Vanille 44 Is the Best Le Labo Fragrance

vanille 44 review

Our Le Labo Vanille 44 review:

Le Labo City Edition fragrances don’t necessarily smell like their namesake cities: The citrusy Limette, the San Francisco fragrance, smells like Miami, while the Miami fragrance, Tabac 28, smells like the floor of a gym. I love the London fragrance, Poivre 23, but I’m not convinced that London smells like pepper.

What does Vanille 44 smell like?

All that said: Vanille 44 is the Paris fragrance, and Vanille 44 smells exactly like Paris.

Not literally: Paris literally smells best in October, when everything smells like woodsmoke (where is it coming from? does everyone else have a fireplace and a pot-belly stove and other things capable of producing smoke from wood??) and salt air and croissants, at least chez moi since I’m inhaling croissants all day long. I don’t know that is smells like vanilla — certainly not the vanilla of vanilla extract-centric birthday cakes, that sweeter, less complicated vanilla. This vanilla is a higher-end vanilla, something earthy and woodsy and warm, maybe as if it’s produced by heating up vanilla pods on top of all those pot-belly stoves. It’s perfect.

As a maker of high-priced products, Le Labo likes to get fancy with its prose, but I have to give their product description writers credit for sounding legitimately off the wall. Here’s how they describe it:

We also know by now that our Rose does not only smell of Rose, that our Iris does not just smell of Iris,… And that the number is as important (if not more) than the name of the ingredient to the left of it (I am not a number!). Well our Vanille 44 does not smell of just… vanilla. We would say that this theme is a subtle ambery, incensy, woody, sexy note that once acquainted with your premium pashmina sweater will release the finest of the vanilla bourbons that you’ve experienced. It’s vanilla disguised. Some will say that it is scandalous to release this theme in Paris only. Others will say that it is already too much and will try to ban it in the name of normality, where vanillas smell of vanilla. But, tell me, who is normal these days? Vanille 44 is only available in our Paris boutiques.

What is happening. It’s not even punctuated correctly! Commas do not precede ellipses! Who is the “I” of the second sentence! Why are Rose and Iris capitalized! And who is wearing a “pashmina sweater,” is a pashmina not an entirely separate woolen good?? I admire how completely off the rails this is. It’s impossible to write about fragrance, and TBH I’m sort of glad that they’ve barely even tried here. What does it smell like? It smells like a sweeter Feu de Bois, it smells like a rainy Sunday afternoon two weeks before Thanksgiving, and unlike Santal 33 it doesn’t smell like every other hotel lobby in Williamsburg.

Is Le Labo overpriced?

This perfume costs an absurd amount of money: $290 for 50ml. On the other hand, I bought one for myself — the day before getting fired, hahahahaha — seven years ago, and I still have a little left. (I don’t mind rationing expensive things.) I can live with a yearly budget of $40.15 for this perfume, because (as I mentioned above) it is perfect.

In sum, my Le Labo Vanille 44 review is: If you like a deep, woodsy, autumnal, vanilla-y-but-not-sweet perfume, it’s worth the $40.15 a year.

Le Labo Vanille 44 is only available for purchase at the Le Labo Paris boutiques, and probably on eBay or elsewhere people are doing their capitalist side hustles. In August and September, City Editions are available at any Le Labo shop or online, but only during those two months.

See our other Le Labo reviews, including the must-have City Editions (not all of them are great!)