Uniquely Sweet: Vanitas by Profumum

vanitasNotes: vanilla, myrrh, orange blossom, sandalwood.

Ah, vanilla: the dependable foundation of so many yummy gourmand fragrances. I love gourmands in general, and, when in the mood, nothing hits the spot quite like a delicious vanilla. However, Vanitas is an unusual vanilla scent and an unusual gourmand, too. For starters, it opens with a bracing, medicinal dose of myrrh, which prompts me to wonder: is this even a gourmand at all?

The opening is tricky and even a little bit frustrating for me. Myrrh doesn’t always work well on my skin, and I still can’t decide whether or not I like it here. It’s definitely medicinal, and bordering on camphorous. Sometimes I think ah, that myrrh is so interesting! And other times I think no, it’s just giving me a headache. Maybe it’s fortunate then that the vanilla comes on very strong, interlacing a sweetness with the fortifying myrrh. The overall effect here is that of coldness, signalling that this is not a typical warm and cozy vanilla.

If this fragrance gives the impression of food, it might be of a milkshake made with vanilla bean ice cream, freshly blended, still frothy and bubbling. But then, maybe even ice cream is too heavy for Vanitas. This is a surprising vanilla composition in that it never develops that familiar creamy texture, not even from the sandalwood. Even though the sillage here is quite strong, Vanitas still manages to give the impression of delicacy.

The name Vanitas is appropriate then. In the arts, vanitas is mainly associated with still life painting. Vanitas themes and motifs are meant to symbolize the transient nature of life and of earthly pursuits. Bubbles are one such symbol used to convey the ephemeral nature of life. Vanitas the fragrance reminds me of bubbles, not in a fizzy champagne way, but in a pretty, fragile kind of way.

Vanitas is something of a riddle for me. The vanilla is quite sweet, but the myrrh keeps me from thinking of this as edible. Similarly, the fragrance as a whole comes on quite strong, but still somehow creates an air of fragility. Perhaps it’s the “chilly” aspect of this particular vanilla, creating a cold atmosphere that feels like it could shatter. It never does shatter; the fragrance fades away in a gentle cloud of swirling vanilla that clings to my clothes and my sheets.

I think I admire Vanitas more than I actually enjoy wearing it. But who knows? This atypical vanilla has room to develop in interesting ways. (And I may go for a milkshake anyway.)

Profumum is a niche Italian fragrance line. It’s available from Luckyscent in the US, which is where I got my sample.

Image and fragrance notes are from fragrantica.

6 thoughts on “Uniquely Sweet: Vanitas by Profumum

  1. Vanitas is a tad too sweet for my personal perfume taste but I really do like their Acqua Viva (a much longer lasting brother of AG Eau d’Hadrien) and Rosae Mundi.

    1. Totally understandable, Vanitas is very sweet! I just have a sweet tooth, even when it comes to perfume. Acqua Viva sounds delicious, though I haven’t tried it. I’ve really been enjoying Victrix this summer, very refreshing.

  2. I am really going to have to explore this line as the three fragrances you have written about sound intriguing…I happen to really like Atelier’s Vanille Insensee which is more than just straight up vanilla to my nose…which is what I am sensing with this one….. being a bit different with the addition of myrrh.

    1. Profumum is a fantastic line! In addition to the three I’ve written about, Dambrosia from them (pear, almond, and fig) is one of my all-time favorite scents on my skin. As for Vanitas, it’s such a unique vanilla, but the Atelier is a good comparison! You have a feel for the scent already.

      1. Thanks for the recommendation on Dambrosia (I saw that one and it sounded good too!)….while the full bottles are completely out of my price range I could afford a few of those samples to try….I am already compiling a list based on your reviews.

        1. You’re welcome, and please let know if you do order some Profumum samples! It’s such a unique line. I hope Luckyscent keeps carrying them.

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