If you’re needing some sweetness in your life the latest fragrance from Pierre Guillaume takes us on a tour of its interesting and sometimes contradictory facets.
Cardamom, Ugandan vanilla, guaiac milk accord, animalic sandalwood.
Vanilla is one of those notes which it is so easy to do badly. Too sweet, too sickly, too saccharine or too ubiquitous; there are so many ways in which vanilla can go quickly wrong. Step forward A Une Madone by Pierre Guillaume, which attempts to take a fresh look at a classic ingredient by harnessing the power of Ugandan vanilla – less utilised than other forms and with some interesting contradictory facets.
Cardamom is the first thing you will notice about this fragrance. Here it is dry, flecked with hints of green and a slight dried-fruitiness. There is a rich, warm and calming quality about this cardamom and the dry tone it exhibits plays nicely with a milkier undercurrent we will come to properly later. The two ideas merge in something akin to warm milk, with a heavy dose of spices, sweetened with the vanilla which starts to peek through as the scent settles.
Lurking around in the background is a rich floral tone. It’s elusive, only peeking out now and again, but giving the sense of tuberose or something similar: heady, sweet, almost bubblegummy yet hinting at that more carnal aspect to come.
This phase of the scent could be characterised as the sweet, coy, almost naive side of vanilla, all coquettish and shy. It hasn’t yet decided quite what it wants to be, but it’s getting there, and as our tour of the ingredient continues, more will undoubtedly be revealed.
The immediate opening of the scent showcases the spicier, woodier side of vanilla, before the milkiness comes through. This milkiness then builds into the heart of the fragrance. Here we get a more familiar snapshot of vanilla: sweet, resinous a little custardy, perhaps, but more the typical vanilla in evidence in many perfumes today albeit a nice representation of such.
Wait a beat more though and A Une Madone twists again, turning itself into something more carnal – here the Baudelairian vanilla which is referenced in the marketing blurb for the scent is more observable. An animalic purr creeps into the scent from the castoreum. It has overtones of cat fur and a sinuous kind of fluidity which feels part referential to the sticky pods of vanilla and part metaphorical to limbs twisted together lying on furs.
Under the more energetic half of the scent, a languid ribbon of smooth, milky sandalwood flows and acts as a connector between the start of the fragrance and its culmination.
The milky ribbon lurking throughout A Une Madone takes us towards the final beats of the scent, which twists again, taking us this time into the more floral aspects of vanilla. The vanilla elements become fuzzier, more heady, more intoxicating. Flowers like tiare and ylang are called to mind, and things which grow in hot, steamy, tropical places.
Throughout the fragrance is warm in tone, but in the latter phases of the scent it becomes positively sultry. The milkiness now references sticky sap and nectar from tropical flowers, so intoxicating they might indeed be poisonous! This particular part of the scent, when combined with the animalic facets, enhances the carnal aspects further and one might even feel like it is possible to lose your mind in the richness and sumptuousness of the world the perfumer has created. Part Baudelairian, part fantasy confectionary factory, part debauchery and part innocence. What is certainly true though is that if you want a scent to immerse you in the lesser known sides of vanilla, A Une Madone does a good job of walking you through the landscape.
The other stuff
The perfumer for A Une Madone is Pierre Guillaume.
If you like this fragrance, you should also check out Vanille de Tahiti by Perris Monte Carlo.
The longevity of A Une Madone is strong, lasting a full day following a morning application. The sillage, or projection, of the scent is also good. It goes to around handshake distance or perhaps a little further, but doesn’t feel like it will choke out people who come near.
The floralcy of the latter half of a wear of this fragrance inclines it possibly towards the warmer summer months, however the resinous aspects of the vanilla mean that it wears well in winter too when you might feel like you need some warming up.
If you’ve visited us at all previously then you will know that Pierre Guillaume are one of our firm favourites here at The Sniff and we have reviewed a vast array of his fragrances which combine interesting, modern compositions with a wide range and ease of accessibility. These aren’t the esoteric end of the spectrum, but instead are wearable scents which fit into your daily life with ease, whilst giving you that slice of luxury and uniqueness you may have come to fragrance to find.
We’ve previously reviewed Alphaora, Morning in Tipasa, Animal Mondain, Lune d’Eau, Sunsuality, PG 9.1 Komorebi, PG 03 Cuir Venenum, PG 04 Musc Maori, PG 5.1 Suede Osmanthe, PG 16 Jardins de Kerylos and the exceptional Bois Naufrage. Also by Pierre Guillaume we’ve looked at Superlady, Sucre d’Ebene, Shermine, Aqaysos, Jangala, Tonkamande, Anti-Blues and Hapyang.
A Une Madone is available from Bloom Perfumery London where it is priced at £135 for 50ml EdP or £195 for 100ml EdP.
You can also buy this fragrance from the Pierre Guillaume web boutique.
We were very kindly sent a no-strings-attached sample of this fragrance by Bloom Perfumery London, and we thank them kindly for their generosity.
Image from Pixabay.