One Thousand Scents

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Scentroulette Day 18: Vanille Sublime by Maison Berdoues

There is an opera website I visit pretty regularly, and sometimes--not always, but sometimes--there's so much ragging and complaining and insulting going on that I start to think these people don't actually like opera. They do, of course: they love it, and they have high standards, and so when they attend an (expensive!) opera, only to be insulted by bad singing or ridiculous staging, naturally they're angry.

I was starting to feel as I were coming across as someone who doesn't love scents, with all the complaining I've been doing recently. Usually when I'm writing about a scent it's something that I've given myself a fair bit of time to think about, but for the last few weeks I've just been writing about whatever randomly comes to hand, and as Theodore Sturgeon said, 90% of everything is crap, so of course I'm going to be less than complimentary a lot of the time.

So today I cheated a little. I fished around for a bag that I figured was sure to contain something I would like, which turned out to be once again a sampler set from The Perfumed Court, this one called Fabulous Vanilla. I love vanilla!

What I ended up with in my paw was something called Vanille Sublime by Maison Berdoues. The company still exists*, though the scent doesn't, and you can't even get it from TPC because their vanilla sampler has changed. I'd wouldn't be surprised, though, if there were still some of this out there somewhere. Even if there isn't, Maison Berdoues still has a number of vanilla scents available: in the Les Petits Plaisirs line there's Vanilla, and then vanilla coupled with Monoi (which is to say gardenia), Mango (I think--the punctuation is suspect), Cherry, Strawberry, Praline, Raspberry, Blackberry, and Amber. Also, there's a Toffee, and you just know that's got a big dose of vanilla in it. If you're determined to have a Maison Berdoues vanilla scent, they've got you covered.

Vanille Sublime starts off as a big, candy-coloured fruity vanilla with floral undertones; it is aggressive and very, very strong. It's a vanillabomb. It verges on the cloying, almost sickening in any quantity: if you are the sort of person who likes huge sweet fragrances, then this would be your sort of thing, though it would only be fair to use it with extreme discretion.

Or you could just wait an hour or so, because that is when the top and middle (they're pretty much the same thing) begin to peel off and reveal the base; a dark, luscious spiced vanilla, much subtler and more sophisticated than what came before. There is still a hint of fruitiness to it, but tempered with overtones of tobacco and chocolate. The base still isn't what you'd call demure or subtle, but it's lovely.

If you can find this stuff, and if you like vanilla scents, and if you can stand the attack mode of the first hour, then have at it. Vanille Sublime is unlikely to be the best vanilla you ever smelled in your life--there are hundreds of them out there!--but the core of it is beautiful.

*The website's intro contains a quote by Heinrich Heine: "Perfumes are the flower's feelings", which is the pathetic fallacy writ large but is also rather sweet.

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