Brief reviews of two 2013 fragrances: Penhaligon's Vaara and Givenchy Dahlia Noir L'Eau.
Are there any recent releases you'd love to see us review? Do comment.
Penhaligon's new Vaara has a great backstory: it was a private commission by His Highness Maharaja Gaj Singh II for his granddaughter Vaara. Perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour reportedly traveled through India looking for the perfect ingredients "to create a scent fit for royalty". Of course, he's already done much the same — albeit probably without leaving home — for the four India-inspired fragrances he created for Neela Vermeire Créations (Trayee, Mohur, Bombay Bling and Ashoka), but Vaara stays squarely in what I think of as Penhaligon's territory.
It's a pretty and very wearable scent, starting off with bright citrus, liberally spiced at first, then soft. The opening stages are given depth and tartness by a dab of quince jam. It calms into a lovely, somewhat youthful floral (mostly saffron-tinged rose and magnolia), slightly sweet, with a velvety, mostly-clean finish. It's enjoyable to wear, but if you were after exotica,1 or even something that packs some oomph, Vaara is not likely to suit. Victoria summed it up perfectly at Bois de Jasmin: "It’s soft spoken and mild, a perfume for someone who really doesn’t like orientals or anything richer than frozen yogurt."
Penhaligon’s Vaara is available in 50 and 100 ml Eau de Parfum. The notes include coriander, carrot seeds, saffron, quince, rose, freesia, magnolia, peony, iris, honey, white musk, cedarwood, sandalwood, benzoin and tonka bean.
Givenchy Dahlia Noir L'Eau
Here is the absurdly faulty logic that made me seek out a sample of Givenchy's Dahlia Noir L'Eau: I did not like the 2008 Chloé fragrance, but I really liked the 2012 flanker, L’Eau de Chloé, which was all done up in pale green. I didn't particularly like the original Dahlia Noir (although frankly, I'd rather wear Dahlia Noir than Chloé), but when they turned it pale green and added L'Eau for Dahlia Noir L'Eau, I figured, who knows? Maybe it'll be fabulous.
Well, no. I do like Dahlia Noir L'Eau a shade more than Dahlia Noir, but only because it's a shade more innocuous. It's a fresh floral of no particular distinction, a bit green but only a bit. It's subtle and clean, and summer-y, and perfectly pleasant and easy to wear. It's hard to describe in any more detail than that: it just smells like department store perfume in the 'modern and fresh' genre. Even more so than the original, it's comically at odds with the name 'Dahlia Noir', but whatever, right? If you liked Dahlia Noir better than I did, maybe you'll like this one better too.
Givenchy Dahlia Noir L’Eau is available in 50, 90 and 125 ml Eau de Toilette. The notes include citron, neroli, rose, patchouli, cedar and musk.
1. If you do want exotica, and you want it from Penhaligon's, do try Hammam Bouquet or its modern successor, Elixir.
Not sure whether it’s been released in the U.S. yet, but would love to see NST review Penhaligon’s Iris Prima.
I second this! I haven’t seen it in the US yet, but it sounds interesting and I’d love to read your review of it.
You will not have to twist my arm…really want to try that one. Don’t think it is here yet, but should be soon.
Waiting for Dahlia Extreme Noir Eau Legere
Oh, it will probably be along soon enough!
Great reviews as always. Would love to see reviews of the following new stuff – the 3 new L’Artisan Parfumeur releases Amour Nocturne/Deleria/Skin on Skin – nu_be Suphur – Huitieme Art Monsieur – Hermessence Epice Marine – the 3 new Vero Profumo Voiles d’ Extraits – Maria Candida Gentile’s Noir Tropical & Finisterre – Oliver & Co Nebula 1 & Nebula 2 – Monocle Sugi – Puredistance Black.
Nice list, thanks so much!
And adding — thanks so much because I didn’t even know about Monocle Sugi! Will announce it next week.
NST hasn’t much liked the Dior Escale series, but I tried the Escale a Parati and liked it lots. It doesn’t last but as an EDT in hot weather I have found it refreshing enough to buy a bottle. I’d be interested to read your review as I generally agree with your views. Lots of petitgrain and tonka, which always hit the spot for me.
I would not mind trying that one — will see if I can find it.
You seem to have liked Vaara a bit more than Victoria, but I’m still not really tempted. What I would like to try is Duchafour’s Orange Blossom for Penhaligon’s. Have you tried that one Robin?
I’m not sure if I liked it better, or if I just wasn’t expecting a really exotic India sort of scent from Penhaligon’s anyway? Or, for that matter, if I already knew not to expect it since I’d already read reviews? Victoria gave it 3 stars, and I think I’d agree with that.
I honestly can’t remember if I did or not. I know I tried a few of the Anthology scents, and wasn’t taken with any of them. So far, the only Penhaligon’s scent I’ve really wanted to own was Elixir. Amaranthine was nicely done but not me.
Oh darn! Now I want to try Elixir. Kevin’s review intrigues me. I own a FB or Amaranthine but I somehow don’t wear it that often.
I hope it hasn’t been reformulated…
Since you’re taking review requests, may I ask for a review of The Body Shop’s new honey fragrance? I think it’s either going to be released very soon or is already in their stores.
The Penhaligon sounds a bit too tame for me; I need to sample the Neela Vermeires.
The honeymania is definitely on my list, & so is their smoky rose thing.
Honeymania is to be tested after an insulin shot.
I had high hopes for it after L’Occitane discontinued its honey line for children – I really loved that one but they didn’t bring it back, or at least not the same way. Also MAC discontinued their honey fragrances – they were LE’s but still.
But The Body Shop’s Honeymania is too sweet and artificial, low end drugstore quality.
I’ve tried it, it’s very floral, not really sweet..like a candy sweet. If one is looking for a candy sweet honey..one probably won’t find it. There is honey though, it’s just underneath a lot of floral. I liked layering the EDP with the body butter. It’s worth trying as it seems so many scents are overly sweet..not this one.
Good to know, thanks!
Thanks, Omega. Not overly sweet is fine by me!
Ha too funny–I was mildly interested in checking out Dahlia Noir L’Eau for very similar reasoning. I think you’ve saved me the trouble though.
As for new releases, the new Ateliers and the Boucheron Place Vendome are all recent sniffs I’d be glad to hear your take on (not, I’m afraid, that I fell in love with any of them, but, I maintain a sporting interest!) Actually, since we’re on the subject, Roses de Chloe too, why not! You know, that might be the one I’m most likely to wear, if I’m honest about it. It’s not going to blow any minds, I wouldn’t think, but I found it sort of lovely and agreeable. Reminded me a lot of a l’Occitane scented hand cream I’d liked some years ago, Bouton de Rose.
Oh good, glad someone else was easily fooled by the color of the juice
We will definitely do the Boucheron. And we did one of the Ateliers today, and I really liked the other on paper so we’ll probably do that one too.
Jessica should do Roses de Chloe, I’ll tell her.
…makes note to self, Roses de Chloe…
I really liked L’eau de Chloe, though that clean patchouli (which I’m sensitive to) rasps on my nerves a couple of hours in.
I’ll probably give Vaara a try sometime. I like a nice, warm, easy-to-wear scent.
With that in mind, perhaps a review of the new Tocca, Margaux? I’ve never been really wowed by any of their fragrances, but I find most of them perfectly enjoyable. This one sounds like it has potential to be more interesting, though.
I’ll see if we can get our hands on some, thanks!
How about a review of Elle L’aime by Lolita Lempicka?
Adding to list, thanks!
I’m tardy to the party, but I’d really love to hear your thoughts on the new eau de parfum version of Diptyque’s L’Ombre dans L’eau. I’ve been wearing a sample of it recently, and it strikes me as a very, very different scent than the original EDT–much less sweet, and deeply, intensely green. I’d be so interested to know what you make of it in comparison to the lovely old rosy warhorse.
There’s a nice review at Bois de Jasmin: