Boise Vanille – Montale

Thanks to a wonderfully generous Suzanne – I received my lovely decant of Boise Vanille the other day from Eiderdown Press.
Having only read Memory Of Scent’s Boise Vanille review as a reference as to what this may smell like – it took my by surprise!
So here it is…

Boise Vanille opens with a sharp, intense blast of bergamot, lemons at industrial chemical strength (the best way ;)!), and within minutes, a bizarre sour cloud edges its way up from the base.

Over the next thirty seconds, the cloud surrounds the citrus fruits, engulfing and incorporating them into a heated, sharp accord of screaming cedar wood and pepper. The pepper penetrates the bergamot skin which together create an uncomfortable high-pitched light up top, which I’m pretty sure is surrounded by a blast of aldehydes. The scorched cedar wood splinters through it’s aldehydic casing, and the sour/bitter accords radiate off the skin – taking on the persona of an extremely classical fragrance composition.

Citrus>>pepper>>cedar – a very modern composition blown up in intensity (as opposed to it’s more usual transparency – I’m thinking a larger-than-life Jean-Claude Ellena style piece of work here). The classical quality comes from the use of soapy aldehydes which scrub up this combination into something almost squeaky clean, but with a very slight sweetness coming up underneath – it’s very unusual.
Bizarrely in this stage, it reminds me slightly of the quick fragrance I made whilst on my perfumery course in London – an aldehydic animalic. The reason I compare it, is because somehow, the cedar wood almost takes on a sticky labdanum quality – maybe even a nutty castoreum. The first time I tested Boise Vanille, I’d have sworn these two ingredients hid in the base – but they only make a brief appearance in the heart (must be a mirage). There is definitely a fine, black fragrant sheet in the centre of this fragrance, it is almost translucent but holds this mirage of resinous labdanum and earthy aromas of castoreum. I also pick up faint whiffs of medicinal eugenol and even green cardamom. Yet again, these may be down to this shapeshifting whisper in the middle – still surrounded by the leading cedar and pepper (with the citrus slowly evaporating).

Vanilla’s dominant appearance is short and sweet, appearing after about an hour – a quick, creamy glimpse of sweet vanilla, intermingles in a harmony with the remnants of the almost barbershop opening. The vanilla in balance with the heated cedar, reminds me of the same relationship style as the honey and cedar in Miel De Bois – although these are entirely different fragrances.
The vanilla retreats again but now remains in sight; blended with the slightly almond-y aroma of subtle tonka, the base tames the high-intensity of the cedar whilst remaining completely de-sweetened.

I get a faint waft of myrrh in the base as well – although it may be the de-sweetened vanilla providing that dense “breathy” smell that I always pick up in myrrh notes. A scrubbed up patchouli ever so slightly fluffs up the base with a rich greenery, almost undetectable – and in the same style as Christopher Brosius’ unfamiliar patchouli in Patchouli Empire.

The sillage throughout Boise Vanille is much more pleasant than the fragrance is close up – the vanilla provides a sweet edge almost from the get-go, but I only detected this when testing the fragrance on someone else. The scented throw from Boise Vanille, and it’s close-up screech, almost come across as two entirely different fragrances – the start and finish are also almost unidentifiable as the same fragrance. It’s an everchanging, challenging composition that I would consider far more about the woods than the vanilla. The other complicated aspect of it is that whilst it’s “challenging”, it is almost classical in an extremely dated fashion – with the barbershop, aldehydic citrus up top and dry pepper and woods – a fougere even (there is a hint of lavender in the opening – soooo quiet that it wasn’t worth mentioning).

I can’t quite make my mind up on it just yet, but it’s been fascinating to explore – and unlike anything I normally wear. I’ll be sure to live with it for a little while longer and I’ll update if I find any changes :P This is also the first non-oud Montale I’ve tried which has definitely prompted me to try more of their offerings. If they are as surprising and unpredictable as this one, then I’ll have a great time working my way through them  - Thanks Suzanne! :)

Boise Vanille 50ml Montale $110 – Luckyscent
Decants available from Eiderdown Press (link above).

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10 thoughts on “Boise Vanille – Montale

  1. I get what you say about the aldehydes and it is a very interesting comment. Many non-oud Montales have this explosive aldehydic profile and they also feel like they are looking back. Chypré Fruité for example is a successor to the amazing Cardin Choc.

    Boisé Vanilé is certainly not what one expects from a vanilla fragrance.

    • Ah I’m glad you get it – I was worried I was the only one :(
      It’s an aldehydic bomb to me – with an almost effervescent but intense cedar dominating – not vanilla dominated for a good 3 hours. I can’t wait to try some others – I’ll be sure to hunt down the ones you’ve mentioned. Any other recommendations? :)

      • I love Greyland. I have mentioned Red Vetyver before and for something completely different than anyone would expect from Montale, Sandflowers.

        What is interesting is that the texture and feel of Boisé Vanillé and others from this line makes one instinctively shout “artificial!” but the fact that they keep developing for hours and hours does not support this. I really don’t know how the do it…

        Your comparison with JC Elena however should come with a disclaimer: after 24 hours of wearing and three showers :-)

      • The sheer development is hugely impressive – such a transformation.
        You’ve mentioned Sandflowers to me before – I have to track that one down :)
        That’s exactly what I meant – It’s JC Ellena but larger-than-life.

  2. Suzanne says:

    I can tell that I’m way too protective of this fragrance … I find it elegant, albeit in a dark, dangerous way (as if there is a lusty beast hiding beneath extremely good attire). And I find it incredibly delicious to wear for those reasons. I love smelling it close up on the skin and I love it from far away … I just love it, period. So it’s a little bit difficult for me to read both Christo’s review and yours, because I know that he finds it has a strong air of the tragic about it, and it sounds like you’re rather on the fence about it too for different reasons.

    But I’m happy that you found it has a classical air to it, even if you found it dated in that regard. And though it probably doesn’t sound like it, I actually do appreciate both of you (hiya sweet Christos!) for being honest. (But if there are any fans of this scent out there, could you please come join me for a cuddle here in my little corner?) ;)

    • Oooh no try no to take it too personally! It’s not intended as a negative review – I actually let my mum borrow my sample and she thoroughly adores it.
      My “on the fence” is simply due to the classical composure of it – I struggle to decide whether it is a dated/classic feminine, or a modern men’s – I know it doesn’t need to be defined as either, but it is hard work to categorize it at all!
      As for the notes, I find it quite fascinating – delicious is one of the last words I’d use :’) but I’m envious that you get such a yummy quality out of it.
      I think it’s the intense bergamot/pepper I have the very slight problem with as I’m not a citrus fan (I experienced similar blogger heartbreak recently when my fragrant partner in crime The Scented Hound slated my true love Orange Star), but the aldehydic cedar is unlike anything I’ve smelt.
      I’ll be sure to live with my decant for a while and give it some multiple wearings – I really enjoy the late drydown.

      • Suzanne says:

        Thanks for further clarifying your thoughts, Freddie. And my apologies for being more than a bit touchy in my earlier comment. I can understand why you say it’s hard to decide whether it’s a dated/classic feminine or a modern’s men: Dee from BOTO blog (who likes it) once classified it as “Shalimar for men” and that seems a pretty fitting description. :)

      • That’s a very accurate description! But yes – I think Boise Vanille is a textbook example of a unisex fragrance – almost to a point where it’s confusing!

    • Who said tragic is bad? :-)

      It is a very special scent that uses very common notes to build a pulsating structure. It is no small feat to make a vanilla that conveys more than just cute, cosy, comfy

      • Suzanne says:

        My line of thinking was that if it had a tragic air, one really wouldn’t feel like wearing it and being in that mindset. But that might be my American take on the word/concept. Thanks for your further explanation, Christos.

        Well, I feel silly but also so much better now that we’ve talked more about BV in the comments section. Fragrant hugs to both you and Freddie! <3

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