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Thursday, March 06, 2008

Perfume Review: Le Labo Vanille 44

Review by Tom

Le Labo kind of annoys me. They annoy me by the whole "mixed fresh" bit and the printed expiration date- what does it become napalm after a year? They annoy me by having perfumes that for no fathomable reason except to thwart me, me, Norma Desmond are only available in cities I do not go to. I can have live Maine lobsters, mussels and clams FedExed to me, but Aldehyde 44 (which presumably wouldn't have any danger of botulism) remains firmly only at Barneys in Dallas. Grrrr. I'm not the only one- my friend Sue nearly came to blows with an employee who wouldn't let her have her purchase without a name to put on the bottle. They annoy me by not opening a G-D store in Los Angeles and coming up with something spectacular for us here.

What annoys me most is that the juice is usually really, really that good.

Vanille 44 is good.

There's a definite hint of mint in the opening, along with very subdued bergamot and mandarin as well as some of that fizzy happiness that opens their Aldehyde 44. It develops into a wonderful wood with just a hint of vanilla. The vanilla is there, a very becoming one at that. It's not as strong as the boozy bakery that is Spiritueuse Double Vanille, but it's there and it's lovely- peeping in and out in that weird SFX "what am I smelling that's so great.. oh it's me!" way that some scents pull off. I could easily become enamored of this one, except for the fact that it's sold only at Colette in Paris and costs a whopping $500 for 100MLs.

It's good, it's just not that good.. Like Patty, I will stick to Patchouli 24, my all-time (available and reasonable) favorite of the line.

Image source, colette.fr

41 Comments:

Anonymous faizanjax said...

This is a gimmicky line with a few decent fragrances. And yes, whats with that Starbucks like naming thing they do? WTF?

10:47 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

faizanjax-

I think that's a little harsh- they have some really nice stuff. They just arbitrarily decide to sell some of it only an alternate Tuesdays from a hot-dog cart in Jaipur, and force you to give your name for the bottle (which is suspiciously like Starbucks..). Which annoys me.

Although I would most likely give made up names. Like Barbarella, or Pansy von Hookenfooken. Maybe Rivke Bodgett.

11:01 PM EST  
Anonymous leopoldo said...

I gave a made-up name when I bought Patch24. Call me Tallulah if you want to, but just make sure you call me. Have I sniffed this? No. Do I want to? I suppose so, sometime. I'm one of those people for whom Guerlain's SDV was okay. I'm not having babies over it.

3:43 AM EST  
Blogger carmencanada said...

I did actually smell this and was a bit miffed that it was chose for the Paris scent. Apart from its presence it the Guerlinade, I don't know that vanilla has anything in particular that links it to Paris, and I don't find vanilla scents to be particularly interesting. I also think the mixing-on-the-spot thingie is a marketing gimmick: the oil+alcohol mixture needs at the very least one month to blend properly, which is done by companies before bottling. Some blends require even more time: it's not a one size fits all. Who wants to buy something you need to wait a month before wearing?
The S.A. at Colette in Paris, where Le Labo is sold, also says that lots of people mistakenly think they can get custom blends because of that principle... She also told me that some customers buy the Vanille by the vat: 500 ml bottles which they renew every three months! We speculated on what they might do with it, and decided they probably sprayed it all over the house/bed/etc...
As for the scent itself, I found it quite nice, but not enough to go through hoops for. The Patchouli remains the best of the line in my opinion as well. But then, like Lee, I love Menardo.

4:20 AM EST  
Blogger chayaruchama said...

LOVE those names !
[You must be a secret member of my family, my dear ! Fit for a Meister, any day...]

Ditto for Patch 24.
And Labdanum 18- subtle and glorious- like one's skin, only more so.

Quirky gobbledygook.

7:10 AM EST  
Blogger elle said...

The expiration date mystifies me. One year! Glances over at beloved vintage collection and wonders WTH they are thinking. And if they must do city exclusive scents, then I'd like to challenge them to do one for Raleigh. That would prove they have a sense of humor and I'll forgive a great deal for that. However, must say I've yet to really fall for one of the city exclusive scents. Vanille 44 definitely was not the one to win me over. It's just another one of those samples that makes me shrug my shoulders and think "next" - nice, but not remotely essential.

7:26 AM EST  
Anonymous Billy D said...

More than the naming thing, the expiration date annoys me. It's just an obnoxious planned obsolescence that seems to want to create the anxiety that you HAVE to use it all, and quick. So far, I've only done long skin tests with Bergamote and Tuberose--the latter was beautiful but way too femme, and the former I hated. Too bitter, not enough 'oomph.'

ALSO, it's really obnoxious that the Barney's in Boston carries the candles, but not the scents. Um, why? I just visited the one in NYC though and god a great sniff of the Rose, Vetiver, and Neroli. They were all fantastic.

7:42 AM EST  
Anonymous Silvia said...

With a couple of exceptions (e.g. Ambrette), I like/love the whole line (Patch, Vetiver and Rose being my fav). Vanille 44 is a strong like, I am getting quite a bit of incense which is good.
I was in their Nolita shop a month ago and behind the counter I saw a brown bottle saying "Vanille 44" (apparently they prepare the composition in NY and then send it to Paris). Anyway, they refused to let me smell it even if I asked VERY nicely.
Still, fab line and great packaging too.

7:57 AM EST  
Blogger oudemia said...

I have a smallish sample of this and rather like it, even if at less charitable moments I think it smells like half a glass of Dr Brown's Cream soda mixed with half a glass of Dr Brown's Cel-Ray soda.

10:50 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Lee- I am going to call you Tallulah.

Relentlessly!

11:10 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

carmen-

I have the same problem with the Dallas one. Now, I'm not from Dallas (and anyone who is feel free to chime in and correct me) but that scent doesn't read as "Dallas" to me. I think of Dallas as being a lot more lush and a lot less, well, read my review..

11:13 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Chaya-

I would be proud and honored even to be a honorary member of the tribe- but I think there's a line in front of me!

Labdanum was the one that changed maddeningly on me fron spritz to spritz; I guess what Carmen wrote might have been the case for that one. If I got the fabulous Oriental opening and the Musc Ravageur-esque drydown I'd be thrilled. If I got dainty? Not so much. At those prices I want stable product..

11:18 AM EST  
Blogger lilybp said...

Hey Pansy von H.,

I generally like this line (despite the folderol): I love their Patch (my fave--another AM fan here) Rose, Labdanum, and really like a number of the others, including Aldehyde. The vanilla doesn't move me though. It's nice, but. . . I guess I'm just not a vanilla girl (in any sense:). Just as well, in this case.
--Marlene

11:21 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

elle-

Right? I've had cheese older than that!

I'm selfish enough that I would like to see what they do with a Los Angeles scent, but if it's not great, it ain't gonna be pretty..

11:22 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

billy-

Barneys here does the same thing. I was told by someone (don't know whether it's accurate or not) that there isn't enough space for them to have their own mix-it area, or perhaps Barneys didn't want to commit that much space. Whatever...

11:27 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

silvia-

that kind of pi$$es me off- if they are making it up in NYC and shipping it for mixing then what's the point? That's like telling people in Atlanta they have to go to Venice to have a Diet Coke!

11:29 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

oudemia

half a glass of Dr Brown's Cream soda mixed with half a glass of Dr Brown's Cel-Ray soda

Hilarious! And not that you mention it, true!

11:34 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Marlene-

The Patch goes a long way towards mitigating. I have to try the Labdanum again..

11:44 AM EST  
Anonymous donanicola said...

The whole city exclusive thing is tedious and the choice of name/ingredient for the resulting juice is curious to say the least. Having said that I guiltily look forward to whatever they do for London. Liked this one after a few goes but not so much that it displaced SDV from my affections. Joining the Patch and Lab fanclubs and admitting a mild lemming for Neroli since it reminds me of 70's Ambre Solaire with a bit of orange blossom on top.

11:47 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

nicola-

I will be interested to see whatever they do next- I will likely complain about it though. I whine therefore I am...

11:59 AM EST  
Blogger Nancy said...

Colette didn't get the Top Secret Exclusivity memo from Le Labo World Headquarters. They will in fact ship this scent. You'll have to call or email Colette, though, as the Vanille 44 ordering information is not on their website.

12:29 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

nancy-

Really? Interesting news! Thanks!

I still don't know that I would go for it, especially with the exchange rate being so punishing right now

12:49 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I had a dollar for every time I'd used a fake name... but then next time I do, may I use Rivke Bodgett? I'm not sure I have the elan to make "Pansy von H." work for me. Then, when Le Labo releases their new Akron, Ohio (apologies to all Ohioans), scent, I'll have a name at the ready.
-Existentialist

12:51 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Existentialist-

I think that we should all use Rivke Blodgett!

1:21 PM EST  
Blogger Patty said...

did I ever mention how good Patch 24 and Vanille 44 are layered? Patch down the bosom and Vanilla sprayed on the clothes. My sister mentioned that combo, and I'm gobsmacked with how really great it is.

3:22 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

patty-

I'll have to give that a try!

3:26 PM EST  
Anonymous Flora said...

This line is worse than Serge Lutens - at least all of their unobtainable scents are all in one place. This is just a little too gimmicky for me, although it sounds good. Maybe someday they will get over themselves and start selling online.

4:21 PM EST  
Blogger marchlion said...

They work my last nerve too. :-) For pretty much the same reasons.

I like Pansy von Hookenfooken ("let me spell that for you...") you could stick in some random "silent" consonants too. Heh.

Wonder what the scent of LA is? I mean, could be anything. Aldehyde isn't what I'd pick for Dallas, y'know?

4:29 PM EST  
Anonymous Joan said...

Another very limited edition Collette Paris exclusive - only 213bottles...Indult C16 by Francis Kurkdjian due out this month. It is a recreation of Tonkin Musk.

Call me Moishe Kapoyer

5:09 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

flora-

At least Serge will ship within the EU so if you are fortunate enough to know someone in Europe you can importune.

But I am told that Colette will ship too,so I am only left bitch!ing about the price..

5:13 PM EST  
Blogger kamala said...

LOL pansy von hookenfooken!
if you want it to seem more french, you can add "ment" to the end - you wouldn't pronounce it, anyway. :-)

i have a sample of Rose 31, and every time i wear it, it smells completely different. it kind of pisses me off. first, i could hardly smell it at all, next i got a bright happy rose, then nothing but sheer woods.

5:15 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

March-

I thought Aldehydes would have been a perfect LA scent.

Otherwise I guess it would be something involving jasmine, car exhaust and botox.

They could call it "l'Eau de 'Bo"

5:16 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

"Call me Moishe Kapoyer"

If I was drinking my diet coke when I read that it would have ended up all over my keyboard!

5:17 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

kamala-

I feel you on that; but I am glad I am not the only one that it happened to..

5:18 PM EST  
Blogger TMH256 said...

I so appreciate your thoughts on this line, Tom! I was very irritated and bothered by their tiny storefront in SoHo, difficult to move around and impossible to speak with someone who could help me. But, I agree with you, their scents ARE good. Unfortunately I doubt I will ever get my hands on a sample of this one because they're just too exclusive.

8:34 PM EST  
Anonymous KevinS said...

Tom: this is so thin and artificial-smelling on my skin...I am in awe that someone would pay a high price for this scent. oh well! Robin/NST insists I should smell it sprayed to get its full effect..and I haven't done that yet. KevinS (PS: I'm thrilled that after 18 months of having all peripheral info on your blog appear in JAPANESE, today it's back to English. HA!)

9:08 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Tamara-

that's what the decanters are for..

Of course, Le Labo could be getting that money, but they won't

9:31 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

kevin-

I didn't dab this so I can't tell you if it's thin (ner) dabbed.

I'm pretty amazed about the price as well.

Japanese?

9:34 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Le Labo *HAS* opened here in LA on Third Street! IrisLA sent out a notice that they opened for business on Tuesday.

Hooray!

12:03 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

I found that out! I can't wait!

I also cannot wait to see what they do as their exclusive...

1:53 AM EST  
Blogger masc musc said...

I think it's that good, Gaiac 10 and Vanille 44 have become my two most rotated scents. Natural vanilla is so different, just a hint of sweetness, balaced by the mandarin, and incense, the Gaiac note is stunning. Yeah it's that good, refills are cheaper. I won't smell it on anyone else.

7:48 PM EDT  

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