When Traditional History Couples With Modern Day Tweaking...
Vaara opens with a mild saffron spiced slightly dewy, airy rose. Moving to the early heart, the spiced airy rose remains as star, deepening, while adding in supporting moderately sweet honey, slightly sharp floral peony and well-integrated subdued cedar wood. During the late dry-down, the honeyed spiced rose considerably recedes, leaving its remnants supporting emerging slightly sweet sandalwood from the base. Projection is average but longevity very good at around 11 hours on skin.
Penhaligon's is a house that tends to offer up mundane, safe traditional perfumes. While there is nothing wrong with traditional, per se, it is the mundane that has generally disinterested me and many others. That said, the house while not veering too far from its roots has in recent years added some real character to its releases, beginning with the sublime Duchaufour-like As Sawira, and now with Duchaufour's own Vaara. Vaara starts things off on a high note with an outstandingly transparent and natural smelling watery rose. When the rose turns airy, adding the supporting peony floral, the mild, natural smelling cedar and fine saffron spice to the mix I knew Penhaligon's had another winner on their hands. The combination is extremely complex, and it took several wearings to really appreciate all its subtle nuances, especially the initially faint cedar that grows in strength as time passes though never calling attention to itself. If there is a mild weakness, it is in the late dry-down as the rose recedes and sandalwood takes the fore. This combination definitely works, but it lacks the complexity of the composition's mid-section. I suppose when one can only fault a late dry-down being "less complex" than the heart, it is not much in the way of criticism at all, and indeed in the case of Vaara there is little to criticize. The bottom line is Penhaligon's may have a stodgy release history, but the house is making subtle strides to change this and the $160 per 100ml bottle Vaara is yet another "excellent" rated 4 stars out of 5 success. Vaara may not be quirky or particularly innovative, but it does smell *darn* good!