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Vanilla Shot – vanilla-y and resinous and original

Bertrand Duchaufour - remember him? Sure you do. A few years back this über - talented nose seemed to be was everywhere, all the time, and we couldn’t get enough of his swoon worthy fragrances. And, then around 2015 we started to see less from him, especially after he left his positon as Perfumer in Residence at L’Artisan.

That doesn’t mean he’s dropped out or faded away. Au contraire. He’s been busy. Since 2014 he has been with fragrance company Technicoflor and creating fragrances for niche lines like, Grandiflora, Neela Vermeire, St. Giles and Olfactive Studio.

In fact, it was his collaboration with Olfactive Studio that brought Duchaufour back into my orbit. He’s the perfumer behind their new Sepia Collection which is a trilogy of Extrait de Parfum – Vanilla Shot Leather Shot and Chypre Shot. The ‘shot’ in the names refers to both the sensory and photographic click of a camera.

Honestly, each of the fragrances in this collection is a winner, but Vanilla Shot was my first choice and for a very scentimental reason: Havana Vanille. Created by Duchaufour for L’Artisan in 2009, this became the vanilla fragrance by which I measured all others because while vanilla was at its centre, Havana Vanilla was by no means gourmand.

Vanilla is enjoying a moment in the fragrance world and I couldn’t be happier. The truth is vanilla is a pervasive note in perfumery and its popularity has only increased with the current appetite for gourmand fragrances. But vanilla is much more complex and nuanced to be pegged as sweet or dismissed as gourmand.

So, I was curious: what would Duchaufour do with vanilla for Ofactive Studio?

All fragrances for Olfactive Studio begin with a collaboration between a perfumer and a photographer. In the case of the Sepia Collection, the collaborators are Duchafour and English-born environmental artist, sculptor and photographer, Martin Hill.

The Press Kit for Vanilla Shot says this:
‘Photography and fragrance enhance each other. In Vanilla Shot, an arch made with thin pieces of sculpted wood connected by floating flax threads above the Wanaka Lake in New Zealand evokes the slender and elongated shape of vanilla beans: A composition that bespeaks extreme balance and tension.’

Vanilla Shot opens with a bracing shot of spice: orange-faceted, herby coriander and bittersweet saffron brightened by the nose-tingling effervescence of aldehydes. The spices don’t deepen, instead they float over the heart, warming notes of deep, sensuous rose, thick, jammy fried fruits and resinous opopanax. This is the irresistible siren call of the foreign and the exotic – a Duchaufour fingerprint. The fruits and flowers give way to a dark, creamy, caramelized note of vanilla balanced resins: by warm, woody myrrh, vanilla-tinged Benzoin.

The drydown is complex, rich and sensuous. The funny thing is, about an hour in, I put my nose to my wrist and smell a shadow of the fragrance. At first, I found this disappointing – the scent didn’t last. But then I kept smelling it away from my nose, for hours. Then it occurred to me: this is the effect of looking at a photograph up close and not being able to see the whole picture until you move back away from it. Clever. Well, Duchaufour has been called the master of shadows.

When I do take in the whole fragrance one thing is clear: with Vanilla Shot Duchaufour has created a truly original vanilla scent that’s easy to wear and to enjoy. It’s a masterpiece.

Vanilla Shot is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $7.00 for 1 ml.

Images - - Media Room, Visuals