I got my hands on another sampler pack of the Van Cleef & Arpels Collection Extraordinaire perfumes, so we will have a draw today for two sets of samples of all six of the Van Cleef & Arpels Collection Extraordinare scents. Just drop a comment in and you’ll be entered.
There have been some great reviews of Van Cleef & Arpels Collection Extraordinaire Bois d’Iris from VCACE (just abbreviating this). Robin covered it, as did Octavian. Iris and I have been constant companions for years. It is one of two notes that surprised me when I first got serious about perfume. The other note is violet. Who knew I would grow to love those two notes so much when I’d never really thought about either of them for decades.
Notes for Bois d’Iris are sweet notes, frankincense, iris, driftwood, vetiver, ambergris, labdanum, myrrh, vanilla. After all the iris perfumes I have known and loved – Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist, Dior Homme, TDC’s Bois d’Iris, Chanel Bois des Iles – it never occurred to me that I could find another that was unique enough to add to my all-star iris lineup. VCA did just that. Bois d’Iris floats, but constantly calls up earthy components, so it never feels disembodied or ghost-like. There’s a saltiness from the ambergris, joined by the smoky incense and wood that is warm and just whispers around the nose. Although it has vanilla in it, which is noticeable, this is a far cry from a gourmand. If you’re an iris lover, just go buy it, you’ll thank me later. Everyone says it doesn’t stick around, and I just didn’t find that to be true. As with all the VCAs, they emote softly and for a nice length of time on me. So while I don’t get the whole when pressing my nose up to my skin, this one also just wafts as I walk. I do get the smell of woody incense on the skin all the way through. It’s persisted on my skin or in wafting for 4+ hours, which is pretty good in perfume years.
My father’s funeral was right before Christmas. Overnight it had misted and frozen all those droplets of water to the trees, the house, the grass. I walked outside that morning, bundled up against that cold. It was so cold, my tears would have frozen, if I’d had any left The sun hit the blanket of tiny icicles covering the world, and the light exploded, shattering my pain in a blinding moment of beauty, leaving it forever etched in my head as the second in my life when sorrow and hope existed perfectly side by side without judgment or regret.
Van Cleef & Arpels Collection Extraordinaire Muguet Blanc made me think of that second. It is breathtaking, its opening the perfect note soaring into the air on a cold winter day, something that feels like it shouldn’t exist, contrasts of cold and sweet and wood — conjuring up spring in your head where no spring exists. As it dries down, it warms and softens into the skin and loses the chilliness. Notes of lily of the valley, peony, neroli and cedar are pretty simple, but rendered elegant.
It’s a stunnah. And this last and lasts and emotes fairly loudly. The first time I spritzed it on, the whole house knew in 3 minutes that a new perfume had arrived, they were all looking for it. Several hours in, it’s still wafting and drifting and just being lovely.
A note on the Van Cleef & Arpels Collection Extraordinaire perfumes that I got wrong before. It is $185 for 75 mls, which is 15 more mls than I thought was in the bottle. That’s a better price point per ml, a little over $2 a ml. You know. I don’t have to say it anymore, do I? If $200 is the new $100, then these are a bargain.
I’ve been thinking about this whole wafting thing. Does anyone else notice that about a perfume? There are some that it is hard to really get a nose-bead on if you snuffle where you sprayed it, but if you just walk through a room, you get the full effect. I often wonder if perfumers try perfumes that way to what kind of trail they have, or are some just a happy accident? I adore the wafters, which I think of as different from sillage monsters. To me, sillage monsters are the ones that are overpowering and big. Wafters aren’t necessarily strong, but you don’t get how beautiful the perfume is until you smell it trailing off of someone. I’d far rather a great wafter than about anything else. I think it’s that effect of leaving ambience behind you that tickles a person’s sense, and they usually have no idea where it came from, they just know it is beautiful, and then it’s gone.