Rewind on Vanilla Absolute in Recent Fragrances 2007-2009 {Trend Alert}

Vanilla pod by contentedness

After reviewing Vanille Galante by Hermès which showcased the addition of Vanilla Absolute as a sign of luxury and authenticity, as opposed to synthetic Vanillin, I started noticing a bevy of perfumes that had the much touted luxury vanilla touch. Some come after the release of Vanille Galante but many, in fact, were released before as, simply enough, a quick keyword search in The Scented Salamander blog search-box indicated to me.

As I said earlier somewhere else on the blog, 2007 saw the beginning of the development of an interesting vanilla-perfume trend because it was very much linked to an authorial position in perfumery. What I mean by that is that the trend was not primarily commercially driven but came as the result of perfumers' interest in and ideas about the material injected into relatively confidential releases. The change also took place around the place accorded the ingredient: vanilla was made to leave its traditional and essential supporting role to take the lead role in compositions, namely Tihota by Francis Kurkdjian for Indult and Spiritueuse Double Vanille by Jean-Paul Guerlain for Guerlain in a limited-edition perfume. Vanilla, the commercial aroma if there ever was one (Vanilla Planifolia is also called "commercial vanilla") became the sign of rarity in these attempts at bringing the flavor vanilla into the fold of fine perfumery in its most exclusive incarnations, a little bit like what frayed blue jeans would signal if they made a come back on haute-couture runways and were pounded to become cashmere-grade soft...

Parallel to this new tendency in 2007, one saw the introduction of a more commercial line Lavanilla Laboratories sold at Sephora and which promised health benefits from wearing the vanilla scents. As we all know, two lines that have existed for a while now thrive on endless variations on vanilla: La Maison de la Vanille and Comptoir Sud Pacifique vanilla pairings of notes.

I would like to call attention also to a 2007 Cinq Mondes perfume, Rituel de Bengalore composed by Olivia Giacobetti, which features a vanilla absolute note to good effect albeit perhaps not to outstanding fragrance restructuring as the constraints of working with natural ingredients are often limiting for creative perfumers. It is already a feat to create a good and lasting perfume with these constraints. Dawn Spencer Hurwitz also used vanilla absolute in Tamarind Paprika.

In 2008, the front-and-center-vanilla-note trend continued with Oscar de La Renta Oscar Fresh Vanilla (I have not smelled it but retrospectively would be interested in comparing it with the fresh Vanille Galante).

Armani put some vanilla absolute in Onde, also in 2008 as did Baby Phat Fabulosity and Classique by Jean-Paul Gaultier summer 2008.  

This year, in 2009, Jean-Claude Ellena followed suit with an authorial vanilla with Vanille Galante for Hermès and Patricia de Nicolaï who sometimes reveals a Guerlain influence as a scion of the dynasty in a scent like Sacrebleu has recently introduced Vanille Intense, which in principle should bear an authorial imprint coming from a niche perfume house led by a nose. Lush also have a say regarding vanilla absolute and their perfumer Simon Constantine has concocted Vanillary which features a note vanilla absolute (the Vanilla Planifolia kind).

Rewinding further back in the past, I was reminded that Gucci Eau de Parfum, one of the most original designer perfumes let loose on the market.

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