The head says:
Vanilla is this year’s theme for the Micallef Art Collection, which features new fragrances in hand-decorated flacons and packages. I’m a great fan of Micallef’s fragrances, concept, and presentation (have you seen the press for Ylang in Gold? ) and was disappointed when in Grasse this summer I was told (at the office of tourism) that the Micallef address was too far out of town to reach without a car. Fortunately, I was able to see some of those beautiful bottles in Paris. I have to mention, too, that I joyfully visualize scenes from Les Demoiselles de Rochefort when I see the name “Monsieur Dame” on the return label for Micallef orders.
The nose says:
A bright, almost clean vanilla note is indeed the common denominator in this collection. It’s fun to test all four in a row–a bit like conjugating a yummy verb. Vanilla Marine is a must-try for those who seek lemony, fruity spin on ocean breeze fragrances. This one lasts forever on my skin. Vanilla Leather was a welcome surprise: soft in the beginning, a little earthy, yet fresh, with more a cool-down than a dry-down, and no heavy leather. Nice longevity, too. I suspect Vanilla Flower will be a hit, but rose-vanilla pairings don’t grab me, no, not even the much loved Tocade. Vanilla Oriental most fits my perfume style, but I prefer smoldering orientals with a only a whisper of vanilla. There was something too cheerful about this one for me. I didn’t have the love-at-first-sniff reaction that Micallef so often provokes.
The heart says:
Truth be told, I’m not drawn to vanilla in literal interpretations. I leave it to the experts and the serious vanilla addicts to sort out where these fit on the spectrum of high-end vanilla offerings. Which is not to say not to say that I avoid vanilla entirely. Many of my favorite perfumes feature friends and family of vanilla, but in homeopathic doses, to bolster, soften, tame, or inflect other notes. Case in point: Micallef’s stunning Gaiac, which remains my favorite of the line so far. Though vanilla is not the star, it adds depth and smooths out the texture of this woodsy delight. And then there’s Ylang in Gold, which I never thought I’d like (what, me? creamy flowers and coconut?), but from the initial blast of gorgeously balanced floral, fruited, sandalwood-infused notes, to the deep, vanilla-musk drydown, I just can’t get enough. Neither can the normally fragrance-indifferent DH.
With thanks to Micallef for providing the Collection Vanille samples and the images.
Gaiac and Ylang in Gold sampling from my collection.