Prompted in part by reader Carly's request to come up with suggestions for vanilla perfumes and by my recent experience of catching the most voluptuous whiff of crème brûlée wafting from a lady who managed to turn the classic Shalimar into a sexy mysterious dessert, I decided to think of and look around for fragrances that give pride of place to that decadent accord or reveal a facet that is very close to that sensation.
Ironically, Shalimar which is listed here and pioneered the use of a Vanillin note was once thought to be the anti-dessert scent, the one that had escaped all suspicion of easiness and gourmandise. The creator of Chanel No. 5 perfumer Ernest Beaux once famously said, "When I use vanilla, I make crème caramel, whilst Jacques Guerlain creates Shalimar."
Try it to see if your skin catches this facet. It is ironic to propose Shalimar for its crème Brûlée effect since when it was launched perfumers admired it for its capacity to eschew the dessert-y impression. But sensitivities evolve, formulas evolve, and your skin may sweeten it. The potential is definitely there.
Hypnotic Poison Elixir
This is the version that is most like a decadent crème brûlée before trailing off into an almond-y sillage. I detect, if memory serves me well, a hint of saltiness that is just like in cooking and baking, the needed pinch to add more interest to the sweet side of a dessert.
Wanted by Elizabeth Arden
It's new, it's sexy and has a rummy, spicy crème-brûlée-like softness to it...
Laura Mercier Crème Brûlée Eau de Toilette
It is described as capturing "the essence of warm caramel, spun sugar, French vanilla beans and white musk's." The fragrances in this gourmand collection are usually quite spot on. Her crème de marron is one I remember as close to the real thing.
$50 at Macy's
- Primal Elements Creme Brulee
Another realistic accord that presents the advantage of being easy to carry and great for perfumistas on a string budget.
$12 for a rollette at Primal Elements.
Demeter Crème Brûlée
In their own words:
"The origins of creme brulee are hotly debated. The Spanish call it crema catalana and say they invented it during the 18th century. In the south of France, it is known as creme catalan and is believed to have been born there. Meanwhile, the Brits contend that it was first made during the 17th century at Trinity College in Cambridge, where it is known as Cambridge burnt cream or Trinity cream. Indeed, it wasn't until the late 19th-century that the French translation of "burnt cream" (creme brulee) came into vogue, causing the popular perception that it's a uniquely French dish. Demeter's Crème Brulee is the classic caramelized version, with emphasis on vanilla, cream and sugar, with a touch of burnt, caramelized sugar, and NO CALORIES!"
$10 for a 1/2 oz bottle at Demeter
Philosophy Creme Brulee 3-in-1
This for your hair, body and no doubt, mind.
$16 at Sephora, Philosophy
Juicy Couture Juicy Couture
In the middle of all these white flowers, there is a caramel crème brûlee accord which hides itself from publicity but not from your nose.
From $16 for the rollerball to $300 for the Parfum version at Sephora.
Laurence Dumont I'm Free Crème Brûlee
This fragrance not only smells like the bistro dessert but is also priced the same. So, your choice. Just kidding, you can have both.
7,29 € at cdiscount.com
Lavender crème brûlée picture courtesy of dessert.net.au