Micallef Art Collection Vanille : Perfume Reviews

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Parfums M. Micallef is a line of French perfumes that bills itself as “a brand of love” and which has recently issued a quartet of vanilla-themed fragrances it calls “Art Collection Vanille.”  Vanilla aficionados may remember Micallef’s excellent Note Vanillee, a cult vanilla that disappeared from production only to make a brief reappearance before disappearing again. Don’t go looking to replace Note Vanillee in the new Art Collection; the house strikes out in new directions with this “four movement symphony…written to fulfill individual desires.”

Individual desires aside, one cannot escape the hard fact that vanilla collections are so Nineties.  Three words: Comptoir Sud Pacifique.  In quick succession, Molinard had one, Victoria’s Secret had one, Bath and Body Works had one, Henri Bendel had one.  Micallef’s range of olfactory expression extends no further than these earlier linesVanilla Flower, Vanilla Leather, Vanilla Orient, and Vanilla Marine are upscale, more complex variants of their mall-housed predecessors, priced accordingly.

Vanilla Flower is a deceptively named fragrance based more upon fruit than the named flower.  The peach note is so enormous that it makes the given flower—rose—seem more like an imaginary olfactive friend than a discernible note.  It didn’t develop so much as it did balloon, with the peach concealing the rest of the composition, including the vanilla (which latently turned out to be a high-grade, dry and woody one).  The peach note has a fresh and airy effect after it settles that had it nicely drifting over wood notes.  I am of two minds about this fragrance.  I enjoyed wearing it and would call my experience with it pleasurable. However, I couldn’t escape the feeling that I’d have been very happy to pay $24.95 for it in Bath and Body Works, circa 1996.  Should this have been priced today in the vicinity of forty dollars, I’d snap it up.  How perturbing.

Vanilla Leather was the least leathery fragrance that calls itself leather that I’ve encountered.  That’s good news for me and bad news for you leather lovers out there.  Vanilla Leather is a lavender vanilla that comes up gently powdery and sweet, with very minor traces of cinnamon and cumin spice wormed around the edges.  The base notes of wood and dry vanilla pod enchanted me as does normally happen with this type of mix and I used up the sample immediately.  And wanted more, but this is the pitfall of testing fragrance. Thanks to the clever use of herbal lavender and a sweet, clear orange blossom over a damp, mildly earthy base, Vanilla Leather is likely the star of the collection and something that would be ideal in the winter.

I’d like to say that Vanilla Orient is a less-expensive variant of Guerlain’s woody, boozy Spiritueuse Double Vanille except that it isn’t really all that less expensive while reading as a definite cognate of the popular Guerlain scent. The resemblance is immediate to my nose, although Vanilla Orient is somewhat lighter.  Both seem to reflect a core composition of rose, vanilla, sandalwood, and amber in an intellectual vanilla exercise. I also thought there might be a touch of oud somewhere in the mix.  Vanlla Orient would smell new to anyone who hasn’t tried the Guerlain, but it goes without saying that it might not excite anyone who is already familiar with Spiritueuse Double Vanille.

And here is the part where I tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed the salt water taffy, ocean spray, and lemon sherbet amusement park that is Vanilla Marine.  Yes, it’s pretty routine stuff—didn’t Molinard make a Vanille Marine once upon a time? Vanilla Marine made me realize that I am tired of maladjusted fragrances or fragrances that are so futuristically synthetic that I wish they would create Space Age anosmia. I hadn’t realized I was looking for a lemony vanilla marine scent, but I guess I was.  Despite the semi-gourmand notes, Vanilla Marine is the most unisex of the collection with a faint whiff of men’s cologne (the marine note) embracing the fruity gourmand element.

Collection Vanille’s four scents are pleasing, and that’s not damning with faint praise.  I don’t really need a kick in the pants to spur my interest in a fragrance.  In fact, often the opposite is required.  If vanilla was the chosen flavor of the turn of the century, then it has never really gone away, as this collection proves.

$145.00 for 50 ml; $225.00 for 100 ml

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19 Comments

  • Heather: Their target market has probably never heard of Bath & Bodyworks. Every time I peruse the Micallefs at Fortnums, the area is crowded with Middle Eastern ladies buying the fragrances by the dozen(s). No exaggeration. October 18, 2012 at 7:40am Reply

    • Suzanna: Heather, thanks for sharing your thoughts on this line, which isn’t really represented here outside of one or two doors. Since I’m American, my reference is going to be different. This line would never be carried where I live! October 18, 2012 at 8:16am Reply

  • OperaFan: I’ve never been a big fan of vanilla or leather fragrance, but once in a while I encounter a nice surprise, Chanel’s Cuir de Russie and Shalimar Ode a la Vanilla come to mind.
    The Vanilla Leather sounds very promising. October 18, 2012 at 10:03am Reply

    • Suzanna: OperaFan, I second you on that account. You should at least make the acquaintance of Vanilla Leather.

      I have to say that the price frustrates me. October 18, 2012 at 10:23am Reply

      • OperaFan: Agree – Pricewise both the Chanel and Guerlain cost less. October 18, 2012 at 2:53pm Reply

        • Suzanna: And are better buys–I get fed up with sweet scents and don’t wear them at all for ages, so it’s not worth it. Would not turn down a couple of these if they were available at a lower sticker, though. October 18, 2012 at 3:23pm Reply

  • Elisa: Ha, I said the same thing about Vanille Fleur when I reviewed it on my blog yesterday! Way more fruit than flower and it reminds me of a Bath and Body Works lotion. I hated it however. It went all medicinal mango on me.

    I do get lots of leather from Vanille Cuir. It seems like perceptions of leather vary greatly. I get no leather at all from Bottega Veneta which everyone else thinks smells like suede. October 18, 2012 at 10:15am Reply

    • Elisa: P.S. you can click my name to read my reviews 🙂 October 18, 2012 at 10:16am Reply

    • Suzanna: Elisa, I agree that perceptions of leather vary greatly. In my case, I dislike a Bandit-like aggressiveness and measure everything else by it! October 18, 2012 at 10:24am Reply

      • Elisa: I measure all leathers by Cuir de Lancome! I require a little smoky birch tar goodness but dislike when it gets too animalic. October 18, 2012 at 12:54pm Reply

        • Suzanna: I am a wimp with this note, completely. October 18, 2012 at 3:22pm Reply

  • Joan: I wasn’t hugely impressed by them either. I think you got more out of Vanilla Leather than I did, although I agree it was competent. I wasn’t aware that Vanilla Marine had been done before: it’s the best in my opinion, but I’d only pay a Bath and Body Works price for it too. October 18, 2012 at 9:20pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Joan, I got more out of Vanilla Leather because of the lack of leather. My favorite is Vanille Marine and I would def. purchase that at lower price point. October 18, 2012 at 10:20pm Reply

  • civava: I also liked the Vanilla Marine most of all in this collection. October 19, 2012 at 2:59pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Then that makes three. I really did find it interesting and purchase-worthy if the price were not as it is. October 19, 2012 at 3:26pm Reply

  • Ariadne: Men crumple upon a whiff of vanilla. October 19, 2012 at 5:10pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Ariadne, subject of an upcoming post! October 20, 2012 at 12:56am Reply

  • Betty: I am still wearing note vanille by mcauliffe and will be heartbroken when I can’t find any to purchase. I heard it was purchased by “the Royals”, and that that’s why it is no longer available, don’t know if that’s true or not.

    I do love some leather with my vanilla and note vanille seems to have little leather, but more booze, so it works out quite well for me. January 22, 2013 at 12:53am Reply

    • Suzanna: I don’t know anything about a royal purchase, but I feel for you! I have a mini of this frag and I should have bought more when they were available. Sigh. January 22, 2013 at 8:23am Reply

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