Suzanne's Perfume Journal

So, I’m wearing Vamp à NY eau de parfum from French organic perfume line Honoré des Prés, and let me tell you, it is love, sexy love, love, love!  Described by the company as “tuberose and rum, united by three magnificent balms: benzoin, Peru Balm and Tolu balm,” this is one of those fragrances that proves tuberose is a dominatrix whose beauty and power is never more evident than when she agrees to assume a submissive role. At first spritz, when the fragrance is still wet on my wrist, it smells like the kinds of candies I viewed, as a kid, as too weird to eat: root beer barrels, with their old-fashioned, almost medicinal flavor that seemed like a disconnect from the actual soda; and those purple Necco wafers that were the most beautiful shade of lavender, but flavored strongly of clove, in a way that made them particularly unpleasing to a child’s palate. Even so, those purple Necco wafers were intriguing to smell and have stayed in mind for that reason—as a curiosity, like a peek into the world of adulthood (Oh, this is what grownups like, I remember thinking)—and the initial moments of wearing Vamp à NY very much recalls my fascination with those strange and faintly starchy confectionery discs.

This phase of the fragrance is short-lived, though, and as Vamp à NY warms and dries on the skin, it embraces the gorgeous, creamy and almost tropical beauty that is tuberose. Gradually, the fragrance begins to acquire the smell of an alcoholic spirit, though if I didn’t have the notes to guide me, I would not have identified it as rum. The tuberose note smells like it is cocooned in a Tahitian vanilla-bean pod—it’s incredibly sexy—yet the almost brutish, spice-and-medicine smell of the resinous balsams seems intent on keeping it cuffed up and close by, never leaving it alone. What you wind up with is the weirdly beautiful smell of a tuberose that is under the restraint of these captors and yet, at the same time, commanding their every movement by making herself the subject of their intense focus.

The scent of clove is heavy within Vamp à NY, and normally I wouldn’t care for it in this level of concentration—yet the way it is matched with the equally intense and heady, vanillic tuberose is a combination that I find utterly arresting. Who is the captor and who is the captive?, this fragrance seems to ask. The image it sends up in my head—well, don’t ask where I got it, it’s not normally my kind of fantasy, but I can’t help thinking about a picture I saw of an ugly and brutish man who, in a public venue, was hauling around a very babe-alicious and scantily-clad girl on a rather short leash. This girl could have summoned an entire army of men to free her from her enslavement had she so wanted to, but I gathered she was rather enjoying her role as much as he was, if not more—and that’s the kind of dynamic that plays out between these two extreme accords in Vamp à NY. (Or maybe it doesn’t play out that way, and I’m just overthinking this fragrance in the fevered month of August, a month when I should probably resist writing about perfumes on the Internet. Would I be going too far as to suggest that tuberose is one of those flowers that knows how to “top from the bottom”? )

Oh bother! Let’s make this a short review, dear reader. It is August, after all; forgive me.

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Honoré des Prés Vamp à NY is available from, $98 for 50 ml./1.7 oz.

Honoré des Prés Vamp à NY: Tuberose on a Leash

August 5, 2011: