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Great citrus vanilla, or the greatest citrus vanilla?

Untitled No. 7. We have the citrus vanilla we’ve been waiting for.

I tweeted a while ago, in the flush of joy after applying some Untitled No. 7: “Great citrus vanilla or the greatest citrus vanilla?” No response, crickets, not even any high-fives celebrating the Stephen Colbert reference.

I had to think about this for a while but I did eventually figure out a reason for the stunning lack of response to my comment (even in my wee tweetosphere): any perfumista is going to read that and go “Phuh. Citrus vanilla? That’s Shalimar, duh!” And then walk away to read other blogs, presuming that mine is filled with ignorance, not just regarding classic Guerlain products, but all other perfumes as well.

Which is probably true. Thing is, when I posted that, I never even thought of Shalimar as a citrus vanilla. I mean, of course it is, but it isn’t in the sense that I meant.

In recommending vanillas to another Tweeter (one who was not such a huge fan of gourmands as I), I got back that Shalimar reminded them of “lemon cake”. Well, picture the Unseen Censer scratching her head.

See, I can picture what is meant here. Yes, there’s citrus, there’s vanilla, there’s some sweetness. But Shalimar is so Shalimary. The citrus is bergamot, for one thing, not lemon. Lemon has a clean simpleness to it that bergamot does not. Lemon is, despite its tartness, sweeter. This is one reason why lemon cookies and cakes are popular, and bergamot cookies and cakes are not. When sweetened, lemon has a delightful clean lightness to it, one which blends beautifully with the musk?/wood/vanilla drydown that is… Untitled No. 7.

The vomit note that many people have trouble with in Shalimar is simply absent from Untitled No. 7. The three-quarter turn and dive that Shalimar does as it descends from the citrus into the vanilla isn’t there either. And the other spice/weirdness elements of Shalimar are also gone. Shalimar the citrus vanilla is so far from Untitled No. 7 the citrus vanilla that it hadn’t even occurred to me that they are on the same family tree.

Untitled No. 7 is one of the bespoke exclusives of Luckyscent, the high-end perfume retailer. All the Untitled scents are meant to be the perfumers unleashed from their commercial briefs, able to make what they want for this retail market that is, essentially, us. We, fellow fumeheads, are the audience for this art.

I have samples of all of them and am quite fond of No. 3, one of my favorite violets (by Sarah Horowitz. I’ve sampled many of her other perfumes based on my liking for this one; I find them relatively repetitive and not quite up to the level of this one). No. 7 only lists three notes: “citrus accord, Madagascar vanilla, and Mysore sandalwood”.

The perfumer, Hilde Soliani, has done other such excitingly named scents as Acquiilssssima and Fraaagola Saalaaata (oh dear) for a line under her own name, and other scents with less startlingly original spellings such as Conafetto and Sipario. I assume based on her name and the names of both her pronounceable and unpronounceable perfumes that she is Italian. And there’s an exquisite minimalism to Untitled No. 7 that feels quite Italian: lemon trees, blue Mediterranean, and something delicious on the tongue.

Untitled No. 7 is not a gourmand that crawls all over you. It is enveloping only in that it is sensually beautiful. I never realized it before planning to write this review, but it probably is the lemon perfume I was looking for. Yes, like Dorothy with her ruby slippers, I had it with me all along. As in a lemon cookie, the citrus is softened with vanilla, made less cutting, more pillowy; there is nothing sticky about Untitled No. 7, however, and the quality is wonderful – the experience is never marred with unexpected and unwanted chemical notes.

The seller claims the base is sandalwood. We all know how I feel about sandalwood. I must say at the bottom I get a touch of the most elegant, least laundry-reminiscent skin musk more than I do sandalwood – but if you like both you might see the relationship. It’s an airy clean base note, one that, like sandalwood often does for me, opens up the drydown rather than closing it down, almost reminding me of a churchy feeling without ever once gesturing toward incense or smoke.

This is way at the bottom, don’t get me wrong. Under the vanilla and lemon. And what a graceful ride it is getting there.

Like all the Untitled fragrances, No. 7 is a limited edition, and I know it’s been out for a while because I’ve had my bottle for at least a year, possibly two. I can’t imagine why this is still available. Am I really the only one who’s bought it? (I need a backup bottle or two. At $80 is thing is a bargain! Yes, it’s an 8 ml oil bottle. I have two of these bottles I have used tons in the last two years and barely made a dent in the things, including this one.)

Need more? Here’s reviews by The Non-Blonde and Ca Fleure Bon.

So. Untitled No. 7. Great citrus vanilla, or the greatest citrus vanilla?


Image is Candied lemon peel by Jocelyn | McAuliflower; used under Creative Commons license, some rights reserved.

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