My local Fenwick's department store stocks most, if not all, of the Penhaligon line, and they recently got in Vaara, Penhaligon's latest release.
The fragrance is apparently inspired by the Royal House of Marwar-Jodpur in Rajastan and was created by Bertrand Duchaufour. If this has a ring of familiarity about it, at least in terms of subject matter, you wouldn't be wrong. Just think of the fairly recent work Mr Duchaufour did with the Neela Vermeire line. More about that shortly.
The initial opening is more fruity than I thought it might be. When first testing, I did not know the exact notes, so suspected Mango. I did know that there is carrot seed, but wouldn't expect that the seed would have a fruitiness to it. As it turns out, what I was smelling is very likely quince. The fruity opening is combined with some spices, but is not heavy at all. Underneath the spices is a slightly soapy, zingy feel as well as a softer, almost creamy, lactonic accord. This is the stage at which I make a particular connection to the Neela Vermeire creations, all of which had a similar creamy accord.
As Vaara dries down, it softens and fades considerably on my skin. I tested this at least three times over the last week and this happened each time. After about three hours, Vaara has become a very soft, slightly creamy skin scent, suffused with mellow spice. I can't say that I detected half of the notes listed below. For example, I didn't get any honey and not much rose. The saffron and coriander no doubt contributed to the spicy overtone early on.
While I really like parts of Vaara's development, I am slightly disappointed with its dry down, and how quickly it fades on my skin. Perhaps this is to do with my skin chemistry. I would like to try Vaara again perhaps in cooler weather, and see how it performs then. Of all the recent Penhaligon fragrances I have tried, the concept of Vaara appeals to me the most, and it has the most promise for my tastes. I wasn't particularly impressed with Peony, sort of liked Sartorial, but am not a massive fan of Fougeres, and the floral/banana/tropical/creamy Amaranthine just turned my stomach.
Notes from Penhaligon's:
Quince, rosewater, carrot seed, coriander seed, saffron
Moroccan rose, Bulgarian rose, freesia, Indian magnolia, peony, iris
Honey, white musk, cedarwood, sandalwood, benzoin, tonka bean