L’Artisan Havana Vanille

This is a little bit of a meander through the new L’Artisan Havana Vanille as well as perfumedom´s vanilla fields (although not Vanilla Fields), so if vanilla scents don´t interest you, you might as well move on, nothing to see here today.  Can you tell I´m looking forward to fall?

I was an early, frequent opposer of all perfume things gourmand and particularly things vanilla.  I love to bake, and yet wearing anything that smelled like I´d dabbed on vanilla extract seemed bizarre to me.  Who wants to smell like a vanilla cupcake?  (Lots of people, apparently.)  Judging by the ever-changing shelves at Sephora, we seem to have move on past the worst of the Vanilla Heresies, when they had three different lines of vanilla crap, including Laurence Dumont, LaVanilia and something else… in addition to a lot of vanillic CSPs.  And the vanilla was often combined with some other note that made it just that much more terrifying, like citron, or maple.  Or raspberry.  Or mothball, or salmon.  (Okay, joking about those last two.)   Collectively, in concept and execution, they gave me the dry heaves.

Then I discovered Givenchy Organza Indecence, which was one of those scents people were always waxing poetic about.  It´s either been re-released or the distribution is increased, but when I was looking for it, it was darn difficult to find.  (I thought it had been d/c´d but have been told several times that´s incorrect.)  Whatever; I whined on here long enough that someone graciously hooked me up with a sample, at which point I started plotting immediately on how to get my hands on a bottle.   Because it was pretty clear I was going to wear the hell out of that stuff, and I have.

Organza Indecence is technically a more woody/spicy scent than a true vanilla, but its drydown is vanillic enough on me that I began to see the vanilla potential there.  This prompted further adventures in the land of high-end vanillas, where I was hoping to avoid the too-sweet vanillin Curse of Sephora (did you know artificial vanilla is made from wood pulp, a paper industry byproduct?  Yum, dig in.)

Results were varied.  Indult Tihota is lovely but I couldn´t see the point; too extract-y.  Lann-Ael I alternate between loving and loathing, but it´s the apple/cereal bit that grates, not vanilla.  The high mark (?) of vanilla perfume fetish-dom in my opinion is Guerlain´s Spiritueuse Double Vanille, a dark, smoky vanilla which I would own a bottle of except: a) the price is ridiculous, b) it would last me a thousand years and c) having discovered that what I really love about SDV is the smoke/vanilla combo, I can whip up my own by dabbing Bonfire or Burning Leaves on top of another vanilla scent, creating one of my favorite winter standbys.  PdN Vanille Tonka was an epic FAIL for reasons that still elude me, but I think is the tonka.  I still need to try the Micallef, I bet I´d like it.  And finally, the L´Artisan Vanilia I waffle between wanting a decant of and finding it gets on my nerves after a few hours.

Bringing us FINALLY to L´Artisan´s Havana Vanille.  It was done by Bertrand Duchaufour and is grouped in their travel series with Dzongkha, Bois Farine, Timbuktu and Fleur de Liane, of which Duchaufour did all but Farine.  Notes are rum, clove, dried fruits, narcissus, tonka bean, helichrysum, vanilla, smoked woods, moss and balsamic notes according to Robin at Now Smell This, who kindly sent me a sample thinking I´d like it, and I´m going to link right here to her great review.

And now I have to tell two stories on myself, both of which pertain to Havana Vanille.  First off: when I read Duchaufour did it, I was not overly enthused, because with a couple of exceptions most of his work for L´Artisan, including the travel series, are not my favorites, and we will leave it at that.  He has an earth/spicebox style exemplified by, for example, Timbuktu and his Eau d´Italie creations that I find both interesting and personally unwearable.

Second, my mind is a sieve and somehow when the sample arrived I had convinced myself that this was a new Hermessence scent (come on, how funny is that?), and that didn´t really delight me either.  Why?  Because I don´t love most of the Hermessences- the ones I like are too evanescent, and the powerful ones are pretty much scrubbers.   So although I´d changed the perfume house mentally I was still skeered; I sprayed it on meditatively and waited for some horrible melon note to emerge and smother me.

So, March … THAT IS ALL FASCINATING, HOW IS THE HAVANA VANILLE ALREADY?!?!?  Well, I am still thinking.   The first impression is: vanilla, but not a foody one, and yessssssss!!!!!  Then, and I can´t help wondering if this is my Hermessence mindset, we go through a brief five-minute phase where I smell something like bananamelon on top of the vanilla, and the scent comes dangerously close to reminding me of – yes!  my bananamelon nemesis, Hermessence Vanille Galante! – a scent which many perfumistas love and which you may recall made me want to hack my own arm off to get away from.  I didn´t hate it as much as Mousson, which I loathe so virulently I refused to file my sample so as to avoid ever making the mistake of smelling it again, but it was close.   Melon, banana or wet notes and vanilla is just … wrong.

Once we get past that, though, I am very happy.  Havana Vanille is a not-too-sweet vanilla with a decidedly smoky edge to it (my daughter took one sniff and called it “burnt”) and that it is: burnt in two, no, three ways – the sharp smell of singed sugared vanilla, like the top of a crà¨me brulee, the smell of tobacco, and the smell of smoke itself.

Havana Vanille also reminds me a bit of Guerlain SDV, only it´s less dense and less … formal?  (Also, scientists should study my skin; Havana lasts easily 36 hours on me.)  SDV I have to watch not to overdose myself, like eating that last piece of chocolate and then wishing you hadn´t.   The tobacco note is definitely there in Havana, along with the rum, but they´re both so integrated into the scent that I can pick them out looking for them, but I´m not thinking “man, this thing is boozy.”

French speakers: shouldn’t this be Havane Vanille?  Or Havana Vainilla?  Just curious.  I feel like we’re mixing languages.

In the final analysis, if anyone´s read this far:  vanilla fragrances only work for me if there´s something non-edible about them.  I want my vanillas woody, or spicy, or leathery, or smoky.  Like SDV and Organza Indecence, Havana Vanille showcases the soothing seductive smell of vanilla by adding something entirely different and non-foody to frame it.  I haven´t really felt the need to add another vanilla to the fix I generally get from Indecence, Demeter Egg Nog (seriously, a rocking vanilla/spice scent I can´t resist mentioning; try it with Bonfire if you want smoke) and occasional hits of SDV, but this is different enough I´m pretty sure I need at least a generous decant, and maybe a bottle.  People who´ve shied away from vanilla on the ugh-too-sweeeet theory (looking at you, Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille!) might want to check this out.

  • PetronellaCJ says:

    I have a confession to make. I love Eau de Shalimar. Original Shalimar is too heavy on me, but Eau de Shalimar is a wonderfully cozy and carefree lightweight lemon-meringue pie sort of a scent. If that makes any sense ;). It’s been a favourite during this summer.

  • Robin says:

    Very late to this party, but had to comment about “Seriously. I don’t need to be a f’ing COBBLER to write a shoe blog” — that cracked me up, thanks!

  • Divalano says:

    Ahhh late to the party as always these days but had to comment. You get bananamelon & I got, I swear, baby aspirin. Really. The first hour was a rough ride. One hour in, it’s growing on me. And yes, I also love SDV. Yes, SDV is often too much. Yes, I also love Organza Indecence & adore smoke in my vanilla. Must try that Eggnog/Bonfire concoction once it gets cold.

    I may like this, I’m still not sure. There’s a musty soapy thing that gets up my nose, probably the moss. Once I got thru the baby aspirin (no, really!) & the soapy sharp it got interesting. Just not sure I can pay to do an hour of that. More research is required.

  • Andrea says:

    Hi March,
    Just had to say that you made me laugh. Love reading your post. Hope we are scent twins. Trying several of your recs. Wish I could throw in an intelligent comment about parfum but I am too new to the game.

    • March says:

      Hey, thanks for delurking! We are always happy to have somebody else on here to play with. Let me know if anything works out for you!

  • Tara C says:

    I’m very intrigued by the reviews on this one, can’t wait to sniff. I love SDV and just about all of the Maison de la Vanille scents. Hell I love just about any vanilla scent that’s done half-decently. So in theory I should love HV, but since I don’t like Vanilia, I’m definitely approaching this one cautiously. Vanilia just smells weak and watery to me. I like my vanillas sweet and preferably smoky, woody and/or boozy. I’m very interested in the large size of SDV, didn’t know there was such a thing!

    • March says:

      I think the 75ml IS the large size … seriously, girl, how much more of that stuff do you need?!? 😉 I’d love to hear back if you try Havane…

  • Elle says:

    Demeter Egg Nog (which really is all that and then some)w/ Bonfire? Whoa! A recipe for comfort heaven!
    I was *sure* I’d need HV. Positive. No doubt. OK, a bit of a doubt because, like you, I’ve not had a great track record w/ Duchaufour’s creations so far. Still, the notes sounded so lovely for fall. But vanilla scents are all about making an emotional connection and, for whatever reason, I’m not connecting w/ this on an emotional level. I admire it. I like it. Respect it. And there’s the rub – I don’t want to feel polite admiration or respect for my vanillas. I want to curl up and read w/ them on cloudy days. This one would make me sit up straight and read Hemingway (an author I’ve never been able to relax w/). No mysteries, no magazines. I’ll continue to sample, but I doubt I’ll move on to FB mode.

    • March says:

      I can’t believe I almost threw Egg Nog in the trash unsniffed. ::sob:: think of all the fun I’d be missing? And yes, I throw it on with Bonfire or Burning Leaves and could not be happier.

      And also, I love you. What an eloquent explanation of how HV did not *quite* work for you.

  • Joe says:

    Hmm. I lurve Duchaufour, LLLUURRRVE Timbuktu, and lurve Vanille Galante. Can we still be friends?

    Something makes me think that lots of women really DIG wearing the vanilla scents, and that this stuff is going to sell like hotcakes for L’Artisan. Just a hunch. And hey, more power to them if it does.

    I recently got a decant of SDV and I want to be one of those people who brag, “Oh, on me, just two drops last 12 hours.” Nothing worse than damn perfumista gloaters. 😀

    I don’t necessarily ever want to smell like a cupcake, but I had a more fun than I’d imagined possible a few weeks ago with a sample of CSP Vanille Coco, and I own a mini DSH Apricot Vanilla oil, which is very nice. If this is as good as it sounds, I’ll definitely want a bottle or split of this Havana Vanille though. I think it’ll be great for fall.

    • March says:

      Of course we can still be friends, Joe! If there is one thing I am totally in support of, it is your right to wear anything you want. Except Angel, and then only around me. 😉

      Louise breaks that rule btw, I think she’s testing me.

      Men can totally work vanilla scents. That DSH sounds lovely, actually.

    • Rappleyea says:

      Joe – on me, SDV lasts 24 hrs. 😉

  • Dleep says:

    That was a great review! I am so looking forward to trying it. I have about a 1/2 bottle of the original Organza Indecence. I love it and get a lot of compliments wearing it. I also loved SDV; however, my sample is long gone.

  • dea says:

    I really do love it when you write, because I can imagine you as my girlfriend cracking me up over a drink, or while we are shopping.

    Like you, i need something woody or dry to balance out a vanilla. i liked organza indecence but it didn’t seem like ‘me’. The thought that came to my head was that it was for someone much more bosomy than myself. I don’t know what that means, but it feels pretty accurate. and, yes, I have a boyish figure.

    • sweetlife says:

      OI is TOTALLY bosomy! I think that’s exactly right. But I don’t think you have to be bosomy to wear it, necessarily, you just have to enjoy the temporary illusion–it confers bosom upon the wearer (hips, too–and a purring, sex kittenish voice, under the right circumstances).

    • March says:

      Luca Turin tells a hilarious anecdote in his review of Indecence in The Guide. Recapping badly: he listened to a man in a bar explain that he liked German women because they were so “tall” – which he demonstrated by cupping his hands in front of his chest. LT goes on to say something like, “Organza Indecence is unquestionably a tall perfume…”

  • Musette says:

    Ha! Both Carter and Rappleyea had me giggling this morning. I always forget that Shalimar is so vanillic – I used to HATE LaShal, until I found a leetle vintage perfume in an antique mall – totally changed my mine (my mom wore that ugly stuff in the blue and white cylinder – it must’ve been and Edt. Ick-ola. But this leetle bottle of perfume…yum!

    And Rappleyea, I know what you mean about the giant ashtray – my first foray into ‘niche’ was T42 – at first it was Niche Luuurve, then it morphed into the bottom of a giant ashtray at the VFW!

    Don’t know any vanillas – I was just at NM, saw the SDV but the word ‘vanilla’ bounced it right off my radar! Must go back and see what the fuss is about.

    xoxo >-)

    • March says:

      SDV is like vanilla on crack. Or crack for vanilla lovers. Maybe both. But honestly, I wish they’d sell a 10ml bottle of it. And I don’t know the price but IIRC it’s muy expensivo.

      I’ll keep trying Shalimar, but that is some rough road for me.

      • carter says:

        So odd, March. Mitsy is difficult, as is Jicky, but if memory serves you are a fanatic when it comes to Mitsy and are also fond of Jicky. Or am I wrong about that? I find all three of them to be quite challenging, but in vintage extrait form, the light dawns.

        • March says:

          Nope, I adore them both. (Okay, I love Mitsy more.) I think the difficulty I have with Shalimar is something about the citrusy top with the vanilla; they’re very screechy to me. I dunno… I need to try some vintage extrait, maybe that would work.

    • Rappleyea says:

      Musette – I always enjoy your writing, so I’m glad I could bring a smile to your face. I tried SDV when it first came out exactly for the same reason – to see what the fuss was about. I couldn’t imagine anyone wanting to actually wear vanilla! And something with a double shot of it! So I threw a sample onto an order at TPC, and it was LaFS (love at first sniff). But for me, while the vanilla is there, I get more woods, spices, some rose, and a LOT of what I smell here in central Ky. in the Fall – tobacco curing in the barns. Love it!

    • carter says:

      Girlfriend — making you giggle is a highlight of my day, for reals.

  • Daisy says:

    Well, I guess I’m just a vanilla ho, because I’m willing to try anything with vanilla listed anywhere in notes, on the box or even if someone whispers the word vanilla within my range of hearing….
    Havana Vanille—practically has me DROOLING on the keyboard. Felanilla–good stuff, SDV= true love and yes it lasts like uranium (which is usually the effect I get with scrubbers so it’s nice to encounter that with something you love, yes?) , well, the list sort of goes on and on so I won’t get into that…And now I can hardly believe that I’ve missed out on ever trying Organza Indecence…a tragedy of monumental proportions….excuse me, I have to go see if I can scope some out somewhere…..
    Another lovely post March, always entertaining to read…and goodness knows I need my morning cackle. 🙂

    • March says:

      Vanilla ho! I just linked to my other vanilla post above, I forgot all about it…

      I hate to oversell it and lead you to disappointment, but OI was a standout in the hundreds of vials that crossed my desk. I remember popping it open (you know … the 17th thing I’d smelled that day or whatever) and thinking, DAMN. I NEED ME SOME OF THAT. That doesn’t happen to me that often.

    • mals86 says:

      Daisy, you need some OI! Got my 15ml bottle on the ‘bay for $19 (in that funky dress bottle with the “Bene Gesserit headdress” top, as someone on NST called it). And it IS definitely sexy in a wholesome way (as opposed to the Danger Mama that is Shalimar).

  • DinaC says:

    I enjoyed your post today, March, because I also don’t enjoy the whole worship of Vanilla scents that seem to be going on in the scent world. I can’t understand wanting to smell like food. And Shalimar has never worked on me, either. I’ll have to try the smokey vanilla thing sometime. Maybe that’s the key.

  • Shelley says:

    Ah, Organza Indecence. That’s one of the happy “yes” scents that have remained in that category throughout my own development as a sniffer. And my understanding is that while it never officially went out of production, the only place you could find it was Ulta…something I found out only shortly before it was re-introduced to wider distribution. Still, those two months of knowing I COULD get it other than online auction, the joy that day when I walked into an Ulta and saw a full bottle there on the shelf, for retail and not exorbitant “rare and auctioned” prices….priceless.

    I, too, am ambivalent about vanilla in perfume; there are precious few that don’t make me think I could do the same by slapping some extract from the kitchen cupboard on my wrist. And if I’m going to go “gourmand” for the express purpose and getting spouse to trail after me, I should go straight for the bacon, and skip the vanilla. 😉 Bacon rub = spouse magnet, vanilla rub = calm me down.

    I do not negatively about it though. My own equivalent would be Pine Sol in a perfume bottle. Don’t get me started.

    • March says:

      Organza Indecence at Ulta. That must have been incredibly satisfying, I can relate. That would have brought a huge smile to my face!

      Heh. Looks like we’ve created some new lemmings… hey, go dab on some vanilla extract and report back, willya? All I’ve got is almond, for some reason.

      • Shelley says:

        Hee hee…I’m gonna do an extrait dab-a-thon of a different sort…the usual suspects in terms of tester spots (two wrists, two inner elbows)…and given that I’ve got a few bottles in the baking cupboard, I can experiment with vanilla, almond, mint, anise, lemon…uh-oh, running out of spaces…then I can start layering with some gen-u-wine maple syrup or honey. (Honey, that’s the note of the month, right?)

        When I’m all done, I can roll in some bacon, and do that ’70’s entice-your-man trick of dressing in Saran Wrap. Or was that a weight loss thing? Hmmm….

        • March says:

          Well?!?!? btw the idea of lemon is completely grossing me out, not sure why

          • Shelley says:

            rmmmpphh mwwmmmmpha pppffffftttt
            [anybody got scissors? help…]

            Lemon? Really?? Hmmm…the scent to scare March…neither skank, nor oud, nor civet, nor sweat…but beware the lemon.

          • March says:

            You know it’s going to smell like a cross between Lemonheads and Pledge.

          • Musette says:

            It all too often does, alas. I just snagged a Mark Jacobs (I originally wrote March Jacobs!) Lemon for $19.99. When it first came out I found it charming but fleeting – certainly not worth the $50+ it was going for. But discounted to $20 makes it def The New Free.

            And if it turns all Lemonhead Pledge on me I won’t tear out my guts in fury!

            xoxo >-)

          • Musette says:

            should’ve stuck with March Jacobs!

            Marc. Marc Jacobs.




  • Francesca says:

    I like vanillas just fine, but my husband *loves* them, so those are often my go-tos for a date.

    I love SDV, but find I like Un Bois Vanille even more. A little drier, maybe? Also Micallef Vanilla Aoud. I never feel like wearing vanilla in the summertime, so I’m looking forward to digging out my old faves for fall.

    Too bad L’Artisan on Spring St closed. It was so convenient to my office. I bet I’d like Havana Vanille. I’ve been enjoying my “Ernesto” Cire Trudon candle on the weekends.

    • March says:

      Ha. And a confirmation that the husband loves them! Mine too…

      Okay, I should retry Bois Vanille. I wonder whether I’d be all over it right now. And I too am sorry their boutiques closed.

  • sweetlife says:

    I adore Paestum Rose and can’t wait to see M. D’s treatment of Vanilla. In fact, I ordered a sample of Felanilla (which I am enjoying very much) just because it was on my mind.

    I wonder if the melon you are smelling is what Marina is calling narcissus?

    As for the blogger thing — I think most of the antipathy comes from people who haven’t taken the time to actually read the blogs. There is something about the word “blog” itself, that, in this current historical moment, still smacks of uninformed opinion, gassy conversation and self-indulgence. I know that when I started reading I was completely shocked by how literate, passionate, and knowledgeable this corner of the internet was. I still am. I think it’s pretty unusual, actually…

    • March says:

      I just can’t freaking decide what that sweet bit is. Some sort of fruits emerging early? For awhile there I thought it might be the helichrysum, which — crap, I should put this in the review — is immortelle, and I LOVE immortelle. But it’s not really a syrupy sweet, that would have been fine…

      I dunno. I mean, those guys (the perfumers) some of them blog too. I’ve heard two arguments: lack of control over us (oh, well) and we’re uneducated (so educate us.)

  • Zazie says:

    Loved your review!
    I can totally relate on the “I don’t want to smell like cupcakes” thing! I usually say I don’t like vanilla, but the truth is that I don’t like the way it is usually rendered (sweet, sweet, sweet and straightforward). A smoky, woody and boozy thing defines an ideal vanilla for me – even better if slightly honeyed, with faint hints of flowers and spices.
    (Yes, daydreaming here. BTW, this makes me VERY impatient to try Vanilla 44.)
    I didn’t dislike Un bois vanille or the way Montale handles vanilla (yes, not oud, vanilla: after all they were the former owners of CSP!before tha brand became…well…what it is now!)
    But I generally prefer not to give the leading role in my perfumes to vanilla (or amber or musks): I would just let them act as side notes in the dry-down, smoothing edges and fixing everything nicely! 🙂

    • March says:

      Thanks, it sounds like we have the same desires for vanilla. I should definitely check the Le Labo out now that people are reminding me of it.

  • carmencanada says:

    Like you, I’m not big on vanillas… The tobacco/narcissus effect is what intrigues me. Unfortunately, the American-owned L’Artisan is targeting the English-speaking blogs and has neglected to premiere this with us on this side of the pond. Even though Bertrand Duchaufour knows *exactly* who O. and I are, since we were interviewed together. But then, he doesn’t think much of bloggers as he made plainly obvious in that interview. Oh well… Gotta wait for October then.

    • March says:

      Ow. Really? I wonder if we just slip their minds, though. Look, I got my sample from ROBIN, not a preview set from L’Artisan, and they know who I am well enough to come by here and comment if we’re debating some detail of one of their scents on here. And yet I have never managed to wind up on their PR list.

      I totally don’t get their antipathy to bloggers. I mean, people can kick that around forever and explain it, and I still won’t get it.

    • Shelley says:

      Hmmm. The American-owned L’Artisan is not doing so well by their customers on this side of the pond, either…I was in Barney’s last week, specifically wanted to sniff the Havana Vanille, and the very sweet person behind the counter didn’t even know what I was talking about. I am sure if the L’Artisan boutique were still there, they could at least say something about it not officially being out yet, blah, blah,…but a blank stare? Zoiks.

      • March says:

        And that was something great about their boutiques — they knew the line, they knew what was coming. I’m used to knowing all about other new releases at regular stores long before the SAs do. 🙂

    • sweetlife says:

      Coming back around because I just read the BD interview on Fragantica and he seems quite positive about bloggers, to me. True, he starts off a little condescending:

      “Mostly this has been very good, although some non-perfumers do get a little crazy and are too serious about it. It is important to understand there is a difference between opinion and expertise. But opinions are good if we all can learn.”

      But then he totally gives them/us credit for changing the industry:

      “I think bloggers will drive the perfumery critic in a more demanding way and will oblige the marketing brands to be, in the same time more precise, more serious and respectful of the work done by perfumers.

      Of course, it will bring automatically more honesty regarding the consumers themselves, avoiding the bullshit and a more and more deplorable quality of new products. That will take time because it will be proportional to the number of educated people and so-called potential consumers.

      You must be, as blogger leader, very careful of what you’re divulging because you are the more efficient guarantor of the quality and veracity of any commentaries concerning fragrances and perfumery.”

      All snipped directly from Michelyn Camen’s interview (and written, I understand, by BD, which explains the in-translation quality). The whole thing is here: http://www.fragrantica.com/news/Inside-the-Creative-Mind-Of-Rockstar-Perfumer-Bertrand-Duchaufour-976.html

      • March says:

        “Mostly this has been very good, although some non-perfumers do get a little crazy and are too serious about it. It is important to understand there is a difference between opinion and expertise. But opinions are good if we all can learn.” Ooookay … and PERFUMERS THEMSELVES aren’t guilty of any/all of those things?

        Also: I have never represented myself as anything else than marginally informed opinion.

        Similarly: “You must be, as blogger leader, very careful of what you’re divulging because you are the more efficient guarantor of the quality and veracity of any commentaries concerning fragrances and perfumery.” Whaaaaaaaa? Maybe it’s the translation? I feel like the perfume houses are blowing utter bullsh!t at us all the time — playing coy with the notes, lying about the reformulations blah blah blah — and yet somehow *I* am tasked as the Keeper of the Veracity Keys? Nope.

        Okay, SO NOT PICKING ON YOU and thank you for all this information. I should go sniff something calming… what chafes me, and I won’t even write this correctly, is: I think it’s my admitted amateurism that bugs them. The fact that I am an enthusiastic untrained amateur and yet — somehow — I have a voice! A voice that — helloooooooooo — is frequently prompting people to run out and try things. Like today.

        Seriously. I don’t need to be a f’ing COBBLER to write a shoe blog. I don’t have to understand all the technical details to be able to make a TOTALLY OPINIONATED pronouncement on, say, whether Jimmy Choo’s new fall line is ballin’. (For the record: I have no idea.)

        Okay, I have to go walk around the block, sorry, I have no idea why this got me so worked up. Back in a minute.

        • March says:

          Okay. Got that out of my system. Sorry. God, will you ever come back and comment again? I am not spleening you, you know this, right?

          • sweetlife says:

            WHOA, March, I didn’t mean to upset you! And I don’t feel personally attacked AT ALL, just sorry that it made you mad, because, my goodness, I am laughing right now, because I really, honestly, thought he was being kind of supportive. Maybe my years of graduate school have conditioned me to screen out reflexive condescension and given me a high tolerance for assholes, LOL!

            Here’s how I see it:

            a) I don’t think he’s talking to you in that first paragraph. For one thing, it’s pretty clear he’s more comfortable in French than in English and I bet he’s not spending a lot of time on American blogs. I do think Denyse has a right to be irritated, and if I were Octavian I would be totally pissed off–the condescension is a territorial move–don’t pretend you know chemistry, don’t talk to me about history and culture, etc. etc. But I actually think your cheerful opinionated self is exactly what he’s FOR.

            b) I totally see your second point, but I guess I didn’t take it that way. I was more like, oh, wow, he sees the blogs as important, as a place people listen and learn, and he knows that the industry is full of shit. I think a lot of industry folks, when they’re not busy being paranoid, are just completely dismissive (which is, frankly, what got them into the mess they’re in to begin with) so I found it refreshing to see someone taking the bloggers fairly seriously.

            I suppose this might be a very pollyannish interpretation, and OF COURSE you are free to dismiss it completely without worrying about offending me. (Or worrying that I won’t come back and comment. As if.)

            I am also guessing that you’ve had to deal with some of this crap behind the scenes in a more direct and personal way. I don’t have much of a stake in the game (except that it pisses me off when bloggers are dismissed as ignorant, because I know how incredibly smart and well-informed y’all are) so I realize I may be relatively immune…

        • Olfacta says:

          Agree. Hmmm. Is it bloggers’ amateurism that gets BD’s knickers all in a wad? Perhaps if someone could tell us where the University of Professional Perfume Criticism is, we could all go.

          • March says:

            But I mean it’s not just BD. I’ve heard variations of this before. Hence my overreaction. It’s my irritation at the idea that someone, somewhere, has crafted an exacting set of standards for me that a) I don’t agree with and b) they don’t meet either. I am a (mostly) cheerful amateur, and so what? Who cares what I think, anyway? Do you think one person reading this post today is going to go, oh, well, I guess I’ll put away my Timbuktu and give up on Hermes, because March doesn’t like them? Come on.

          • Joe says:

            And if anyone does decide to throw out their Timbuktu because you don’t like it, they can just throw it my way. As for me? I’ll just tell you that if you don’t love Timbuktu, you’re merely crazy.

          • March says:

            Joe, I have tried SO HARD. I’m talking on me, not other people. On me they all get this bottom that smells like car trunk and vase water. And not in a good way.

            I love the (original) Navigateur beyond all reason (the precursor to Navegar, I guess.) A Very Special Someone who lurks on here read of my lust and at one point sent me her bottle, saying it bored her. So at least that worked on me.

      • carmencanada says:

        Okay, Frenglish lexical gaps aside, what’s a “blogger leader”? And who gets to be one?

        Just to clarify: Octavian Coifan and I were invited to a French public radio show to discuss the reason why there wasn’t any perfume criticism (it was a consumer-oriented show with callers). Bertrand Duchaufour was invited too, without being told by his PR person what the show was about — he thought it would be to discuss niche perfumery. So he was understandably cross.
        Nevertheless, he did come off as rather dismissive of “amateurs” attempting to decipher perfumes. That said, I’m not sure he’d read a lot of blogs, so maybe he was basing his impression on just a couple of things about his perfumes that got him in a snit.

        But when he calls us the custodians of veracity, I agree with March that the phrase is at the very least a little infelicitous… we may be mistaken about notes sometimes, but as Jacques Polge once said to me: “If you smell it, it’s there”. Even if it’s not in the actual formula.

        • March says:

          Well, what you’ve said here gives me a little more sympathy for BD; you’d think someone could have bothered to tell him what he was there for. At the same time, why not play nice? You and Octavian are clearly enthusiasts who obviously know about fragrance and have respected followings.

          Sweetlife guessed correctly in her response that my (over?)reaction was kind of cumulative. I pour my heart and my attentions into this blog because I love perfume. God knows it’s not supporting me financially. So to be criticized (and maybe this isn’t a fair point) in various ways over time by people in the industry about standards and veracity — please. I think the perfume industry is run by uniquely paranoid control freaks. Back to my shoe analogy: If I had The Choo Blog, and all I wrote about was Jimmy Choo shoes 24/7, God help me, and I was clearly a fangirl, I can’t imagine a rep from Jimmy Choo doing a public rag about how I’d used the word “turquoise” instead of “teal” and who the hell did I think I was, writing about shoes anyway?

          • sweetlife says:

            All points well made and taken!

          • sweetlife says:

            All points well made and taken! And it’s exactly the whole heart-and-soul thing that drew me to this blog and to others, the discerning, obsessive, for-the-joy-of-it attention being paid. You know–thinking again about my experience in academe–I wonder if the industry is just SO paranoid that they truly can’t conceive of someone behaving that way, doing something just for joy? Sad, if true. And it can’t be true across the board. But I used to run into a lot of that kind of suspicion back in the days when I was proposing various programs to beleaguered, long-time professors and social workers and such… Which may also explain my willingness to grasp at straws. 😉

          • March says:

            I think you may be onto something with your theory. They certainly do seem to be a suspicious lot. And you guessed correctly, that some of my spleen is cumulative. 🙂 If I were a perfume company, I’d be happy to have a bunch of bloggers providing free publicity, even if some of it was negative.

    • carter says:

      CC–has Amouage arrived in Paris yet? Have you had a chance to sniff Homage Attar or is it still not available there?

  • Aubrey says:

    Can anyone describe how this compares for Tea for Two? Is it similar but missing the spice?

    Also, does anyone know when this will be up on the L’Artisan site so that us small town folk can order a sample? 🙂

    • March says:

      Totally different, in my opinion. Tea for Two is all about the tea, very smoky — lapsang, with some other goodies thrown in. The ultimate winter comfort scent, much less sweet and denser than Havane. I feel comfortable reducing Havane’s essential nature to the word “vanilla”.

      No idea about the samples… one of their reps frequently drops by when we do a L’Artisan post, maybe this will happen today.

  • Kitty says:

    Hi March,
    Just had to say that you made me laugh. Love reading your post. Hope we are scent twins. Trying several of your recs. Wish I could throw in an intelligent comment about parfum but I am too new to the game. Speaking of scrubbers have you tried Emotionelle by Parfumes Delrae?

    • March says:

      Hahahaha!!!!! Emotionelle!!! Somewhere on here is our report of our trip to LA, wherein Patty quotes me (we were at LuckyScent) as saying something to the effect of, don’t you dare spray that f’ing thing anywhere near me!

      Well, I’m useful even if I’m NOT your scent twin. You can just try everything I hate! Seriously, though, if you read comments enough, generally you end up finding someone who’s at least a semi-twin. Then you can cross-talk and compare notes.

  • Rappleyea says:

    You almost had me spewing my tea here first thing this morning! Love a good laugh and I love heresy even more!! You are the FIRST reviewer that I can ever remember speaking such blasphemy against M. Duchaufour and/or the Hermessences…. and I totally agree with you! There I’ve said it! Burn me at the stake.

    M. Duchaufour seems to be very fond of the note he calls “burning woods” and I might as well just jump into one of those industrial sized bins for stubbing out cigarettes as to wear it. On me that particular aroma chemical blows up into massive dirty ashtray, drowning out every other note. Unfortunately, Chanel used the same thing in Sycomore, which I would have loved if not for that, So that’s enough to make me pass on Havana Vanille, but then I can afford to do that as I have the giant economy sized bottle of Guerlain’s SDV.

    • March says:

      So YOU have the thousand-year supply of SDV, do ya?!? I really do like it, but my little sample vile has lasted me forever. It’s definitely a dabber on me… I should play nice and say that I like OTHERS of Mr. Duchaufour’s scents a great deal. For instance, I’m pretty sure he did a couple of the CdG Incense series I liked, plus some of their other weird scents.

      The Hermessences I get as a concept, and they actually seem pretty unified. But Rose Ikebana and OY are just too light, even for me, and that’s saying something.

      • Rappleyea says:

        Yeah, everyone says that about OY, and then there is my skin… it amps the floral note in there (I detect the same one in several other scents to varying degrees), I suppose the one JCE is calling osmanthus, to a shrieking decibel. And NOTHING would take the stuff off my arm!

        • March says:

          Wait … we had this conversation! My beef with OY is I get all O — but it’s not even osmanthus, just some giant floral that grows like Topsy. The tea is almost nonexistent.

    • Tara C says:

      It comes in a size other than 75ml? Do tell!

      • Rappleyea says:

        No, sorry, just being facetious. But 75 mls. will last me, as March said, for 1000 years.

  • Louise says:

    I enjoy vanilla, which is a great thing, since it is one note that last foh-evah on my skin. I do tend to turn all vanillics to vanilla extract though, so most of the fancy ones are lost on me. Tihota is lovely, but just vanilla after a few minutes; SDV has no smoke, whatcha talkin’ about?; and Carter-I love my very vintage Shalimar-but it’s the nasty civety base that I love-it that beats the vanilla down a bit.

    Cupcakes are very chic right now, non? For my sweet, but not gaggy vanilla fix, I pull out my LMDV Vanille Noire du Mexique-I can smell the spice and smoke, but others simply compliment and attempt to frost me.

    I tested the Vanille Havana at Liberty’s this June, and really loved it. The setting might of helped…the Sniffa group was presented with several new releases in a stunning back room.by stunning young staff. The opening was fairly straight-on vanilla with the boozy note as followup. Then It seemed to all disappear quickly, but a half hour later I smelled a lovely blend of tobacco, rum, and dry vanilla. Havana played hide-and-seek for several hours then, not unlike the Hermessences do on me (including a recent favorite, Vanille Galante!). I need to play with this one for at least another few trials, to see if it’s seeming longevity pans out.

    Happy Monday, all!

    • March says:

      That is so interesting; so vanilla lasts and lasts on you too? I am just freaky enough that I don’t know why I haven’t actually dabbed on some extract to see what happens. You’d think it would stick, right? Maybe on top of a little oil as a fixative? Just to see what it would do on my skin… I can totally hear what you’re saying about reducing scents to their base, that’s frustrating. And this one does seem to do a bit of hide and seek as well.

    • carter says:

      Yes, I agree about the battle between civet and vanilla in Shalimar. Jicky, as well. But to me, that’s precisely why they are so fascinating and wonderful and so many others pale in comparison.

  • carter says:

    Count me in as yet another reader who a) loves what you write, and b) believes that when it must be vanilla, it must be Shalimar. It’s not that I haven’t sniffed an interesting vanilla every now and then, it’s simply that they aren’t as interesting as the reference vanilla, the Mother Ship that is Shalimar.

    • March says:

      Sigh. Shalimar. Shalimar, she will cut a b!tch. She does not love me. She does not play nicely. But I keep going back to her, like a slave to her mistress… okay, it is way too early for that on here. But yes. I agree that for many, there is no finer vanilla.

  • Jared says:

    I’ll second that I love reading your posts, March! Your writing is fun and delightful!

    So far I love everything Mr. Duchaufour has done, so I’m eager to smell this. It doesn’t seem like guys wear much in the way of vanilla, does it? (Should we start?) I’m wearing Le Labo’s Patchouli 24 right now, though, and it seems like it’s got a great mix of smoke/leather/vanilla in there. I agree with you- vanilla needs other things like that. I do own some Shalimar, though, and if I need a hit of vanilla, that’s where I go. I read somewhere that vanilla is supposed to be a big turn on for guys. I’m suspicious, but is there a kinship between sexuality and cannibalism? Interesting…

    Hey, I also heard that vanilla is the most recognizable of scents to human beings. Food for thought. And the pun is intended.

    • March says:

      Hey, so glad to hear you like my writing! I swear on days like today’s, I get off on some tangent where I’m not even talking about the scent for the first page (at least I warned everyone up front) and I think: nobody’s going to read this.

      Vanilla IS supposed to be a big turn-on for guys, and my casual research suggests this is true! 🙂 But then so is the smell of bacon. I’m going to start layering my Organza Indecence with my vintage Kolnisch Juchten, they’ll be swarming around me then…

  • Kim says:

    I agree with you – I have no desire to smell like a vanilla cupcake and like my vanilla perfumes short on vanilla and long on something spicey/burnt/bitter. So for my vanilla fix, I reach for Guerlain’s Shalimar. My other favourite vanilla is Luten’s Un Bois Vanille with its wonderful anise note. It is great layered with Un Lys or Fumerie Turque or Douce Amere or Five O’Clock au Gingembre or…. yup, just all round wonderful for me!

    And by the way, off topic here, but when I went to the Luckyscent website to check on the spelling of the various Lutens wonders – low and behold, there is Feminite de Bois!!!!!!!!! Yes, Feminite de Bois but, GASP, slightly ‘tweaked’!! Has anyone tried it yet?? Dare I ask how much it has been changed ??

    • Louise says:

      Hi Kim-to my nose, the SL FdB is very nice, but more woodsy and less complex, fruity and musky than the original. I’ve been wearing Bois et Fruits much more than the SL FdB lately-I like the dried fruit aspect very much. The FdB in extrait also adds the richness I like to the SL FdB.

      Others disagree…:)

      • March says:

        That Fruits is really nice, innit? I think I liked that best of the Bois series, so far as I can remember (besides FdB of course, which I don’t include there.)

        Thanks for the update.

    • carmencanada says:

      Kim, I own both versions of FdB. The new one has changed, enough to notice a difference in top notes and dry down (more musk there), but not enough to be annoyed. If anything, a lot of people will find the new one more wearable, less unrelentingly cedar-ish. Lutens and Sheldrake did the reformulating, which Lutens staunchly stands by after having owned up to up. (you can dig up my post translating his statement on Grain de musc by entering Féminité du Bois).

      • March says:

        You know what? I’m going to commit fragrance heresy here. I haven’t smelled the new, but if the tweak is he’s made it less relentlessly cedar-ish, I’m supportive. I like the slightly fruitier aspect, which I think is why I like the extrait slightly better.

      • March says:

        PS Also, anything that gets FdB in slightly wider distribution (I have literally never seen it anywhere but duty-frees) is okay by me.

        • Kim says:

          really? I guess I have been lucky – I have had little problem getting it in Canada at the Bay Shiseido counters. But only the EDP, not the extrait. I will have to try the extrait and compare. It really is a glorius perfume, isn’t it? 🙂

    • March says:

      Shalimar has already been mentioned here in comments twice already this morning …. hmmmm. Shalimar does not love me. But I love so many of the Guerlain classics I never give up. Sooner or later I’ll make it work!

      God, I love FdB. I have the extrait too… Louise’s fault, of course. I haven’t smelled the new. See L’s comment.

  • Natalie says:

    I think you’re right that they’ve mixed their languages, except that Spanish would be “Habana Vainilla.” So they’ve actually got English + French, which really makes even less sense. Ah well, I suppose linguistic/geographical precision is too much to expect from a perfume house.

    It sounds like they got the juice right, however… I’m dying to try this (meant to go in to NYC today to sneak a sniff at Bendels but a severe attack of laziness interfered), although I’m leery of the tobacco and clove. In any case, I’m enjoying all the different takes on this on the blog circuit — thank you.

    • March says:

      So it would be Habana, eh? Hadn’t thought of that. I am intimately familiar with attacks of laziness.

      The spices are extremely muted, I’d say the strongest note to me other than the vanilla itself is the rum. Which can scare me (I don’t like them too boozy) but in this case was fine.

  • Miranda says:

    Hi March,

    ALWAYS love your writing! LeLabo Vanille 44 is (to me) very smoky. Of course, we can buy it ONLY in Paris (or on The Perfumed Court).

    • March says:

      Hey, don’t worry about the double post! I just did the same thing the other day.

      I’d totally forgotten about Le Labo. Their names are always so funny; so it actually smells like vanilla? You never know with them. 🙂