After reading some of the early reports on this new collection from Van Cleef & Arpels Collection Extraordinaire, I wasn’t expecting much. Nieman-Marcus was offering a set of samples as a freebie when you buy something else, so I was happy to get them and see for myself. The price point doesn’t make me happy, $180 for 50 mls. Is this the new price hurdle? More importantly, are the worth it?
I had intended to blast through all six of them in one post, but I think it will take longer.
Van Cleef & Arpels Collection Extraordinaire Orchidee Vanille was created by Randa Hammami. Notes of mandarin orange, litchi, bitter almond, dark chocolate, Bulgarian rose, violet, vanilla, cedar, balsamic tonka bean and white musk make up the perfume. Octavian has reviewed all of these perfumes, and if you look at the bottom of his post, there are links to the others. Like him, I was surprised. I don’t have his knowledge of the chemicals/ingredients that go into the perfumes, but this is clearly a well made perfume. I expected a much sweeter concoction, which is what you usually get if a perfumer/designer chooses to pair orchid and vanilla either in the notes or the name. This is slightly smoky, offering up the vanilla pod as the main feature, with a little bit of a booziness floating around. This isn’t the heavy gourmand vanilla scent, it floats like an evening on a tropical beach with the soft breeze blowing across your face. It reminds me a little of Le Labo’s Vanille 44. Some may complain that it’s just not strong, but it has that same wafting quality that I found in the Vanille 44. I’m a big fan of wafters, I don’t need the perfume to be completely present as I press my nose against my skin, but I do need it to gently scent the air so I smell this great echo as I walk through a room. I think it is so delicate and gorgeous. Like Octavian, if I hadn’t been told it was from Van Cleef & Arpels, I would have pegged it more for a Guerlain La Matiere scent, though a much lighter one, a more ethereal Spiriteuse Double Vanille. Spraying this perfume is essential. So if you get that little sample set from NM, get a sprayer. You’re welcome in advance.
Van Cleef & Arpels Collection Extraordinaire Gardenia Petale has notes of green and citrus, lily-of-the-valley, jasmine and gardenia. Wow. The full smelly gardenia shows up on first spritz, but it’s tempered with the other notes so it’s not as bleu cheesey as it could be and as some are, like the Tom Ford. It just feels lush, like a fully in bloom gardenia. The gardenia always makes me think of ripe women. No, not like that. I mean, as women age, we get a softness, a decay that I’ve always thought is incredibly sexy, and the gardenia just seems to embody that change that women go through in their lives. Gardenia Petale blooms in the open, ripening until you’re thinking, oh, dear, and then it just pulls back into the lily, jasmine and tuberose. It’s not as sweetly pretty as the Isabey Gardenia, which is another gardenia that I love. I typically don’t like gardenia perfumes, Lady Day from SIP and the Isabey being two exceptions. This is another.
Okay, there you have it! I’d offer a sample set, but I’m clearly going to spray all of my little vials of this, sorry! From just the sniffing in the vial and these two, this collection clearly belongs together. I’m sniffing the Gardenia next to the Vanille, and they sit side by side beautifully. I’m pretty sure you could layer or combine most of these to create something else. I’ve heard some complaints about tenacity. These two seem to have good staying power. They aren’t muscle perfumes, flexing their little olfactory biceps all the time until you beg them to stop with soap and a scrub brush. They seem softer, but linger. The gardenia is pretty darn tenacious, though, but I expected that one to be the most tenacious of the six.
So Van Cleef & Arpels Collection Extraordinaire delivered with their big high-end launch for me. I’m hoping Cartier doesn’t fail me when they launch theirs. But is it too much to ask that they do a darn coffret of 1/4-1/2 ounce of all of them? I’m not sure I can answer the question if they are worth it or not. I think that price point is too much for any perfume, but I do understand when they do it because someone else has already been there. Would I pay that for at least these two? Yeah, but I’m an idiot that way (hey, Mon Precioux, I’m looking at you!)