Olivia Giacobetti’s Vamp a NY, a new organic, all-natural perfume for Honore des Pres, is sadly mis-named. I suppose the HdP marketing team chose it to capitalize on what’s left of youth culture enthusiasm for the Twilight phenomenon. But this gorgeous creation conjures neither angst-ridden teen vampires nor urban dystopias. Instead, I find myself transported back in time to the 12th century Khmer Empire of Cambodia, and specifically, to the court dancers who performed their impossibly graceful ballets in royal palaces and temples.
Lush and tropical, Vamp officially opens on a rum accord, but there’s nothing at all boozy here to my nose. Instead, I get about 10 minutes of a shimmering sharpness, like bright shafts of sunlight on a lotus pond. The heart of Vamp is a stunning melange of equatorial flowers cut from the Emperor’s garden. Tuberose, ylang ylang, and perhaps some frangipani grace this bouquet. Natural vanilla, both orchid and pod, with the lovely green banana facet found in the actual plant, weaves like the court dancers’ hands in and out of the flowers. Later, hints of smoked spice (turmeric, perhaps paired with a tiny bit of massoia bark?) emerge through warm drafts of tolu and Peru balsams. This is the deep, deep south. This is the Equator.
The composite effect of Vamp is of sunlight, air, still dark waters, and shimmering heat. No vampire could survive in this radiant atmosphere. Longevity is excellent, especially considering that all-natural perfumes are notorious for their ephemerality. Sillage is good, neither too strong, nor cloying. And Vamp blooms beautifully in the summer heat.
I’m delighted with this new trend toward all-natural perfumes, and thrilled that some of the best noses in the business are creating in this genre. My only complaint is that it should have been named, “Apsara”.
Photos: French EFEO archeologist Charles Carpeaux in the ruins of Angkor, early 20th century, a Cambodian dancer at the Royal Palace, 1921, stone apsara.
Disclosure: I received a sample of Vamp through the Blog Grain de Musc. I have no financial ties to any entity connected with this perfume.