Oddball Vanillas

One of you mentioned on here not too long ago that somebody – Nigella Lawson? – dabbed vanilla extract behind her ears.  So I tried it; why not?  Yes, I wore vanilla extract behind my ears and on my wrists for a day, some decent-quality stuff.  The sillage isn’t great, and the lasting power is pretty minimal, but while it’s on there it’s nice enough.  I totally understand why men are supposed to find it arousing.  It’s edible and familiar and uncomplicated.

I love the smell of vanilla extract.  We go through it fairly quickly in my house, not because I’m wearing it but because we bake a lot of sweets, particularly in the winter.

So if I love the smell of vanilla so much, why don’t I own any plain-Jane vanilla scents by now, although I tried quite a few again recently?  I don’t really know.  I think it’s partly because I’ve always felt that by the time a perfume was reduced to that simple a concept, I might as well just go ahead and wear some vanilla extract.   The closest thing I own and wear to a plain vanilla is my oft-mentioned big-mini dab-on of Demeter Egg Nog, which sounds awful but smells great – not egg-noggy at all, really, but a warm, lightly spicy, not gaggingly sweet vanilla.

Guerlain’s Spiritueuse Double Vanille starts off almost vanilla-extract, with a nice touch of smoke, but unfortunately on my skin dries down to a honey-tobacco, which is lovely, but if I’m swinging that way I’d rather have the Kilian Back to Black.  For some more smokey-vanilla ideas, here’s a link to a previous post on the subject.

Leaving us with a very short list of two oddball vanillas I own a bottle of and wear:

L’Artisan Vanilia – ylang, vanilla, sandalwood.  This one has been discontinued, which shocks me, as I think it was relatively popular, and one of their oldest scents.  It was replaced by last year’s Havana Vanille in the lineup, which, in a weird plot twist, Robin at NST has reported will be renamed Vanille Absolument, I’m not sure what that’s about.

Vanilia is the one LT gives five stars to in The Guide and clearly adores, calling it a “candyfloss vanilla” and “so totally devoid of chic it has become the reference holiday from propriety and convention … there will always be time for refinement later.”  He says, and he should know, that its huge, weird candy wallop comes from ethylmaltol.  All I know is it’s loads of fun, a trashy, synthetic-smelling thing that thrills me the same way the (equally trashy, possibly even more strident) Gucci Rush thrills me.  It’s about as far away from a “natural” vanilla smell as you can get, while still being something I very much want to wear, and just dark (burnt?) enough that it’s not cloying, which is a problem I have with regular vanilla scents in the first place.  I’m not sure how old my bottle is but it’s old enough to have the lovely old-style cap, and it has some nice sandalwood in it as well.

Annick Goutal Vanille Exquise – angelica, almond, vanilla, musk, sandalwood and guaiac wood.  One of the reviews in The Guide I totally disagree with.  TS dislikes it and says it smells like burning hair.  I admit I was a bit taken aback the first time I smelled it. It’s odder, in its way, than Vanilia. You have to search out the vanilla, which is woven into a scent that smells heavily of woody-incense and a bit of bread.  To me it’s a great example (like Shalimar) of a vanilla scent that has been stretched toward loftier ambitions, which in my book Vanille Exquise achieves.  Folks who like sweeter, resiny incense scents and are willing to push their boundaries might find this worth a sniff.

No list of oddball vanillas would be complete without a mention of Hermes Vanille Galante and Guerlain Shalimar, neither of which I care for or have anything nice to say about, so I’ll give it a rest, except to say that you Shalimar freaks really ought to think hard about getting your hands on a few ml of the Shalimar Ode de La Vanille, which throws more of the focus on the vanilla end of things.  It’s still quite recognizably Shalimar, unlike the dreadful new Opium flanker.  I can’t say I like Ode, which is probably as it should be, but the drydown’s stunning.  And while I’m at it I’ll throw Givenchy Organza Indecence on here, a niche-frag perennial favorite that often doesn’t even have vanilla listed in the notes but smells nicely spicy-vanillic to me, and has comforted me through many a dark January day.

Okay, your turn – what have I forgotten from the oddball vanilla list?

  • Rednails says:

    Funny in all these comments no one seems to have mentioned Habanita. On me it is almost all vanilla, with some powder and goat thrown in.

  • maidenbliss says:

    I spritzed from a 2ml spray sample. As I said above it opened w blast of cloves but dried down pretty quickly to much ado about nothing. This morning the little bit remaining on my wrist is just a hint of sandalwood, almost indefinable, maybe a trace of saffron? Rose is barely discernible.
    I notice a huge difference in sampling small sprays, vials and fb. I’m sure this would have been much stronger had it come from fb.
    Can I ask where you got the travel bottle?
    Like we’ve all said about revisiting things we were not ‘taken with’ – this is worthy of a few visits.
    Exciting about Diva. I remember those days….

  • maidenbliss says:

    Oh, please check back and let me know. I think Robin’s right-it’s almost transparent. I don’t think even dousing would be enough.

    • March says:

      Wait, what are we talking about, ST!?!? It’s pretty darn strong on me. Luca Turin almost ruined it for me when he used the word “rose.”

  • maidenbliss says:

    ST has settled into a pool of charm on my wrist. No, not the Charms candy. I’d need to refresh it since there’s not much left to sniff but it’s a warm sweet ride. Winter scent. Not quite sexy enough for me.

  • maidenbliss says:

    Thank you so much *she says* for reminding me I dropped Downward Dog’s leash and don’t even want to look for it. :) Tree Pose is a *long standing* favorite. If you hadn’t reminded me of how lazy I’m being I wouldn’t feel guilty.
    ST opened with the sharp zing of cloves which made me run over to NST for quick check.
    Cloves it is. Then comes vanilla, drying down to an orange/rose powdery sweetness. Not much staying power, very feminine. I’m guessing I never retried it b/c of the clovey opening.
    What say you? Like it?

    • Ann says:

      Glad to see all this love for ST! I used to love it and then kind of forgot about it. Must revisit this ASAP!

      • March says:

        I did today, after all these comments, and I’m glad I did. I was sitting through Diva’s “welcome to the college admissions process” cult indoctrination seminar at her high school tonight, sniffing my wrist for comfort. ST is gorgeous. I have one of those little travel bottles.

  • maidenbliss says:

    You actually think I’m going to scrub Ambra Nobile 1942 off my right wrist and Dior Eau Noire off my my left — a risk I’ll have to ponder. There’s always my legs but being the NE coast is getting slammed w snow and these gams are not going to be exposed.
    Ok, I’ll dip my fingers in ST and wait awhile.
    *I* can be patient, too.

  • maidenbliss says:

    I’m going to pull out my Safran Troublant since I don’t recall any vanilla. Maybe I didn’t wait for the change up. Never have I done that before. Uh huh.

  • Shelley says:

    Okay, this time I read through the thread–lots of new additions!–before adding my late last night “aha!” What about Safran Troublant, or Poivre Piquant? Both of those do a change up that ends up with sweetened milkish vanilla, or vanillaish milk, depending on you nose, I suppose.

  • Parfymerad says:

    I’m another person who cannot take straight-up vanilla on myself, although I love vanilla-extract in cake ;) The closest I get is the wonderful vanilla basenote in Songes, whether edt or edp – somehow the ‘tropical’ context makes the sweetness bearable.

    • donanicola says:

      Oh right with you on the vanilla in Songes! Though I get it more in edp which wears closer to the skin. That stuff is gorgeous.

    • March says:

      Songes? Really? I’m too busy getting walloped by all those white flowers. I’ll need to look for the vanilla.

      • Parfymerad says:

        Hmmm, the vanilla comes waay after the white flowers, so I guess it depends how much wallopping you can take for a bit of perfect vanilla ;)

  • maidenbliss says:

    Le Labo Patchouli 24…I’m smelling my arms, my wrists, my fingers. It’s an oddball for sure, no patch, but what a beautiful sniff, a bit too sweet but addictive all the same.

    My Utopia: Patch 24/Cuir Ottoman. Whips and Dirty Sugar.

    • March says:

      I love people’s layering ideas. We should do another layering post.

      • maidenbliss says:

        Please do, March. My car is buried in the middle of the driveway with a top hat of snow about 4 feet high. Took a pic so no one can say I’m a liar. I’ll call AAA when it stops snowing. It’s winter… I just bought a gorgeous Roman glass necklace on eBay at 10:00 am. Ate Amy’s organic black bean and vegie enchilada for breakfast, I’m staring intently out the window w a pair of binoculars to see if the mailman came–yes, I’m that far from my country mailbox-the only evidence will be his tread marks. I’ve got 2 books left to read from the library. Laughed my way through Rococo by Adrianna Trigiani. I’m wearing so many perfumes I’ve lost count.
        Lastly, I wish I was shopping at TJ’s. The Amtrak can get me to DC in 3 hours but getting to the station?

  • Victoria says:

    March, I so enjoy your vanilla posts! I do not understand why L’Artisan discontinued Vanilia, which used to be my favorite vanilla scent. An abstract vanilla, if you will. Then they rename Havana Vanille, which must have to do with some trademark infringement. I cannot imagine another reason why they would rename it, as it is such a great name.
    At any rate, I agree with you on the fragrances list you. The only one I would have added is Nicolai Vanille Tonka, but it is discontinued as well…

    • mals86 says:

      WHAT?! Vanille Tonka is discontinued?? Nooooooooooooo…

      Fine. Fine fine fine, I’m going to go find a bottle right now.

    • March says:

      Robin up there said L’Artisan told her there was a dispute about the name, although she noted (as did I) that they’re still selling it with the old name. I had no idea about Vanille Tonka, and it surprises me, I think it’s popular?

    • Austenfan says:

      For what it’s worth. The Nicolaï website still lists Vanille Tonka. So I guess it is still in production. I know their website is not the best in the world but I have found that when it appears on their site on a page that enables you to order directly online it should still be there.
      It’s one of my favourites too.( I have however never smelled the Goutal, nor SDV, nor any of the Montales. )

      • March says:

        Hey, thanks. L’Artisan discontinues things and then they’re available forever, although Vanilia’s getting pretty hard to find.

  • Wordbird says:

    What about Dior Addict? On my skin it’s a huge vanilla and I (OK, I know this makes me a hussy) love it. But then, I love Black and SDV and Organza Indecence and so many others mentioned here…
    Vanilla harlot, that’s me.

    • March says:

      Dior Addict I love, it’s one of my cheap thrills, although it doesn’t read as especially vanilla on me — more sweet and fruity.

  • Ann says:

    Hi March, so glad to see this post since you’ve been wanting to do it. On this snowbound day, it’s really made me smile, so thanks!
    I am loving all the mentions on here today, since I am a dyed-in-the wool vanilla ‘ho. My faves are Indult Tihota (wish it weren’t so darned expensive/exclusive), Organza Indecence, Micallef’s Note Vanille, Le Labo Vanille 44 and Diptyque’s Eau Duelle.
    I also like Guerlain’s Angelique Noire, Gourmand Coquin, and, SDV in small doses, when I’m in the mood for it. Also, have just tried the Ode a la Vanille, and it’s not too bad on me, considering that regular Shalimar hates me.
    BTW, for any of you Tihota lovers, I’ve found that Memoire Liquid’s Amour or Vanille Noir du Mexique, although not in the same class, are somewhat similar, at least on my skin.

    • March says:

      You do like vanilla, don’t you! And I hope the snow’s melting a little.

      It’s funny how many Guerlains wound up on here. I guess it shouldn’t surprise me.

  • aotearoa says:

    I think Le Labo Patchouli 24 is a really oddball vanilla – after several hours of diesel and other aromas of the mechanic’s workshop I am always amazed to smell vanilla wafting up at me.
    I have an out of character liking for Indult’s Tihota on a bleak gery rainy day in winter it’s smoky vanilla – lightly applied – is perfect.

  • mariekel says:

    Like others here, I cannot take full-on vanilla. It is not that it induces feelings of nausea or anything, it just seems so little girl-y and out of character for me.

    That said, I would love to find a an off-center vanilla that would give just the right girly vibe to a concoction with one of my leathers or incenses to create the ultimate sex bomb perfume: part goth, part Lolita (my bombshell collection is currently dominated by Delrae Amoureuse and Bella Bellissima Perfect Night, which are entirely grown up fragrances).

  • Rowanhill says:

    Oldie, probably reformulated by now but I still have fond memories of Laura Biagiotti’s Roma from the beginning of 90’s.

    • Rowanhill says:

      And of course Guerlain’s Plus Que Jamais.

      • Tara says:

        Plus Que Jamais is one of my HGs of all time. I was thinking of putting down as a great vanilla, but I wasn’t sure just how vanillie it is other than the Guerlainade type base. It is an amazing confection!!!! Do you get a lot of vanilla from it?

        • Rowanhill says:

          I do not get vanilla out of proportion from Plus Que Jamais, it is so smoothly done. But in addition to liking the other ingredients the vanilla makes this the elegant comfort scent I never tire of. Mind you, today is my Chanel 5 extrait day for the same comforting reasons to fight the winter rain and gray skies.

    • March says:

      Roma is very sweet on me, but I tried a newer formulation, not an older one.

  • aelily says:

    Not sure if qualifies as “oddball”, but I love DSH’s Coeur de Vanille!

  • Suzy Q says:

    What about Kenzo Amour? I don’t think anyone’s mentioned it and I haven’t smelled it in years. Is it straight up or oddball?

  • FragrantWitch says:

    Shalimar freak here! :d Die- hard Guerlain fan as well. I will add to the love of Bulgari Black (kinky vanilla) and also Magazine Street. Emeraude and Organza Indecence are in there as well – though the OI is sometimes cloying, maybe hormones? My kitchen currently smells gorgeous as we have just made Buttered Rum Meltaways, with clove, cinnamon and allspice- if I could bottle the smell I would! :-)

  • Geordan1244 says:

    All in all, vanilla is my most-sought-after note in a fragrance. I love SDV (it’s soo boozy and thick on me, I just love it), B2B, and many more. I wish I had bought Vanilia. Got a sample from my fragrance penpal (who also happens to be my evil scent twin in most things), and loved it. I just got a decant of Vanilla Gallant, and cannot, cannot, cannot abide by it. Uggh. I should have known (I think it’s the florals there). I love Ode de la Vanilla and bought a bottle in a panic at Saks, because I couldn’t let it go the way of the dinasaurs the way Vanilia did…
    Just tried Micallef Note de VAnilla, and it’s wayy too sweet for me. Although Vanilla is my most used note, it’s got to be balanced with something else. On the other hand, it can’t be to light, or shallow in a fragrance, either. I wish Le Labo V44 had MORE vanilla in it. It starts out wonderful, then moves to almost straight incense on my skin. Creeds Sublime Vanilla is so light, it’s just a “nice” vanilla, but nothing to write home about.

    Musks (all except Kiehls) bring out the sweet in my skin – they almost are vanilla with a bang, if that makes sense?

    Okay, enough of my rambling… :)

    • March says:

      Hm. I might not like the Micallef then. Or the Le Labo, although I still might try it. That’s interesting about musks. Vanilia turns up, like everything else, on eBay occasionally. Or somebody might have a swap on MUA.

  • Disteza says:

    If you’re looking for an upscale vanilla that’s closer to the pod and less tobacco-inspired than SDV, I recommend Indult’s Tihota. It’s about as close to the pod as you’re likely to get in perfumes, and it has excellent lasting power. It is also, sadly, ridiculously expensive.

    • Rappleyea says:

      I think Daisy at NST described Tihota as “hot buttered vanilla”. That started a lemming with me!

    • March says:

      I have an old sample of Tihota. It’s going off in an interesting way, even more powerful. It’s probably the most straight-up vanilla I’ve smelled that didn’t make me cringe, but I still like to layer it with something smoky, like Burning Leaves.

      • Rappleyea says:

        March, what about Le Labo’s Patch 24 for vanilla and smoke? That’s what it is on me; I get no patch at all with it.

        • March says:

          I’d have to retry it. I admit at the time I found their names irritating (the disconnect with the scent) – rose, patch, etc. I’ve kind of gotten over myself; Poivre helped. 😡 And Aldehyde. But I tend to avoid their NY boutique, the guy there kind of irritates me.

  • mary says:

    Thanks for the fun post,March! You sent me.digging for my Habanita; I hadn’t even realized. I was I the mood for Vanilla. Btw, it wasgranny on the Beverly Hillbillies who recommended the vanilla extract behind the ears–for courtin’! U~o)

  • Mals86 says:

    My sister’s husband is a great fan of vanilla scents on her – he calls her “sexy cake” if she’s wearing one.

    I find that some of my favorites have a strong vanilla presence, but they’re not straight-up vanillas: vtg Emeraude, Shalimar Light, the aforementioned Smell Bent One, and PdN Vanille Tonka, which on me is not terribly vanilla, but a lot like a cocktail of Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum and Dr. Pepper. (If you’re cringing, I don’t want to know about it.) I do like Havana Vanille, but it’s not what I’d call a favorite.

  • grizzlesnort says:

    Granny on the Beverly Hillbillies wore Vanilla Extract– Gotta love her! I got a sample of a Hanae Mori that smells like vanilla and lemon-each good, but not together, no.

  • Robin says:

    I wonder if Vanilia ran afoul of IFRA and they didn’t want to reformulate it? But still puzzled about Havana Vanille — it was a great name. And they particularly wrote to me to ask me to change the name, but it still says Havana Vanille on their own website. Weird.

    • March says:

      I meant to ask you about that! When I was looking for lists of notes and wondering whether Vanilia was still available I went to their website, and still see the original name.

  • DinaC says:

    Vanilla, when it’s the centerpiece of a scent, is not my favorite note. I like it best when it’s a part of the orchestra instead of a soloist. Here are three examples:
    1. Vol de Nuit Evasion — a nice floral with a bit of that classic Guerlain vanilla drydown. Lovely and not gourmand, which I loathe.
    2. Kenzo Amour — rice steam, spices, and vanilla. A comfort scent for me, and as close to a gourmand as I’ll ever get.
    3. Belle en Rykiel — lavender and vanilla, well blended with a hint of coffee, too.
    Those are my idea of good vanilla scents.

  • Heather B says:

    What about Smell bents One- vanilla and musty books. I’m so glad I got a bottle before it disappeared.

  • OperaFan says:

    I agree with Karin and Rappleyea above on their choices of PdN’s Vanille Intense and Angelique Noir. VI is a beautiful smoked, carmelized sugared creme brule on me and Angelique Noir with that touch of fresh green (I guess it’s the angelica) that persists to the drydown is just exquisite. Hate the bulb atomizer bottle, though.
    When I began wearing Guerlain in the ’90s (Chamade was my first) I had no idea that vanilla was used in perfume. Of course, as all the Guerlain die-hards profess, you cannot love Guerlain and not love vanilla.
    My contribution for oddballs: Montale’s Chypre Vanille, which opens with a strange, plasticky, pencil-like vanilla, but on good days, warms into a rich oriental that makes me think of a classic Guerlain. Wore it yesterday and loved every minute….

    • Mals86 says:

      Chamade does have a good slug of vanilla in there, doesn’t it? It’s not really a vanilla scent, but you notice the vanilla.

      • OperaFan says:

        I believe it’s the vanilla that gives it the sweet “roundness” in its heart and base? I know there’s a gob of other notes that help it out along the way as well and you would know better than I, Mals. But just for the record, it was meant as a milestone reference than a candidate for an off-beat vanilla scent.:)

        • Mals86 says:

          Well, I did get it was your first Guerlain. :) But while I was considering it, I was thinking, Wow, you know, it morphs from that cold-shoulder galbanum thing into this honeyed, vanilla-ed, warm golden thing…

      • March says:

        Really? I’m going to resniff it now. The way it morphs is so fascinating.

    • March says:

      Hm. Okay, I am definitely going to have to try the PdN.

  • Francesca says:

    I have a few vanillas, but I wouldn’t know which ones to characterize as oddball. But in any event, this post sent me running to Un Bois Vanille as my SotD.

  • Rappleyea says:

    I’m firmly in the SDV camp, which presents different faces to me on different days. Some days it’s wood and tobacco with the vanilla, and other days it’s more rose and wood. But I don’t necessarily think of SDV as an “oddball” vanilla. It seems pretty straight up to me. In the oddball category, I’d nominate another Guerlain – Angelique Noir. An opening blast of angelica always makes a scent an oddball one in my book.

    • Suzy Q says:

      Rappleyea, my experience with SDV is the same as yours, which was a welcome surprise. But, yeah, it’s straight up.

      • Rappleyea says:

        “Welcome surprise” is exactly what it was for me too as it was my first vanilla – believe it or not!

    • March says:

      Angelica is such a weird smell to me, it would make almost anything qualify as “oddball.” There’s another scent, d/c’d, I’m trying to remember. Something with incense. That thing was weird.

  • Cheryl says:

    Strange Invisible Perfumes has an “odd” vanilla called Magazine Street. It’s vanilla paired with vetiver. And there’s magnolia too. This is a very sultry vanilla…quite unique….

    • Disteza says:

      You know, I’ve got an FB of this and wear it with abandon, and would never have known about the vanilla had you not mentioned it. I get a bit of sweet, but mostly it’s all sweaty vetty and flowers on me.

    • March says:

      I get mostly vetiver too… it’s such a great, strange thing, though.

  • donanicola says:

    Le Labo Vanille 44! Totally my favourite vanilla. I think of myself as a House of Guerlain ho (HoG ho! hhaaaha) but after a brief love affair with SDV I realised it was all extract and no incense on me. I keep trying it again waiting for the incense but it stubbornly refuses to surface. And I respect Shalimar and its variations but hardly ever want to wear them. So it’s back to Vanille 44 and its cool incensey base and my other favourite vanilla, Bulgari Black. This post is so coincidental for me as today I’m wearing said V44 and also a new purchase (for compare and contrast purposes), the bargain L’Occitane Honey and Vanilla which I like alot. It is more gourmand than V44 with smokey, burnt caramel notes but its not tooth-achingly sweet.

    • Tara says:

      I have the same experience with SDV, all extract and the long unsuccessful wait for the incense that never seems to appear. The sad thing is that I can tell, that if I got the incense everyone else does, SDV would be a masterpiece for me. :((

    • March says:

      Wait, there’s a L’Occitane HONEY and vanilla? Not lemon? I’m going to have to look for that.

      • donanicola says:

        Yes that’s right – Honey and Vanilla! It was next to the Honey and Lemon so I did a double take in the shop, sprayed some on to try, left the shop, got half way down the road, turned round and went back for it. I find it less sweet than the Honey and Lemon (which is a guilty pleasure of mine). It was limited edition whenever it was released so there’s not much of it around. Let me know if I can enable since I think there might have been a bottle left when I passed the shop last night….

  • Suzy Q says:

    Diptyque Eau Duelle–I get…pickles! Eww. I’ve tried this several times and always get the same result. Is it the juniper?

    I don’t own a plain vanilla either, March, unless you count Tocade, but I’m zeroing in on Havana Vanille. When HV was first released I was disappointed: where are the fat cigars and sweaty guys? But when I retried it six months later without any preconceptions it smelled amazing, a vanilla skin scent. A decant is on the way to my mailbox.

  • Olfacta says:

    To me “vanillas” are favorite sleep scents — Tocade is one. And Barbara Bui, which may not be vanilla at all but to me is a white scent, like white bedsheets. Also the original Givenchy Organza. Keep meaning to try the new Shalimar vanilla, but I just haven’t yet — of course, we’re still locked up in the house due to all the ice!

  • karin says:

    I can’t stomach the straight-on extract vanillas, like SDV (all extract, no smoke or tobacco on me) and Havana Vanille (I get no tobacco from this either). Also have a huge bottle of Noire du Mexique (an unsniffed cheap purchase) – so cloying. And Shalimar – ugh. Definitely not my thing.

    But there are a few vanillas I like. I’d throw Nicolai’s Vanille Intense in the oddball vanilla camp. No vanilla mentioned in the list of notes (and BTW – newsflash! Nicolai just changed their website!!?? Though none of the fragrances are listed yet that I can tell). I also love Vanilia, and recently purchased Un Bois Vanille. Not crazy about the beginning stages of UBV, but love the drydown. Dzing! may also qualify as an oddball vanilla? And I like L de Lolita Lempicka.

    • Disteza says:

      Totally with you on Dzing–vanilla and leather and, um, cardboard? Delightfully weird and cozy.

    • March says:

      Oh, did they redo the PdN website? It can’t be any worse! And I have no idea what Vanille Intense smells like, I should try it, since I’m kind of a fangirl.

      Dzing is more cardboard/circus on me, but you’re not the first person to find it vanillic.

      • karin says:

        The new Nicolai website is still pretty bad! Why have it go “live” without any of the perfumes on it? Kiss Me Tender is on the home page, but all of the perfume links are blank. Weird! Love Nicolai, though, so hate dissing on them!

      • karin says:

        Oh, and March – email me your address and I’ll send you some Vanille Intense!

        And sending you something reminds me of that Jicky EDP that went to another swapper which reminds me of civet which reminds me of Absolue Pour le Soir. Have you tried it??? I’d send you some except I just forwarded my sample to another friend to try. If you like those types of skanky scents, you must try APlS (if you haven’t already)!

      • karin says:

        Just checked the website again – it’s populated with the perfumes now!

  • waftbyCarol says:

    I’m with you March , I just don’t own any vanilla-centric frags , even tho I keep trying .
    I just recieved a sample of indie perfumer Jane Cate’s soon-to-be-released scent , Muse . Notes listed are vanilla , lime , linden blossom , rose and rosewood . She says it dries down to an almost violet ….sounds oddball doesn’t it ?
    She sells in her Etsy shop , http://www.wingandprayerperfume.etsy.com
    She created a perfume for the outlaw project called Notoriety which I love !
    I’d love to share the sample of Muse with someone who wants to try it….anybody ?

    • Masha says:

      I’ve tried it, and it’s soooo good, but I’d call it more of a riff on rose than a vanilla. Mine is a later version, though, I think.

    • Rappleyea says:

      Oh Carol, yes please!! Those notes sound fabulous. Do you detect much linden in it? And thanks for reminding me about her Notoriety, which I meant to try.

      • Heather B says:

        Oh don’t bring her up. I have recently lost my San Francisco mini of hers that I love- licorice/ soft powder. Also love her Lavender and Roses, Tallulah b w Jasmine, and Dorobella

    • mary says:

      Yes, please! I would love to try that wing and a prayer! Mary~o)

    • March says:

      The notes sound lovely, but if it’s a riff on rose it’s wasted on me, sadly.

  • Sherri M. says:

    March, Thank you for this post! I’m with Fiordiligi in the “die-hard” Guerlain vanilla fan camp! My favorite vanilla is easily SDV. I remember the SA at NM telling me it was good for layering. This morning I’m trying it with Rose Barbare (found an old sample), and it’s actually making the rose, which I normally detest, softer and richer. I’ll have to try it over some of the classics. I did try it over Amande Orientale the other day and it was a complete fail. The SDV is so rich it made AO, which I normally find quite pleasant, cheap in comparison. My favorite Guerlain “vanillas” are Angelique Noire and Cuir Beluga, which need no additional vanilla and are great for this snowy cold weather. Also Gourmande Coquin. I suppose it would be my “cheap thrill” category (funny how everything after Guerlain falls into “cheap thrill”!), I like Pilar and Lucy Exact Friction of the Stars. Smells like a new Barbie to me…lol..and who isn’t happy with a new Barbie?! And how about Alessandro? Or it that too much an almond?

    • March says:

      Lots of love for SDV on here today, why don’t I get all that smoky darkness?! :(( And lol, yes, those Guerlains make everything a cheap thrill.

  • Carla says:

    Tocade is my vanilla. Vanilla is usually loud. But I find Vanilia quiet, not trashy at all. I was so surprised by Turin’s Vanilia review when I first read The Guide. Maybe if you do wear vanilla in hot weather it comes across as more fun and “trashy”? Like suntan oil? I tend to wear it in cold weather for comfort, and that’s how my idea of Vanilia was formed. You can still buy Vanilia in Europe. The only Lutens export line I really can’t get into is Un Bois Vanille. Doesn’t feel upmarket like the other Lutens at all.

    • March says:

      You know, on the Vanilia — I have a sample of one, which is my bottle. I remember trying it a few times in the store and just finding it weird. I can’t argue at this point, particularly now that it has in fact disappeared at least from our local shelves, that my bottle represents. To me the trashy bit is the sweetness, kind of fakey-smelling (I hate using “synthetic” because they’re most all synthetic to some degree, what do I know?) Nice to know you can still buy it in Europe.

      • Carla says:

        Well I just re-read my own comment and maybe vanilla does usually lend a cheap-and-cheerful air to a perfume. I do after all find Un Bois Vanille not-so-upmarket. I don’t know why I didn’t find Vanilia that synthetic, must try to sniff again, I remember spices more than synthetics…

        • March says:

          I’m trying to think back. What I found it first was WEIRD. Just…. weird. And I didn’t like it. Then when I realized at some point that it reminded me of Rush, it immediately took on these trashy connotations. It doesn’t smell anything *like* Rush — but something not-found-in-nature to me (as opposed to spicy). Pretend I never used the word “synthetic,” okay? Because that connotes plastick-y, and it’s not.

          • Carla says:

            Sorry to string along, but I’m procrastinating. (Can you believe they have no word for procrastinating in French?!) Anyway, I hate Rush, very synthetic/plasticky and strong and awful at first but then – thankfully – just disappears for me. I try it often when I’m at the shops, trying to get what the fuss is all about. Well, now I have to go sniff Vanilia again. No need to reply!

  • Louise says:

    I’m with Hongkongmom on the UBV-such a fabulous vanilla with woody and licorice notes.

    Another oddball Serge is Fourreau Noir-which starts with a blast of lavender, and dries to a smokey vanillic When I want sweet, the Vanille Noir du Mexique is nice, with a touch of smoke.

    I love my Ode, and vintage Shalimar with the really growly animalics. Vanille Galante was a real surprise for me-it should not work, but it does, and makes me happy.

    And, um, BBW Vanilla Noir is lovely-sweet of course, but with some floral and something a bit bitter. One of the best BBWs, up there with the Brown Sugar/Figgie Thingie.

    I think L’Aromarine does a great basic vanilla, for about three pennies-a touch sweet, but pretty close to vanilla extract, and great for bedtime.

    • Masha says:

      I make a tincture with Mexican vanilla pods, and it really is spicy and dark, very nice indeed!

      • Louise says:

        ooh, what do you mix the pods with? mmmm…

        • Masha says:

          I used Artisan’s Alcohol (Snowdrift Farms), but a good quality vodka would be pretty scrummy, as a flavoring.

          • Cheryl says:

            Yes..I also make my own vanilla with pods + vodka. You just replenish the vodka when you run low..the beans are good for years….at least that was the tip from the vanilla farm where I purchased the beans in Hawaii.

          • Shelley says:

            Again! Oy!! I’ve used vodka, but you can also use bourbon to interesting effect. Seriously. And yes, you can replenish as you go, but I try not to let it go below half before refreshing. And I’ll start with a fresh pod after 2-3 years.

            A few years ago Nielsen-Massey (?) offered “vanilla extract kits” which were basically a pod and a french-style vinegar bottle with instructions how to “make” the extract. It’s super easy to DIY–you can just go to Spice House or some sort for good quality pods, and use your favorite bottle.

        • Tara says:

          Years ago, I found a Martha Stewart recipe for making Vanilla extract (and there was also a recipe for homemade Kahlua which was amazing!!!). I think it was vodka, vanilla bean and some sugar (I am not sure about the sugar that might have been for the Kahlua) and it fermented for about a month (I think). What I do remember is that it was amazing!!! I’ll search around for the recipe and email it to you if you want.

    • March says:

      Huh. You give me ideas. I need to re-dig out my Fourreau, I’d not noticed the vanilla. And perhaps I’ll lure you with a cuppa coffee and try a couple of the others? 8-|

  • Fiordiligi says:

    Well, you can’t be a diehard “proper Guerlain” fan like me and not love vanilla! Shalimar is right up there for me. I wore Ode a la Vanille for a week when we did the challenge recently and, sad to say, it did absolutely nothing on me – just completely linear. I haven’t touched it since then.

    Having said that I am a “proper Guerlain” fan I do love SDV which is quite a masterpiece. I love bourbon vanilla, basically, not ethyl maltol!

    • March says:

      Everybody loves SDV. (Oh, wait, everybody but LT I think?) And I do think it’s lovely, I always have at least a sample. But I didn’t get the hardcore smoky vanilla I wanted. 🙁

  • hongkongmom says:

    how about bois de vanille…dear uncle serge…on its own or layered with others from the family…chene, santal blanc.rousee….and so on

    • March says:

      And another one that should definitely be on this list! A great addition to the Bois series and you’re right, it’s fun to layer.

  • I’m afraid I have to side with Tania Sanchez on Goutal’s Vanille Exquise, I get the burnt hair note as well, which is what kept me from buying it a couple of years ago when I decided I wanted a vanilla. Never ended up getting anything: it’s really not my preferred solinote. Like Masha above I worship at the altar of Bulgari Black but that’s not enough of a vanilla for me to qualify. Mine is Havana Vanille, because it’s a vanilla pod trying to morph into a cigar, and there’s no cloyingness about it. (the name had to be changed for legal reasons: the city of Havana threatened to sue, apparently).

    • Masha says:

      “I’ve been sued by Havana,” can you imaging saying that to your friends at a dinner party?? Maybe they should have kept the name and taken the legal consequences, what awesome publicity it would have been!

    • March says:

      Oh, sued by Havana?! That’s very funny. And I do think Black should be on my oddball list.

      Havana Vanille I should retry. There was this ten-minute stretch early on that was sort of banana-aquatic that I didn’t care for, but things change.

    • Shelley says:

      Well, shoot, that’s what I get for responding as I go, instead of reading to the end, first. Toss me onto the Havana Vanille wagon that Denyse started.

    • Carla says:

      I would think the Cubans would be against private property, so no suing. Or perhaps only Castro still tows that party line.

      • Masha says:

        L’Artisan should really make up some T-shirts with HV on the back and “Sued By Havana!” on the front. I think they’d sell well.

  • Masha says:

    Menardo’s Bvlgari Black is the only vanilla I wear. It’s not a sweet, cloying vanilla, and definitely not a cookie (unless it’s a vanilla cookie wearing rubber fetish gear ;-)
    I love the smell of vanilla absolute, but don’t particularly like to wear just soli-vanillas, and I can’t stand ethyl maltol. So apart from Black, vanillas aren’t in my collection at all.

  • dinazad says:

    Montales’ Amandes Orientales smells of vanilla to me. Not “let’s make it vanilla so mom, dad AND the babies will like it” vanilla, but vanilla the spice, vanilla the orchid, a sharp-toothed, dangerous, straight-from-the-jungle vanilla. Love it. (It also fits the tiger pee note in Amandes Orientales…)

    • March says:

      You had me at tiger pee. :d There must be 300 Montales I’ve not tried.

      • Musette says:

        Me, too! Tiger pee is actually pretty good deer deterrent.

        xo >-)

      • dinazad says:

        There used to be a tiger at the Zurich zoo who would pee at onlookers with unerring aim when he got bored with being gawked at. I admired him immensely!

        Nobody has a chance of trying all the Montales. Especially if you visit the Paris shop – you get all woozy from the combined aroma of aoud and roses in there, and after the sixth variation of the combination some friendly SA has sprayed on a neatly folded paper thingie, you just flee in desperation.

        • March says:

          I would pay good money to see that. I didn’t know they could aim long distance.

          Yeah, I could try all the Montales by the time I’m 70, but only if they stopped releasing new ones.

  • Tara says:

    I adore Shalimar, but I think I might like Ode a la Vanille even better! It’s amazing and you are right March, the dry down is truly stunning. Just yesterday I wore Ode a la Vanille and then threw on some Kilian Pure Oud. I was in heaven. Organza Indecence is the only perfume for which I routinely receive unsolicited compliments from people I don’t know.

    I can’t believe that SDV drys down to Back to Black on you. For me, while I love SDV for about the first hour, it never really goes anywhere and I feel like I am walking around smelling like a giant vat of vanilla extract. I keep hoping for the incense, but it never arrives.

    I have not tried either the Vanilia or the Goutal, but think a trip to the perfumed court is in my future.

    Have a great day..Don’t get too much snow. They are forecasting 18-20 inches here (suburb of NYC) …Good day to focus on vanilla perfumes!

    • March says:

      OI is also one I get compliments on all the time. I tend to wear it to cocktail/dinner type things, as it doesn’t seem to compete with the food. And I think your experience with SDV is closer to the norm than mine is.

      Nope, not too much snow! Maybe an inch, the sun is already out. Of course over here that’s a 2-hour delay in school. /:)

      • Masha says:

        Ha! I remember one really bad winter we had a meter of snow in a couple hours, they didn’t even delay school (we lived 10km away), and the secretary said, “Well, you all have snow shoes, don’t you??”

        • Tara says:

          Wow…they cancelled school here last night in anticipation of the snow…Masha where do you live? They sound like they’re used to a lot of snow :)

  • Occhineri says:

    Felanilla, of course! Love, love, love it. :)

  • SaraK says:

    My favorite vanilla scent is actually from L’Occitane – Honey and Lemon. Yep, no mention of vanilla, but vanilla cake is the resulting smell on me.

    While it is sweet, I don’t find it cloying — and I got the best compliment from my friend’s little son… “You smell like birthday cake!”.

  • dissed says:

    I smell vanilla in No. 5, and maybe a bit more in No. 5 Eau Premiere. I like Vanille Exquise and Organza Indecence, but rarely use them. Too sweet. I still haven’t found what I want, a smoky, unsweet, vanilla-bean-pod scent. Don’t think there is one.

  • Tiara says:

    I love vanilla and Micallef’s Note Vanillée is my favorite. Quite boozy at the beginning, but settles into a smooth vanilla with a touch of for most of the day.

    PdN’s Vanille Tonka is another. More spicy but it doesn’t last as long as NV.

    Favorite cheap vanilla thrill is Giselle. More of a caramel feel to the vanilla but quite nice for the price.

    • rosarita says:

      PdN’s Vanille Tonka is my fave vanilla. I love the mix of frankincense & vanilla and that oddball lime note makes it perfect.

    • March says:

      I do need to try that Micallef. PdN is not my personal favorite, but lots and lots of people love it. :)>-

    • March says:

      Hi, all. We had a neighborhood FIOS fail yesterday, so aggravating, service was up and down all day.

      I forgot Giselle! I had a decent decant and it’s one of those that evaporated right away, I should get some more, I liked it.

  • (Ms.)Christian says:

    Shoot me if you will but (vintage) Chanel No. 5 is my oddball vanilla. Vanilla is a stomach turner for me and I have tried most all of the vanillas, from low (extract) to high end (Guerlain, L’Artisan, PdN and so on), looking for something weareable. The hunt has been a long, miserable and unpleasant endeavour.

    My skin brings out the roundest, deepest, smoothest cloud of good, just a skinch sweet vanilla when I apply my very, very old No. 5s. I have no desire to try the current versions. I am happy with my unbakery-like but toothsome Chanel vanilla. It never fails to make me think of vanilla pods in all their seeded dark mystery.