Vanilla Fiesta: 11 Mini Reviews

Magpie had a enough of vanilla... | Illustration by The Perfume Magpie

Magpie had enough of vanilla… | Illustration by The Perfume Magpie

To tell the truth, I haven’t been a big fan of vanilla fragrances. Don’t get me wrong, I do love the smell of vanilla itself. I have a whole bunch of vanilla beans that I brought back from Zanzibar stashed in my kitchen cupboard and I sometimes open the jar just to enjoy their heavenly sweet smell. But I like vanilla in something edible, not in something I put on. I don’t enjoy smelling like a little cupcake.

Recently when I was digging through my perfume samples, I discovered that I had quite a few un-sniffed ones with vanilla as an important part of their compositions; they were all lying at the bottom of my sample boxes, buried and forgotten under the other little vials. I suddenly felt kind of pity for them. Whether I was feeling mellow in the recent cooler weather or merely trying to escape from my workload, I gathered them around and decided to have a good vanilla sniffing session. People say that life will never give you more than you can handle. Well, I certainly survived through it and managed to find a few vanilla fragrances I could wear.

So here we go, the list and mini reviews of vanillas I tried:

Love – don’t be shy – by By Kilian

Peppery Orange Vanilla
This is a seriously sweet fragrance, peppery nonetheless. You’ve got to love gourmands to enjoy wearing this one. Very strong orange blossom and neroli, and a touch of jasmine and rose with a blast of sugar and vanilla. It is pretty, not beautiful, and it has an amazing lasting power. I don’t hate it but I won’t be able to wear it. I think you need to be twenty-something & bubbly to get away with this.

Nose: Calice Becker
Released in 2007.
50ml EDP | $260 from By Kilian.

Back to Black – aphrodisiac – by By Kilian

Moody Vanilla
First of all, I like smoky and powdery fragrances. Back to Black is sweet, smoky, powdery and yummy, all at the same time. I’m not too keen on its opening with raspberry but the smoky drydown is rather attractive. I quite enjoyed the honeyed gingerbread notes in this one. Yes, it’s sweet but I can wear this in winter. I don’t love it but I like it. Some people suggest that it smells like Tobacco Vanille by Tom Ford and Hedonist by Viktoria Minya but I didn’t find it so.

Nose: Calice Becker
Released in 2009.
50ml EDP | $260 from By Kilian.

Amour Liquide by Memoire Liquide

Milky Vanilla
This is a sugary vanilla that you will either love or hate. The vanilla itself smells quite authentic but it’s all about vanilla and nothing else. There are three notes listed in this one; vanilla, tonka, and incense. I was hoping to smell more of the incense note but it was very weak and completely overpowered by the sweet notes. If you are very careful, you might be able to catch a whiff of it. There is something woody-musky smell in the background, like sandalwood, and it adds to the milky-ness of this fragrance. Great longevity. This is too “edible” for me to wear.

Nose: Ilias Ermenidis
Released in 2009.
50ml EDP | $95 from Memoire Liquide.

Seven Veils by Byredo

Country Kitchen Vanilla
It’s nothing like other fragrances I’ve ever smelled in my life. The opening is a mixture of slightly bitter wisteria and orchid, soon taken over by vanilla, carrot seeds, and pink pepper, then it settles straight into sweet and tangy spiciness. It smells like a lovely country kitchen with a wooden spice cupboard on the wall, occasionally catching a whiff of flowers through the open windows. The vanilla is prominent but it isn’t in your face. I don’t love it but I somehow appreciate it. I might wear it on a golden autumn day.

Nose: Jerome Epinette
Released in 2011.
50ml EDP | €95 from Byredo.

Vanille Insensee by Atelier Cologne

Edgy Vanilla
Like other Atelier Colognes, it is clean and very wearable. The mixture of woody incense, amber, and vanilla is fairly cozy but there is a sort of edginess to it.  It’s not a cute vanilla fragrance, more for the grown-ups. The citrus notes at the beginning don’t last long; it soon reveals vanilla and exotic coriander with velvety vetiver and amber in the background. It might work in the spring to summer seasons.

Nose: Ralf Schwieger
Released in 2011.
30ml Pure Perfume | €65 from Atelier Cologne.

Un Bois Vanille by Serge Lutens

Dark Vanilla
Another woody vanilla but totally different to Vanille Insensee. It is much darker and deeper. I was a little bit worried about trying this one at first because of the coconut and liquorice notes. Actually they coordinate with each other very well and it didn’t give me the choking effect that I was concerned about. Vanilla is on the sweeter side but the strong wood note keeps holding it back. There is a strange plasticky smell in it and it disturbed me a little. I can probably wear this, maybe in late autumn to winter.

Nose: Christopher Sheldrake
Released in 2003.
50ml EDP | €90 from Serge Lutens.

Eau Duelle by Diptyque

Well Behaved Vanilla
Surprisingly, I liked this one as soon as I opened the vial. It is resiny and earthy vanilla with a touch of greenness. I was so sure that I could smell floral note in it but it’s not listed. It is delicious but not in a cakey way. It is one of the most inoffensive vanillas I’ve tried. Actual vanilla in this one is very rounded and not too sweet. I think this one works all year round.

Nose: Fabrice Pellegrin
Released in 2010.
75ml EDP | €105 from Diptyque.

Shalimar Souffle de Parfum by Guerlain

Lemon Meringue Vanilla
Shalimar Souffle opens with bright citrus notes. It is a delicious vanilla fragrance with the bitterness of citrus peels and a fraction of white florals. Somehow it’s a little ozonic too. It’s decidedly sweet but not sugary. As so many people already suggested, Shalimar Souffle smells like a lemon meringue pie and makes me feel hungry. Very light weight and airy for a vanilla fragrance.

Nose: Thierry Wasser
Released in 2014.
50ml EDP | around $100. More information: Guerlain

Tobacco Vanille by Tom Ford

Smoky Vanilla
Tobacco Vanille is a spicy and smoky vanilla fragrance. I usually enjoy tobacco fragrances but, at the beginning, I wasn’t sure about this one at all. I kept smelling something tart and ripe besides rich tobacco, vanilla and spice mixture and it was a little unnerving. But after 15 minutes or so, it turned into more luscious sweet tobacco fragrance and I could enjoy it better then. Towards the end, sweetness of vanilla intensified a lot and it was a bit like a combination of ice cream, cigar, and Pepsi. I quite liked it.

Nose: Olivier Gillotin
Released in 2007.
50ml EDP | $220 from Tom Ford.

The Sexiest Scent on the Planet. Ever. IMHO by 4160 Tuesdays

Spicy Vanilla
It doesn’t match with my idea of sexy scent but it’s not bad at all. The vanilla wasn’t sugary sweet and merged well with the citrus note. Also the woodiness of this fragrance was down to earth and comforting. It’s not listed but I could smell something like patchouli and strong peppery/spicy notes – could there be ISO E Super or something similar in this fragrance? Whatever it is, it’s nicely blended into it and gives warmth to it. Definitely an autumn to winter fragrance.

Nose: Sarah McCartney
Released in 2013.
50ml EDP | £60 from 4160 Tuesdays.

Baiser Vole Essence de Parfum by Cartier

Flowery Vanilla
A flower shop right next to a patisserie; loads of lily, loads of vanilla. You’ve got to love the smell of luxurious lily and gourmand vanilla to appreciate this fragrance. There is something green and spicy in this fragrance, like fresh juice seeping out of the cut carnation stem. The vanilla is sweet and strong but it’s a proper vanilla pod smell. At first it was too intense for me to enjoy fully but the combination turned creamy and a little bit woody after a while. If I can manage to stand the initial stage, I might be able to wear this one. I’ll try again.

Nose: Mathilde Laurent
Released in 2011.
40ml |around €50. More information: Cartier

Eleven Vanilla Fragrances | Photo Collage by The Perfume Magpie

Eleven Vanilla Fragrances | Photo Collage by The Perfume Magpie

Now I can feel approaching autumn in the air, I long for something evocative and snuggly to wear. Vanilla certainly has those qualities – warm, cuddly and nostalgic – and it would be pretty appealing in the cool autumn days.

After experiencing the different takes on vanilla by ten perfumers, I came to the conclusion; I don’t hate vanilla fragrances, I just prefer the vanilla to be in the background and not on the main stage. A whispering level would be nice. I’ll be re-trying some of the fragrances again in the coming seasons when I swap my sandals and summer dresses for boots and jumpers.

Do you like vanilla in fragrance? What is your favourite?

A Stroll Down Memory Lane: Puredistance WHITE

Magpie & Puredistance WHITE | Illustration by The Perfume Magpie

Magpie & Puredistance WHITE | Illustration by The Perfume Magpie

White clouds are moving fast across the endless blue sky, the seasons are rapidly changing day by day. The fields are now dotted with crimson poppies, alkanets, and bee orchids surrounded by the abundance of white wildflowers. Now I can see the signs of fast approaching summer everywhere.  As I watched the swallows crisscrossing the sky, I found myself reflecting on the ephemerality of life and everlasting memories we create along the way. Every single moment we lived through has been stored somewhere inside of us, even though we don’t recall them in our busy daily lives.

I got into this somewhat pensive state just after I tried the newly released fragrance WHITE by Puredistance.

Puredistance WHITE

Puredistance WHITE | Photo by The Perfume Magpie

A sample of Puredistance WHITE arrived in a beautiful white presentation box on one beautiful morning. Inside the box, I found a white satin sachet and a little white flower next to it. Enclosed card said “The main idea behind the creation of Puredistance WHITE Perfume has been to create a perfume so beautiful and positive that it gives the wearer an instant flow of happiness.” How beautiful is that? I like the idea of “happy perfume”. I gave a little sniff to the sample vial and sprayed it on my wrist.

The breath of spring. That was my first impression I got. Luminous rose and sparkling bergamot, completely in harmony with each other, rose up and enveloped me. The next were buttery orris and sweet tonka, I could smell them emerging from the background.  It’s so smooth, soft, blight, and luxurious, like a piece of beautiful silk scarf. Then, something told me to stop analysing it and just experience the wholeness of this fragrance. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath.

The images of the flowering fields, the sunshine through the spring haze, and the dandelion parachutes dancing in the breeze filled my mind. A gentle, happy spring afternoon. Pure joy.

Flowering Field | Photo by The Perfume Magpie

Flowering Field | Photo by The Perfume Magpie

And then, those images changed and shifted.  I saw the flashes of our wedding on the red rock, two of us lazing around on the beach, visiting the ancient temples, hiking up the volcanoes, watching the sunset together… Memories from the past flooded through me, and with the memories came the intense feelings of happiness. I was seeing other places and times, and above all, smiles. I was happy, we were so happy, and my heart ached… I opened my eyes with tears rolling down on my cheeks. WHITE had opened a floodgate of emotions that have been waiting to be released.

I’ve never experienced or expected to have such multitude of emotional reactions from a fragrance. All the memories were joyful, beautiful and full of love; just like this exquisite Puredistance WHITE.

I went out for a walk to mull over what had happened. The sense of happiness and aches in my heart were still there.  The sun was now going behind the blue shadows of the mountains. The breeze rose, the wildflowers swaying in the rosy evening light and I caught a whiff of warm musky scent of WHITE. Everything around me was breathtakingly beautiful. I allowed myself to surrender to the intense beauty of the moment. I wondered if this beautiful moment too would be stored somewhere inside me as a memory, and one day, it would spring up in an unexpected moment in the future.

Life is ephemeral; it literally comes and goes in the blink of an eye. I told myself to remember to live for the day and, most importantly, appreciate its subtle splendour every single day.

* I wrote this blog post several weeks ago but I couldn’t bring myself to publish it for unknown reasons. – Yukiko

Nose: Antoine Lie

Notes: Rose de Mai from France, Tonka bean absolute from Venezuela, Orris absolute from Italy, Sandalwood from Mysore, Bergamot from Italy, Musk, Vetyver from Haiti and Patchouli from Indonesia

It is available in 17.5ml Perfume Extrait, €155.00 from Puredistance.

Read what others are saying about Puredistance WHITE.
Bonkers about Perfume, Kafkaesque, Perfume Posse, Chemist in the Bottle, CaFleureBon, The Scented Hound, Colognoisseur, Eiderdown Press

Disclosure: Review is based on a sample I received from Puredistance.

Real Neat Blog Award: Surprise, surprise!

Real Neat Blog Award

Real Neat Blog Award

My morning routine starts with a nice steaming cup of tea, followed by checking emails and the day’s schedule.  Some days my inbox contains something exciting and special, some other days, just full of notifications and adverts. Well, there was an email waiting for me this morning which belongs to both categories.

Melita from the Perfume Polytechnic blog nominated The Perfume Magpie for a Real Neat Blog Award. This was a lovely surprise to wake up to.

Real Neat Blog Award seems like a baton passed by a blogger to another blogger, and the recipient is supposed to answer the questions that came along with the award if she/he is willing to accept the nomination. I’ve seen this kind of awards on other blogs but, to be honest, I’ve never imagined that it would come to my direction.

So, Melita, thank you!! I’ll accept the award as gracefully as a magpie can since this is my first award and there may never be another, and pass it onto other bloggers. As for the bloggers I nominate, I know some of you choose to run award-free blogs, so if I mention you in this post, participate only if you want to. No obligations. I just want to shout out “I love your blog!!”

Here are the rules for accepting a Real Neat Blog Award:

1) Show the award logo on your blog.
2) Answer seven questions asked by your nominator.
3) Thank your nominator, linking his or her blog.
4) Nominate any number of bloggers you find deserving of the award, and provide a link to their blogs.
5) Let them know you nominated them (by commenting on their blog etc.)
(Again, feel free not to act upon them if you don’t have time; or don’t accept awards; etc.)

Well, anyway, here are my answers to Melita’s questions:

1) If you’re old enough to remember, what do you miss the most about the pre-internet era?
Handwritten letters. I used to have a great collection of letter papers and envelopes for the different friends, moods, seasons and occasions. I loved the moment of anticipation just before opening the envelopes. (Actually, I get similar excitement now when I know the package contains perfumes.)
2) Could you be self-sufficient if you had to be?
Yes. I’ve grown up in a farm and now I’m living in countryside. I grow vegetables and herbs, I can weave baskets and sandals, and I’m pretty good at milking cows. I’m crap at chopping wood though.  I’m also into natural & botanical medicines.
3) What are your thoughts on climate change?
It’s a nature’s cycle but human beings are not helping it.
4) What is your best developed sense?
Hmmmm, this is a difficult question. I have a very good sense of smell and I can recognise wide range of colours as well (well, according to one of those articles on the internet). I can also hear bats.
5) Do you make anything with your hands?
Yes. I love making jewellery in silver. I love the moment when the metal glows red and solder flows. I also enjoy making stained glass panels, knitting and sewing.
6) What is the most thoughtful gift someone has given you?
Love. Does it count?
7) Tell us about a person you miss, and what you miss most about them.
My husband. Although now I’ve met someone who is loving, caring, understanding, and completely accepting me the way I am, I still miss my late husband a lot. I don’t think I would ever stop loving him and missing him. He was highly intelligent, adventurous, humorous, grumpy, animal loving, spiritual and a gentle soul. I miss everything we used to do together, just him being there with me.

So there we have it. A little more about me. :)

Now, my nominees. I wanted to choose a lot more but I thought five was a good number.

I nominate the following perfume blogs:

Bonkers about Perfume
The Scented Hound
Undina’s Looking Glass
The Sounds of Scent

Here are my 7 questions for the bloggers:

1) What is one of your talents?
2) What makes you smile?
3) If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
4) If the world ends tomorrow, what would you do?
5) If you can go back in time, where would you go?
6) What the weirdest thing you’ve ever smelled?
7) Which perfume are you craving to obtain?

As I said earlier, please don’t feel obligated to accept the award, it’s just a small way of showing my love to a few blogs I enjoy!

All the Pretty Bottles

Magpie's Perfume Bottle Collection

Magpie Loves Perfume Bottles | Illustration by The Perfume Magpie

I’m a visual person. I get drawn to anything pretty. Over the years I’ve learnt to behave (a bit) and restrain myself not to collect anything and everything I lay my eyes on but I’m still a magpie through and through. I enjoy being surrounded by things that are pleasing to the eye. As you can probably guess, perfume is one of such things I adore not only for the smell but also for the visual effect. If I had an unlimited amount of money to spend, I would have a huge perfume library in my house with a collection of beautiful bottles adorning each shelf.

So when I decide to buy a perfume, the design of the bottle plays a big part. The number one factor is still the smell, of course, but even if I *like* the smell, if I don’t like the bottle, the prospect of the purchase becomes very slim. (By the way, if I *love* the fragrance, I would buy it however the bottle looks.)

Anyway, I was looking at my humble perfume collection on the dresser this morning and I happened to notice that they have one noticeable visual quality in common – simple. A few of them have so called whisky decanter shapes and the rests are more or less the variations of the prism shapes. For fun, I decided to gather some of the images of the perfume bottles I like and dislike. All the bottles are chosen only for their appearance, nothing to do with the actual fragrances themselves. The choices are completely biased and personal.

So here we go…

The Bottles I Like

I decided to limit to ten commercial fragrance bottles here. Needless to say, there are so many more I like. I didn’t add any of the vanity bottles or vintage scent bottles but I love those gorgeous cut crystal and Art Nouveau glass bottles, especially by Lalique, Daum and Galle.

Perfume Bottles Magpie Likes

The Perfume Bottles Magpie Likes

The Bottles I Dislike

I think you can see some patterns forming here; I don’t like those dolly ones or plasticky ones. I didn’t list it here but I’m not too keen on the bug on the bottle of Maai by Bogue either.

The Perfume Bottles Magpie Dislike

The Perfume Bottles Magpie Doesn’t Like

The Bottles I Feel Somewhat Embarrassed

Not that I get offended by the designs or anything like that. I’m not a prude at all. I just wonder why they couldn’t come up with more suggestive but elegant looking bottles… OK, the Azzaro Duo bottles aren’t so bad if you look at them from the front but the side views they used for the advert definitely make them look like sex toys… Someone said that the bottle should be the physical embodiment of the fragrance… Well…never mind.

The Perfume Bottles Magpie Feels Embarrased

The Perfume Bottles Magpie Feels Embarrased


I want these.

The Perfume Bottles Magpie Wants

The Perfume Bottles Magpie Wants

So, when you buy a fragrance, does the design of the bottle affect your decision making? What is your favourite bottle design?

Disclaimer: The images of the fragrances and the bottles were borrowed from various perfume house and brand websites, Pinterest, and Google image search.

Tea Anyone? : Oolang Infini, Osmanthe Yunnan & Infusion de Tubereuse

Tea Fragrances for Spring | Illustration by The Perfume Magpie

Tea Fragrances for Spring | Illustration by The Perfume Magpie

February had come and gone with mountain piles of work and paperworks. What happened? A month had just disappeared into thin air. I guess now I need to relax and have some tea.

When the weather gets warmer, I ritually dig out fragrances with tea note. I realised it a few years ago that the tea fragrances somehow go well together with the heat and the outdoor environments.  Since spring has finally arrived here in the eastern part of Spain, I’ve emerged out of my nest, started venturing around the countryside and made a start with my herb garden. When you are covered in dust and God-knows-what, heavy or sweet perfumes are huge no-nos but for a perfume addict like me, go without any fragrance is just unthinkable.

Magpie's Atelier Cologne Collection | Photo by The Perfume Magpie

Magpie’s Atelier Cologne Collection | Photo by The Perfume Magpie

One of my favourites for outdoors at the moment is Oolang Infini by Atelier Cologne. It is refreshing, not overpowering, and decidedly blend well in the dusty settings. In fact, in my humble opinion, most of the Atelier Cologne line are your perfect al fresco companions. They are almost like couture fragrances for me; specially designed to withstand the Spanish scorching climate. Around Christmas 2014, I was the blessed winner of the Atelier Cologne Ecrin Absolute giveaway hosted by The Sounds of Scent. I chose Oolang Infini and Sous le toit de Paris as my prize and I can tell you that I’m getting the best out of them along with Grand Néroli I own. I will be wearing a lot of theirs this coming season and I’m pretty sure that my Atelier Cologne collection will increase over time.

Another tea fragrance I adore and love to wear in spring/summer seasons is Osmanthe Yunnan by Hermès. It is smokier and juicier than Oolang Infini and it makes me think of the spring haze over the blooming fruit orchards. I’m not too keen on the fruity fragrances but the fruits in Osmanthe Yunnan are very subtle and add to its vibrancy. All the notes are very well balanced; it is juicy, soft, gentle, and kind of ethereal. In a few days time , the campo around the village will be filled with bright pink peach blossoms, then apricot and plum blossoms. I can’t wait to wear Osmanthe Yunnan and have leisurely walks among the falling petals.

Flowery Tea

Flowery Tea | Image borrowed from Mighty Leaf

Here’s another addition to my warm & sunny fragrances; Infusion de Tubéreuse by Prada. Is it just me? It’s not a tea fragrance but I keep smelling something like tea in this one. I blind bought a bottle just because I liked the look of it (yes, shallow of me) and due to my love for its big sister, Infusion d’Iris.  When I sprayed it on me for the first time, my reaction was “Meh”. It wasn’t interesting enough and lacked gravitas. It was hardly a tuberose fragrance; I couldn’t smell it at all. To be honest, it was one of the most disappointing fragrances I’ve ever bought. Then, on one hot spring afternoon, I put it on and went out for a wild asparagus picking. What an ideal outdoor fragrance it turned out to be! It didn’t lose its freshness in the dust and sweat (sorry for the image) and it stayed airy and transparent all the way through. Actually, when it got mixed with the smell of dried grass in the field, Infusion de Tubéreuse smelled very much like pleasant Chinese fragrant tea. Who knew?

Do you like tea note in fragrances? Do you have any tea fragrance you would recommend?

Oolang Infini by Atelier Cologne – 100 ml €105.00
Osmanthe Yunnan by Hermès – EDT 100ml £167.00
Infusion de Tubereuse by Prada – EDP 100ml £55.70

Read what others are saying about them.
Oolang Infini:
Bois de JasminOlfactoria’s TravelsBonkers about Perfume
Osmanthe Yunnan:
Perfume Smellin’ ThingsOlfactoria’s TravelsPerfume Posse
Infusion de Tubereuse:
Perfume ShrineThe Non-Blonde

Disclosure: The reviews are based on the bottles I own.