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I squealed with elation when I opened my mail box the other day and saw my package from Le Labo!  Like the Tasmanian devil, I maniacally ravaged the envelope to shreds just to get at the precious juice.  What’s the big deal, you ask?

This isn’t your average general catalog Le Labo fragrance. (Even though your average Le Labo fragrance will have people lining out the door and around the block.)  It’s a City Exclusive which means for a very short time, Vanille 44 is only available for purchase at Colette in Paris for $500!  In other words, very, very, very few of us will ever own a bottle of this.

And I, my friends, am the proud owner of two 1.5ml samples.  The first Le Labo in my collection, and it’s the legendary Vanille 44! *does the happy dance*

Now that I’ve got my hissy fit out-of-the-way, time to test what all the hoopla is about…

Description: We all know that Paris is the city of love (and hence sex). But Paris is also about to become the city of Vanille 44 ! We also know by now that our Rose 31 does not smell of only rose, that our Iris 39 does not smell of just iris, …, and that the number is as important (if not more) than the name of ingredient to the left of it (I am not a number !). Well our Vanille 44 does not smell of just …. Vanilla. At least it doesn’t smell of vanilla straight away. We could 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 and only in colette’s Paris. 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. Now, tell me, who is normal these days? Regardless, our sincerest gratitude to Mr. Morilla’s for this newborn, and remember, Paris is always only a memory away… (Ok, that was super cheesy).

Notes: Natural bergamot, incense, mandarine, gaiac, vanille bourbon, muscenone, pipol, hedion

From the Vial: Oh my!  Not what I was expecting at all. It’s a bit dry to my nose, it smells of smokey, peppery, wood with just a subtle hint of vanilla.  Yum!

On Wet Skin:  The alcohol evaporates and the smokey, peppery wood scent is sharper with a hint of bergamot.  I don’t smell the vanilla.  Vanille 44 has a very translucent and delicate quality.  It doesn’t scream, “Here I am!”.  It’s very shy and demure.  If it weren’t for the wet patch on my skin, I would have to sniff around the area like a basset hound to find it.  It’s like a ghostly presence of a fragrance.

Dry Down:  As Vanille 44 dries, it’s as if someone cranked the volume of the smokey, peppery wood down to a whisper.  The vanilla makes itself known and is like the dusty undercurrent on which the peppery wood flows, a gossamer veil of sweetness.  It’s sweet but not too sweet,  just a miniscule grain of sugar on the tip of your tongue. The vanilla is neither resinous or syrupy, just the essence of vanilla pod. It finally dries down to a pleasant musky skin scent, like sweet baby skin! *deep sigh* I feel as if I’m bathed in a fragile halo of this sensual and warm scent.  Vanille 44 is so austere and delicate.  So beautiful and sexy!

Sillage: Minimal.  It stays very close to the skin.  You’d have to slather it on for people to notice.

Longevity:  About 5 hours.

Would I Buy a Full Bottle?  $500 is just pocket change and Paris is only a hop skip and a jump away. Not!  I’ll settle for a lifetime supply of samples and decants.

Pricepoint:  $$$$

Season and Occasion: At $500 dollars a bottle, I’d only wear this on special occasions.  It certainly isn’t an everyday scent.  If I had to do over my wedding, Vanille 44 would be perfect!

Final Verdict:  What can I say?  Le Labo’s Vanille 44 is one of those perfumes where you are left gobsmacked.  No words can do it justice.  Yes, it’s that good.  Not just good but godly exquisite, an icon to be worshipped.   It’s mysterious and atypically sexy! Sexiness like a nun in heat! Vanille 44 is comforting and warm in a sense that it’s like a light puff of sweet smoke caressing your skin.  Less is more when it comes to Vanille 44. A quiet statement that makes a big impact. This is where it’s true beauty lies. That’s all I have to say.  Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to order more samples.

For people who love delicate smokey vanilla scents (who live in Paris and have $500 to spare..lucky bastards!).

Le Labo’s Vanille 44: (Available at Lucky Scent for the month of November 2011 only)

Next Up: Prada’s Candy