|Photograph by Nick Knight for W Magazine, model: Karlie Kloss|
Provanilla is a deceivingly light vanilla fragrance that goes from a sheer floral to an airy gourmand. Floral vanillas are usually based on the relationship between vanilla bean and the vanilla orchid. The aforementioned classic Vanilia came to my mind the first time I sprayed Providence's Provanilla because of this connection. But this new perfume took a surprising turn into an almost watery, cucumbery territory, which I usually deeply dislike. But something about this composition grabbed me and didn't let go. I was reminded of a favorite refreshing summer drink: ice cold almond water laced with a whiff of vanilla. This Middle Eastern treat that takes what you usually think of "comfort" ingredients and gives them a summer spin.
Eventually the watery notes disappear in favor of a deeper vanilla. This time the gourmand aspect is more pronounced, yet the sheerness of the perfume brings to mind a delicate embroidery on a silk chiffon fabric that moves around you in the light summer breeze. The dry-down is absolutely beautiful. It walks the line of "yummy" very carefully: yes, the temptation is there, but vanilla ( a good vanilla, that is) is more interesting than that and has an inherent complexity that includes smokiness, booze, fantasy orchid, and creamy desserts. Vanilla-centric perfumes are not too common in natural perfumery, making Provanilla an even bigger standout. Perfume Charna Ethier managed to use all the facets and create a vanilla fragrance that expresses all the most skilled perfumers who restrict themselves to natural ingredients.
Provanilla by Providence Perfume Company ($35 7.5ml eau de parfum, also in other sizes as well as samples) is available at Twisted Lily and directly from providenceperfume.com. Samples for this review were supplied by the perfumer.