I wish there was a place close by in NYC that had the full collection of all the Neil Morris vault fragrances to try, in one spot. I have had the opportunity to try about a dozen, thanks to the generosity of my dear Chayaruchama, aka Ida, a Muse in the classical sense. It would be great to be able to make frequent visits to the complete Neil Morris Vault Collection and try them all over time. So far, according to his site, he has a personal portfolio of about 100, of which he brings out a limited number at a time, to the public. In addition he makes new ones as he is inspired to create them. At this point there are about 40 vault perfumes on his site. I know Neil produces custom perfumes too, so I am sure that if there is one that is no longer held in stock, he could make it for you, or possibly something specifically for you on that theme, as a unique perfume. He has the ability to express personality through either a perfume portrait, or a fragrance that enhances a specific persona, to manifest a person's aura physically, through the medium of fragrance. Something I think we all imagined that celebrity perfumes were going to do, but don't, actually. Le Parfum d' Ida is the one I know, and it well expresses Ida's exuberant and intense personality with warm clove, geranium, incense, and the rich floral sensuality of gardenias crossed with oakmoss, on leather. A romantic Russian soul, both joyful and serious, transplanted to transcendentalist New England. Anna Karenina swimming naked in a summer Walden Pond filled with water lilies in bloom, then warming her skin before a bonfire made of aromatic branches.
I love Dark Earth (aka Earthtones #1: Dark Earth), because I am always looking for that scent of deep rich earth, a holy grail of mine. This one is truly loamy and mossy and smells exactly like humus-rich freshly turned soil freshly watered by a soaking rain. It also has the subtle presence of crushed mulch, of an aromatic wood that has been out in the rain and is dissolving into the earth. There is also an ornamental touch of green stems, and too, I get the myrrh, and patchouli and "golden" musk. I can see it worn alongside Spectral Violet (lime, violet, sea moss, vetiver, among others), if you are in the mood for sensory overload, as I often am. A perfect combination for sleeping in during a cool rainy Spring, such as we had in NYC this year.
The very names are spare in a poetic, non gender specific way, which is I think an integral part of the presentation. His perfumes are most often made so as to be able to be worn by both sexes. I wish more men knew of these fragrances, because they are far more intriguing than most of what is on the shelves on the men's side of Sephora. Cafe is a true coffee and tea and chocolate scent, inspired by the cafes of Paris, and would be incredible on a man, and is also another good combination with Dark Earth.
Two recent ones, Vapor, and Leather Garden, have a very modern abstract edge. Leather Garden reminds me a little of Psychotrope, ( a leather/jasmine) in that it is a distinctively leather scent under a narcissus, hyacinth, and lily of the valley high-pitched floral tone. The two opposite ends of leather and floral are unified by the mediator of basil flower and agarwood. Vapor is like ice evaporating in the warmth of the sun. A strong aldehyde uplifting the water lily and heliotrope, wafting down into a frankincense and amber musk. There is a lot of movement in them both, they are not static perfumes. They unfold and rise up, and then the deep basenotes emerge and dive back down into the skin and out into the air.
The Vault Collection is rich and strange indeed, strange in the sense of unique, yet the aesthetic is modern and natural, and very wearable. I will post on a number more, next time. The variety and range -- this is why I think we (perfume fanatics) need a central location for the complete collection. I think the whole concept lends itself to the idea of going to pick something out for the particular time or occasion or mood. Like getting a new dress or pair of shoes for an event or to expand the wardrobe from a favorite designer, these perfumes express a particular unifying taste, so they all work together, in a style that is both abstract and down to earth at the same time.
For complete notes, prices and availability, please see the Neil Morris site.
Above photo: Morning Vapor, taken by Ivan Orozco, Mexico, aka Vallas.