Atelier Cologne Vanille Insensee : Perfume Review



Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

I love the playfulness of Vanille Insensée, which cannot decide whether it wants to be a vanilla or an amber, and while oscillating between luscious sweetness and dark richness, it manages to beguile with its complex, nuanced character. The contrasted nature of this fragrance created by perfumer Ralf Schwieger for Atelier Cologne not only makes it exciting to wear, but also gives it a beautiful signature.

Vanilla is a fascinating raw material, which is able to smooth out the roughest accords and lend them an incredible softness. Yet, just like sugar in cooking, vanilla does not have its own strong character; it simply makes everything else sweet. The interesting aspect of Vanille Insensée is that while vanilla is its main theme, it avoids the predictable vanilla custard sweetness of many vanilla dominated fragrances. The strong moss and amber accord provides a resinous darkness, into which the sweetness of vanilla dissolves. The woody notes, reminiscent of freshly shaved cedarwood curls and wet pine branches, further tone down the gourmand sweetness of vanilla. As the fragrance dries down, a surprising twist of citrus and vetiver sets the decadent vanilla alight, giving it an effervescent, luminous quality.

Like all Atelier Cologne fragrances, Vanille Insensée is meant to be worn by both men and women, and there is nothing in the composition that would make either group uncomfortable. The only qualm I have with Vanille Insensée is its relatively sharp amber note, which initially feels a bit aggressive. Yet, overall, it is an excellent composition, with a bold woody-ambery character. While occupying the territory of Guerlain Shalimar and Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan—classical oriental and classical amber, Vanille Insensée beautifully bridges the two accords with oakmoss. The end result is a memorable and unique composition. While it has an alluring aura, Vanille Insensée is a fragrance for seducing oneself, first and foremost. Wearing it, I find myself feeling perfectly content, with the scent enveloping me like the veil of warm silk. On most days, this is exactly what I crave.

Atelier Cologne Vanille Insensée includes notes of lime, cedrat, coriander, jasmine, oak moss, vetiver, vanilla, oak and amber. Available from Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus and Luckyscent. All Atelier Cologne fragrances have 15% concentration of perfume oil. (30ml is $60, 200 ml is $170.)

Sample: PR



  • Alice C: It sounds lovely…another addition to my list of things I must sample! April 11, 2011 at 8:16am Reply

  • Cristina: Beautiful start for the day and the week. April 11, 2011 at 10:16am Reply

  • maggiecat: I, too, love this line and have been enjoying my sample of this delightful scent – though I think of it more as a cool-weather scent rather than a spring/summer one – but that may be just me. April 11, 2011 at 11:01am Reply

  • Le critique de parfum: I’m so curious about this new brand. It’s always funny when french project launchs abroad first. Atelier Cologne is nowhere to be found here.

    And it sucks ❀ April 11, 2011 at 12:51pm Reply

  • another perfume blog: I’m looking forward to trying this, especially for the twist of citrus and vetiver. It sounds like a combination with potential to fit different moods, which I don’t normally associate with vanilla. Thanks for the review. April 11, 2011 at 1:24pm Reply

  • Victoria: I love the entire Atelier Cologne line, with Bois Blonds and Orange Sanguine being my favorites. Nicely done fragrances! April 11, 2011 at 10:33am Reply

  • Victoria: Thank you! Wish you and others a wonderful week. 🙂 April 11, 2011 at 10:34am Reply

  • Victoria: I agree, it might work well in the fall-winter. On the other hand, our spring has been freezing, so it came at just the right time. April 11, 2011 at 11:10am Reply

  • dee: I love that little 30mL bottle, and am deliberating on whether I need it or not. Cabinet space is at a premium these days! I wonder, even if it didn’t stun me, if it’s the sort of thing that I would reach for over and over again during warmer months—because that’s a niche spot that I still have room in! 🙂

    I liked all of this line, but I’m not yet sure whether I love them…

    Thanks for the lovely review V! April 11, 2011 at 11:11am Reply

  • Victoria: You are welcome, D! These are the kind of fragrances I love to have on hand for a quick pick me up and my dance studio practice. Vanille Insensee and Bois Blonds neatly filled the gap between a fresh, effervescent perfume and a lush woody oriental. I do not have many of those.
    As for other scents, I like them very much, but they are not must-have for me. April 11, 2011 at 11:16am Reply

  • Olfactoria: Vanille Insensee’s lightness and untypical treatment of vanilla is so interesting. I love my small bottle and reach for it often. Great review, V. April 11, 2011 at 1:03pm Reply

  • Victoria: Yes, it is different from the usual vanilla fragrances. Ordinarily, I'm not a fan of big vanilla notes, but this one is unusual, more woody ambery than vanilla. April 11, 2011 at 2:59pm Reply

  • Victoria: Thank you, B! I agree, a very interesting treatment of vanilla. Not quite oriental amber, not quite dry woods. April 11, 2011 at 3:00pm Reply

  • Victoria: Sometimes there are more opportunities in different markets. I thought that Atelier Cologne is sold in France, but I'm probably thinking of another line. April 11, 2011 at 3:01pm Reply

  • vanessa: Hmm, based on your very clear and specific description of this scent, about which I had been curious, this probably isn’t for me after all, and vanilla is my favourite note a rule. Am probably more at the sanitised end of the spectrum rather than bold woody-ambers or anything resinous! Indeed I bought a mini of Ajne Vanille unsniffed, which turned out to be dense and treacly on me, so dark vanillas are sadly a no-no. April 11, 2011 at 8:01pm Reply

  • Victoria: I think that you may not find it that compelling. It is definitely more woody-ambery than creamy vanilla. In fact, it is so woody that it easily wears as a masculine fragrance. Quite dry for a vanilla perfume! I love it, but then again, my appetite for a sweet vanilla is very limited. April 11, 2011 at 8:13pm Reply

  • k-amber: I find “fresh green moss” in it , which is very refreshing and attractive. It might sound a bit strange that this reminds me a old temple with moss garden. Spring comes!

    Kaori April 11, 2011 at 9:11pm Reply

  • Victoria: What a gorgeous imagery! I can definitely see that too–old, incense tinged wooden pillars festooned in mosses…

    It is spring indeed! 🙂 April 11, 2011 at 9:24pm Reply

  • dee: Hmmm… I love the way you describe it–it does fill that gap, doesn’t it? That crossroads concept still had me on the fence, but I think that if you are wearing it in the dance studio, then I can wear it gardening! 🙂

    Between this and Bronze Goddess, I should be well-covered for summer comfort! April 12, 2011 at 11:51am Reply

  • Victoria: Bronze Goddess is a fragrance that I bring out when the temperatures start to increase. It wears just beautifully in the summer! Or in the winter, when I want to imagine that it is summer. 🙂 April 12, 2011 at 6:10pm Reply

  • Grusheczka: I just got around to sampling this after reading your review – it’s lovely! People in my office are circling my desk asking what delicious things I’ve eaten. Wow, it’s very nice! I dismissed this fragrance at first thinking it’s just another boring vanilla, but I’m happy to admit I was wrong. It’s really, really good and quite wearable for someone who doesn’t like strong, foody notes in perfume. Bois Blonds is another favorite of mine from Atelier. May 19, 2011 at 10:25am Reply

  • MPFlorian: I enjoyed reading this review, however, I am far from wowed by Vanille Incensée. To my nose, the scent resembles the kind of bland, candy-ish, on-trend fragrances that Sanchez and Turin entertainingly bash in their perfume guides. I either cannot smell the citrus, woods, and roots… or my mind doesn’t know where to put those smells in the context of dessert? My nose may need training. I’m not sure.

    I wish V.I. were more bracing and refreshing, after all, it’s supposed to be a cologne absolute, and it kind of smells like vanilla SoftSoap (to me}.

    The incense wants to be tingly. The mellowed-out vanilla could be more abstract, like a sparkling cream soda. Tocade (Rochas) has that kind of effervescent vanillic feeling.

    I thought about layering this with the astringency of their Oolang Infini (oolang pas fini) to both wake V.I. up and sweeten O.I.’s bitterness. On va voir. June 20, 2021 at 10:11am Reply

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