Jacques Zolty Van-ile: Delicious Simplicity

Photo & Source: The Kitchen McCabe. (Direct website link embedded within.)

Photo & Source: The Kitchen McCabe. (Direct website link embedded within.)

Move over Tihota, I’ve found something else. Van-ile is almost as good, but costs much less. Imagine airy vanilla, wrapped up with ribbons of lemon, tangy orange, orchid floralcy, and clean musk in a silky cloud that soon turns into the delicious coziness of silky, cake batter-style vanilla made from expensive Tahitian beans. That’s the essence of Van-ile (officially spelt as “Van-île”), an extremely simple, unpretentious eau de parfum that bears a strong resemblance to Indult‘s famous Tihota for almost all of its life, only for a third of the price. It’s a soft, easy-to-wear scent that is so appealing, I bought a bottle for myself. It helps that Van-ile is very reasonably priced, especially for the quality in question, and I’m a sucker for a good deal. More than that, though, it’s been extremely difficult for me to find a vanilla that is neither so sweet it would trigger a diabetic coma nor too heavily imbued with the ghastly white musk that I loathe. Van-ile fits the bill.

Jacques Zolty. Source: fless.ru

Jacques Zolty. Source: fless.ru

Let’s start at the beginning, though, since Jacques Zolty is probably not a name with which you’re familiar. I certainly wasn’t. According to Fragrantica, he was a French supermodel in the 1970s and then, in 2007, founded a perfume house whose creations celebrated the smell, culture, and vibe of the island of St. Bart’s in the West Indies. In 2014, the brand was bought by Roberto Drago, the owner of Laboratorio Olfattivo. He asked Cecile Zakorian (creator of Masque’s Tango, Majda Bekkali’s Mon Nom Est Rouge, Jovoy’s Private Label, and other fragrances) to make two new scents for the line, and one of them was Van-ile.

Vanilla orchid flower via imgarcade.com

Vanilla orchid flower via imgarcade.com

Van-ile is an eau de parfum that was released in late 2014. According to First in Fragrance, its name is a play on “vanille (vanilla) and île (island)… in French, the native language of Saint-Barthélemy. This fragrance is a passionate homage to vanilla planifolia, the sugar orchid that grows up symbiotically with the sun in the Caribbean and makes life sweeter on the most beautiful and glamourous island in the Antilles.” The perfume’s notes are:

Top Note: Bergamot, Orange, Almond
Heart Note: Vanilla, Heliotrope, Frangipani, Jasmine, Patchouly, Powdery Notes
Base Note: Vanilla Bean, Leather, Animalic Notes, Oakmoss, Musk

Source: cecilezarokian.com/fr/wins

Source: cecilezarokian.com/fr/wins

Van-ile opens on my skin with lemon, orange, airy vanilla, abstract floralcy, hints of woodiness and white musk, and a touch of fresh almonds. The focus in the opening minutes skews more towards the citrus fruits than the vanilla, but nothing in the scent feels lopsided, and all of it is smoothly balanced. The sweetness is kept in check by the other notes, starting first and foremost with the orange. It never resembles an orange creamsicle, and is only slightly juicy. Actually, it skews a little green, smelling more like a tangy tangerine or a lightly sweetened neroli. The lemon is refreshing and crisp, but never too acidic or sour. The white musk probably helps to keep things on the light, fresher side, too, though it is only the smallest touch at first.

Source: marthastewart.com

Source: marthastewart.com

What I appreciate is the very moderate, even minimal sweetness. The vanilla is never overly sugary or akin to frosted icing on a cupcake like that found in mainstream, Pink Sugar sorts of vanilla fragrances. It’s also not boozy Bourbon vanilla like that in Guerlain‘s Spiritueuse Double Vanille or Couvent de Minimes Mission Cologne. It’s not a creme brulée type with a painfully crystallized, sugar crust like Profumum‘s loud, foghorn Vanitas, Shay & Blue‘s Salt Caramel, Farmacia SS Annunziata‘s Vaniglia del Madagascar, and so many other vanilla fragrances in the niche world. It’s not dark or overly buttered like the custardy, almost raw vanilla extract in Profumum‘s Dulcis in Fundo and Mona di Orio‘s Vanille. I’s not woody like Maria Candida Gentile‘s Noir Tropical and Parfumerie Generale‘s Felanilla, and, to my relief, it’s also not overly suffused with cheap musk like Van Cleef & ArpelsVanille Orchidée or Dame Perfumery‘s Black Flower Mexican Vanilla. With Zolty’s Van-ile, to the extent that you can detect the full nuances of the vanilla behind the opening veil of bergamot lemon and the orange, it smells like cake batter vanilla with an eggy silkiness, butter, and a touch of flour. That’s the rare sort of vanilla bouquet found in Tihota, and my favorite take on the note.

That list of fragrances may seem long but it represents only some of the names I’ve tried in my search for my ideal vanilla scent because, as you may have gathered, I’m rather picky about both the nuances and balances I require. And I’m saying this now: Zolty’s Van-ile is not my perfect vanilla, either, though it comes closer than most. The problem is that Van-ile is a very light fragrance, especially in the first two hours where it feels more like an eau de toilette than an eau de parfum. Even later when it turns deeper, creamy smooth, supple, and almost rich in nature, it is still not a heavy scent, and its projection is quite soft. There is a decent scent trail if you apply a lot of Van-ile, but this is generally an (overly) airy fragrance with a discreet nature. I think it would be many people’s ideal of a summer vanilla or a work-appropriate scent, but it is not my ideal by any means.

Source: chefsteps.com

Source: chefsteps.com

And, to someone as finicky as I am, the first 40 minutes of Van-ile are not my favorite part of the scent. Roughly 15 minutes into the perfume’s development, the white musk grows more noticeable, the perfume turns sweeter, the lemon starts to overtake the orange, while the almond starts to fade away. For a short while, the notes lose their equal footing as Van-ile turns away from being a vanilla cake streaked with lemon and orange, and becomes a vanilla-lemon cake drizzled with lemon curds and sugary icing within a very light, airy cocoon of clean musk.

Regular readers know how much I dislike citrus scents and my intense loathing for white musk, so none of this represents my vision of perfection, but I will say that it is not extreme. Van-ile may feel cleaner and sweeter than it did at the start, but the musk is not overly loud, artificial, or anything remotely akin to laundry detergent freshness. The sweetness is too sugary for me, but it is still less than the amount in Tihota or Farmacia SS Annunziata’s Vaniglia, both of which went further in their first few hours. Tihota often flirted with the edges of being excessive before pulling back, and Van-ile plays the same back-and-forth game as well, only to a lesser extent than Tihota.

Photo & Source: savorysweetlife.com (Direct website link embedded within.)

Photo & Source: savorysweetlife.com (Direct website link embedded within.)

All these things are temporary and minor, however, because Van-ile consistently turns into silky cake batter vanilla 40 minutes into its development. Every time I’ve tried the scent, it’s around that point when the iced lemon curd weakens, the orange almost completely vanishes, the white musk pipes down to minor levels, and the vanilla starts to show off its beauty in a largely solo dance. As it twirls and pirouettes, it throws off nuances that are eggy, creamy, lightly floured, slightly buttered, and nebulously floral in nature. The flour ensures that Van-ile is kept slightly on the drier side, never smelling like creme anglaise or, even, a richer, more buttery custard. It’s a silky vanilla, but not a gooey, thick, or heavy one. Light, fluffy to the point of gauzy airiness, and with a petal-soft creaminess, it coats the skin with simple deliciousness.

Photo: Vickie Lewis. Source: Allposters.com

Photo: Vickie Lewis. Source: Allposters.com

And Van-ile really is very simple, indeed. In none of my tests did I ever detect leather, oakmoss, animalics, frangipani (plumeria) or jasmine. The scent has a wholly abstract, indeterminate floralcy that lurks occasionally in the background, but it’s so muffled as to be ghostly. If anything, it’s more of a nebulous whisper of vanilla orchid petals or the idea of them perhaps, as well as a textural issue, rather than actual flowers in a strong, clearly delineated way. No, on my skin, Van-ile is essentially 90% silky, cake batter vanilla, with the remainder being a mix of white musk, soft citrus, and a drop of ghostly flower petals. If you find Tihota to be too simple, then you’ll find Van-ile to be the same.

Van-ile doesn’t change in any significant way on my skin from the end of the first hour all the way through to its final moments. It’s a completely linear scent, though, to be fair, all true soliflores are that way. This one may just be simpler than most. All that happens is that the vanilla grows creamier, smoother and, to the extent possible for such an airy fragrance, richer. Each time I’ve worn it, I’ve found myself compulsively sniffing my arm and it always begins roughly about 2.25 hours into Van-ile’s development. It is truly a beautiful vanilla. Unctuous but not too much so; buttery but never gooey; rich but not like thick custard; sweet but more like lightly honeyed nectar than sugar frosting — it’s addictive, warm, enveloping and soft, more like a vanilla kiss blown on the wind than a deep embrace. (I would prefer a deep embrace, but I’ll settle for the air kiss, given just how wonderful it is.)

Source: wallpaperscraft.com

Source: wallpaperscraft.com

I always say that there is nothing wrong with linearity if you like the scent in question and, here, obviously I do. Yet, there are other reasons why I don’t mind the simplicity. First, I have significantly lower expectations for soliflores and their development. They’re simply not intended to be something with complex layers, or many twists and turns. Second, as I’ve mentioned a few times in the past, I actually prefer uncomplicated easiness for comfort scents. After long days analysing every nuance of a fragrance for hours on end, I prefer to put on something where I don’t have to think and can just enjoy the fragrance in a comforting cocoon.

Roberto Drago via YouTube.

Roberto Drago of Laboratorio Olfattivo and Jacques Zolty. Source: YouTube.

Third, and most importantly, Van-ile isn’t claiming to be some complicated, edgy, revolutionary, or uber-luxurious scent with a hefty price to match. It was intended to be easy, wearable, and good quality — that’s it. An interview which the brand’s new owner, Roberto Drago, gave to Fragrantica makes that point explicit. There, he talked about the two new Zolty creations and said:

What we wanted from the perfume is to create a bridge brand, the brand between the usual popular perfumes and artistic niche perfumes. To create the comprehensive perfumes to introduce consumers to the niche artistic market, we want to create an easy niche brand out of Jacques Zolty. Easy niche, understandable niche, comprehensive niche—that’s how we see the Jacques Zolty brand in future.

It means very good raw materials and quality perfume ingredients but we don’t want to make conceptual perfumes that are not easy to understand.

I respect all of that enormously, because there is a lot to be said for unpretentious fragrances that are simply meant to smell good and be enjoyable. Well, so long as their price (and quality) matches. And, here, they do. I’m still irritated over Amouage‘s new Sunshine that takes a wholly generic, mainstream fruity floral (infused with synthetics), and demands $450. Or Etat Libre‘s True Lust Rayon Violet De Ses Yeux, which takes a bland mix of two of its existing scents (one of which smells like a terribly cheap designer fragrance), and wraps it up with absolutely ridiculous marketing as if it were a unique masterpiece created by God for the Garden of Eden.

Source: Daer in Russia. Photo cropped.)

Source: Daer in Russia. (Photo cropped.)

Here, Mr. Drago and Jacques Zolty opt for no-fuss simplicity that never feels cheap or low quality, all for a reasonable price. The brand’s no-frills approach is evident even in the simplicity of the bottle’s label and packaging. More importantly, though, and unlike so many vanilla fragrances, Van-ile doesn’t feel as though it were drenched in synthetics, and a big 100 ml bottle of eau de parfum costs a very reasonable €89. When I bought my bottle, it came to roughly $80 at the current rate of currency conversion after deducting the roughly 19% European VAT taxes that are included in the €89.

Source: Indult website

Source: Indult website

If I may remind you, Indult’s Tihota costs $200 for a mere 50 ml. Both fragrances have the same quality and smoothness, though I’d argue that Van-ile may actually be better because it has significantly less of that infernal white musk that Francis Kurkdjian likes to use in hefty quantities, and also has a more moderate level of sweetness to boot. Van-ile may be a hair lighter or thinner than Tihota at times, but only if you apply a modest amount of the scent. With 100 ml for €89, one doesn’t have to be sparing in one’s use, and 3 sprays created quite a noticeable soft cloud that was barely distinguishable from Tihota in its silkiness and depth. Yes, it is still airier and gauzier than I’d like but, then again, I don’t think Tihota is hefty, either.

Plus, Van-ile has very good longevity with decent sillage, though I’d say the projection is merely soft. My initial tests involved using an atomizer which was quite wonky and it often seemed to spray in the air around me more than right on my arm, so my quantity assessments will be a little inexact, but I tested Van-ile with the rough equivalent of 3 small spritzes or 2 big sprays from an actual bottle. With that quantity, Van-ile opened with 3 inches of projection, and soft sillage that seemed to grow after 20 minutes to about half a foot. The projection turned to about 1 inch after 90 minutes, but it hovered there for quite a while. Vani-ile only became a skin scent on me after the 4th hour, but it was still easy to detect up close without huge effort for a while to come. Plus, Van-ile continued to emit little tendrils all around me, even when I didn’t move, though they were very tiny, soft wisps.

What surprised me if that Van-ile consistently lasted between 10.5 and 12 hours on me, depending on how much I applied. Granted, it took a small bit of effort to detect it after the 7th hour, but not a lot, and discreet slivers of vanilla creaminess continued to cling to my skin for much longer than I had ever expected. Van-ile certainly lasts longer on me than Tihota did, though, in fairness, I was dabbing the latter and aerosolisation can make a difference. So, I tested Van-ile by dabbing as well, using 3 generous smears, and the fragrance lasted almost 11 hours. The one thing I consistently noticed with Van-ile is that the fragrance gains body if you apply more. Small quantities impact not only the projection and sillage, but the richness and creamy depth of the vanilla. The note was less impressive with a modest application, which makes it all the better that Zolty has released it in a 100 ml size for €89.

Van-ile is one of those scents that somehow becomes more addictive the more one tries it. In my first test, I found the fragrance compulsively sniffable after the first 2 hours had passed, but its lightness was an issue for me. The second time around, applying more, it was much better, and I found myself pondering buying a bottle. Midway during my third test, I bought one. Van-ile is only available in Europe at this time, and I got it from First in Fragrance. Without the 19% European VAT tax and in US dollars, I paid $80.95 (€74.79) for the 100 ml bottle with $27.20 for shipping to the U.S. for a total of $108.15. I’m a sucker for a good deal, and I think that is one for the quality in question, but what really drove me is how difficult it has been for me to find a really good vanilla that isn’t overly sugared, isn’t painfully synthetic, has a balanced (to minimal) amount of white musk, and lasts on my skin. Van-ile isn’t perfect in its sheerness, but it fit many of my other criteria.

Source: Fragrantica

Source: Fragrantica

There are very few reviews for Van-ile out there. Mark Behnke of Colognoisseur wrote positively about the fragrance, its easy wearability, approachable nature, and its smell. He experienced a slightly more complex bouquet than I did:

Van-Ile is a very simple structure which opens with the figurative perfume version of “once upon a time” as citrus in the form of orange is what you encounter first. As Van-ile proceeds into the heart it uses jasmine as a safe haven but here is where Mme Zarokian offers a little something more as a nutty almond adds a toasty quality to the floral notes. It also is a great note to usher in the vanilla. The vanilla here is that of the vanilla orchid. Which means besides the immediately recognizable sweet vanilla there are also green flares throughout. Some oakmoss picks up and accentuates those green moments. It all finishes in a safe patchouli foundation. [¶] Van-Ile last 8-10 hours with average sillage.

Source: 123rf.com

Source: 123rf.com

Serguey Borisov of Fragrantica briefly analysed Van-ile as part of the interview with Mr. Drago referenced above, and thought the fragrance opened with similarities to Guerlain‘s SDV before turning more vanilla-centric and fluffier:

Van-Ile is fresh as the sunny and sweet citrus fruit at the start of Spiritueuse and it recalls the famous Cointreau, sweet but hard. But soon the energetic start becomes smoky sweet as amber powder starts to add some Baileys into the cocktail. It becomes a vanilla-centered soft and fluffy perfume very soon—a powdery almond and heliotrope notes helps to make an innocent angelic face. […] Somehow Van-Ile smells of a p-r-o-l-o-n-g-e-d version of vanilla, with more sillage, diffusion and accented basenotes. It definitely has some common features with Spiritueuese Double Vanille Guerlain, but costs about 2-3 times less and does not pretend to be The Great Gatsby. It`s just good smelling perfume that creates a good vacation mood.

On the perfume’s Fragrantica page, there is only one comment, and it is in Italian. Using Google Translate led to a rather incoherent result, but the phrase “truly a masterpiece” did pop up:

This fragrance has notes of vanilla that develop slowly is a perfume discreet chic where vanilla is mixed with other notes and persists never disappear entirely is not a vanilla sugary but remember the wild berry and leathery truly a masterpiece

If Tihota is too expensive or too sugary for you, and if Van Cleef & Arpel’s Vanille Orchidée is insufficiently vanilla-ish with too many clean or floral aspects, then I really encourage you to try Van-ile. In America, you can get a sample easily from Surrender to Chance; in Europe, First in Fragrance offers a generous mini atomiser for a low price. While Van-ile is not my perfect vanilla, I think it is truly lovely and, yes, full-bottle worthy. I’m incredibly hard to please, particularly for gourmand scents and vanillas, so I think the fact that I succumbed says something.

Cost & Availability: Van-ile is an eau de parfum that only comes in a 100 ml size for £89. I haven’t found any U.S. retailers who carry the line. First in Fragrance has Van-ile, sells samples, and ships world-wide. Non-EU customers pay less than £89, because 19% VAT tax is included in that figure. (You can see the American price by going to the top left side of the page where you can change the currency to USD, but your credit card will be charged in Euros converted to dollars at the current rate of exchange.) Elsewhere, Van-ile is available at Germany’s Parfumerie Brueckner, Italy’s Vittoria Profumi (for £93), and Russia’s Daer. While the Zolty line is shown at various other retailers from Canada to Russia, they only have one or two of the earliest scents, not Van-ile. eBay has Van-ile for around $105 to $110 coming from Germany. It’s basically the same price as FiF, so you’d do better to order from there since they give a few nice samples of your choice with each order. Samples: Surrender to Chance sells Van-ile starting at $3.99 for a 1 ml vial.

41 thoughts on “Jacques Zolty Van-ile: Delicious Simplicity

  1. Your reviews of vanilla fragrances always seem to result in me making a purchase. This sounds delicious. I was a bit relieved to see this isn’t for sale in the States given that I just invested in a decant of Tihota. Maybe by the time my decant runs out, this will have made the jump across the Atlantic. In the mean time, Van-ile is definitely on my must-try list now!

    • First, welcome to the blog, Eleebelle! Second, thank you for such a lovely, kind compliment on the reviews. I’m happy you’re tempted by Van-ile. Do you think you may get a small sample to test out from Surrender to Chance in the meantime? If so, I hope you let me know how it works for you, and how it compares to Tihota on your skin. 🙂

      • Thanks for the welcome! Van-lie will definitely be among my next batch of samples! I’m looking forward to comparing the two and perhaps even finding a more financially sustainable alternative for the future (although I’m loving Tihota while it lasts). Or who knows? Maybe I’ll just end up finding out I need both. 🙂

        • Does Tihota not last long on your skin, Eleebelle? I only ask because someone wrote a comment last week on my review of it saying she was surprised Tihota didn’t last for ages on me because it lasted 12 hours on her. I have the impression that longevity is quite a split matter when it comes to Tihota.

          • I actually wore Tihota today and I could still smell one spritz 13 hours later. I just have an urge to reapply it so compulsively that I’m sure my decant will only last 1/3 as long as it should. Skin is so variable, though; when I was younger, nothing seemed to last longer than 3 or 4 hours.

  2. Nooooooooooooo. It seems fitting that I’m posting right after eleebelle since she had gotten in on the Tihota split I hosted!
    Vani-ile sounds really gorgeous. For a vanilla lover like me who owns 7 of the other vanillas you mention plus a few more that you did not mention, I think it’s a foregone conclusion that I will own a bottle of this one day in the near future – it will probably be a largish 100 mL “sample” 🙂

    • I was thinking of you, Hajusuuri, particularly in conjunction with VC&A’s Vanille Orchidée that I know you own and enjoy. This one is better. MUCH better. (It’s also way better than that ISO E Supercrappy filled “The Sexiest Scent In the World (IMHO)” woody musk thing that I think you also own.) I think you’d enjoy this one. I think it may appear “boring” as compared to something like Mona di Orio’s Vanille (another on your list) with all its layers and complexity, but this one is not meant to be anything other than a pure soliflore that one can just throw on and wear for everyday occasions. So, my suggestion to you is to order that large “sample” 😀 of yours, because I think you’d find it both enjoyable and something that would be suitable for your conservative office environment. (It’s certainly more suitable than the Black Orchid one of your colleagues wears every day!)

      • I have a tiny sample of The Sexiest Scent and a tiny sample it will remain as there are better perfumes in the universe :-). Can the atomizer top of Van-ile be unscrewed or is it bolted on? Thanks for creating an inexpensive lemming, my dear.

        • I haven’t received it yet to know. 🙂 I think the package is currently sitting in customs.

          And there are DEFINITELY better scents in the world than that dreadful, synthetic cocktail from 4180 Tuesdays!

  3. Another timely review. I’ve been coveting Tihota for months (since reading your review). Now you have provided an enticing alternative. Thank you.

      • At the moment I am trying Vaniglia del Madagascar. It’s over the top sweet and screechy right now and smells not unlike an air freshener. I shall see how the dry down is. It is getting softer and warmer at present. Tomorrow I take delivery of Andy Tauer’s new Vanilla Flash. I love his Rose Flash so I have high hopes for this one

          • Good to know, Rich, as I had considered ordering a sample of the Profumo Firenze Vaniglia not too long ago. The Farmacia SS. Annunziatia Vaniglia is very sweet (overly so for me) during the first 3 hours, but it never smelt of air freshner, thank god! It develops into something quite pretty, especially from the 5th or 6th hour onwards, if I recall correctly. So, if you try that one, be patient. And, fingers crossed, it won’t be over-the-top sweet like the Profumo/Firenze one.

            Screechy air-freshner scents…. *sigh* You poor thing.

  4. Van-ile would be perfect for someone on the fence who would like to try a not too sweet vanilla fragrance that’s also reasonably priced compared to Tihota.

    My final batch of samples ( Kafka just rolled her eyes ) came today. I have Majda Bekali’s Mon Nom est Rouge & Fusion Sacrée; D.S. & Durga’s Sir & Mississippi Medicine; IL Profumo’s Patchouli Noir; Profumum’s Patchouly; Naomi Goodsir’s Bois d’ Ascèse
    I haven’t any patchouli ….the reason I’ve all of these samples is for my Guinea Pig partner who wears them to work then reports back how they develop throughout the day and how many compliments he receives too! 🙂

    • Sounds like a perfect arrangement to me. Besides, perfume is wayyyyyyyy more fun when the experience is shared.

      • Yes it is more fun with 2 people. One thing he has learned is that he’s not a fan of anything animalic. They really do smell different on his skin. So far on the above mentioned list of samples, I’ve lucked out again. I wasn’t sure how D.S. & Durga would fare because of the extreme opposites of the reviews I’ve read. I love Ambra Nera and can’t decide if Profumum’s Amber Aurea is better.

        • Btw, have you tried Van-ile? The wording if your initial comment made it seem as though you had, as though you were speaking from experience.

  5. I was going to scroll through this (because my to-try list is long enough as it is), but then I saw the price. 🙂 I really, really like what Mr Drago said. It’s refreshing.
    In theory, I thoroughly enjoy the smell of vanilla, but I have little experience with vanilla in perfumes, except in its gooey or pink sugar form, which I very much dislike (blergh). So I’m a bit hesitant in seeking out vanilla-oriented fragrances. I am, however, intrigued by the perfumes that are supposed to bring out its darker quality.
    So I have a hard time imagining what Van-Il smells like. But now I want to try it out. 🙂

    • I think niche vanilla can be quite different from the most widely available sort found in department store perfumes. Those are all too frequently just as you describe, particularly Pink Sugar in nature. I can’t bear that because it far (FAR!) exceeds my threshold levels for sweetness, but mainstream brands seem to be going after the youth(ful) market and make things as Victoria Secret girly sweet as possible. Niche vanillas can be sweet too, but there is frequently much more to them than just goo or frosted icing. There are quite a few dark takes on vanilla, but it can be a bit of a slog to find them amidst the crème brulée varieties or the boozy bourbon vanillas.

      Personally, I have yet to find a dark or dark/woody/smoky vanilla that I really like. For you, though, one fragrance that you might want to seek out for a sniff and that won’t be hard to find in your neck of the woods is the boozy Guerlain vanilla called Spiritueuse Double Vanille. It’s a huge favorite amongst many. It’s too sweet for me, and quite expensive, but it is a darker gourmand.

      • Thanks for the recommandation! I’ll check it out. Indeed, it won’t be hard to find at all.

  6. I enjoyed reading your delicious review of a fragrance I like very much! It was interesting to read that they wanted to build a bridge brand and I think they succeeded in doing so.
    On my skin I actually get as much tonka bean as vanilla and I particularly like the opening which feels like a mixture of orange peel (I don’t get lemon) and tonka-vanilla. The tonka-vanilla feeling reminds me a bit of Patricia de Nicolai’s Vanille Tonka. I couldn’t detect any leather notes, oakmoss or jasmine either.
    (Haha, and I prefer the air kiss to a deep embrace…at least with fragrance).

    • How great to hear from someone who has actually tried Van-ile (and really likes it, too). Anka, I think tonka-vanilla sounds wonderful, especially with orange peel and no lemon. I can definitely see how some of the way the vanilla comes across replicates qualities of tonka bean.

  7. No, I haven’t tried it. I should havesaid Van-ile sounds ideal
    for those who were
    hesitant over Tihota’s price. Ambra Nera
    was one of the samples I chose. It really is a contender for my ever growing full bottle list.

  8. Kudos to Mr. Drago for wanting to sell fragrances with quality ingredients and decent price tags! Thanks for bringing the line to our attention. I hope they start selling it in the U.S. and the line grows from two to many more. Thank goodness someone has such good intentions these days!!

    I quite enjoyed your list of vanilla scents. I love the smell and taste of vanilla, but it’s so much a home and food scent to me that I really don’t care to wear it. I enjoy wearing Lutens Bois de Vanille from time to time though it has to be quite cold out and I’ve got to be in the perfect mood (I accidentally wrote food, lol)!

    • The line actually has 5 or 6 fragrances but, yes, only 2 come from Robert Drago’s direction under the new ownership. He definitely deserves kudos for wanting to make wearable, quality scents at an affordable price, rather than conceptual, theoretical art with a high price tag. I appreciate some perfumers’ intellectuality, but I get a little tired of fragrances that are all industrial aromachemicals and where “edginess” is seen as something that precludes easiness or uncomplicated enjoyment. Not everything has to be a damn challenge to wear.

  9. Synchronicity! I tried Tihota for the first time a few weeks ago and loved it, but the price knocked it off my FB list. I’ve been glancing at the sample vial on my dresser tray and wishing for a vanilla just as good that I could actually afford…

    …and voilà! Thanks, Kafka! 😉

    And it’s great to hear about houses like Zolty and LO that seem to actually care about the quality and the price point of their fragrances. Will definitely be scrounging around for samples (and maybe an FB or so…).

    • You’re very welcome, Stina. Sounds like very good timing indeed. Let me know what you think of Van-ile if you end up getting a sample. I hope that, on your skin, it ends up being very similar to Tihota, too. 🙂

  10. Hello. Enjoyed reading this article. Just curious-what is your favorite vanilla scent?

    • Hello Eva, welcome to the blog. I haven’t found my Holy Grail perfect vanilla yet. I’m still searching. 🙂

  11. How would you compare it to Don Corleone? I’ve really grown to like Durban’s take on vanilla.

    • I would never consider Don Corleone to be a vanilla fragrance. In fact, I remember so little about the vanilla in what I think of as a tobacco scent that I had to go look up my review for the scent. It appears the vanilla was dry, but so muted and minor as to be virtually inconsequential.

      The key, though, is that Van-ile is a soliflore. Simple, pure, almost solely vanilla. You can’t compare it to a fragrance with a variety of other notes, only one of which happens to be vanilla. In prior vanilla reviews, you’ve brought up Shalimar. Again, not a soliflore and not vanilla-scentric. I have a feeling that pure vanilla soliflores would be too unalleviated and uncomplicated for your tastes. I have the sense that you like vanilla when it is part of something else.

    • I hope you enjoy it, Ashley. Let me know what you think when you get your sample. 🙂

      • So I received my sample on Thursday and I like it a lot. This is definitely an airier Vanilla than what I usually lean towards as I normally like my vanillas to be thick and boozy, but the problem with those is while I love the first few whiffs of them, by the end of the day I get tired of them and it becomes too much for me. So while when I first put on Van-ile I’m merely pleased, not swooning, I enjoy wearing it more and more as the day goes on rather than getting sick of it. It really does seem like high quality ingredients are being used in the composition. The dry down of Van-ile smells so similar to the dry down of NVC’s Bombay Bling to me, which I have a 10 ml decant of and love, but maybe my nose or skin chemistry is just wonky as I haven’t read that anywhere else

        • It’s VERY airy (alas for me) and I warned about that often in the review, so I’m not surprised it was the same way on you, particularly as you, too, prefer thicker, richer scents. I do know what you mean by how the heavier, richer scents can tire one out after a while. The thing with Van-ile is that it actually does become more appealing the more times you wear it. Like you, I liked it the first time around, but wasn’t hugely moved. It took 3 times before I thought that it was something I would like on a more daily basis, at least for the low price in question. So try it a few more times, and see if you find it more enjoyable. If not, there was no major money lost. 🙂

  12. Of course I ordered this one as soon as I read your review. “Vanilla!” is my version of “Squirrel!” I will report back when I try it.
    Incidentally, “I will report back when I try it” was Autocorrected to “I will report crack when I try it,” which leaves me with the creepy feeling that Autocorrect knows me far too well. Vanilla is definitely my crack, and my response to it is very Pavlovian. Which is the only way to explain my purchase of Tauer’s Vanilla Flash the day it came on the market, even though I greatly dislike Tauerade and have seldom met a Tauer that I could refrain from scrubbing. I am the helpless slave of my reward circuit when it comes to vanilla….

    • Did you order a STC sample or an actual bottle? I only ask because I worry about the lightness on your crazily voracious skin. If a fragrance as hefty, rich, and deep as Slumberhouse’s new Kiste (extrait!) only lasted 3-4 hours on you, I don’t know what this one will do. It’s very soft and light.

      • I just bought 5ml from STC to try out, so no worries if it doesn’t last. I am finally getting beyond the blind-buy fever. By the way, the Tauer Vanilla Flash arrived today. It is very much not me. But then, with only two exceptions, Tauers never work on me, leaving me to wonder why I ordered it. Have you tried it?

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