Atelier Cologne Vanille Insensee ~ fragrance review

Atelier Cologne Vanille Insensee plus vanilla bean

It’s the seasonal interregnum in Seattle. King Winter is waning and Princess Spring is itching to begin her reign/rain. This is the period when amber, musk, incense and oud fragrances start to feel passé and weigh heavily on my body and spirit. As the witch-hazels and camellias bloom and wintersweet scents the air, I yearn for lighter “green”, floral and citrus-y colognes, but right now they too seem a bit “strange” to wear…like the shorts I’m beginning to see on many Seattleites!

Perfumer Ralf Schwieger developed Atelier Cologne Vanille Insensée — Princess Spring’s ‘regent’ — and it fits my mood, and the current (changeable) weather, perfectly: it’s neither too heavy, nor too light — it’s just right.

I have never been a huge fan of vanilla-centered perfumes. I remember when Coty Vanilla Fields was popular; the legions of women who wore it smelled like they’d emptied a bottle of double-strength vanilla extract on themselves. Vanille Insensée’s “vanilla” is the main note in the perfume*, but it has been “rinsed” by perky lime and citron, “dried” by the addition of vetiver and moss, and fluffed by clean jasmine, musk and coriander. Vanille Insensée contains “fresh” vanilla, in the best sense of “fresh.” Though the notes of Vanille Insensée are sheer (and seem ‘subdued’) the perfume does last on skin all day and has good sillage. I guess I would classify Vanille Insensée as “diet gourmand.” If I had to choose fragrances that match Vanille Insensée’s “vibe,” I’d have to agree with Robin here at Now Smell This who was reminded of Diptyque Eau Duelle and Le Labo Vanille 44 when she sniffed Vanille Insensée (but I like Vanille Insensée better than either of those fragrances).

As further proof of its “affability,” Vanille Insensée layers beautifully with light citrus fragrances (like my Guerlain Eau de Cologne Impériale) and darker, wintry scents such as Eau d’Hermès, adding depth to one, lightness/sweetness to the other.

Who knows if I would have liked Vanille Insensée as much as I do if we had met in a snowstorm or during a heat wave? Vanille Insensée and I met at the right time, and that often makes all the difference when it comes to perfume.

Atelier Cologne Vanille Insensée is a unisex fragrance, and it’s available in 30 ($60) or 200 ml ($170) Cologne Absolue (15% concentration).

* Vanille Insensée’s fragrance notes include lime, cedrat, coriander, jasmine, oak moss, vetiver, vanilla, oak and amber.

Note: top left and middle images via Wikimedia Commons.

Shop for perfume

Parfums Raffy


Leave a comment, or read more about commenting at Now Smell This. Here's a handy emoticon chart.

  1. Mmmm…you are making me wish I had some right this minute!

    • Kevin says:

      Sweetlife: well, it’s out and about now!

  2. boojum says:

    Kevin, despite a fresh foot-and-a-half of snow this week, I’m in the same place as you with respect to perfume (and clothing, frankly). I’m tired of the winter frags and ready to leave them behind, but there is no sign of spring even expected here for another month. This sounds perfect!

    • Kevin says:

      Boojum: I know, the day comes at the end of winter when I feel “enough is enough” with these heavy perfumes.

  3. egabbert says:

    I’m growing tired of winter perfumes too, and the 30 ml bottle makes this excessively tempting. Wonder if they have it at the Sak’s counter yet?

    • Kevin says:

      Egabbert: don’t know about Saks (we’re Saks-less in Seattle) but it’s at NM.

  4. AnnieA says:

    I just received a bottle of AC’s Orange Sanguine and it makes me feel happy, which is of course the point of all perfume. Considering “Cologne” is right on the label these babies last a good while. Will have to sniff the Vanille sometime, despite the fact that I generally vanilla perfumes.

    • Kevin says:

      Annie: maybe this’ll be the “refreshing” vanilla you’ll like….

  5. AnnS says:

    Kevin – this sounds great! I love non-gourmand vanillas. I’m with Boojum – we just got another foot of snow on Monday and I’m all ready to break out the spring fragrances to chase winter away. I’ll put this on my must sniff list asap.

    • Kevin says:

      Ann: snow is all around me too…so far I”m in a sunny, dry pocket of the city.

  6. Tama says:

    I’m looking forward to this one! Sounds like it will be wearable in SF most of the season, since we don’t get very hot here ever. Here’s hoping my NM has it soon!

    We are having a sunny day today and you’d think spring might be peeking out, but they are predicting a rare snowfall for us in a day or two. I’m wearing my Farmacia ss Annunziata Aurora, which is a non-sweet spice scent, heavy on the ginger, that always makes me think of sandalwood somehow. Perfect for this kind of day.

    • Rick says:

      They ought to develop fragrances that match the weather we get in the Bay Area, since SpringSummerWinterFall doesn’t really work here. Fragrances for the rainy season, dry season, fog season, fire season, earthquake weather, etc.

      • Kevin says:

        Rick: you’d REALLY need a comfort scent for earthquakes, wouldn’t you? Up here there are volcanoes to contend with as well as earthquakes! HA!

        • Rick says:

          Yes, it needs to be calming. Very, very calming.

        • Marjorie Rose says:

          I think you’d be good to plan a nice fragrance for occasional lahars, too. These catastrophic mud flows could use a nice earthy green scent, maybe, to match the forest as it swooshes past your window? Look it up, the last one nicely flattened what is now Tacoma (and is predicted as the more likely event rather than a direct eruption from Mt. Ranier!)

          • Kevin says:

            Marjorie: OY! I think I’d opt for an incense scent in that case! An offering to Tahoma and myself as I am engulfed by mud-lava-etc.

          • Marjorie Rose says:

            And maybe throw a piece of pumice over your left shoulder for luck!

      • Tama says:

        Ditto to that.

    • Kevin says:

      Tama; yes, that sounds perfect…I’ve never tried it.

  7. Rappleyea says:

    This sounds like something I’d enjoy – I *do* love vanilla scents, and it’s got a great list of notes. Thanks for reviewing.

    • Kevin says:

      Rappleyea: you’re welcome

  8. mixiemay says:

    I asked during an open forum for suggestions on a vanilla scent for the summer and was given this recommendation. It came along with Diptyque’s Eau Duelle and a few others (bought a small YSL Cinema blind and love it) but for the big gun, it’s down between the two of these. It’s very hard to find vanillas that aren’t sweet and this is just so lovely. I prefer the dry down of Eau Duelle better, on me it’s a beautiful vanilla musk but this is so very nice too. It smells green and citrusy and vanilla-y- I really have never smelled anything quite like it. Both perhaps????

    • Kevin says:

      MixieMay: WHY NOT!?

    • dee says:

      I’m so glad you liked Cinema! :)

      • mixiemay says:

        Yes, Dee, I just adore it, thatnk you for the recommendation, I wouldn’t have found it on my own. I meant to buy it and save it for the summer but I find myself spritzing it on before bed so my mini bottle is 1/4 gone already! It’s funny, I thought I was the only one kooky enough to spritz perfume for bed but reading the comments of others I realize that some people have scents in their collection just for this purpose. Brilliant Perfumistas!

        Kevin: Why not indeed!!!!

  9. Lucy says:

    Very nice review. This sounds like what I’d hoped last year’s Pure DKNY would be.

    I’m bored with my collection right now…very tired of looking every morning and saying “hmm…meh.”. I’ll go out and look for this soon. Not today though as it is snowing.

    • Kevin says:

      Lucy: it seems to be snowing lots of places today

  10. I can’t wait for my decant to get here! Thanks for the review Kevin. Hope all is well. :)

    • Kevin says:

      Hi, C. Yes all is well here (and I hope the same’s true for you and J)

  11. Thea S. says:

    This sounds fantastic. I love the notes.

    “Vanille Insensée and I met at the right time.” I have had this feeling about a number of revisited decants lately. It’s interesting how a fragrance can be so much more relevant during the right season.

    I’m sure this upcoming pacific NW snowstorm will punish all short wearers for the time being. :D

    • Kevin says:

      Thea; one would THINK…but I saw a messenger today in shorts…his legs were RED.

  12. RusticDove says:

    Nice review Kevin – I have been curious about this one. Vanilla is a real hit or miss note for me. I have come to the conclusion that I prefer the vanilla-like tonka, but there are some vanilla scents I do like [it would be nice if I could think of one off the top of my head – but no]. I love your line: “Vanille Insensee and I met at the right time”. I get the feeling I would appreciate it at this time too since I really crave a taste of spring.

    • Kevin says:

      Rustic: hope you can sample it soon.

  13. odonata9 says:

    Sounds lovely! I am so excited that I just found out that the Neiman Marcus here carries these (according the Atelier website). I am dying to try this one, Trefle Pur and the orange one.

    • Kevin says:

      Odonata: I bought Trefle Pur…love it.

      • Karin says:

        Me too! Love Trefle Pur…

      • Haunani says:

        I’m getting splits of Vanille Incensee AND Trefle Pur. Can’t wait!

  14. maggiecat says:

    I just ordered a sample of this from Luckyscent – thanks for validating my greed!

    • Kevin says:

      Maggie: glad to help

  15. I’ve just tried the others in this line and am very impressed, so am keen to give this one a spin. I have a bottle of Eau Duelle, so if it is anything like that I think it could be right up my street.

    • Kevin says:

      FlitterS: I’m betting if you like Duelle this one will appeal to you too

  16. Janice says:

    I just ordered a sample too. I’ve been curious about it, but the comparison to Vanille 44 is what finally did it!

    • Kevin says:

      Janice: looking at your cat I realized this smells wonderful on cat fur too

      • Janice says:

        So many perfumes smell good on cat fur, which is fortunate because he always ends up with a little of whatever I’m wearing. Hmm, could this be a new excuse for buying things? “But it smelled so good on the cat.” That works!

        • Kevin says:

          Janice: it does…and he’s so CUTE.

        • Marjorie Rose says:

          LOL! :)

        • GateGirl says:

          I would be afraid to put fragrance on my cat. She’d lick it off while cleaning herself and ingest it. I usually send her outside for a walk in the backyard to get ‘fresh air’ aroma. Now THAT’s nice to smell on cat fur! :) meow

          • Marjorie Rose says:

            Ooh, I’d forgotton about fresh air cat smell! My kitties are indoor only these days, but I used to LOVE smelling my cats after they’d come in from a cold, blustery day! My favorite was when we’d been using the fireplace, so they had that lovely cat furr/fresh air/smoke smell. LOVELY!

          • Kevin says:

            Gategirl: that’s when you need a 15 lb tomcat who MIGHT lick a paw, and one paw only, MAYBE…a few times a week.

          • GateGirl says:

            Sounds like your kitty is a member of an off-shoot cat-race: The UnWashables.
            Two words: Bubble Bath. ;)

  17. Absolute Scentualist says:

    The weather’s been positively bi-polar here, too, with days where the temp reaches low fifties and then the next, we’re lucky to break thirty. All this in the span of one week has been messing with my seasonal fragrance selections, and in a fit of not knowing what else to wear today, I wore Cumming and it fit perfectly. It has that earthy top that smells like wet earth and pine needles in a post-winter forrest here to my nose, and then the clearest musk-like following that is like the portrait of my snowy front yard today.

    I typically prefer my vanillas and incense more heavy, but this might be worth sampling so I can give Barbara Bui a break in the summer months. The idea of a more sheer vanilla/citrus/incense perfume is intriguing. And the price isn’t terribly scary, which is also a plus. :)

    • Kevin says:

      AbScent: love those 30 mls.

  18. 50_Roses says:

    For me, it is not so much that I get tired of winter frags–I actually prefer heavier scents–as that they don’t feel right in warm weather. For over a week now, we have been having temps in the 70’s and all of a sudden the ambery winter perfumes just feel wrong, no matter what the calendar says, but I still can’t bring myself to wear the warm weather stuff. I find that perfumes that work well right now are not necessarily “light”, but they are the ones that don’t feel too thick and dense. I am finding that my bottle of DSH Cardamom and Khyphi works well; even though it is a spicy fragrance, it has an airy feel to it, and it doesn’t seem too dense and suffocating. I wore Avignon today and it seemed about right, maybe because it is not sweet. I may sniff Vanille Insensee to see what I think. I like vanilla if it is not too sweet; as much as I love cookies and cupcakes, I don’t want to smell like them. I think the only Atelier I have tried so far was Orange Sanguine, and that one lasted all of about 5 minutes on my skin. Too bad, because for that 5 minutes it really did smell like a juicy ripe orange.

    • Kevin says:

      50 Roses: the Orange Sanguine lasted longer on me than you, but the juicy part of the orange was fleeting

  19. nozknoz says:

    You’re so right, Kevin! It took me a while to realize how much it applied to perfume, but timing is everything!

  20. Sandi says:

    Kevin, bad, bad man to taunt King Winter. You see what you did! Record low temps in the area and all this frozen white stuff. Don’t know if it’s still snowing up there, but 40 miles down I-5 in T-town, it’s 2 am and still coming down like it’s never going to stop. I’m holding you personally responsible, lol.

    I’m busy writing all these suggestions down for a friend who is a vanilla fiend. I’ve ordered her samples of Nicolai Vanille Tonka and Vanille Intense and am looking for more. I reeeally want to get her off Vanilla Fields. I didn’t used to hate it but my SiL bathes in it and I can’t stand it anymore.

    • Marjorie Rose says:

      * * * * *
      * * * *
      * SNOW DAY! * *
      * * * *
      * * * * *
      (heh! Just got the call that school’s cancelled! Yeah, teachers like snow days, too! Probably best not to mention it to our friends in the rest of the country still digging out from blizzard #23. . . :) )

    • Kevin says:

      Sandi/Marjorie: The KING took revenge! It ended up snowing here after all and I’m stuck home.

      • Sandi says:

        I’m actually enjoying it. Just need to figure out what’s going into the soup pot for dinner tonight. Gives me more time here. ; ) Of course it costs me a fortune every time I hang out, thank the perfume goddess for samples…

  21. dora says:

    I loved this review. Simply, it was inspired! The fragrance didn’t grab me, but now I will smell it again and try to find all those subtleties.

    • Kevin says:

      Dora: thank you…sometimes a second sniff works…sometimes it does not! HA!

  22. Karin says:

    Wearing this today. It smells like SweeTarts and cardboard to me!

  23. Olfacta says:

    I’m going sniffing on Tuesday next week, and will have to make a stop at Neiman’s to smell this!

  24. Sapphire says:

    Is it just me, or does this bear any resemblance to Burberry Classic for women? I already have a ginormous bottle of the Burberry and am trying to decide whether to get a little bottle of this (and something else to get to a qualifying purchase ) in Neiman’s upcoming fragrance event (April 30-May 8).

Leave a reply