Le Labo Vanille 44

le labo vanille 44 - vanilla perfumeThe newest in a line of city exclusives is Le Labo Vanille 44, created by perfumer Alberto Morillas,  has taken up residence at Colette in Paris.  My very favorite of the city exclusives up to this point, Aldehyde 44, is at Barney’s in Dallas. And the NYC Tuberose 44 is at Le Labo and Barney’s in NYC, I believe.

 Notes of bergamot, incense, gaiac wood, mandarin, vanilla, muscenone, pipol and hedione compose Le Labo Vanille 44.  I’ve lived with this one for a couple of days, and my nose is finally at work again, or enough so I can trust what it is smelling. This goes on woody with underlying amber and incense.  Not deep, dark churchy incense, but a softer, more woody incense, and it is shot through with vanilla.  Absolutely not sweet, just soft and snuggly, slightly buttery?  The underlying musk, amber and incense stay with the scent as it develops, never overpowering any other notes, perfectly blended.   The description from le Labo seems to suggest that Le Labo Vanille 44 not a vanilla fragrance, but my nose thinks it most definitely is, but not in a

beat me over the head with a Watkins bottle until I bleed vanilla kind of way, no.

On me, Le Labo Vanille 44 has good lasting power, though it softens through the day into a beautiful whisper.  The vanilla is perfect, like the wispy smell of vanilla you get from a fresh-baked cookie. Comparing it to the recent Guerlain Spiriteuse Double Vanille, it doesn’t have the boozy notes, nor is it as smoky or dark, leaning more to the woodsy side.  SDV jumps up in your face with a fairly butch vanilla, while Vanille 44 meanders in and out of your consciousness throughout the day, but I find them both warm and enchanting. 

I’m not a big vanilla fan – standard disclaimer on this blog –  but both this and the Guerlain SDV have suited me perfectly, and I find them with different vanilla approaches, but both staying out of the put on 15 pounds just sniffing zone.  Vanille 44 is a great fit in the existing Le Labo line and stays true to the type of scents they have done so far, though it or nothing will replace Patchoul 24 as my all-time favorite Le Labo scent. ever… bar none, no exceptions.

I’m not even going to comment on the price tag of about $500 U.S. for 100 ml, nor about the exclusivity of it.  It is what it is, kids.

You can get a Le Labo Vanille 44 sample at Surrender to chance, as well as a decant.

  • Robin says:

    I really, really, really like this one. Not sure if it is love yet, but it might be. Wouldn’t pay $500 for it, but gosh. It is too bad they can’t do a version of this for their regular line at a better price, because it also seems to me like of all their line, this one might have the most widespread appeal? But it doesn’t smell “luxury” to me, if that makes any sense, and can’t see many people spending that kind of money on it.

    • Patty says:

      I’m over in the qualified love category. Qualified only because of the high cost.

      No, I don’t think luxury. partly because I think opulent when I think luxury, and this is really cuddly and warm. I would presume the quality of the ingredients are definitely excellent.

      But, yes, this one would have been a huge winner of the line as far as a breakout, widespread appeal, but now it is holed up in Colette, which I agree with carmencanada, is a horrible place to shop.

  • carmencanada says:

    Well, I scooted off dutifully to Colette in Paris to try this — the only point of sale for Le Labo. Loathe the place. Booming music and what with the ambient store fragrance, it’s impossible to smell anything properly. Plus the Le Labo counter is stuck in a hard to access corner… OK, so: the scent. Nice (even for a non-vanilla person like me). Very toned down compared to the Guerlain and Indult Tihota. Almost masculine in the drydown — wonder what’s that note my nose reads as “masculine”? I wasn’t overly excited, and for that price, I can practically get three Chanel rue Cambon extraits so on the balance, definitely a pass. Plus I still can’t get the concept of blending the essence and alcohol on the spot. From all the technical stuff I read, the mixture has to rest at least a month to balance itself out properly. So, no, my hard-earned euros are not going towards Le Labo.

    • Patty says:

      Masculing? Well, I definitely thing either men or women could wear it. I’d love to smell it on a guy. Where is that husband.

      I think the price is a killer on it. Most people could justify spending the normal Le Labo price tag for it, I think it’s absolutely one of the best of their line, but the city exclusive price is pretty hard to take.

      I do wonder how they manage the maturation problem. I’ve never noted their scents changing, once they’ve been bottled. Maybe it’s just the perfume is done and maturated, then they mix in the perfumer’s alcohol or something? Never seen them do it.

  • violetnoir says:

    Ooh, goody, goody, goody! :d I can’t wait to receive my decant, because it looks like I will love this one!

    Iris 39 is my all-time Le Labo fave, but then again…I need to test the patchouli one.

    Hugs! So happy that your sniffer is back in working order, Patty.

  • Catherine says:

    Now that I’ve tried SDV, I think I’ll ignore all these vanilla scents unless one falls in my lap. SDV smelled like Bath and Body Works on me–the worst kind of B&BW. So, I will whistle and quickly stroll away now…:”>

  • Billy D says:

    I’m joining in the crowd by saying I loved your last paragraph–it really says it all.

    Thankfully, I can cross Aldehyde 44 off my list, as I just cannot imagine ever wearing it personally. That being said, I would like to get a small sample to see how they make aldehydes modern.

    I am forever lemming the Tuberose 40 though–it sounds like everything I want in a fragrance. 30% oil concentration! So decadent! And on citrus oils–I just have this fantasy of Eau d’orange verte lasting all day with some delicate florals thrown in and I’m lost.

    The vanille sounds lovely, although I do wonder people’s thoughts on how it fits into a Paris theme. I think of something a little dirtier, more rose-y, than vanilla. But I’m not Parisian–alas.

    The London scent is supposedly in the works–I wonder what note would be appropriate to highlight? I’ll leave that up to Lee’s impeccable nose. Cinnamon? Oak? Lavender?

    • Catherine says:

      I am in eternal agony because Tuberose 40 is exactly what you’re describing! It is gorgeous. If I ever hit New York, I’m bringing back a big bottle! Lie, cheat, and steal to get a sample (and, by the way, my head hasn’t been turned by Le Labo, in general–just that one!).

    • Patty says:

      I could have sworn I had some Tuberose around here, but I can’t lay my hands on it. I should smell it. It’s embarrassing how often this happens to me. I didn’t htink it was all that the first time through, but, with all things, when you smell it, what else you’ve been smelling, etc., impacts that. Now I need to try again!

      I think the Aldehyde is just stunning, and I’m so happy to wear it. It’s what Gina commented on the other day, it’s like being able to take a step back from your own sadness and grief and not feel it, but to luxuriate in what it is to feel that kind of powerful emotion. I find it just bubbling over with life, but life that has not always been happy, but well lived.

  • Kim says:

    I agree with March – where is my Burning Leaves?!? Really, at that price, I will stick with Lutens Un Bois Vanille – layers wonderfully with Fumerie Turque (more smoke), Douce Ameres, Chene or Cedre (more wood).

    Will have to try the Guerlain Angelique Noire again. I didn’t think about it as a vanilla perfume – I was too busy trying to find the Angelique!

    • Patty says:

      Yeah, the Angelique in AN is a little thin on the ground, and I’ve always thought of it as more of a vanilla scent.

      Burning Leaves is truly amazing. Maybe some BL Over Shalimar? Hmmm…

  • Helen T says:


    It was going so well, I loved the sound of it, it sounds like it matches up to my new love of SDV (which I’m wearing today precisely because I needed something snuggly, cuddly and velvet), and then got to the price tag. 😮

    Even with the dollar/pound conversion, that’s still way out my league!

    Going back to eking out my SDV…and promising not to even try this when in Paris!

  • Marina says:

    Pfui! is all I will say. Not about your lovely review, mind you. About the exclusive concept and price. I refuse to make any sort of effort to try this, not even if they beat me over the head with a Watkins bottle. :d

    • Patty says:

      Hee hee! I don’t blame you! It’s obscene, I agree. If I hadn’t been asked in comments to review it, I just don’t think could have done it. Loving something at that price tag just isn’t right.

      And I guess that bothers me most. It deserves a lot of love, but the price point does impact how I feel about it. At $500, you want something that just blows you away and out of the water. This scent is too subtle for that. I’d put aldehyde 44 in that category before this, even though I love both.

      anyway, it does cause some reviewing problems. 🙂

  • March the Astounded says:

    500 bucks?!?!?!

    Dabbing on the Watkins is beginning to sound more appealing. I could always layer it with Burning Leaves…

    • Patty says:

      Yeah. Blame it on the exchange rate! I actually think this one woud suit your tastes a lot.

      Dare you to do the Watkins with Burning Leaves. Report back.

  • donanicola says:

    Bless your perfume morals, Patty! $500 had me shaking my head in disbelief. Are all the Le Labo city exclusives at that price point? I’ve never taken any notice of those before but I did with this one as it’s a hop skip and a Eurostar away but hell, I could buy 3 and half SDVs for that. And I fervently hope that Lee isn’t onto something when he mentions a possible London exclusive and *aquatic* in the same sentence. Though he’s got a point and it would *save* me money. Love Le Labo Patch and developing a huige lemming for Le Labdanum afetr a shaky start and the Iris and Vetiver are creeping up on me….

    • Patty says:

      I know the Dallas and NYC are over $400, I believe. The Paris one is set at 350 euros, I think? With the exchange rate, it takes it to the 500 range. So maybe it’s about the same’ish.

      I’ve really liked/loved most of the Le Labos. The rose and vetiver have a note that just goes wonky on me, so I get complete alcohol and nothing else. The rest of them are really beautifully made, easy to wear, and I find myself reaching for them a lot for personal wear.

  • Malena says:

    i´m glad to hear you feel better!
    *oh* so you already tested the vanilla – i don´t envy you in the least :d (me?! never! LOL).
    the price is steeeep & i don´t see the reason for it…i mean, it´s “only” vanilla not gold 8-|
    but even the price still doesn´t keep me from wanting to test it. non-sweet vanilla is always very welcome, i don´t like the gourmand vanilla stuff at all. (makes me too hungry :”> ) i´m a big fan of guerlain vanillas in general, not only SDV, but also angélique noire which is a wonderful, sweet but not too sweet vanilla on me.
    my favourite le labo frag is patchouli 24, too, along with rose 31 .

    • Patty says:

      I think you will love this, it seems to line up with your tastes. Agree with all of what you said on vanilla. If it starts smelling like a CSP vanilla, i’m out. The only exceptions to that is that Indult Tihota thing, which i like despite my own tastes and there’s another vanilla… crap, can’t think what it is. But those are the exceptions.

  • Lee says:

    Like Dive, I’m all for warm incense and no longer any good with the cold (see tomorrow for evidence). Now, this sounds interesting, but not interesting enough for the big buckaroos.

    Interestingly, the London Le Labo lasses led me to believe that Liberty would have its own exclusive too. I wonder if that was speculation… Given the current weather an aquatic accord, unfortunately.

    • Patty says:

      I could actually see you loving this one, Lee, but pretty sure not with the same degree of affection you have showered on that Amouage incense thing. 🙂

      aquatic? Lord, no. But at lest if they do a London exclusive, I have someone to get it for me. 🙂

  • trinity says:

    Hiya Patty!
    I’m glad to hear you are feeling better! 😡 Having a stuffed head and runny nose is pure torture for us perfume fanatics, huh?

    Your description of the Le Labo makes me even more glad I took advantage of the extremely generous offer that TPC had on this scent. It sounds right up my alley. Hopefully I’ll have it by the end of the week. Vanilla and woody incense, what more could a girl want, LOL! BTW, how’s the staying power?

    • Patty says:

      Thanks! I still sound goofy, but no more fever, nose isn’t gushing like it struck snotty gold. 🙂 Too much info? Yeah, sorry!

      I think someone would really have to work to hate this scent, it’s pretty easy to like. What happens then is going to depend on people’s skin. I can see it disappearing on some people, even if they love it. I can see some people finding it just not interesting or quirky enough.

      But it is beautifully composed, so I have zero complaints on Morillas’ work.

  • Divalano says:

    Patty, you’ve just helped me understand more about what I do & don’t like in incense notes. Deep, dark churchy goes sour & dank on me, while soft, woody incense notes entwined with warmer things often work. Ta da! Which means I could perhaps warm some of my darker incense samples up by layering with … hmmm.

    I’ve never found a Le Labo I’ve gotten along with. This one sounds like it could be me, as the SDV sounds like the only Guerlain I’d like (& both despite the threat of bergamot). I’ll never ever in life spend $500 on a scent, there’s just no way. Even if I had the money I’d still spend it on shoes or flying first class instead of coach. I’m just so over it that anytime I see a price over $200something it goes into the “I’d buy into a split. Maybe.” category. Above that & I get an internal disconnect & lose interest beyond the academic (ie would love to sniff it but aside from that, it ceases to exist). I’m still happy to see the review 🙂

    • Patty says:

      Ah! If you don’t like any Le labos so far, I doubt this one will work. It’s got a similar base’ish feel to it.

      But that’s interesting about warming up the incenses. The amber is definitely in this one, and I suspect that warms up incenses quite a lot, along with the musc they are using. So maybe some amber/musk combo?

  • gknight says:

    Happy to hear you are feeling better Patty….I happen to love vanilla fragrances that aren’t syrupy sweet and this sounds like it is a well balanced fragrance but for the price tag I will begin to look for some samples from somewhere and live happily ever after…BTW great review

  • sariah says:

    You know you’ve reached complete saturations of high price and exclusivity when it doesn’t even rate a rant any more. /:)

    • Patty says:

      Exactly! I paid more than that for less on a perfume limited to only 50 people in the world that can have it. Clearly my limits on goofy spending are FUBAR’ed. :-w

  • Dain says:

    Vanilla is interesting. In small doses, it softens a jagged composition, but I’m not so sure of it on its own. Though it strikes me as a difficult note to represent accurately, it is very much a crowd pleaser, the starch of the perfume world. It makes me think of M.F.K. Fisher’s essay on potatoes, in which she argues that it ought to be appreciated as the perfect complement, rather than abused as a soggy but ubiquitous necessity: “If, French fried, they make a grilled sirloin taste richer; if, mashed and whipped with fresh cream and salty butter, they bridge the deadly gap between a ragout and a salad; if, baked and pinched open and bulging with mealy snowiness, they offset the fat spiced flavour of sausages–then and then alone should they be served. Then they are dignified. Then they are worthy of a high place, not debased to the deadly rank of daily acceptance. Then they are a gastronomic pleasure, not merely ‘tubers used for food'”

    Your post reminded me of that.

    • Patty says:

      Hey, Dain.

      I think Morillas has done really well at making this a vanilla scent without it being a vanilla scent. It is shot through with vanilla, but the other notes stop it from being… well, a vanilla scent.

      That makes no sense, but it’s as close as I can come to the feeling I get from it.

  • Anne says:

    Almost , just almost, had coffee come out of my nose with that Hai Karate comment. Too early for such genius!

    Of course that price is ridiculous but it won’t keep me from at least trying it. SDV just wasn’t all that on me. Stayed so nebulous to my nose and it seemed to never connect with my skin. Hope that makes sense, I don’t know how else to explain it.

    Glad you’ve returned to the land of the smelling!

    • Patty says:

      It’s definitely worth a try. Again, I could have waxed poetic about it, but at the price it is going for, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. 🙂

  • Judith says:

    Ok, so if I find SdV too sweet, chances are I won’t go for this, right?? I will stick with Vanille Tonka (which is mostly frankincense on me) and, of course, Le Labo Patch.

    • Patty says:

      Oh, this is far less sweet than SDV. SDV has all the boozy notes in it that have a sweetness from another angle. This one doesn’t have any of that.

      I’m trying to triangulate on whether you will like it or not. It’s velvety smooth. I think you would like it, it’s just not clear if that would be love, and I think you have to get to love to want to plunk down that much for a bottle, though I think it’s very worthy of a portion from a bottle split.

  • Elle says:

    In an odd sort of way, it makes me quite happy to reach the end of a review of a scent which I’ve decided doesn’t sound at all like something I will need and discover it costs $500. It’s the sense of having dodged a bullet. When DH wakes up I’ll have to tell him how much money I’ve already saved this morning due to blog reading. 🙂

  • Louise says:

    So glad you and your sniffer are better, Patty.

    I’ll have to give the 44 a whirl, but have low expectations. The SDV is straight up vanilla (no smoke, no nuance)on my hide, and I’ve pretty much gone back to my cheapy Vanille Noire du Mexique for a sweet ride, and Vanille Tonka for incense plus vanilla.

    • Patty says:

      With your perfume-eating skin, I’m not optimistic about this one on you. Even if you love it, it’s much more ephemeral and wispy. I don’t mean light, and it has great staying power on me.

      I could be wrong, of course! 🙂

  • MattS says:

    I suppose this exclusivity business makes us simply want it more and maybe it helps promote tourism for the individual cities, but wouldn’t it be a much bolder statement for Le Labo to create scents exclusive to Peoria or Little Rock or Bedford Falls or wherever? I’ve not sniffed a lot of their stuff, but from reading their website, they seem a tad uppity, a little “too cool for school.” Sour grapes, I’m sure; I’d love to get my hands on several of their scents. Maybe I’m just being snarky because I have to go into work on my day off. Grumble, grumble, grumble…

    • Patty says:

      Hey, feel free to snark. 🙂 I’ve actually found the Le Labo folks to be very nice and pretense free whenever I’ve dealt with them. The city exclusive thing is a new concept, and I can’t blame any company for trying to create buzz about their company and to differentiate some or all of their products. Given the great love I have for a few of their scents, and Vanille 44 is definitely one of them, I’m more forgiving, I guess.

  • tmp00 says:


    Do I need this?

    $500 for 100 ML. I read this while I am watching “Death Wish”. I want to get those Le Labo boys with a super-soaker filled with Hai Karate, just because… :((

    • Patty says:

      I don’t know. I’ve been contemplating who I know that would like or not like this. It’s so well done, I think anyone would be hard pressed to hate it, even if it has no personal appeal to them. It’s completely warm and snuggly, and I’m thinking you appreciate those?

      I also have to say that my review is tempered by the price tag. I just *can’t* rave on and on about something that costs $500, just can’t. If this were in the $200 range, I probably would have just blown the roof of with glowy “Stardust” love, but it’s irresponsible to do that at this price point. 🙂

      See? I have fragrance morals. 8-|