Perfume Review: Penhaligon Vaara

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Jodhpur, India. Source: –

There once was a Maharaja who loved his granddaughter very much. So much so, that her mere birth felt like the occasion to celebrate with something special. He commissioned a famous perfumer to create a scent in her name, honouring both his granddaughter and the land that he loved so much. It is the story of Vaara, the new creation of Bertrand Duchaufour for the old, famous British perfume house, Penhaligon.



The perfume site, CaFleureBon, explains the tale:

Vaara,  was inspired by the Royal House of Marwar-Jodphur in Rajasthan when  His Highness Maharaja Gaj Singh II desired a scent to commemorate the birth of his granddaughter, Vaara and to reflect his family’s deep love and connection with Jodhpur. Vaara offers a unique glimpse into this aromatic world of the Maharaja.

Bertrand travelled to Jodhpur to explore the life of a Maharaja; visiting historic forts, family palaces, exotic gardens and bustling city markets. His journey provided him with an abundance of inspiration for the fragrance and the end result, Vaara, cleverly captures the spirit of this fascinating part of India.

Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur. Source:

Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur. Source:

I absolutely adore Jodhpur, which I found to be one of the most magical places in India, so I couldn’t wait to try Vaara. Penhaligon‘s description merely added to my excitement:

The fragrance begins with a delicious blend of coriander and carrot seeds, creamy saffron and juicy quince: ingredients discovered during his trips to local markets in Jodhpur. The heart of Vaara belongs to the gardens of Balsamand, the Maharaja’s summer palace, with two glorious roses blended elegantly with a billowing white note of Indian magnolia, a touch of freesia and a whisper of iris. The fragrance settles into a luscious combination of honey, white musks and resins dripping over an aromatic base of tonka, cedarwood and sandalwood.

According to Penhaligon and Luckyscent, the notes in Vaara include:

Quince, Rosewater, Carrot Seed, Coriander Seed, Saffron, Moroccan Rose Absolute, Bulgarian Rose, Freesia, Indian Magnolia, Peony, Iris, Honey, White Musk, Cedarwood, Sandalwood, Benzoin Resin, Tonka Bean.



Vaara opens on my skin with quince and a watery rose. For those who may be unfamiliar with the smell of quince, it has an aroma between pear and apple with a honeyed undertone. For some, the smell feels fresh but exotically spicy, while, for others, quince has an aroma that slightly resembles pineapples, citruses, or lemon blossoms. In Vaara, the quince does indeed smell like something between an apple or a pear, though it’s closer to the latter for me and has a faint tinge of lemon blossoms. The rose note in the fragrance is delicate, sweet, very pink in feel, and extremely watery in characteristic. It’s syrupy and strong in a way that feels a lot like a tea-rose. Its watery aspect doesn’t feel dewy or metallic, but the end result is something that feels like a waterlogged pastel.

Source: Dennis 7 Dees Gardening center.

Source: Dennis 7 Dees Gardening center.

Dancing all around the fragrance are strong whiffs of the accompanying players. First and foremost is a carroty smell of iris, followed by violets. The latter doesn’t last for more than a few minutes because it is bulldozed over by the onslaught of a clean, white musk that smells cheap, chemical, and synthetic. It has a sharp tone to it and strongly evokes hairspray. Quickly, it infuses all the other notes from the quince to the rose and iris. It does the same to the peony which arrives on the scene, smelling very fresh, syrupy, and quite similar to the roses. There is a small whiff of freesia, too. The floral notes all feel very young, feminine, and flirty — too much so for me. I’m having visions of teenage girls in the ’80s wearing big, chintzy, cabbage rose dresses from Laura Ashley.

Making a valiant attempt to prevent Vaara from dissolving completely and thoroughly into floral hairspray are a few whispers of other notes. There is the merest tinge of something lemony from the magnolia. That said, I never smell the flower in its full, creamy, velvety, floral richness, so perhaps the note really is a subset of the quince. I have no idea. About ten minutes in, the saffron appears, adding a subtle touch of spiciness. Five minutes later, the hairspray stops acting like an advance scouting team for a Panzer unit, loses a little of its forcefulness, and lets a few of the other notes shine through. The pear-lemon blossomy quince regains its place as the star of the show, followed by the chorus of pink roses, sweetly carroted iris, purple violets, and syrupy white peonies. Despite the minor, momentary pop of saffron, Vaara doesn’t feel remotely oriental to me. Not once was I transported to Jodhpur or felt the warm breath of India. Instead, Vaara conjures up a large, full-blossomed, bridal bouquet of quince and florals all wrapped up with clean, white, musk hairspray like a bow. While the musk may make Vaara feel fresh and bright, it also makes it smell quite cheap to my nose.



Twenty minutes into Vaara’s development, the perfume shifts a little. The carroty undertones rise in prominence, strengthening the iris note. Yet, the latter feels as floral as it does carroty. It’s probably the impact of all the other notes which seem to grow in sweetness, as well as in strength. The potency of the pastel florals makes Vaara a scent that is primarily floral in nature, then perhaps fruity-floral, but never one that seems even remotely “oriental” to me.

Linda Evans as "Krystle Carrington" in Dynasty. Source:

Linda Evans as “Krystle Carrington” in Dynasty. Source:

What it really does is conjure up the past. Vaara has such a British, Sloane Ranger, 1980s feel. A young, shy, Lady Diana, circa 1981, might have worn Vaara in her youth — except the fragrance is probably too potent and forceful in strength. A better choice might be the very blonde, sweet Krystle Carrington from the old television show, Dynasty — except Vaara smells too commercial for the wife of a corporate magnate. Then again, Vaara’s increasingly strong undertones of floral hairspray might suit the bouffant-loving Crystal quite well.

The sad thing is that Vaara might have been quite decent without the cheapness and the low-quality, girly, super-feminine ingredients. At its heart, there is a kernel of a truly lovely scent. Unfortunately, Bertrand Duchaufour already built on that kernel, and already made that fragrance. It’s Mohur from Neela Vermeire Créations. Mohur has an extremely similar opening to Vaara, so similar, in fact, that I was initially taken aback. Ignoring Vaara’s brief spasm of quince, and considering only the opening forty minutes, the two fragrances overlap to a sharp extent. Mohur has the exact same sweet, syrupy, watery, pink tea-rose, followed by carroty notes, iris, and purple violets. The similarities largely end there, however, as Mohur’s violet undertone feels deep, haunting and rich, and evokes old, classic Guerlain scents. Mohur has a flicker of oud, a hint of almonds, and a more successful, substantial spice note, instead of the minuscule pop of saffron given by Vaara. Those are the very minor differences, however.

The substantial and main ones are the fact that Mohur never feels even remotely synthetic, chemical, or cheap. The fragrance sits atop bucketfuls of the most precious, rare, almost extinct, genuine Mysore sandalwood — not a whisper of which is to be found in Vaara, no matter what its note list may claim. Mohur is luxe, sophisticated, endlessly elegant, very expensive in feel, and layered with complexity. Vaara lacks all of that. It feels like a shrill pre-teen jumping up and down at the skirts of its big, elegant sister, clamouring at a high pitch to be allowed to join in the fun. Oh, and did I mention the ’80s? The pre-teen is a big-haired, twelve-year old with lots of hairspray, and a hell of a sharp voice.

ISO E Super. Source: Fragrantica

ISO E Super. Source: Fragrantica

One reason for that sharpness is the use of ISO E Super, an aromachemical synthetic that some perfumers use as a “super-floralizer” and to add longevity to weak floral notes. To my chagrin, ISO E Super is present in Vaara to quite a significant degree. It not only amplifies the loudness of the white musk, but it adds to the forcefulness of floral notes (like iris or freesia) that, by themselves, are quite weak, dainty, little things. Given that I only dabbed on about 2.5 large smears of Vaara, I can’t get over its seriously intense potency during the first hour. Unfortunately, the loud buzziness of the synthetic combines with the equally synthetic white musk to give me one very intense headache. I don’t always get headaches from ISO E Super, but I do when a lot is used. Or, when a perfume is very cheap….

At the end of the first hour, Vaara starts its final transformation. All traces of a fruited element vanish from the top, as the quince becomes a muted blip in the horizon. Now, the scent is a quartet of rose, rose-like peony, carroty-floral iris, and violets — all infused with white hairspray musk. Vaara’s edges have started to blur, and the notes begin to overlap. Just after the 90-minute mark, the rose takes over as the main and dominant element, followed by white musk and ISO E Super, with only subtle whiffs of the other florals. With every passing half hour, the scent devolves further into a simple tea-rose scent that is simultaneously extremely syrupy sweet, somewhat watery, and, also, quite fresh and clean. I’m singularly unimpressed with any of it. What’s odd is that Vaara is muted in feel, while still very strong in power. No doubt, it’s thanks to the chemical Panzer unit that is stomping its way up my nose to the back of my throbbing skull.



And that’s really the end of the story. Not a whiff of sandalwood, nary a hint of benzoin sweetness and vanilla, no tonka bean, no discernible magnolia, and no cedarwood. Vaara merely becomes more nebulous: a shapeless, very commercial-smelling, very amorphous blur of sweet roses, and white musk. It stays that way in one linear, simple line until the 8.5 hour mark, when dripping, sweet honey makes an appearance. The base feels rounder and warmer, too, but it’s never anything specific. At most, one can say that ISO E Super’s “woody hum” (as Luca Turin describes the note) vibrates a little in the base along with some warmth. In its final hours, Vaara turns powdery with a slightly sour undertone and mixed with an abstract hint of rose. All in all, the fragrance lasted just short of 11.75 hours, a length of time which is quite rare for a pure floral on my perfume-consuming skin but which is further testament to all the synthetics underlying it. The sillage was generally high and good for most of Vaara’s life, though it had a 1980s powerhouse forcefulness for its initial hour.

You may think some of my critical harshness for Vaara stems from my issues with ISO E Super, or perhaps from my disdain for cheap synthetics as a whole. You’d be mistaken. It’s not just me. Bois de Jasmin gave Vaara a rare 3 stars, something I haven’t seen in a while. She, too, noted both the cheapness of the scent and its early similarities to Mohur:

…[W]hy is Vaara such a wallflower? Etro has already tried to take us to Rajasthan with its recent fragrance, but the violet and rose combination never got past the South of France. Despite its promises, Vaara doesn’t even cross the Channel. It’s soft spoken and mild, a perfume for someone who really doesn’t like orientals or anything richer than frozen yogurt. […][¶]

… [I]f the drydown either had more curves (or to put it bluntly, if Penhaligon’s had spared more pennies for the juice), Vaara would have been terrific. But instead of taking me for a ride, Vaara meanders around rose and settles for a well-behaved drydown of raspy woods and laundry musk.  It’s surprisingly clean, considering that we’re talking about an India inspired perfume. There is not even a hint of the bonfire smoke that pervades most Indian cities, nor the opulent incense hanging around the temples. At best, it’s a neatly packaged idea of India, without any messy bits.

These messy bits, however, make other Duchaufour fragrances much more compelling, whether it’s the sultry Eau d’Italie Paestum Rose, playful L’Artisan Traversée du Bosphore, or even Vaara’s older sister, Neela Vermeire Mohur.  By contrast, Penhaligon’s is a more commercial and approachable brand than the others I’ve mentioned, so Vaara’s garden party exoticism is not accidental. That Vaara is the low-budget version of Mohur is also not surprising.



I think she’s being far, far too kind, and extremely diplomatic. But, if you parse that review, you’ll find the blunt truth hiding behind the extreme tactfulness. Vaara is a “low-budget,” “commercial,” “wallflower” with “laundry musk” that is the result of Penhaligon not sparing enough pennies. In my opinion, it’s definitely commercial, belongs in a mall, and is far over-priced at $125 and $160. The extremely cheap-looking gold bow on the bottle (metal? plastic?) doesn’t help.

The early assessments from those who have tried Vaara are much more enthusiastic. On Fragrantica, all three of the reviews thus far are positive and two of the three come from men. One chap happily compared Vaara to that 1980s monster Poison, writing: “Here the honeyed plum has been replaced by quince but I would not be surprised to learn Duchaufour has made use of the same lush alpha- and beta-damascone combination of the Dior masterpiece.” Well, I certainly agree with his choice of decades….

The other two praise Vaara as well, with one gushing about how Vaara was not “a heavy, cloying oriental monster. No, [Duchaufour] mastered a truly delightful, fruity, wet and juicy, interesting and compelling new age world scent” with fruits, florals, and woods. His subsequent rave about the quince element makes me think that he experienced substantially more of it than I did. I’m not very surprised; my skin tends to emphasize and amplify basenotes, which may be one explanation for why the white musk was so dominant for me. If your skin brings out the top notes, perhaps Vaara will be more of fruity scent for you as well. If it doesn’t, then welcome to my world of laundry-clean musk and floral hairspray. As a side note about those three positive Fragrantica reviews, one of the commentators does admit that Vaara doesn’t end well: “The dry down, however, is less magical, with the blurry trace of roses and the prominence of powdery and balmy notes.” 

On Luckyscent, the only comment thus far sums up a little of what I feel:

This is mostly rose on my skin. A sweet tea rose type fragrance. Not what I was expecting. Seems pretty linear with not much scent development. Disappointing!

To me, smelling cheap is worse than being linear or being simple. Smelling of floral hairspray and rose “laundry musk” (to use Bois de Jasmin’s phrase) is just as bad. I plan on getting over the whole ghastly ordeal by putting on some Mohur instead.

Cost & Availability: Vaara is an eau de parfum that comes in two sizes. There is a 1.7 oz/50 ml bottle that retails for $125 or £85; and a 3.4 oz/100 ml bottle that costs $160 or £120. I believe the fragrance will fully launch in mid-August 2013, though it is already available from Penhaligon and from some retailers.  Penhaligon: You can buy Vaara directly from Penhaligon which sells the fragrance in both sizes. They also have a U.S. Penhaligon site which offers free shipping on all orders over $100. Penhaligon also provides a Store Locator Guide which lists shops from Canada and Korea to Indonesia, Singapore, the Cayman Islands, Australia, Turkey, Hong Kong, and all of Europe which carry its products. In the U.S.: Vaara is already available at Luckyscent which sells both sizes, along with a sample. Vaara will launch at some select Saks Fifth Avenue stores on August 19th, and a little later at Gumps. In New York, the Penhaligon line is available at Aedes, Saks, Chocheng, Eisler Chemist, and some other shops. I don’t believe they have Vaara yet. In Washington D.C or Baltimore, Penhaligon is sold at Sterling & Burke, and Loafers & Lace, respectively. Vaara is also already available in the large $160 size at ShopLondons. Outside the U.S.: In Canada, the Penhaligon line is carried at The Perfume Shoppe and Beauty Bar Cosmetics (which doesn’t have an online retail website), but the Perfume Shoppe has no listing Vaara yet. In Europe, Vaara is already available at London’s Harvey Nichols in the small 50 ml size, and from Ireland’s Brown Thomas in the large size for €140. In France, the Penhaligon line is sold at Paris’ niche boutique store, Nose, as well as at Les Galleries Lafayette, Le Bon Marché, Printemps, and other stores listed in Penhaligon’s vendor page. A number of those stores’ online page show no listings for Vaara yet, as it is too new. For all other locations throughout Europe and beyond, you can check Penhaligon’s Stockist listings for a location near you. Samples: You can obtain samples from a number of the links listed up above. I obtained my sample from Surrender to Chance which sells Vaara starting at $4.99 for a 1 ml vial. 

37 thoughts on “Perfume Review: Penhaligon Vaara

  1. Hhhmmmmm. I also read the Bois de Jasmin review a few weeks back and wondered if perhaps she was being a little too tactful in her assessment. I haven’t smelt Vaara yet. I do have a bit of a soft spot for Penhaligon’s because of its heritage and I love ‘Gardenia’, for its innocence and for its lightness. Vaara would probably not have been to my taste even if it had rave reviews, I’m now even less tempted. No one wants to smell like an 80’s bouffant!

    • LOL. ’80s Bouffant! Summed up in a nutshell. *grin* I’ll be curious to see what you think of it when you give it a sniff. What about its description made you think you wouldn’t like it even if it had rave reviews? I don’t know your tastes well yet, so is it that you’re not a fan of Orientals and prefer florals instead?

      • I am a little afraid of orientals if I’m honest. I often find perfume with a spicy/floral bouquet far too insistence and a lot of spice just doesn’t suit my skin, I seem to always turn it too warm and it looses it’s subtlety on me. I am about to try and review an oriental from one of my favourite British brands, Gorilla. It’s called Sikkim Girls and is inspired by the mythical temptresses of Darjeeling. It’s full of frangipani and tuberose and jasmine. No spices are listed in the notes but I bet if there is even a trace of ginger or cumin in there then that is all I’ll smell like after an hour! I’ll keep you posted….

        • Actually, having just done a bit of research, I’m not sure exactly why it’s called Sikkim girls. I think it’s based around a story of a man in Darjeeling whose son was tempted away by two modestly dressed girls from Sikkim, who with just a sway of their hips were able to convey all the sensual secrets of their bodies, whilst remaining covered up. I’m still looking for information about whether this is a common myth about women from Sikkim or whether it is a specific folk tale. With your encyclopaedic knowledge I was wondering if you could shed any light on the subject?

          • No, alas, I’m afraid I don’t know much about Indian folklore or fairytales. Perhaps the ladies of Sikkim were known to be extra-beautiful and sensuous, such that there were general legends about their seductiveness, much like the sirens in ancient Greek mythology?

        • Perfume is as much about personal style, as it is about notes one likes or dislikes. Orientals are definitely not everyone’s cup of tea because their style is often less restrained or insistent, as you put it so nicely. My personal style isn’t about subtlety in ANY genre — from chypres to florals to orientals — but I know a lot of people prefer less drama in their fragrances. I often wish I could be one of those coolly reserved Chanel-type aldehyde people, but it’s just not meant to me. My point in all this is not to worry if a certain genre or category of perfume isn’t your thing. We *ALL* have something like that. 🙂 As for Sikkim Girls, the story sounds lovely. The Mythical Temptresses of Darjeeling should be a movie or book title!

  2. I have to reluctantly agree with you Kafka. I wanted to love Vaara based on the description, but I am not impressed. It isn’t bad, but it isn’t anything special for me. The quince is nice while it lasts. And a comparison to Poison? I don’t get that at all. I love the vintage Poison. Poison is full-bodied and complex. Vaara is not. Smells cheap? I’d agree.

    • I didn’t understand the comparison to Poison at all either! Well, except for the 80s potency issue. To my nose, there is nothing else that they have in common, least of all the notes. So, I’m curious, what in specific makes it smell cheap to your nose? Did you get a lot of the white musk as well?

      • What isn’t cheap about it? It has a PLASTIC bow for God’s sake. And I am generally a Penhaligon fan. No sandalwood? None? In an Indian-inspired fragrance? It is too clean, too simple. Bois de Jasmin pretty much sums up my thoughts. I look at the price and smell my wrist and there is a huge disconnect. Mohur is a world class dream fragrance. Vaara is not.

        • LOL! Are we sure the bow is plastic? I was hoping to give them the benefit of the doubt and find out that it was perhaps some cheap metal thing. Plastic…. oh dear. And, yes, Mohur is definitely a dream, but even more so in the new, upcoming Esprit/Extrait version. When you smell that, I think your head will go spinning, your wallet will open magically, without any say from you, and you’ll give in right away. Mohur is great, but the Extrait version blows its socks off!

          • It has been confirmed as plastic. I can’t wait for the extrait. It sounds wonderful.

  3. I don’t get on at all well with laundry musk – my nasal receptors are like Luminol to blood spatter when it comes to detecting the note – so am not overly hopeful of my liking this. But I am a fan of Penhaligon’s generally, so will definitely give it a whirl. 😉

    • “my nasal receptors are like Luminol to blood spatter” — that may be the BEST THING I’ve heard all week! Seriously, Vanessa, I can’t stop grinning. I feel the same way about ISO E Super. LOL. As for Vaara, I think a greater problem for you may be the fragrance’s forcefulness. It’s not a polite whisper or an elegantly discreet veil, and ’80s powerhouse-style perfumery is not something I would associate with you at all. Hell, I had problems with it, and you know how I’m always your ultimate Evil Scent Twin, especially in terms of things like that. I hope you’ll let me know what you think of it when you give it a gander. Who knows, Vaara may be the very first perfume upon which we completely agree! 😀 😉

  4. Oh, dear…I had thought to ask if you had tried this one…and it seems you have! When it comes to perfume associations with bouffant hair styles and hair spray…well, pass. Not to mention I already love Neela Vermeire’s Mohur. I guess quality does show. Looking forward to a review where you find a perfume that you’re totally smitten with! (For purely selfish reasons, of course!)

    • I think you did ask about Vaara last week, actually. I said I had ordered a sample, and, well, Surrender to Chance is incredibly fast with the shipping. (It’s one of the many reasons why I adore them so.) As for Vaara itself, I think it becomes even harder to like it when you’ve seen and experienced what Bertrand Duchaufour did with Mohur. I think Vaara would completely fall on its own merits, particularly given the cheapness and commercial nature of its scent. But it certainly doesn’t help to have Mohur’s opening for 30-40 minutes, before it all heads south.

      As for perfumes that I become totally smitten with, they’re generally few and far between. LOL. The last one I think was Fille en Aiguilles which just arrived Friday in the mail to my great joy. But few things reach the level of love that I have for Alahine, Mitzah, Coromandel, Mohur Esprit/Extrait, etc. Very, very few things.

  5. I’m not a Penhaligon’s fan so I wouldn’t probably ever tried it especially since it’s not easily available here but now I’m curious 🙂 Not to the extent to look for a sample but if I come across it I’ll give it a try to see what you were writing about.

    • The SF Saks should be getting it soon, on the 19th I think, so you can find it quite easily there, along with the rest of the Penhaligon line. Hopefully, you can give it a sniff and tell me what you think. 🙂

  6. Interesting and even arresting review. I so had high hopes for Vaara and alas from your review I am sure it will be a disappointment to me as well. You were right that Krystal Carrington would not wear a commercial perfume…at least after she stopped being Blake’s secretary and became is wife. For in fact there was a perfume designed for her by her “husband” and it was a huge hit in the 80’s … FOREVER KRYSTLE by Charles of the Ritz.

    • I think you wouldn’t be hugely impressed, even if you liked it to a tiny extent. It smells commercial and mundane. 🙁 You know what you would like and, more importantly, to be completely evocative on a historical, emotional level, in my opinion? Grossmith’s opulent Victorian beauty, Phul-Nana. It was the Chanel No. 5 of its day, there is a fantastic story behind the house and its revival, and the scent is gorgeous on its own even without all the history. It was even mentioned in Downton Abbey. I think you’d adore it, Lanier, so please, look up the review because I was actually thinking about you when writing it. You share my love of history, and I think you too would be taken back in time to such fabulous eras as the Edwardian or Victorian age. xoxoxo

  7. It’s so depressing that such a storied brand as Penhaligon’s should take such a disappointing and <cough< commercial turn. I mean, this WAS..(correct me if I’m wrong?) the wining combination – Duchaufour plus Penhaligon’s – that gave us the anything but boring/commercial/mainstream Amaranthine. Sic transit…:(

    • No, you’re absolutely right, Tarleisio, they did bring us Amaranthine. (Which reminds me, I really need to get around to testing my sample that I’ve had for almost a year. LOL.) I’ve been thinking about the pinched or “saved pennies” aspect to the scent, and I have to wonder if perhaps the Maharaja of Jodhpur did the best that he could within a set, limited budget. Jodhpur may be the 2nd largest province and he may be wealthy relative to most Maharajas in India these days, but they’re all far from their past glory days. And commissioning a perfume cannot be cheap, especially when you have a nose like Duchaufour involved. Perhaps that’s the explanation for the very low-budget, commercial feel of the scent. It’s the only explanation I can come up with, though I’m not sure it explains why the perfume is so damn dull.

      • I can wager a guess… time. As in…not enough time given to develop it properly. Which is also money. So there you have it – Penhaligon’s pandering to the teenybopper demographic on a budget? It’s still no excuse, though…;)

  8. A delightfully thorough and thoroughly delightful review! I had heard mention of some similarity between Vaara and Mohur; to be fair to Duchaufour, I think artists in any medium sometimes recycle or rework a theme. I appreciate that you have made explicit that the biggest difference here is the quality of raw materials. NVC encouraged him to have a lavish hand with the good stuff! Have you tried Mohur in the extrait version? It made me weak in the knees – and I have a love-hate relationship with rose perfumes!

    • First, welcome to the blog Plantpeopl! It’s lovely to have you stop by. I have tried Mohur Esprit and wrote a glowing review for it some months back. It made me weak in the knees too. Simply spectacular! As for the Vaara, the differences lie in more than just the quality of the ingredients. The two scents are actually nothing alike after the first 40 minutes or so, and a large part of it stems from how Vaara dissolves into a simple, linear scent that is focused primarily around the rose. Mohur, in contrast, has a very different set of stages with all that glorious sandalwood coming through, a variety of different notes, and a gorgeous drydown. So, the quality is definitely one big difference, but so too is the general trajectory of the two fragrances. People who think that they can get an affordable version of Mohur by opting for the Vaara will be hugely disaappointed. There is no substitute for Mohur, except the even more beautiful Mohur Esprit. 🙂

      Anyway, thank you for stopping by and for sharing your experiences. It’s always great to hear from another NVC fan! 🙂

      • Thank you for the gracious welcome! I’ve lurked a little and finally decided to brave a comment. I used to be an active perfume reviewer on MUA many years ago, before so many folks moved on to create their own blogs. Now there are so many, it’s hard to keep up. I like that you put a lot of research behind your writing – really well done!

        • Oh, I’m so, SO glad you decided to join in, Plantpeopl! 🙂 Perfume is always more fun when it’s like a cocktail party with people exchanging experiences and sniffs. I hope you will feel free to pull up a chair, put your feet up, and share your likes/dislikes. 🙂

  9. Too bad. I was hoping this would be my entrance into Penhaligons for a full bottle purchase. It sounds like it has so much promise, but the cheap aspect is really too bad. I’ve also heard that the plastic ribbon on the bottle kind of gives you an idea of what quality the juice is inside. I still am going to give this a try at some point though.

    • Let me know what you think of it when you do, Mr. Hound. I will be curious to see if you can coin a term similar to “bathtastic” for this one and, if so, what it may turn out to be. 😉 😀

  10. Mohur is so lovely, so as soon as you made that comparison it was all downhill for Vaara! But it sounds like even without the frame of reference, this one wouldn’t be a winner. “Not a whiff of sandalwood, nary a hint of benzoin sweetness and vanilla, no tonka bean, no discernible magnolia, and no cedarwood.” Those were the most appealing aspects of the whole thing, so to virtually eliminate those for white musk (blech!) is such a shame. Always such a shame when the perfume doesn’t come close to living up to the back story – and it makes you think of what might have been if a different nose or different ingredients had been involved.

    • No, you’re absolutely right, even if Mohur never existed, Vaara still wouldn’t be a great scent. But it’s commercial and unoriginal enough that I would bet you anything it ends up getting a FiFi nomination…..

  11. I first smelled this at Saks. The SA had a tiny vial of it that he let me sniff in advance of the launch. I have to admit that I was pretty underwhelmed. I was even more underwhelmed when he smeared it on my hand and immediately asked if he could pre-order it for me. Geez! Let a girl live with it a little while first!

    I didn’t hate it, I didn’t love it. I have to admit that I was just so confused between the captivating story and the somewhat boring fragrance I was smelling. All I got was some nice, fresh, pink dewy roses and some saffron. The drydown smelled pretty generic.

    I guess boring is worse than hating it. I will say that I do think this would be a good fragrance to recommend to people who don’t like orientals but want a hint of oriental spice. Just a hint 🙂

    • LOL!! At least you didn’t get the walloping dose of synthetics that I got! Regardless, I can’t say that I see Vaara as being your cup of tea or suiting your personal style, not even remotely!

  12. Pingback: Vaara by Bertrand Duchaufour for Penhaligon’s Giveaway 2013 « AustralianPerfumeJunkies

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