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La Vaniglia – Good girls gone bad - June 8, 2012 New Fragrance Listing

Photo - cafleurebon.com - BOIS 1920 La Voluttuose Collection 2010

“You have to try this before you go. Of all the frags in this store it’s my very favourite, and there’s only two bottles left. I know you’ll love it – we always seem to like the same scents.”

I’m on a sniffing expedition with a fellow perfumista, and we’ve been exploring recent launches with my favourite Sales Assistant in Holt Renfrew.  My friend is dying to get over to the Frédéric Malle counter but the SA, whom I’ve gotten to know and trust over the past couple of years, is so excited, and is so very insistent I try this frag that I relent, and wait while she searches for the tester of BOIS 1920 La Vaniglia. A vanilla….hmmm – I’m not sure about this. Although...it IS by an Italian house, and my batting average with Italian perfumers has been pretty darn good lately.

“This is a vanilla like you’ve never smelled before” she said, spritzing my wrist. I take a big sniff, and in a nano-second, my olfactory world changes.   

“The opening is a mix of bergamot, mandarin and mint!  It so unusual! But wait!” Her eyes widen as she looks at me, “in a few seconds you should smell pepper! black pepper! ” She waits as I sniff again, and there it is – an amazing accord that I’ve never smelled before, it smells juicy and citrusy, minty and creamy, and HOT all at the same time, from something dark bubbling up from beneath.  She’s right – there’s definitely heat in this juice and it’s getting more interesting as the seconds tick by.

As I wait for La Vaniglia to unwind, I ask the SA about this perfume and its creator. La Vaniglia, she tells me,  is one of three feminine scents in a collection called Le Voluttuose, or The Voluptuous, released by BOIS 1920 two years ago. BOIS 1920, pronounced BOYCE 1920,  is an Italian perfume house founded in 1920 by Guido Galardi, a Florentine nose whose scent formulas were drawn from the lavender grown in the hills around Florence. The company disappeared after a few years, but it seems his perfume genes were passed on. Guido’s nephew, Enzo Galardi, followed in his uncle’s footsteps, studied to become a perfumer and re-launched the company in 2005. There are now fifteen BOIS 1920 scents, several of which are Guido’s original formulas re-interpreted by Enzo for the contemporary market.  It's a feel-good real-life story.

Our attention shifts back to La Vaniglia – time to sniff again…. “Frankincense, and ginger are next, and then earthy patchouli, says the SA. “The pepper effect softens, and it starts to get sexy, and well…voluptuous. This perfume is my very special date fragrance. I think it’s so gorgeous I end up seducing myself, and forgetting about my date – I keep smelling my wrists when I wear it!” she laughs. Sniffing my wrist and noting the shift into incense and darker notes, I understand what she’s talking about – this is powerful stuff. It’s seducing ME!

And now I smell the vanilla, a boozy vanilla, creamy, aromatic, dark and smoky, like black rum. But before it gets too deep and dark, the ginger note comes back with a zing, adding some golden spicy heat back into this interesting cocktail, and wafts of churchy-but-not-sacred powdery incense sweeten the scent. But at the same time, there is a distinct note of green growing things and damp earth from the patchouli that makes La Vaniglia mysteriously, deliciously sex-y!

“Well, you’re right, “I admit to the SA, as we start to leave. My friend has been so patient during this life-changing scenario with La Vaniglia. My bad-girl voice is yelling “Buy it! Buy it!”, my good-girl voice is shouting “No!No! You don’t need it!” I listen to the good-girl voice and tell the SA “I DO love it, but I’m going to pass on a bottle right now”. I thank her profusely, then rush to the Frédéric Malle counter where my friend discovers that I’m right about Carnal Flower, it also is totally unique and incredible, and we go through a similar performance of doubt, shocked surprise, unadulterated pleasure, and instant love. She also obeys her good-girl voice, and we leave Holt's empty-handed to go have lunch.

Through lunch, I note that the vanilla is getting more dominant but also softly nuanced, and by the time we pay the bill, La Vaniglia has become a dusky elegant scent, and is indeed, very voluptuous. Three very distinct and fascinating stages – juicy and HOT, spicy dark rich and mysterious, smoky-soft and sensuous. I’m tempted to go back and buy the bottle, but I don’t. I have a sample, I’ll use that.

A few weeks later I go back and buy BOIS 1920 La Vaniglia. “ I knew you’d be back”, says my favourite SA. “What took you so long?” “I listened to the wrong voice”, I reply. She looks at me quizzically, “You know, the one with a conscience, the good-girl." “Oh, that one,” she says, “All good girls want to be bad”.

It’s true. It’s true. I could bathe in La Vaniglia. I could eat it, I could drink it. Above all, I just want to smell it – inhale it in deep draughts or surreptitious sniffs.  I'm a good girl gone bad, I’m rotten to the core.

La Vaniglia is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.