Perfume Pen Pals: L'Artisan Parfumeur Havana Vanille


Today I wore a sample of L'Artisan Parfumeur Havana Vanille, which, for all the talk of tobacco and leather and hay, smells an awful lot like their Vanilia. Like Vanilia times ten. Like vanilla cake batter with way too much vanilla extract. Like vanilla cake batter with way too much vanilla extract dumped over your head by your stupid frat-bro friends.

Aside from reminding you it might be time to get new friends, it's without merit and I've no idea what's behind all the online praise. But then I've no idea what's behind all the online praise for Guerlain Spiritueuse Double Vanille either, which I recall smelling similarly unsubtle and objectionable.



I've been very curious about Havana Vanille, and haven't had a chance to lasso a sample yet. And your "cake batter" report has certainly put a pin in my balloon.

The thing I like about L’AP Vanilia is that it hardly smells vanillic, just kind of warm and sweet and ashy. Not edible. Which is good. I think wearing a perfume that's too realistically foodie makes you smell like you're a slob who spills all their food down their clothes. Which I am, which is why I don't want to emphasize that with my perfume!



That's the first time I've heard that one: you've an aversion to foodie perfumes because you're already self-consciously foodie.

"Cake batter" is probably too literal a description. It's not "cake batter" in the headache-y Yankee Candle way, but more in the vanilla-extract way. It smells like something vaguely vanilla that's been over-fortified by more vanilla. And alcohol.

Mostly, I can't quite identify all of the complexities that are seemingly so evident to others. To me, it's heavy and simple and boozy, like I remember Spiritueuse Double Vanille being. But I'm in the minority, so don't let me kill your enthusiasm.

I did read on one of the blogs that L'Artisan is discontinuing Vanilia, presumably because of Havana Vanille. Does that make sense? Smell Havana Vanille and tell me that makes sense. Because it doesn't make sense to me.


Fumeheads, please help us make sense of every vanilla-smelling thing in the world.


  1. I had a fling with vanilla some years ago. During those days, I would have bathed in HV and SDV if they had been around. I was always on a quest for the perfect vanilla. Little did I know that I was engaging in progressive soli-note vanilla aversion therapy because...

    Suddenly, it was over. Dramatically so. When SDV was released, I sniffed it and I could barely tolerate it. HV doesn't make me recoil, but I don't want to wear it.

    Yet, vanilla in the base of a fragrance, perfectly blended, still makes me inhale deeply. Cuir Beluga? I could use more leather, and I layer other, rougher scents over it, but the siren song is there.

  2. I have never been able to get into a vanilla fragrance. I think, like Katie, it is too food-like. I like a steak and baked potato but I don' want to smell like it. And fish, well, you know. And like Dan, vanilla scents reminds me of a Yankee candle. Once upon a time, I worked with a woman who fired up her vanilla candle every afternoon. I couldn't understand how she got away with burning a candle at work (ok, maybe it was one of the 'melts') but the smell was so overpowering even though she was 3 doors down the hall. I just wanted a big vanilla cupcake with a big pile of vanilla frosting on it every afternoon, and that wasn't happening. Ok, now it sounds like I had vanilla envy. No, I am sure the scent was just too heavy and sweet.

  3. I like Vanillia a lot, but Havana Vanille is something else entirely, far too boozy. I think vanilla extract is just right, especially if you mean synthetic vanilla extract.

    Get rid of Vanillia for this is crazy.

  4. The first 10 minutes of Havana Vanille are very vanilla extract - and that was my only impression too at first. But I keep going back because of what I smell like later: the light hay-tobacco and vanilla.

  5. Another vote against Havana Vanille. And SDV. They smelled like vanilla extract to me, too. But I did give both of those samples to my partner and they smelled great on her--more like vanilla tobacco than cupcake frosting. I have no idea what that means in the scheme of things, but there you have it.

  6. Havana Vanille does seem to have a split personality -- it sits like cupcakes and frosting on some people, but on others, the smoke, tobacco leaves and wood come shining through.

    I'm one of the lucky ones, I guess, because while there was a definite vanilla component to the mix, the rum, tobacco and smoke elements were distinctly present for me.

    But Dan, there are fragrances that other people love the stuffing out of that I simply cannot bend my brain around. Almost the entire CdG collection leaves me befuddled, including the incense series. And lord knows I've tried . . .

  7. Nathan

    I love the incense theory. They seem to smell beautiful, but they wear me. I can't wear them.

  8. Ugh... I can't stand SDV and Havana Vanille is barely any better. SDV was so bad that I thought that I was going to saw my arm off to get it away from me - I could stand Havana Vanille long enough to let it die a natural death.

    It's not that I'm adamantly opposed to a little vanilla to warm things up, but I agree that they both smell like someone just dumped a bottle of vanilla extract into your perfume bottle. I found them both very cloying and overpowering. Of course, it may be my skin that magnifies any sweetness in a perfume Tom Ford's Tobacco Vanille was a horror show on me, too.

  9. Oooh, love all of this input! melisand61, Cuir Beluga is one of those "niche" Guerlains that are just the devil to get your hands on, and now I'm eager to try it. I am lucky enough to have a "proper" Guerlain counter nearby, but the Bev Hills Saks SAs guard it jealously, reacting very suspiciously when I loiter too long trying things, and a few times, actually shooing me away!! It's very frustrating, and I can imagine that someone less determined than I would feel intimidated and belittled.

    On to vanilla-talk: aside from Vanilia, my only "nilla-forward" fume is Bulgari Black. BB, how I dig thee.

    Now that I've "going native" with the YouTube teens on their sweeter perfume appetites, I have started to develop a bit of a crush on 2 wildly sugary vanillas: Indult Tihota and Serge Lutens Un Bois Vanille, the later being the upscale version of Pink Sugar.

  10. Nooo Katie! I cannot imagine anyone shooing you away. I tend to go sniffing, er, shopping with another decidedly assertive friend of mine and we simply refuse to be intimidated by the Neimans SAs. In fact, as a team, we can be downright fierce. One plays offense, the other blocks defensively and we usually get to sniff what we want. And if that doesn't work, a good haughty stare and some perfumista-speak helps. Now who feels belittled, huh?

  11. I'm one who complains about vanilla perfumes (as well as lots of other things) and yet, like melisand61, I still have my favorites. Because while the prospect of a perfume with a predominant vanilla might normally seem as appealing as a bowl of frosting for dinner, there are those nights when frosting for dinner sounds like a fine idea. Or at least that's my excuse for buying the occasional vanilla.

    As for CdG, Nathan, I'm not surprised by your reaction. Much of the line seems somehow unsentimental, they're clever little "anti-perfumes," and as such they sit somewhere outside the true perfume lover's domain. The more I discover, the less I like many of them.

    And I'm surprised Katie's getting shooed, too, though I'm also envious. If only a few SAs had shooed me away, I might not be in so deep.

  12. Late to this thread and I swear I wasn't "stalking" the subject matter by blogging today about Ajne's Vanille vs Tobacco Vanille, SDV and Vanilia! I am going to be receiving Havana Vanille in a swap shortly and am not expecting to love it. Ajne's Vanille may or may not be in similar vein - it has a rich, dark, burnt note to it - though reading between the lines I have a feeling it may be. I do like it, but it isn't quite love exactly. It scores by not having other unpleasant notes in there with it. Now Cuir Beluga I like better than SDV or Tobacco Vanille but I don't love it either. Too leathery.

  13. Here's the link to flittersniffer's aforementioned vanilla post on her blog, "Bonkers About Perfume":

    Flittersniffer, you're witty and energetically prolific. What is your secret?

  14. Overactive thyroid. And thanks!

  15. Gentle Smellers, I've just discovered that I've somehow published this entry twice. I've deleted the extra one and the following are the comments brought over from that unintentionally cloned post:

    teresa485 wrote:
    I have a question (sorry if I'm annoying the crap out of you, Katie). Foody vanillas are often held in contrast to smoky vanillas. Do you have any examples of "classic" smoky vanilla? I've never met a vanilla I've liked (except maybe Shalimar--but I categorize that differently in my brain somehow), and smoky + anything has been a nice combo for me so far.

    Katie Puckrik wrote:
    Always a pleasure, teresa, never a chore. If you're talkin' smoky vanilla, there's none more smoky than Le Labo Patchouli 24. And check out the newest smoky vanilla in town, Cartier XIII La Treizième Heure. Those two will smoke your ever-lovin' socks off.

    A gentler smoky vanilla is Bulgari Black. And there's L'Artisan Parfumeur Vanilia, which I'd classify as "ashy", rather than "smoky". And Comme des Garçons Avignon is a great incensey barely-vanilla.

    All of these are inedible vanillas, which I gather you find more "appetizing".

    Krista Janicki wrote:
    I'd love to find something that was more "tobacco and run with some vanilla" than "vanilla with some tobacco and rum". Any suggestions?

    Katie Puckrik wrote:
    Krista, these are in the general "boozy tobacco with varying degrees of vanilla" area:
    Odori Tabacco
    Frapin Caravelle Epicée
    Serge Lutens Fumerie Turque
    Serge Lutens Chergui

  16. Thanks Katie. I actually have bought Fumerie Turque and I love Caravelle Epicée.

  17. Krista, so good to get the update from you! Helps me know I'm not barking up the wrong vanilla pod.