“How do I make the next perfume masterpiece?”
I usually shy away from purchasing bottles from the Parfumerie Generale range because I often find the fragrances too heavily centred on woods, gourmands and musks. Although they are of great quality and are extremely wearable, I don’t often find myself getting excited about them, instead wishing that there were some extra notes thrown in to be just that little bit more avant-garde or shocking.
I guess all that was before I met Felanilla. I wasn’t supposed to like it – it was safe and cuddly and it featured vanilla as the main note, which I often find very bland, boring and uninspiring. You can read my thoughts on a Perfume Lovers London evening centred around vanilla perfumes that was hosted by Neil Chapman of The Black Narcissus if you need evidence of my being not really inclined in vanilla’s favour (or flavour, heh).
Well, Felanilla managed to stuff my snobbery and snootiness up my haute couture a***. When I first smelt it on a tester strip in Bloom Perfumery, where I had taken a friend, Dr. X, for a sniffing session, his first words were, “This has got more tonka than Tonka Imperiale!” And indeed it does, possessing that slightly animalic, slightly anisidic vibe that often characterises the tonka bean. But what really did it for me was the rooty and powdery orris whose coolness is the perfect counterpoint for the warmth of the tonka bean and vanilla, like yin and yang. Very dry and warm. Absolutely inspired, and downright breath-taking. The orris came out mostly on my skin, for I hadn’t detected it earlier in the shop – but maybe that was because I was so taken with having smelt Vero Profumo‘s Rozy for the first time (just so you know – I’m in the EDP camp for this one! And thanks for the sample of Felanilla, Ruth!). If I had to, I would compare the orris here with that in Serge Lutens‘ Iris Silver Mist before it became reformulated and the iris went mostly carroty rather than powdery. There was also a hint of saffron, which flitted briefly like a butterfly resting on my arm – if you’ve ever had a butterfly rest on your arm, you’ll know exactly what I mean.
Sadly, the orris doesn’t last long on me, just 30 minutes in total, and even then it was very much a skin scent, with the opening hovering an inch above my skin. After that, it became a dry, woody vanilla that is (thankfully) not foody at all, with just the right hints of animal and hay, and it remained that way for a good 8 hours. Now, if only the orris could have lasted longer, it would have been perfect. Even so, I prefer Felanilla by far to the other ‘irises’ in the Parfumerie Generale range, namely Iris Oriental and Cuir d’Iris.
I wore Felanilla for a good part of the time I was revising (or rather procrastinating) for my exams, which is why you see here that my sample of it has been juxtaposed against my economics textbook. The words go out of focus and all I can concentrate on is Felanilla. Books and paper and vanilla. The marriage of safe and sexy. Mmm.
You can find Felanilla at quite a number of locations worldwide, as listed on the Parfumerie Generale website. In London, it retails at Bloom Perfumery and at Les Senteurs for £117.50 (100ml) and £81.50 (50ml). Dr X. complained that it wasn’t available in Singapore, and indeed, it doesn’t seem as though Parfumerie Generale is stocked anywhere in Asia. Let’s hope Pierre decides to start distributing in Asia, because he’s got one new fan.
~ The Smelly Vagabond