Vanilla is one of those scents that will always remind me of sugary body sprays and rollerball lip glosses—saccharine, juvenile, and boring. Since the moment I decided I was mature enough to wear an “adult” fragrance (circa tenth grade), I’ve avoided vanilla entirely. But when a goodie bag full of new perfumes arrived at my desk from MiN New York, guess what my three favorites all had in common? Yup, vanilla.
I would now like to take a moment to formally retract my sentiments about the gourmand note. Not only can it be complex and sophisticated, but also totally notsweet. Here, the three bottles that proved me wrong:
Fusion Sacree for Her by Majda Bekkali Sculptures Olfactives (left, above).This warm, amber-y Oriental easily could have been cloyingly rich or heavy, but notes such as coriander and black currant cut it with a fresh spiciness. And if one spritz makes you think of “Jingle Bells,” it’s probably the combination of clove, fir, and cedar. Wearing it smells like you’ve been wrapped up in a fluffy blanket while toasting chestnuts by a fire amidst a snowy pine forest. OK, maybe not quite. But it’s still definitely my new scent this holiday season.
Coccobello by James Heeley (center). I know what you’re thinking: Am I going to smell like sunscreen? Yes, you are, in the best way possible. The coconut is polished and nuanced—you won't smell like Malibu rum. Gardenia makes it refined and expensive, salt gives it a little edge, and a woody base keeps it from being too sweet.
Salina by Laboratorio Olfattivo (right). Sexy. Raw. Those are honestly the only two words I can think of when I smell this fragrance. Not to sound all lyrical, but it’s almost like the scent of skin that’s been out in the cold. I don’t know how lemon, sand, vanilla, white musk, and a few other notes combine to create such an intense, animalistic blend, but it is intoxicating and very on-the-prowl.