Vaniglia is one of the few vanilla-centric vanilla perfumes I own, and to be honest, I am not sure why it has become such a big part of my rotation other than the fact that my children, currently on their school holidays, have blocked my access to my perfume collection with a rickety tower of soft toys. Since 1st September is the earliest I can yeet it off my summer tray into the deepest depths of my cupboard where it belongs, now is as good a time as any to review it.
Vaniglia is a Jekyll and Hyde vanilla. In the air, it smells like a scoop of artisanal vanilla gelato, thick with egg yolks and stiff with tiny, crackling particles of vanilla bean. People have accused Vaniglia of smelling a little like extract, which it does, except it is probably more accurate to say it smells like vanilla bean paste, which is woodier and has less of an alcohol shriek.
The sillage is thick, unctuously creamy, and even a bit sticky or cloying. Like many of the richer Santa Maria Novella perfumes (Muschio, for example), there is a Biscoff undertone running through the lower register that strikes me as obscene in a perfume meant for grown-ups. But because there’s the slight bitterness of the booze in which the bean has been preserved, or a dusting of something cocoa-ish at the edges of this aroma, you do have that rather alluring (and yes, vanilla extract-like) contrast between the very expensive and the very cheap.
Smelled this way, I can take Vaniglia. It is a little disgusting in its biscuity foodiness, but since it has survived several collection culls, I obviously have some sort of feeling for it. Smelled up close, however – my God, what a shitshow. The vanilla eggnog thing completely disappears, replaced by the ugly aroma of melting plastic, which assaults the nostrils relentlessly for the first couple of hours. Given that Santa Maria Novella is one of the more traditional, and therefore, naturals-heavy brands, I will give the benefit of the doubt here and say that this is possibly an overdose of a latexy myrrh or an inherently plasticky jasmine material.
I am leaning towards the latter because this repulsive banana-plastic-acetone-industrial-fire aspect reminds me very much of Vanillary by Lush, another scent that burns my nose hairs when I get too close to it.
My solution for Vaniglia is not to get too close to it.
Source of sample: I bought my own bottle of Vaniglia from the Santa Maria Novella store in Florence. I know – what was I thinking? I blame the heat, the crowds, that final glass of Prosecco at lunch….
Cover Image: Photo by Rachael Gorjestani on Unsplash