Ayala Moriel’s Immortelle L’amour exploits the versatility of vanilla as a universally favourite essence. The first thing you smell is a very concentrated, extract-like vanilla, which fills you with delight as you’re reminded of making magical bakes in a cosy kitchen. Complementing this vanilla are subtle dessert notes of caramelised pecan, maple syrup, and honeycomb, which are never too glucosic but instead have a wholesome sweetness-with-substance that enriches the very pure vanilla so that it’s not two-dimensional, but full-bodied and satisfying in all its sweet, spicy and delicious glory. These nutty nuances also lend an oriental musk, which enhances the exotic, addictive quality that makes vanilla delectable to every palate on the planet.
But here’s the curious thing. Immortelle L’amour doesn’t stop at dessert, but works backwards onto the main course. Once on the skin, the bold vanilla spice of the dessert unfurls to reveal a full-on curry herb at the heart meal. What you have to remember about curry herb, or immortelle, is that it’s not a full-cooked-curry kind of spicy. It’s actually a fresh, autumnal spice with notes of cordial chamomile. So while the combination of vanilla and curry herb is definitely daring, the two work very effectively towards one appetising, warming and reassuring whole.
Complementing the main meal and the sweet dish is a nonintrusive, delicately oriental and spiced red tea. It comes in little sips that intensifies the warmth of vanilla and the comfort of curry herb, while orange peel lightly ‘pickles’ the intriguing mix, its stimulating citrus balancing the sweet and savoury characters. Underlying both is a soft myrrh-like quality, resinous and earthy and possibly woven by the golden hay notes of broom and wheat.
The name ‘Immortelle L’amour’ immediately suggests to me ‘immortal love’, but I don’t interpret the scent as either romantic or spiritual. I feel it represents passion rather than love, a celebration of the temporary sensory appetite rather than an everlasting transcendental bliss. It is extremely gourmand, presenting itself like a plate of delicious possibilities, and very adventurous in composition. As such, its virtue is rebelliousness, not faithfulness. The fragrance does retain a precious quality because of the sheer intensity and deliciousness of the flavour and the golden earthy and liquid ruby notes that enrich it. But, this preciousness is not the eternal flame of love, it’s the finite spark of life.