One of the opportunities provided by perfume expos is the chance to reacquaint myself with an older line striking out in a new direction. This was the case at Cosmoprof Las Vegas when Jose Penalba and Lariane Dietrichs took me through the recent Berdoues Collection Grand Cru. The concept is to use a few keynotes to provide a fragrance of a specific geographic location. As I went through the entire collection there were a few which stood out to me one of those was the most recent release Vanira Moorea.
The place this is meant to evoke is the French Polynesian island of Moorea. It is a well-known scuba diver’s location because of the coral reef which surrounds it but it generally lives in the shadow of the bigger more famous Tahiti to its east. Like many of the islands in French Polynesia Moorea has spectacular beaches. The concept behind Vanira Moorea was a beachy vanilla. Creative director Sophie Berdoues worked with perfumer Alexandra Monet on Vanira Moorea.
The overall concept behind the Collection Grand Cru is to choose an indigenous material from the locale being used and add only two other notes. This is not soliflore territory the other notes play much more than just a support role in almost all of the perfumes in the collection. In fact, with Vanira Moorea it seems like Mme Monet might have been inspired by the film version of the Oscar & Hammerstein musical South Pacific.
An example of the blue filter used in the movie South Pacific
When South Pacific was adapted from Broadway to Hollywood director John Logan wanted to use visual cues for the musical numbers. To that end he employed colored filters on his lenses to saturate these scenes with primary color. Mr. Logan was going for “subtle changes” what he got was something far from subtle. Because the release was on a schedule there was no time to pull it back and so it went out with the over the top version. Critics were not fond of the choice but audiences seemed less fazed as it was the top box office movie for 1958. When I saw it twenty years later I thought the saturation of colors brought other parts of the frame into focus. I had this same experience while wearing Vanira Moorea.
It is probably a misnomer to use the word overdose in a three note composition. Therefore, I will use my colored filter analogy from above. Mme Monet pulls out three very intense primary notes of orange, petitgrain, and vanilla all used in extremis. Just like the colored lenses in South Pacific they are illuminating in their saturation levels.
Mme Monet ushers her players on stage in rapid succession. The sweet sunniness of orange. The bitter bite of petitgrain. The sweetness of vanilla. The one of those three that really exerts its influence is the petitgrain. The lemon is a connection to the orange as citrus in contrast. The greenish lemon zest quality is an effective thread of green running down through the vanilla to provide a nod to the orchid which it comes from. Together all three provide a beachy accord without any of the normal beachy perfume ingredients being necessary. It is a really nice feat of perfumery with only three notes.
Vanira Moorea has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate Sillage.
Despite my talk of saturation and intensity I wore Vanira Moorea during a heat wave and it never became cloying or irritating in the heat. It stood up well to its tropical origins. If you are looking for a summer weight vanilla and citrus perfume Vanira Moorea should satisfy.
Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Berdoues.