Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Vaara by Penhaligon's: an Indian summer scent

This is a fragrance with a story. It was commissioned to celebrate the birth of a baby girl named Vaara, granddaughter of (*checks spelling*) His Royal Highness Maharaja Gaj Singh II, of the Royal House of Marwar-Jodhpur. (Luckily, he has a shorter nickname, Bapji.)

The nose behind it is the tremendously accomplished Bertrand Duchaufour, who was also responsible for Penhaligon's previous releases Sartorial (2010) and Amaranthine (2009). Apparently Vaara was 4 years in the making, and involved a sensory tour around Jodhpur, Rajasthan, Vaara's own hometown.

I was expecting this to be a powerful scent. The colourful design and the rich mix of aromatic ingredients had me expecting something exuberant and statement-y, the sort of fanfaring sensory explosion you put on for a red letter day. Wrong. Vaara is delicate.

It opens with a light and dreamy floral mix, hints of zesty fruit (actually quince, checking the note list), very fresh and gentle. There are two roses here, as well as a cooling touch of iris. Then it develops a little kick - something skin scented, warm and (sounds odd, but) salty. That little twist is compelling - you want to keep smelling your wrist to figure it out. It reminds me a little of salted caramel, with both tang and sweetness. The drydown is warm and woodsy, with a mellow feel and an easygoing, nuanced depth, like something familiar and comforting.

It clings close to the skin - even though it's an EDP, I found that I could wear it quite freely without feeling like a walking scent-bomb. It lasted from 8am til around 5 before fading gently out.

The packaging is predictably gorgeous, and as ever Penhaligon's have used their classic bottle and box as a framework for a richly textured and coloured design that reflects the nature of the fragrance. If I have one quibble, it's that the lid of the bottle doesn't sit quite tight, and shakes around a little. But really that's a very minor point when stacked up against the positives - this is a fragrance that's distinctive, eminently wearable and comes with a story that fires the imagination each time you wear it.

Head Notes: Quince, Rosewater, Carrot Seed, Coriander Seed, Saffron
Heart Notes: Moroccan Rose Absolute, Bulgarian Rose Oil, Freesia, Indian Magnolia, Peony, Iris
Base Notes: Honey, White Musk, Cedarwood, Sandalwood, Benzoin Resin, Tonka Bean

Eau de Parfum 50ml £85
Eau de Parfum 100ml £120

It will be available from 8 July from Penhaligon's (who incidentally seem to be having an online sale at the moment...) and in India at the Umaid Bhawan Palace Collection Shop in Jodhpur.

Disclosure - PR sample

This post originated at If you're reading it elsewhere, it's been stolen, violating our copyright.

1 comment:

  1. Rose, saffron, peony, iris and tonka bean some of my favourite notes. the mix of them all intrigues me and this is worth a sniff.


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