Ani. Oooh, Ani. How I love you. And apparently, so do a lot of other perfume lovers. Nishane’s vanilla bomb has become a cult favourite and is hailed now as “the best” vanilla fragrance, an iconic amber vanilla gourmand scent – right up my alley, baby. And now that the weather is cooler, I have pulled this old decant of mine from out of the vault (of which I have several), and I must admit that I’d forgotten to wear even one drop of Ani over the last few years. How could I have done such a thing! It would have been such a comfort during the pandemic.
The reason I’ve remembered to pull this out now is that I came across an almost empty DUA dupe being sold for just a few coins on Mercari, and I decided I should buy it to compare because overall I am impressed by Dua Fragrances, which is famous for its “inspired” concoctions, but I think it does some decent originals and remixes, too. But anyway, let’s get back to Ani for the time being.
On the Nishane website, Ani is described as, and I quote,
“a romantic and calm perfume created under the inspiration of a famous Anatolian folk song called “Sarı Gelin” (in Turkish) or “Sari Gyalin” in Armenian.
As the similarity of the name of the song in both languages suggests that both nations share a very similar culture as far as art, food, or other aspects of life are concerned. ANI is the name of an ancient city that is now known as the Ani Ruins, which was included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
The only boundary is in the imagination of the people. This perfume is dedicated to ruin any border between people and to empower the wearer to build his/her own empire even in a situation when all he/she is left with nothing but the ruins.”
Wow, that’s beautiful, and hope-bringing to me now as I think of the conflicts underway in a couple of parts of the world at present.
The nose behind this fragrance is Cécile Zarokian, an independent perfumer who has created for Jovoy, Amouage, Labotorio Olfattivo, Pure Distance, and many other houses with which I admit I’m unfamiliar.
Ani is a rich, deep, cozy, comforting, delicious, and powerful spiced vanilla fragrance.
It’s well-blended, very unisex, and although versatile, best suited for the cooler months and more of a night-time situation, I think. It’s long-lasting and has strong sillage. It goes for hours on me and I get compliments when wearing it. It’s objectively beautiful. The only person who is not going to at least appreciate this is someone who hates vanilla. I don’t think I know anyone who hates vanilla, but they surely exist.
Nishane, by the way, means mark, sign, or symbol, and the house is Turkish, the first and only Istanbul-based niche perfume brand. I did not know that until preparing for this video, and I am not surprised because this and other Nishane fragrances I have sniffed are rather more oriental than occidental – though geographically Turkey is right smack in the middle. I was visiting Istanbul not many years ago, actually. Had I known Nishane was based there, you can bet I would have visited.
I think it’s the sappy Turkish rose and all the resins and spices in Ani that transport me east (or actually west from where I am here in Japan, funnily).
- bergamot, green notes, blue ginger, pink pepper,
- blackcurrant, Turkish rose, cardamom,
- patchouli, cedarwood, vanilla, benzoin, ambergris, musk, sandalwood
There is nothing in that list that I don’t love. There is only one flower, and it’s that beautiful rose. Even though this is a vanilla fragrance, ultimately, I wouldn’t say that vanilla is the first thing that comes to mind. If you like warm, rich gourmand fragrances such as Montale’s Intense café or Carthusia’s Terra Mia, you’ll probably like this.
At its core, I would describe this as freshly baked lemon and ginger cookies bathed in powdered sugar. There are warm little berries scattered in the batter with flecks of cardamom and other spices, and the cookies are delivered to you on a cedarwood tray that has been warmed by the cookies on it. Ani is Christmas-like, but to my nose, the spices are a little too exotic for me to associate with that holiday, but it’s certainly delicious and happy-inducing in the same way. The very first time I smelled this fragrance I found it beguiling and arresting, and I still do. Even though the feelings it invokes are familiar, the scent itself is not. I’ve not sniffed anything quite like Ani. And again, even though I am not able to isolate the creamy vanilla, I know it’s there, and I know that its role is central to this composition. Despite the warmth of this fragrance, I would also describe this as creamsicle-like. This is masterpiece-level perfumery – in the area of oriental gourmand, at least. And oh how it lasts! How could I have deserted you, Ani!
I am already drowning in vanilla, but let’s move on now to Dua’s “Drowning in Vanilla.” Off the bat, we can compare costs, and you can probably guess who wins that battle. If you’re comparing the same amount of liquid, a 100 ml bottle of Nishane’s Ani retails for 355 USD whereas for three, smaller 34 ml bottles of Drowning in Vanilla, you’re paying around 180 USD.
There is less of a crisp, clean blast of fresh green with the dupe, and more lemony citrus, of the sharper, screechier variety. I think the ginger is also stronger in the Dua version. I like less this opening. The top note blend with Ani is much more inviting, but after you let the bergamot have its neurotic fit, all is well. And bang – then I get the cookies. In the dry down with Ani, I get a lot of lovely woody notes. With Drowning in Vanilla, I’m left drowning in vanilla with no floating wooden planks to save me. At times I feel the citrus and vanilla are at odds with each other in the Dua version. To be clear, Dua’s version is indeed a highly inspired dupe, but not an exact clone. Around 80% similar, perhaps? I think Ani is the smoother, better composition, and that should not be surprising, I suppose.
I wore most of the remains of the Dua dupe to work recently, and I tell you, people wanted to be near me, and it wasn’t due to my charming personality. Overall, I think I like the original better. However, this is indeed half the price, and actually, I think it lasts longer. If you love Ani and budget is important to you, there is absolutely no contest and no shame in my opinion, in going with the less expensive one. To be very honest, most people probably aren’t going to be able to tell the difference. Well maybe, but they’ll love both! I’d buy Dua again!