Memory Lane Monday, sort of: Vanille Absolument (but you’ll always be Havana to me)

HavanaAh, you always remember your first perfume loves. And especially your first niche perfume loves. The year was 2009 and I had been happily sampling various scents from decanters for a year or two, but not quite yet with the intensity to come later that would continue through today. L’Artisan’s Havana Vanille was about to be launched and the blogs were all abuzz about it.

As soon as I could, I sampled
it and fell instantly into love. After blowing through a sample or three, I got what was probably one of the heftiest decants I’ve ever had in my perfume life (I had just been laid off so that’s why no FB). It was the It Perfume for quite some time, if I recall correctly. Then something else came along and became the Next Big Thing for perfumistas. I continued to wear and love Havana Vanille for a good while, but eventually, as things tend to do, it got relegated to the middle of the pack, and then eased into the back of the drawer where, alas, it languished.

But lately, hearing of its demise (why, oh why?), I pulled Havana Vanille back out. After a day or two of spring-ish temps, a spell of wet chill is heading back in and this sounded like just the thing for a spot of dry and cozy. Mmmm … I had forgotten how lovely it is. A not-too-sweet vanilla, spices, and hints of tobacco and rum work their magic in a subtle, creamy blend — nothing there to hit you over the head, and nicely smooth from start to finish. And oh, my, that drydown. Also, it seemed to last for an extremely long time from one spray, I noticed this time around.

It occurred to me that Havana Vanille / Vanille Absolument would be divine on my DH, who doesn’t like overpowering scents that look like he’s trying too hard to smell good. Father’s Day is coming down the pike, so we’ll see. I think there are still bottles around to be had, although this is no longer on the L’Artisan site, Barney’s or Luckyscent.

I realize that five or so years may not seem long enough to classify it as a Memory Lane item, but as it’s been discontinued, it will qualify soon enough, I’m afraid.

BTW, what is up with L’Artisan? They take away our beloved Tea for Two and now this. And I’m sure there are others; they just haven’t really registered on my radar. I know that you can’t keep everything in your lineup forever, but sheesh … must you relegate two solid favorites to the dustbin? None of the most recent releases have piqued my interest enough to even get a sample. Oh, well, guess that’s part of the mystique of “marketing,” but I will never understand.

Anyway, what about you — any scents that were all the rage for you for a while but seem to have gotten overlooked as time goes by? Just for fun, pull ‘em out and see if the love is still there or if you’ve grown out of them for good.

  • I think mine is Bulgari Omnia. I think it was my first FB after falling down the rabbit hole a couple years ago, and I rarely wear it now. I’ll probably keep it a while longer, though. I do break it out every once in a while. The stuff I have set aside for upcoming swaps is stuff that I basically liked but really a 10ml decant would have sufficed.

    If what Sherri said above about Seville a L’Aube being discontinued is true, I am disappointed. I wasn’t a super huge super fan but I liked it, and everyone seemed to be raving about it, so I’m surprised to see it go. I haven’t tried any of the new ones, but I haven’t felt particularly compelled either.

    • Ann says:

      Hi, Jennifer! I remember liking that Bulgari and the cool bottle that it came in. I agree, so many scents would work just fine in a decent-size decant. And you’re right about the Seville — that would be a shame. It made such a splash and was so well-received that to discontinue it makes no sense. I still have my decant of it that will last me, but still.
      BTW, are you still rocking your cool hair colors?

  • poodle says:

    I’m crying in my bottle of Tea for Two as well. I love it but I hide it in back so I can keep it around longer.
    I loved the sample I had of Prada Candy but when I finally got a bottle it just didn’t thrill me anymore. It’s in the box of things I’ll probably swap. I was in love with Flower by Kenzo for a while and then one day I just stopping bothering with it. I’m sure there are others.

    • Ann says:

      Hey there, Poodle! We can sob together over Tea for Two, dear. And I’m guarding my decant from a sweet friend with my life. I’m not sure why we fall in and out of love with scents like we do, but I think that’s why I have a hard time committing to a FB of anything. I love, love, love something but never can seem to pull the trigger (even with my much-loved Le Labo Vanille 44).

  • Tiara says:

    Note Vanille (Micallef) was like this for me. Adored it from the moment I put it on. Split a bottle with Daisy and happily sprayed away for many months. But then something else came along NV was pushed to the back of the drawer. And soon to “the box” where those out of favor find themselves. I seem to bore easily with perfume and can’t wait to fall in love with something else. (Luckily I am not that way with men–have been married 37+ years to the same guy!) As much as I’m in love right now with both Bombay Bling and Shanghai Lily, I’m wondering where they’ll be in 5 years–drawer, box or elsewhere.

    • Ann says:

      Oh, Tiara, isn’t that always the way? I had forgotten about that lovely Micallef! I had a decant of it, nearly used it up, and then life happened and I never got a FB and then it was too late. I hear you on being fickle about perfume; I think we all feel that way sometimes. But thankfully you and your DH are still going strong — congratulations!

  • eldarwen22 says:

    My bank account is groaning because I have a backup bottle of this sitting in my Amazon shopping bag. I’ve never seemed to get along with most of the L’Artisan line because most are EDT, which never seem to last on my skin, or they smell funny to me after about 10-15 minutes. But Havana Vanille was the first of the line that I’ve loved and the first vanilla that I’ve truly loved. I know that my sister is mourning the loss of Armani’s Sensi and the prices on e-bay are just scary.

    • Ann says:

      Hi, eldarwen! I’m bummed for you that you finally found a vanilla to love and then they go and discontinue it. Are any of the HV bottles on sale anywhere since it’s on its way out? That would make you and your wallet happy. Good luck!

  • Musette says:

    OMGosh, Ann….I’m blushing as I type this because I have too many of those. The one that bugs me most right now is Cartier’s Fougueuse…..I’m hoping it’s just a phase (there’s a note in there that is making me queasy)..I have two (TWO) bottles of it (well, that’s not precisely accurate: I have 2 half-bottles) and right now I can’t even contemplate wearing it. The other one that has been getting short shrift lately is……(wait for it)….MITSOUKO! Yesh! Can you believe it? I think I just got out of the habit because last week I spritzed a vintage edt over some orange body cream and oh, YESSSS!


    • Ann says:

      Oh, sweetie, no need to blush — we’re all in that same boat to some extent. Sorry to hear about the Fougueuse; I know you loved it so at one point. Just give it some more time, perhaps the love will return. And as for Mitsy, well, dear: Shhhh … don’t let her hear what you just told us and maybe you’ll slide by unscathed 😉

  • Sherri says:

    L’artisan is getting rid of this one, too?? I was already shocked to hear they’d discontinued Traversee du Bosphore and Seville de L’aube! Those are three of their better fragrances imho, all highly esteemed by perfumistas! Are they not selling well for L’artisan, or is this some sort of marketing ploy where they are “reintroduced” at three times the price? I liked the three new L’artisans (Skin to Skin, Delirium, etc.) but they’re so expensive now!

    Great reminder to check what treasures we might already have! Oh, what back-up bottles I’d have bought through the years! 🙂

    • Ann says:

      Yikes, Sherri! Didn’t know about those two (didn’t Seville just come out in the last two years or so?). Man, what is going on over there — the news just keeps getting worse and worse from that house. If they’re not careful, they may find their customer base thinning considerably. I, too, am concerned about those pricey marketing strategies.

    • malsnano86 says:

      I thought Seville (which is WONDERFUL, and I don’t like orange blossom much) was always meant to be a LE anyway?

      • Ann says:

        Hi, Mals! You know, I think you’re right about the LE. I’m wondering that it was so popular that everyone might have assumed that it was going to go into the regular lineup.

  • Portia says:

    Great post Ann, so many of these that I had to have a sale recently. While I was going through the To Go List I spritzed every one to make sure. If there was something in the lineup of keepers that smelled as good or better with a similar note list then it was OUT!!
    I still need to get rid of some.
    Portia x

    • Ann says:

      Howdy, Portia! Good for you — cleaning out is never easy but sounds like you handled it well. If it’s not true love, it’s got to go, right?

  • einsof says:

    Most of my formative years in the discovery of scent and scentualities are long gone… they disappeared in the late 80’s to late 90’s in one collection: The Aveda Esthetique Collections. My first natural perfume (“Purefume”) being Parisi- although one could argue ‘LOVE’ oil in its dual role of skin care and aromatic would have been my first. But since a bottle of that has not seen my skin since 1994, i shan’t bother with it. For many years my signature scent was Equipoise (Chakra III); a lemony, fresh laundered jasmine which made my not-so-nose-able friends to ask me if i was dusting with Pledge again. i even found the joke endearing as at least they were responding to description of “…a balance between or among opposing forces.” my friend always found a way to rib and delight in my aromatic occupations. and i was the more saintly among them… adept at cleaning any emotional messes which would occur. we were finding ourselves and our balances in turbulent young adult timing.

    but through it’s reformulations we lost our original connection– the lemon-esque giving way to a more tamed soft citrus to spotlight the jasmine and the loss of the endangered Mysore sandalwood base. i’m quite sure they turned to individual essential oils instead of keeping the motia attar.

    at any rate, when i pull out a super secret stash of it… i can only feel the thrill and anxiety of a young man rushing to fulfill his dreams… which is sweet but it has no depth of actual life experience. it is, however, the ‘gateway aroma’ which would lead me lovingly into many many more aromas and deeper layers, bolder combinations and an earnest interest in, if not mastering, being a solid and faithful friend of natural perfumery.

    and i find it charming my Pledge Friends sometimes ask if i still smell like lemons in the rain.

    • jilliecat says:

      Oh Einsof, I remember Equipoise – one of my Aveda favourites too! I always felt enigmatic when wearing it as nobody recognised it in the cloud of mainstream fragrances scenting the air. I liked another Aveda as well, Gaia (not one of the Chakras); this was a beautiful rose.

    • Ann says:

      Oh, yes! I recall several of those Avedas that were wonderful. Such a shame they don’t still make them.

    • Ann says:

      It looks like Aveda, although not what you’d think of as a fragrance house, was an early niche perfume pioneer!