Blog post by Gwen

Vanille Intense – complex and chic and genius

“This is amazing,” I said, sniffing my wrist.

“You can have it,” she said, pushing the bottle towards me. "I hate it. I thought I loved it, so I bought it, and now I hate it.”

And that’s how I got my first bottle of Vanille Intense by Parfums de Nicolaï, but not my last.

What is it about vanilla-based fragrances that, like blue cheeses, people either love ‘em or hate ‘em?

I wonder if it doesn’t hinge on our perceptions of vanilla as a flavouring in ice cream, custards and other sweet desserts. You know, the expectation that a vanilla fragrance will smell sweet because vanilla tastes sweet. Or maybe it comes from burning sickly, sweet vanilla-scented candles.

Come to think of it, I am probably explaining why I didn’t use to love vanilla-based fragrances. It’s taken me some time to appreciate the use of vanilla in perfumery, and it came from sniffing dozens of vanilla-based scents. I’ve learned that simple vanilla gourmand fragrances hold no appeal for me, but I am undone when it comes to complex, interesting vanilla scents where its gourmand aspect doesn’t dominate - which is why Vanille Intense jumped out of the bottle and into my heart the first time I smelled it.

Built around natural Bourbon vanilla absolue, it opens with a citrus freshness from orange and a floral note from orange blossom that threads through the scent to the drydown. A whiff of rum highlights the boozy facet of Bourbon vanilla absolue and brings it forward. Slowly, the warm, floral vanilla unfolds and is joined by lush, green immortelle. Expertly balanced, they intertwine beautifully at the heart, where a note of cinnamon gives them a spicy richness. It all rests on a sensuous base of woods, amber, musk and patchouli, which gives it an irresistible dark earthiness.

The drydown is green, woody and earthy, making the sweet vanilla rich and chic and never allowing it to become cloying or dessert-y. It’s the interplay between sweet/green/earthy that makes this fragrance so cravable.

But what makes Vanille Intense unique in the vanilla fragrance genre is the lack of smoke or incense to tame its gourmand tendencies. This vanilla wasn’t tamed by a dragon; it was tamed by a genius.

I’m sorry my friend didn’t like Vanille Intense, but à chacun son gout. She’s happy without it, and I’m happy with it. I love helping my friends out.

Check out Vanille Intense in our Shop.