Vanilla extract was the very first “perfume” I ever wore. I was 12 years old, and my wannabe Wiccan friends at summer camp assured me that vanilla was a love potion that could not fail to attract the menz. In conjunction with my hilariously awkward ear-length hair and enormous glasses, it was a lethal combination. The menz never stood a chance.
Despite my lack of success with vanilla’s aphrodisiac properties, I am still very fond of vanilla as a note in perfumes. Today I’ll be reviewing two vanilla fragrances by L’Artisan Parfumeurs: the discontinued Vanilia and Vanille Absolument. I was able to try both of them thanks to the generosity of a wonderful reader, matildaben.
Vanilia is one of the very few fragrances that received a five-star rating in Perfumes: The Guide. Author Luca Turin describes Vanilia as belonging to the category of “Great Vulgar”. How could I resist? We’re all about the vulgarity here at Scents of Self, and I have the Snooki bobble-head to prove it. Ultimately, however, I was disappointed by Vanilia.
Instead of the delightfully vulgar fragrance I was expecting, I found: plastic. This sugary vanilla perfume is marred by a prominent plastic note. Vanilia is not the “hilarious, unfettered, boisterous beauty” promised by The Guide; it is sweet plastic, strange and unpleasant. Now, let’s be clear: reformulations are so common in perfumery that it is entirely possible that Vanilia was once a great fragrance. But as for the version that I am smelling now, I have to say that I think L’Artisan did the right thing by discontinuing it.
Vanille Absolument (originally named “Havana Vanille”, which was a much better name for it) is a far more pleasant experience. This one smells like Mexican hot chocolate: cocoa powder, vanilla extract, cinnamon. Vanille Absolument is a delectable gourmand that never becomes too sweet. It is dark and rich, but maintains a lighthearted mood. This is the perfect perfume to warm and cheer a dreary winter day. I am pleased to point out that Vanille Absolument can be currently found for a very good sale price on the L’Artisan website: $60 for 50 ml.