There are a few perfumers who have successfully created a world for their perfumes to live within. Not only does the perfume smell great but it can tell a story as well. I look forward to the next releases from these perfumers as eagerly as I look forward to the next book from my favorite novelist. That is why I was very pleased to get the next installment from Maria McElroy who with her brand aroma M has been illuminating the life of a geisha. The latest release is Geisha Vanilla Hinoki.
Since 1995 through many releases the story being told has been of the occupation of geisha. It was only with 2014’s Camellia where we saw the geisha off-stage as I imagined her removing the makeup at the end of the evening. Geisha Vanilla Hinoki continues her off-duty story. Ms. McElroy described this as a trip for her geisha to a hot spring to soak in a hinoki wood tub. As a result, my imagination renders Geisha Vanilla Hinoki as the story of our perfumed geisha on her precious and rare day off.
Geisha Vanilla Hinoki is primarily what the name implies. Ms. McElroy sourced a vanilla from Morocco which contains a smoky aspect. I can say that as it is used in Geisha Vanilla Hinoki it is an unusual vanilla which carries some of the bakery but also a different kind of depth to it giving it a little more gravitas than playful vanilla often has. The hinoki is one of my favorite variations of cypress. It also has more presence as well as more sharply defined lines. These are the heart of this perfume.
It would be a long trip to the hot spring but she had the cream pan her client brought for her last night. As she walked out in the sunshine the light sparkled in points of bergamot. She boarded the train into the mountains sitting next to a spice salesman with his bags of cardamom and nutmeg while he chewed on a piece of clove. After arriving at the hot spring she was shown to her tub which had a view of the mountainside and the world below. She added a few drops of lavender oil to provide contrast to the hinoki wood of the tub. As she eased into the steamy water the smell of the surrounding amyris and the damp earth reminded of her patchouli oil back on her vanity. She remembered her parcel of cream pan and drew them to her. The steam and the wood made them a little less confectionary giving a smoky tint to the sweetness. As she floated on the water her cares radiated away into the water and out with the steam. Today was a day for her to love herself; tomorrow it would be shared with her clients.
Geisha Vanilla Hinoki has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage as the eau de parfum. 14-16 hour longevity and minimal sillage as the perfume oil.
There are two versions of Geisha Vanilla Hinoki; perfume oil and eau de parfum. In the past I have always preferred the oil form. For the first time the expansiveness of the eau de parfum was much more evocative of the open air hot tub for me. It felt more like my imaginary geisha at play. The oil is much more personal it has a sultrier quality. I wholeheartedly recommend both forms I think it will come down to personal preference.
Geisha Vanilla Hinoki is the most exuberant of the aroma M Geisha collection. I can feel the relaxed smile of my figurative geisha and the perfume makes that infectious in its simple joy.
Disclosure: This review was based on a samples provided by aroma M.