* Every company should do this, by the way. If I had a choice between a box of, say, 5- or 10-mL sprays of all Guerlain's men's scents versus one full size for the same price, I'd buy the box, as I'm betting most people would, and then, who knows? I'd probably buy a full-sized bottle of my favourite when that ran out. You'd think it would make good business sense to give people a chance to sample everything a fragrance division makes; if they like even one of them, they're probably going to buy the big bottle, and the ones they don't like are going to be given away to friends, who'll probably buy big bottles of their own. Instead of five or six dozen full-sized bottles, I'd have several hundred smaller ones, the perfume companies would have made the same amount of money from me, plus the promise of more later, and I'd be happier. Win-win!

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