As I remarked on here not too long ago, we seem to be in the middle of a Big White Flower Moment in perfumery. Two recent favorites of mine – Amaranthine and Nuit de Tubereuse – have been built around white flowers (jasmine and tuberose respectively). Even Kim Kardashian’s gotten into the act, with a mass-market jasmine/gardenia/tuberose that, while I won’t be rushing out to buy it, ain’t half bad in my opinion. If Kim Kardashian leads the general public away from sugary, mass-market gourmands into a sultry, sophisticated, skanky white flower fandom, I’d be eternally grateful.
So when I heard that Olivia Giacobetti, a perfumer whose work I much admire and usually enjoy, was doing Vamp à NY for Honoré des Prés, I was all over it. Giacobetti and tuberose? Along with some mouthwatering early reviews – Octavian, for instance, called it like a “nectar of gods” on his blog. Uhhhkay… sign me up. Where do I type in my credit card info online? Wait, what do you mean, I can’t have it in the U.S. until September?!? Vamp is the first fragrance I really wanted to try from this organic-botanical-perfume house; the previous releases sounded both fleeting and not especially interesting to me.
Accusations of dullness or poor lasting power won’t be leveled at Vamp. It starts big, with a piercing top that is intensely sweet and syrupy on the skin. It reminds me of the brown, barrel-shaped root beer candies of my childhood, evoking in a larger sense the candy shelf at the drugstore. In a botanical scent, this stage has a peculiarly synthetic quality to my nose — it’s just sooo much and so odd, with its root beer, banana Runts and vanilla-caramel Sugar Daddy. It shifts and becomes more recognizably “rum” – a boozy note that is still intensely sweet and makes me think of a fruity rum drink, something made with coconut. Eventually the next phase arrives, which is tuberose overlayed with a powerful shellacking of a combination of two smells: specifically, a giant tub of greasy, movie-theater popcorn popped in tropical oils, along with a hint of coconut tanning-oil. And there the fragrance stays.
I tried Vamp in various situations, hoping for something different. I tried at 74, 84 and 94 degrees. I tried it with lotion, without lotion, on alternate Tuesdays, before showers, early, late, after showers, under the quarter-moon, at the solstice, and standing on one foot. I tried it until Hecate came wandering up to me in my bedroom yesterday, watched me glare at the traitorous atomizer, and said, what’s wrong, mommy? Ew … what’s that smell?
Honoré des Prés Vamp à NY will no doubt be a raging, ravishing torrent of tantalizing tuberose to everyone else on the planet. Here are the links to the original reviews on Grain de Musc, 1000 Fragrances and today’s new review on Perfume-Smellin’ Things. The first two reviews, written by folks who know more about raw materials than I ever will, are positive bordering on ecstatic. I wonder what Marla on PST will think.
Note: I got my sample of Vamp from Grain de Musc, along with a bunch of other people who I think are over there giving their mini-reviews in comments on a special blog post on Vamp today.