A little something.

In their first editorial meeting at Vogue, Grace Mirabella and Diana Vreeland found themselves at loggerheads. As recounted in Empress of Fashion (Amanda Mackenzie Stuart's tour de force profile of Vreeland) Mirabella attempted to impress her new chief with a scholarly market forecast complete with racks of the latest wool jersey frocks. Vreeland broadcast her boredom with impassive, deadpan silence. Was there a problem? Mirabella wondered. Yes, now that you mention it, Vreeland admitted there was.
"Well," she said, "I wasn't looking for a market report. I thought you were going to give me a little something."

"Like what?" I asked. I thought I had given a good deal.

"A
little something." She said, "A dream."
I can think of no better way to sum up the difference between Les Nombres d'Or Vanille and Tonkamande. Both are semi-sweet gourmands built on a foundation of vanilla, coumarin, and sandalwood. Both possess a cozy quality alongside Oriental flair. Both were conceived by talented perfumers whose rather evident vanity is (or in di Orio's sad case, was) balanced by considerable personal charm. If all things were equal, one could call these two fragrances pretty evenly matched. But the distinction between them, once experienced, is clear: Vanille has a dream to offer, and Tonkamande does not.

How else to explain it? Unfortunately I cannot channel Diana Vreeland, whom I suspect would know the very phrase to sum it all up and sort it all out. All I can say is that Tonkamande lacks a little something. It does not reach; it does not touch; it does not try.  Its congeniality is undeniable, but so is its complacency. Indeed, that is the problem with many Parfumerie Générale fragrances-- in their bland certainty that you will be easily satisfied with the minimum, they rarely rise above the level of mild-mannered sent-bon.

But Mona di Orio kept going. When she could have stopped short with full honors, she pressed on. Instead of a recipe-card gourmand, she offered up a twisting, turning bit of melancholy beauty which intrigues more than it comforts. Unworried about your satisfaction, she pleased herself-- and thereby reached what Diana Vreeland called "the myth of the next reality"-- that marvelous, maddening thing that you want without even knowing what it is, or why you want it, or why you never even noticed it before.

Scent Elements: Orange, rum, cloves, tonka bean, amber, ylang-ylang, vanilla, guaiacwood, vetiver, sandalwood (Les Nombres d'Or Vanille); aldehydes, almond milk, tonka bean, wheat, sandalwood, vanilla, amber (Tonkamande)