Perfume Review: Honore des Pres Vamp a NY
Date released: 2010
Perfumer: Olivia Giacobetti
Sample provenance: sample from Honore des Pres via giveaway at Grain de Musc
Sub-category: Loud dressed-up party composition – except that it’s not all that loud.
As you might have guessed from the post title (if you didn’t already know, because I’m not quiet about it), Tuberose is my BFF. I love it, and tend to feel very comfortable in tuberose scents. When I read at Grain de Musc that Denyse was excited about another new tuberose scent, and that it was very different than L’Artisan Nuit de Tubereuse but that so well-done that she wanted both, I got excited too. Until I read her review – which mentions the Dreaded Tolu Balsam. If you didn’t already know this little bit of trivial, tolu doesn’t play nice with me. It’s not even a frenemy, it’s a Mean Girl. I sighed a little and decided not to enter the very generous drawing offered by Honore des Pres. I said so in my comments there. But when Denyse gave us the update that HdP had made more samples available and I was eligible for one, I decided to give it a shot. I’m very glad I did.
Vamp a NY starts off with the now-familiar rubber-and-camphor opening of good tuberose absolute, and then there’s a big fruity hit of something – ylang-ylang, with its banana preserves note, perhaps? (Edit: since reading Annelie’s comments about cucumber at Confessions of a Perfume Nerd, I do smell something aquatic-cucumbery in the opening, just after the mothballs. It doesn’t last more than a minute or so, though, and I’m not surprised I missed it the first six or seven times I wore Vamp.) I think there are some other tropical florals (jasmine sambac? frangipani?) in the mix too, although it smells very tuberose-y from start to finish. The heart of this scent, in my opinion, is a big pas de deux with tuberose and coconut, with all the romantic flourishes you could wish for – sweeping violins, purple sunsets, soft caressing winds, crashing waves, golden sands, the whole Tropical Honeymoon deal.
I like it very much. (My own honeymoon was spent in Maine, hiking around small lakes and up granite mountains… in early May. It was cold enough to wear sweatshirts. And on the way home, I’m not kidding here, we made a pilgrimage to Fenway Park to see the Red Sox play. Well, The CEO went to see the Red Sox play; I just tagged along. You could say that Capital-R Romance, at least in terms of setting, was a bit lacking, and perhaps I’ve longed for Capital-R Romance ever since.)
Luckily, Vamp a NY delivers. Eventually, up under the tuberose-coconut heart come warm spices and a rich vanilla. I can’t identify the spices (Edit: Denyse suggests the spicy notes are coming from the balsams, so color me shocked – the Dreaded Tolu isn’t bothering me here!), but they assist in keeping the fragrance from becoming unbearably sweet. It is sweet – very sweet – but the vanilla is rich and buttery rather than sugary and marshmallowy, and I just dig this thing right down to the ground.
Back in January, I was testing Havana Vanille and enjoying the way that the very far drydown, some twelve hours after application, seems to be a clear vanilla liqueur, very intense. I dabbed some Beyond Love near the HV, intending to test it, and found that tuberose + vanilla is a gorgeous smell. At the time, I lamented, “Why-oh-why doesn’t somebody make a tuberose-vanilla scent?” Apparently, Honore des Pres already knew how terrific the combination is, and I need search no longer.
Vamp a NY lasts five to six hours with one spray, which is rather long-lasting for me. Of course, it helps that it’s primarily composed of the few notes that tend to hang around a long time on me – but that’s good. Sillage is probably biggest during that fruity stage, but with only one spritz you’re not going to asphyxiate anybody. If I’m going to be at home, I’d do two or three spritzes, but that amount would be too much for work, in my opinion.
I’ve used up about half the generous spray sample HdP sent. I don’t know how big the bottle is, but it’s bigger than the 2ml spray bottles I have on hand – my guess is 3ml? – which is a fantastic size for a sample. I’m impressed, too, by this marketing strategy. Scenario: You’re a niche company, with limited distribution outlets, and you’re bringing out a new scent. How to get cost-effective publicity? You find a way to get your fragrance in front of as many noses as possible – the more fragrance-savvy, the better – and let them tell everybody else how great it is. Genius, my friends, genius. Kudos to Honore des Pres, and I wish the company much success.
I did several testings of Vamp a NY in the same timeframe as I was testing Nuit de Tubereuse, although I did not actually do a head-to-head contest. I found NdT on the “difficult to wear” side – its earthy, rooty nature is odd and borderline unpleasant for me, the tuberose is somewhat muted, and the woody-incense drydown is lovely but not very tuberose-y. Vamp, on the other hand, is pretty much tuberose all the way through, which suits me very well. It’s comfortable and relaxed, pretty and flirty, and is capable of making pleasant conversation. Simply put, it just makes me feel happy. And what’s better than that? If I want intellectual exercises, I’ll wear Jolie Madame, not tuberose.
Quality: A Smells natural, and the notes harmonize well together. Once it gets to where it’s going, it smells the same for quite a long time, but who minds that?
Grab-scale score: 8
Short description: Tropical gourmand tuberose.
Cost: $$ Vamp a NY has not yet been released in the US; the US launch is scheduled for September. However, it is available at Colette now, at 76 euro for a 50ml bottle plus VAT and shipping. (Don’t think I haven’t been monitoring the currency exchange rate. I’d love a split.)
Earns compliments? Yes. A coworker said I smelled “like dessert, if desserts were made out of flowers.” Three out of four of my immediate family members like it very much. However, the one that dislikes it does so intensely until it settles into its tuberose-vanilla base. The bad news? It’s Gaze that doesn’t like it, and he’s the family member with what I’d call the most discerning nose. He says that when Vamp gets to its drydown, it’s pleasant and smells like candied flowers.
Scent presence: Moderately strong, with moderate sillage. Lasts several hours; after 4-5 hours, the sillage is much less and the scent stays close to the skin.
Review report: Grain de Musc, All I Am – a Redhead, Confessions of a Perfume Nerd, From Top to Bottom – Perfume Patter, Notes from the Ledge, The Perfume Chronicles, Perfume Posse, Scent of the Day, Perfume-Smellin’ Things.