Anyone who feared Mona di Orio's "solinote" Les Nombres d'Or series means the perfumes was changing direction towards simple more mainstream compositions should be assured by now this is definitely not the case. The first trio (Musc, Ambre and Cuir) kept di Orio's signature of rich animalics, and the second one, Vanille, Vetyver and Tubereuse are a complex and satisfying example of true perfumery art.
Let's put one thing out of the way first: Vanille is not a sweet gourmand and those who get their fix of "yummy" at Bath & Body Works and the likes would not like it. Then again, they're not too likely to even encounter Mona di Orio perfumes, so that's not an issue. Vanille is reasonably sweet and somewhat ambery, but the main thing that's amplified on my skin and tales me on some serious ride is sandalwood. Sandalwood like I haven't smelled in ages: deep exotic and spicy as well as creamy. It's a very posh cousin of the chai-sandalwood blend from Kenzo Jungle L'Elephant.
Vanille progresses from slightly boozy and intoxicating to smooth and mysterious. There's no question about sex-appeal: this would get you sniffed and followed around. The vanilla is woven into every stage of the development and belongs there, be it as part of hot toddy, a treasured spice in a craved wooden box or a rare incense that sends you off on a fantasy journey.
The fantasy feels like a strong theme in Vanille. It could be the olfactory equivalent of a soundtrack to a British mini-series about the romance, danger and heartbreak of the last days in India. Dimly lit interiors, gorgeous fabrics, gowns and landscapes, heat, passion and jewelry...
I might have overdosed a little on Vanille, but you can't blame me. It's that good.
Notes (from Luckyscent): Brazilian orange, Indonesian cloves, petit grain, rum extract, Bourbon vetiver, ylang-ylang, Indian sandalwood, gaiac wood, Vanilla absolute from Madagascar, amber, tonka bean
Vanille ($190, 100 ml EDP) and the rest of Les Nombres d'Or by Mona di Orio are available from Luckyscent. The store supplied the press sample for this review.
Photo of Anjelica Huston by David Bailey for Vogue UK, 1973