Monday, November 24, 2008

Warm Fuzzies- Le Labo Vanille 44

I remember when the news first broke about the Le Labo Paris exclusive, Vanille 44, people were equally excited and disappointed. Some wondered what could be so special in a vanilla fragrance to justify the hype and the price (obviously they have yet to be introduced to Shalimar parfum), while others went into a vanilla coma based on the fantasy and the imaginary pleasure.

Then the first samples arrived and it became clear that once again, Le Labo aren't into accuracy in naming. While there's vanilla somewhere in the composition, this isn't about smelling like cupcakes (good), but those who hoped for a modern Shalimar offspring were disappointed. Still, the fragrance has created enough obsession, addiction and devotion. And of course irritation about the company's marketing methods.

I was ready to buy a bottle last summer when I was in Paris. But once I actually tried it on, I just couldn't see why I should. Granted, it was pleasant and wearable, but it didn't rock my world enough to justify the cost (it was during a week the US dollar was at its humblest point and the exchange rate was impossible. The price was somewhere north of $300).

I resisted when during the month of September you could get bottles at the Colette mini-store in NYC (it was a limited time thing), but I did go for a decant (The Perfumed Court has them), seeing as I liked it enough to want to have some on hand. I can't help it: Vanille 44 makes me happy in its weird little way.

It's not the vanilla, I can tell you that. What I'm getting is the rare creature of soft and warm incense, peppery on top, woody and fuzzy later on. It lacks any sharp edges or mysterious sexiness. Instead, there's a mellow, squishy musk and a mostly dry, smooth ambery base that works for me like a cashmere wrap.

It's called Vanille, but it's a grownup, unisex scent, more complex than meets the eye and nose at first. Had it been reasonably priced, I'd happily buy a bottle and indulge often. But at twice the price of a Lutens bell jar, I expect at least that level of greatness, which is just not there.

Le Labo Vanille 44 can only be purchased from Colette, Paris (their willingness to ship overseas is questionable). Samples and Decants can be purchased from The Perfumed Court. That's how I got mine.

Photo: Early morning in the Bois du Boulogne by Tara Bradford, Paris Parfait.

1 comment:

  1. I kind of felt the same way. I liked it about $125 much.


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