Molinard Vanille Marine (1998) {Perfume Review}


The sound of a perfume named Vanille Marine is on the side of ungodly. Somehow, you get a knee jerk reaction to what must smell a priori cheap, debased- and to sum up - olfactorily Kitsch. Except that it's precisely the scent you went away with when you visited the wall of Molinard perfumes at the Galeries Lafayette. It made you stop and pay closer attention. Next, you concluded "addictive" and a "must-have". Several years later you wonder if you were in your right mind then, because you don't necessarily wear the perfumes you like best, commiting than rather to your memory. So you revisit the jus which made you question your lucidity. A quick check on the notes gives you a glimpse of the 5 yellow stars in online reviews of it. You are not alone. If the name suggests a good dreck, other people have felt enthusiasm too for this, aparently, unsung hero...

You are virtually unmoved by tragic perfume names usually, but this one makes you think you wouldn't want to be caught dead uttering its syllables in answer to a casual inquiry. Its connotation is particularly boorish. And yet, you like it, a lot, the first time you smelled it.

Vanille Marine is well-balanced and subtle. It smells good. Those are discreet yet essential virtues. The fragrance opens on a commingling of woodsy, resinous and ozonic notes. The rich stickiness of a resinous goo is suggested by Bourbon Vanilla with its dark, rum-drenched overtones. As the scent evolves, the woody nuance becomes more visually and olfactorily fibrous, natural-smelling while shades of a floral bouquet emerge. The floralcy remains abstract although the rawness of jasmine indoles can be guessed at against the leathery facet of Bourbon Vanilla. Juniper berries play the trick of preventing this union of caramel and vanilla to feel unduly cloying bringing a subtle counterpoint to the main theme of a gourmand vanilla vacationing by the sea. Or is it really a sea-resort vanilla?

The melting point of the fragrance - that moment when it becomes truly blended on skin, melting into disappearance into it - yields the effect of a rich, dark, liquorishy vanilla not unlike the main sensation you experience with Guerlain Spiritueuse Double Vanille (2007). Dry, powdery nuances of brown caster sugar add their tonalities to this soft oriental; it is part of the collection Les Orientaux. This, then merges with the sensation of a caramel which is hard-shelled and brittle - ready for the spoon to break the crust that leads to the heart of a crème caramel - rather than creamy.

Going back to the sea-voyage spin added to vanilla it occurs to you that this could be a convincing aromatic rendering of a pirate chest of bottled treasures: Rum looted from the Jamaica, spoils of Gin from Dutch galions. This imagery is encouraged by the subtle spicy and aromatic interpersing of black vanilla bean, juniper berries and clary sage which evoke a more masculine universe, and coincidentally, the two liquor "flavors" preferred by pirates, Rum and Gin.

It is not after all a bland white vanilla with an added spoonful of artificial sea wind blowing in the bottle as a cheap reenactment of a beach holiday scent with a tendency to sound disgusting. It is a subtle pirate-chest scent, one which might emanate in the hut of your imagination from a cedarwood trunk encumbered by prized alcoholic trophies. Apparently, sea wolves were too thirsty to let any kind of good liquor sit for long unconsummed, therefore, we can only imagine what this rum-flavored pirate chest can smell like. This is one attempt at catching a buccaneer with a dry throat and a hoard of good liquor. Or to put it more simply, it's one to be tried if you like dark vanilla allied with softness, subtlety and spices. It is particularly seamlessly well blended and smooth - rahat.

Top notes are clary sage, caramel accord and Bourbon vanilla / Heart notes are jasmine, muguet and juniper berries / Base notes are amber, oakmoss lichen extract, a marine accord, and vanilla.

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