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Friday, August 28, 2009

L'Artisan Parfumeur Havana Vanille: Perfume Review

If I were to come up with a two-word description for Havana Vanille à la Perfumes: The Guide, I would have opted for strange vanilla or raw vanilla or bearded vanilla or thinking person's vanilla (OK, that's three words). Which is to say that I think that Havana Vanille is odd, it smells raw/rooty/earthy, is not girly by any stretch of imagination and, like most Duchaufour's creations, is cerebral.

I am not sure to which combination of ingredients to attribute the remarkably raw quality of the composition. My guess is that it is immortelle and narcissus which lend Havana Vanille the haunting aroma of something freshly dug out of clean, moist soil...of something "dirty" in a vegetable-mineral, not animalic sense. This raw component is more predominant, on my skin, then the title note of vanilla. The latter is, of course, present at all times, but isn't quite like its usual self. It's not sweet and it's not even abstractly gourmand. The very slightly tarry leather, the smoky woods, the boozy rum note lead to a sort of androgen excess in the vanilla accord. I would not label the scent as "masculine", but neither is it in any way "feminine". Let's call it androgynous.

This might easily be one of the most interesting recent releases and certainly the most unusual vanilla fragrance that I have ever encountered. If I had to compare it to another perfume, I'd say that it vaguely reminds me of Duchaufour's raw masterpiece from last year, Baume du Doge...with a lot of smoky, dirty and drunken vanilla added to the mix.

Havana Vanille is available wherever L'Artisan is sold, $115.00-$155.00; the fragrance has been renamed and is now called Vanille Absolument.

Image credit, Ellen Von Unwerth

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25 Comments:

Blogger Flora said...

Wow! That's a really different take on it than I have read before, but it makes me want it even more! Narcissus, tobacco AND vanilla? I am going to be SO hooked on this, I can feel it...

12:14 AM EDT  
OpenID divalano said...

This is first thing I've been eager to try in ages & let's see, "dirty" "smoky" "leather" "boozy" ... I'm always wanting to dirty up my vanillas with a little smoke. This is me tapping my toe impatiently ... & what the hey, $115 is virtually a bargain these days, eh?

12:51 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you have a good nose Marina. Tomorrow my interview of bertrand duchaufour will be up at fragrantica.com Ingredients you would never guess are in this composition... but you hit the big one narccise absolue - michelyn

1:08 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

tarry leather, smoky woods and vanilla?

Please tell me it has no lasting power..

1:09 AM EDT  
Anonymous lady jane grey said...

I love (only) strange vanilla, I love non-gourmand vanilla, I love everything by Duchaufour - so it's clear to me : I go for it ! And there is no need to sniff it before ! I can't wait !

3:00 AM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

Brilliant description! I definitely see the BdD relationship. I also found it to have a very raw quality and I felt I *should* have adored it, but, instead, I admire it and don't need it. Couldn't quite figure out why until now when I read your description of it as a thinking person's vanilla. Absolutely! And there's the rub. When I do find myself reaching for vanilla, I'm not in a cerebral mode. At all. I want straight childhood comfort (which includes tobacco and smoke laced vanillas, but nothing raw).

6:13 AM EDT  
Blogger Cynthia said...

Oh my, I feel another unsniffed purchase coming on - I love vanilla, but not gourmand, white cake vanilla. My favorite take on vanilla right now is Vanille Galante in all its salty, fresh, strange glory. Although this is a totally different interpretation, it sounds marvelous - I can't do civet dirty (just smells like cat urine to me), but rooty dirty is fabulous.

8:46 AM EDT  
Anonymous Trish said...

Immortelle often=maple on me. Any hints of that in Havana Vanille? (I can't stand maple notes!)

10:02 AM EDT  
Blogger Natalie said...

Ooh, anything that brings to mind Baume du Doge is a must-try for me. I've heard that Bendel's has a bottle of HV stashed away for sniffing -- might be worth an excursion to NYC this weekend!

10:15 AM EDT  
Blogger Alyssa said...

Coming to the U.S. in October, you say? When I just happen to be making one of my semi-annual treks to NYC?

Hmmm... Do you think I could stake it out down at the docks?

Fantastic review, Marina. You seem very inspired as of late!

10:16 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina Geigert said...

Donna,
Is it very different? In any case, I do think you will be hooked on this :-)

10:42 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina Geigert said...

M,
Well this one might work then if you want them "dirty with smoke" :-)

10:43 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina Geigert said...

Michelyn,
Thank you for the heads up on the interview with BD. I actually find narcissus to be one of the easiest accords to recognize. It is also in the list of official notes released by LAP.

10:50 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina Geigert said...

Tom,
One spritz lasts all day on me, sorry :-)

10:50 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina Geigert said...

M,
Given all that, yes, I think you just go for it :-)

10:51 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina Geigert said...

L,
And I think that your comparison of HV with Felanilla is very, very true as well. I totally get not wanting something "intellectual" from a comfort note. It's like TV programs, we want them brain-less, right? :-)))

10:54 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina Geigert said...

Cynthia,
Even though the two are NOTHING alike, I do think that the comparison with VG is still apt, because they are both very unique takes on vanilla.

10:55 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina Geigert said...

Trish,
I am not a big fan of maple notes. Immortelle here is greener than that, if that makes sense?

10:55 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina Geigert said...

Natalie,
They are bound to have a tester stashed away :-) Share you impressions with us, when you smell it.

10:56 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina Geigert said...

Alyssa,
Yay, another trek coming up! :-)

10:57 AM EDT  
Anonymous rbrewer said...

I was thinking I could probably pass this by until you mentioned Baume du Doge, which I very nearly became obsessed with last winter. I will definitely be tracking down a sample of this. Thanks for the intriguing review, M!

12:31 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina Geigert said...

R,
I would not be surprised at all if you like this one quite a lot.

12:33 PM EDT  
Anonymous Claudia0219 said...

Now there is a Vanille i would like to try, wonder if it smells anything like my Le Labo Vanille 44 which i love tremendously. This one is really calling my name and eventhough i like he L'Artisan line, none of them have hooked me, the closest one to loving from this line was the Iris Pallida. Maybe this will be the ONE!!!!!!

12:20 AM EDT  
Blogger Eleven European Mystics said...

Iread and read again, for the pleasure of reading. Do you think I'd like this one?

5:17 AM EDT  
Anonymous Andrea said...

Brilliant description! I definitely see the BdD relationship. I also found it to have a very raw quality and I felt I *should* have adored it, but, instead, I admire it and don't need it.

7:29 PM EDT  

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