Agonist Vanilla Marble ~ fragrance review

Agonist Vanilla Marble, art glass

Last month, four friends were in Paris — almost at the same time. All I wanted from one of them was a bottle of Serge Lutens Rahät Loukoum from the Jardins du Palais Royal shop. These days you can buy a bell jar of Rahät Loukoum for $300 at Barneys New York, but the same bottle can be had in Paris for around $160 (and honestly, that’s all Rahät Loukoum is worth to me). Well, my first set of friends left Paris Rahät Loukoum-less, and by the time I was aware of their failure, the second pair of friends were on their way to Nice and other points south. (Note to self: “I’d love to see the Serge Lutens shop and buy your perfume!” trumps “Well…I’ll try….”) So, now it’s back to monitoring all my friends’ travel plans (since my next trips are nowhere near Paris).

Without Rahät Loukoum, I’m currently searching for a candy scent (I can’t believe I’m writing that, but it’s true). I used to hate food-y perfumes, especially sweet ones full of sugar and vanilla. Now, I have a craving…but I only need one such perfume in my collection. I’m in the process of auditioning some candy-shop fragrances and that search brings me to Agonist Vanilla Marble.

Before reviewing Vanilla Marble, let me thank Agonist for FINALLY making their perfumes (all well-done) available in bottles other than the exorbitantly priced “glass art” containers. The new “simple” sprays are priced at 125€ (about $160 US) — still not inexpensive, but priced much better than the 880€/$1,145 you’ll pay for the “art” bottle (shown at top…refills sold separately).

Vanilla Marble starts off with a deep, rich, almost “chocolaty” vanilla aroma (imagine smelling a box full of chocolate-covered vanilla creams). Pungent/liquor-y almond appears next. As the perfume develops, a variety of vanillic notes are noticeable: tonka bean, benzoin (but without its ‘incense’ vibe), and white fig (an under-ripe fig dipped in sugar syrup). Vanilla Marble is vanilla on a zoom setting, but it never becomes “too much” for me and it doesn’t dominate a room — it stays close to skin. Near the end of Vanilla Marble’s development all its notes seem to create an aroma I’ll call “vanilla leather” (this scent makes me hungry one minute, and think about buying a new wallet the next).

Agonist Vanilla Marble, regular bottleI thoroughly enjoy Vanilla Marble and if it were, say, $80, I might buy it; at $160 though…all I can think of is Rahät Loukoum.

Agonist Vanilla Marble is a unisex fragrance and has good lasting power; it includes fragrance notes of vanilla infusion, almond, tiare flower, orchid, white fig, amber, Australian sandalwood, patchouli, benzoin, tonka bean and Madagascar vanilla. Vanilla Marble is available in 50 ml Eau de Parfum (see bottle at right, 125€) or in the art glass bottle shown at top (880€). For buying information, see the listing for Agonist under Perfume Houses.

Shop for perfume

Parfums Raffy


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

  1. Kelly Red says:

    Email me at schallauataoldotcom I have a bell jar of this and I’d be willing to share a decent decant.
    Kelly in Minneapolis

    • Kevin says:

      Kelly: that’s so sweet of you…I’ll write you this evening.

  2. Lys says:

    Kevin, have you seen the “modestly” priced rectangular bottles in person? They look rather handsome on their own terms in print (or, um, “onscreen”), esp. if the white side panel is done in some sort of either matte or supergloss – but these pics are always deceiving …

    • Kevin says:

      Lys: they do look good…but have not seen one in person, just in high-def photos.

  3. Rappleyea says:

    My HG vanilla scent is SDV, but this is the first review in forever that makes me want to rush out to try the scent. Great enabling, Kevin! ;-)

  4. Merlin says:

    I know that my nose is not yet highly sophisticated but I still find it quite puzzling that perfumistas who often do not like perfumes that tend too much towards the sweet sometimes give high praise to what seems to me to be monstrously sweet frags. As I have smelled more I have gained an appreciation for some dryer notes that I really didn’t like before, like vetiver, and ‘sweetness’ in itself is not enough of an attraction – like once it would have been. But I still can’t appreciate certain scents, like Rahat Loukoum, or L’arisan’s vanillia. Perhaps they read very differently on my skin – metallic in their sweetness, and lack of depth, like artificial sweetness, or like very high notes that are painfully shrill. Either my nose is behaving differently or maybe my skin?

    • Merlin says:

      sorry, I meant artificial sweetener – not ‘artificial sweetness’. I mean the low kj stuff…

  5. Kevin says:

    Never say never, Merlin. Things I once hated I love and vice versa…then the wind changes and who knows what will appeal to me all of a sudden. It may be the ultra-fatigued non-stop perfume sniffing nose that changes the cravings…needs new sensations.

    • Merlin says:

      LOL! An interesting, and not entirely implausible theory : )

  6. djron91 says:

    You might want to check out the M Micallef Vanille art collection – especially the Marine. Its not aquatic, they way us US people think of aquatic. I do agree with you though.. the SL Rahat was my first purchase in Paris last year.. If you still want a full bell jar – let me know via email – as I am heading to Paris next week.

    • Kevin says:

      DJRon: I will check out the M M’s then…also, I’m covered for Rahat Loukoum! I should have advertised my “plight” earlier. HA! Thanks a million for the generous offer though.

  7. fountaingirl says:

    Have you tried Keiko Mecheri’s Loukhoum? It’s sweet, complex enough to not be maddening, and very reasonably priced compared to SL.

    • cath says:

      I was going to suggest this one as well. I bought KM’s Loukhoum before I got the SL Rahat Loukoum, and I think I still prefere the KM one.

    • Kevin says:

      FG: yep, tried that and it didn’t hit the spot.

      • farouche says:

        Kevin, have you tried Loukhoum Eau Poudree? I found that I much preferred it to the original.

        • Kevin says:

          Farouche: haven’t tried the poudree version…I’ll give it a sniff, thanks

  8. nozknoz says:

    The candy or dessert scents that I like are Traversee du Bosphore (apple loukhoum and leather), S-Perfumes 100% Love (rose chocolate that smells like a big, buttery dark chocolate raspberry truffle), L’AP Vanille Absolutement (ex-Havana Vanilla – creme brulee) and Frapin 1697 (creme brulee with cognac). Three out of four are by Duchaufour. I guess I enjoy them because the sweetness is underpinned with some of his signature weird notes, which act like the sprinkling of sea salt on salted caramel.

    • Kevin says:

      Noz: I had forgotten all about the TdB…really like that one.

  9. audreylicious says:

    I really wanted to try this……unfortunately I tried ordering the samples and they charge 15 euro for shipping to the US. My husband’s working in Sweden for the next few months so I can have it shipped there, and they STILL want to charge 15 euro. Ah well. I see a decant in my future if anyone starts carrying it.

    Have you tried any of the other ones? Brief thoughts?

    • Kevin says:

      Audrey: I like them all…ESP the amber and jade ones…and I’ve reviewed three Agonists now…hope you can get your samples!

      • audreylicious says:

        Those were the two I was interested in! Thank you!!!!

    • nozknoz says:

      I got a sample of one of these from LuckyScent (no affiliation, although I’ve spent enough there that THEY should be promoting ME, LOL) a while back – you might want to check there.

  10. aliciaanne says:

    Kevin – I live in Paris and it wouldn’t be a hassle for me to get and send you a bottle of this or anything else in this city (or hang onto it until my next US trip to mail from there, cutting down shipping damage risk).
    Same offer for any of you out there – I don’t mind being a perfume mule ;)
    alicia . leblanc at gmail

Leave a reply