The first time I heard about Vanille Insensée by Atelier Cologne I mistakenly took “insensée” to refer to incense. The literal translation of “insensé” from French to English in “insane” and this stuff IS a little out there (but in a good way).
I’ve tried many pleasant but boring vanilla perfumes before resigning myself to the fact that finding a complex grown-up vanilla scent is like looking for a needle in a hay stack. In fact I’ve kind of tried to stay away from those perfumes that have vanilla as the main player.
My expectations were pretty low before I gave this one a whiff, although I love some other scents from the brand, such as Clémentine California and Bergamote Soleil.
After first spritzing on my skin from a sample provided by Sephora, I got a rush of woody, slightly amber-y vanilla. The vanilla isn’t an overly sweet cupcake vanilla; it’s more of a unisex subtle vanilla. While the scent supposedly contains notes of coriander, lime and citron, they were undetectable to my nose as goes for the vetiver and jasmine.
Vanille Insensée is sweet and dark, transparent and complex, zesty and spicy, which all together make for a unique interpretation of vanilla. It manages to be intriguing and playful at once. It actually smells a lot like what you get when you open a fresh vanilla pod rather than the vanilla scent commonly associated with baking. There’s a natural freshness about it that is invigorating.
This is definitely not for everyone. I strongly recommend trying it first and giving it several hours to develop. It’s the type of fragrance that will either draw you in and linger sensuously on you or you will be turned off by the dry down, which is definitely woody/mossy like the scent of a forest.
As far as lasting power, no worries about this one fading into oblivion quickly. Vanille Insensée will stay with you a good 8-10 hours, possibly even longer.
A 3.4 oz bottle costs around $130.