Vanilla, which has been in the recent past showcased as a main source of inspiration for perfumes such as Tihota by Indult composed by perfumer Francis Kurkdjian and Spiritueuse Double Vanille by Guerlain created by Jean-Paul Guerlain, while being announced as a key note in the upcoming Vanille Galante by Hermès in the Hermessence series, a work by Jean-Claude Ellena, has visibly awoken the interests of some of the major perfumers of the day.
L'Express is devoting an article to this beloved, indispensable ingredient of perfumery in more or less high doses including a Q & A with perfumer Jean-Paul Duriez of the house of Patou.
From that article we excerpt, translate and comment on a quote regarding the new Vanille Galante (Flirtatious Vanilla) to be launched in February 2009...
Maïté Turonnet writes,
"Jean-Claude Ellena, pour sa nouvelle Hermessence (qu'il faudra attendre jusqu'en février 2009), a choisi une troisième voie: celle de la fleur. Vanille Galante illustre un souvenir des îles avec une superbe absolue de vanille et beaucoup de cet ilang-ilang des mêmes tropiques que l'on trouvait déjà dans 24 Faubourg, l'un des succès plus anciens de la maison."
According to the article, Jean-Ellena will offer a floral interpretation of vanilla (our emphasis) illustrating a memory from the islands. Vanille Galante is based on a "superb vanilla absolute and a high dose of that ylang-ylang from the same tropics that one could already find in 24 Faubourg, one of the more ancient successes of the house."
It will be interesting to see how this vanilla composition turns out to bear Ellena's stamp, especially coupled with Ylang-Ylang, an association I irresistibly think of as being very Guerlain.
Jean-Claude Ellena is known for his minimalist and transparent signature, a style that is usually found in its most unleashed form in the Hermessence collection.
One can sense a personal challenge in the self-ascribed treatment of these two notes, vanilla and intoxicating ylang (he is quite independent at Hermès) coming from a perfumer that, although he has proven he could offer opulent fragrances (First), has moved away from dramatic pieces. Bois Farine comes to mind as a possible mark of his more vanillic orientation.
Let us however meditate upon this other quote, this time by Ellena himself who declared to the Société Française des Parfumeurs in 2001 in answer to the question: "Do you have any fetish ingredients?",
"Il est vrai qu'il y a quelques matières que je n'aime pas, avec lesquelles je ne suis pas à l'aise, vanilline, héliotropine, tout ce qui est sucré en général."
"I have to admit that there are a few materials that I do not like, with which I feel ill at ease: vanilline, heliotropine, everything sweet in general."
His last opus in the Hermessence series however was a tad sweet and gourmand, Brin de Réglisse, his Ambre Narguilé can be called that too. But almost everything in his recent work more generally speaking points to a non-vanillic direction of thinking and this note, I cannot help but think, immediately jumps at you as being anti-Ellena in its natural state despite the fact that his bon-vivant side appreciates and draws inspiration from gastronomy.
It will be interesting to see how posessed of the spirit of Jean-Claude Ellena this vanilla is.
To me, it is a little bit as if I had heard the news that Serge Lutens is doing a water/calone scent. The raw material would really need to yield to the mind of its creator, in some unseen way, and come out transfigured from the experience for everyone to be able to recognize a familiar worldview.
Read more in Envie de Vanille?
Do you have one or several favorite vanilla fragrances? What would be your top 5 vanillas in both food and perfumery products?
Photo credit: The Herb Companion