Insane Vanilla – Review: Atelier Cologne Vanille Insensée

Vanille Insensée is the sixth fragrance by my new favorite line Atelier Cologne. It was released for spring, which upon first look seems like an odd decision.

Most vanilla scents are geared towards the cooler seasons since it lies in the nature of vanilla to be sweet and warm. Well, most of the time at least…

First a little about the name. Vanille Insensée or Insane Vanilla is thoroughly fitting in the sense that this is no regular, run of the mill vanilla as you know it. Many believe and read (me included) that it is called Vanille Incensée, the second word having to do with incense, but that is not the case.

Vanille Insensée was created by Ralf Schwieger (like Orange Sanguine) in 2010, it is a cologne absolue of 15% concentration, notes include lime, cedrat, coriander, jasmine, oak moss, vetiver, vanilla, oak and amber.

After a fleeting second of citrus notes, Vanille Insensée lies before me from top to bottom as one. But not as an impenetrable block of a fragrance but like a transparent sphere, complete but everything inside is clearly visible and discernible. It is an incredible sensation.

I smell the coriander, the jasmine, although very subdued, the vanilla – prominent, but soft – and the woody and ambery notes of the base. It is all there from the start, its finely crafted layers visible and tangible, yet light and transparent and intriguingly beautiful.

I do not like sweet and foody vanilla on me, Comptoir Pacifique-esque vanilla renditions make me run as far as I can, but I enjoy darker, boozier vanillas as in Spiritueuse Double Vanille or Vanille Absolument, although only in cold weather. It brings to mind other “strange” vanilla perfumes like Diptyque Eau Duelle or Annick Goutal Vanille Exquise.

But Vanille Insensée is neither.

It smells very true to what you get when you open a fresh vanilla pod and scrape it out. It is not vanilla essence or flavor, it is very close to the real, fresh thing with its dark and smoky, yet light facet.

To have released Vanille Insensée in spring is actually a brilliant idea, because look out of the window: Spring is not warm and sunny, at best it is changeable, unreliable and takes you from rain to bright sunshine in the course of an afternoon. For such conditions Vanille Insensée is perfect.

Like all the Cologne Absolues from Atelier Cologne, tenacity is excellent, and it has quite a sillage without being over-boarding. I received unusually many compliments when wearing it (normally people do not register my perfumes or they choose not to comment, I don’t know, the only other perfume, to ever get me that many compliments was Chanel Coco Mademoiselle, although I am not sure now that this a compliment for the Atelier scent. ;))

I highly recommend Vanille Insensée, as well as the other perfumes in this line, because it is so well made – that image of the transparent sphere is very powerful, I see it every time I apply the fragrance – and will be appealing for vanilla lovers and skeptics alike, I believe.

Reviews of Orange Sanguine, Bois Blonds and Trefle Pur, Oolang Infini, Grand Neroli are here.

Image source:,, some rights reserved, thank you!

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29 Responses to Insane Vanilla – Review: Atelier Cologne Vanille Insensée

  1. *jen says:

    Well, shucks! You make this sound so much better than I expected it. Stop doing that!!!


    • Olfactoria says:

      Oh I wish I could, believe me. The only good thing is that Atelier Cologne only have those six perfumes in their line up for now. Any more and I go bankrupt. 🙂

  2. Tara says:

    B, you’re so good at matching an image to a fragrance – the sphere is great.
    Sounds like another winner from Atelier. Very intresting that you got a lot of compliments, I also find that is a rare occurance. Maybe it was because it is both comforting and fresh, would you say? Thanks also for clearing that up about the name. I too thought it was Vanilla Incense in English, but Insance Vanilla is so much better!

    • Olfactoria says:

      Thank you, Tara! Looking for a fitting image is something I love to do, so I am glad you like this one. 🙂
      I think the compliments come (astoundingly two more today from Kindergarten co-Moms) because people recognize the vanilla, but it takes them by surprise, since it is so different from the usual sweet and edible vanilla.

  3. Marie says:

    OK, so you said the word that makes me very interested in this perfume: Coriander!
    I love coriander in fragrances – more so than in food, although I’m getting there. Coriander and vanilla in combinations sounds fascinating!

    I haven’t tried any of the Atelier fragrances, but it wouldnt’ hurt to get a sample of this, I suppose. You got a whole bottle?

    You are so right about spring – when many of us talk about spring, it seems we are talking about our fantasies of spring, rather than what it’s ususally like – at least in our neck of the woods. We need fragrances that fit the springs of real life 🙂

    • Marie says:

      May I ask where you bought it? I couldn’t find it un the First in Fragrance’s website. Thank you 🙂

      • Olfactoria says:

        I asked a good friend in the US to buy it for me at Luckyscent and send it on. Although Luckyscent do ship internationally, so it is an option to order directly from them.

    • Olfactoria says:

      I prefer coriander in fragrance to the one in food too.
      I got a small 30ml bottle unsniffed and I am so glad I did. After loving five of their perfumes I took the chance with the sixth and have not been let down.

      Today is a perfect spring day here in Austria and Vanille Insensee is still perfect. 🙂

  4. Suzanne says:

    What a lovely review, and you’re so right about Spring being so changeable: it’s insanity maybe being in perfect step with this “insane vanilla.”

    When you said this was created by Ralf Schwieger, that’s what really got my interest, though, as I absolutley adore his Frederic Malle creation, Lipstick Rose. At some point I’ll have to try this!

  5. Suzanne says:

    Oops…that would be “its insanity” — not “it’s,” of course.

  6. deeHowe says:

    This was one of only two scents I actually tried on skin during my recent smelling spree at Neiman Marcus, and I liked it a lot! It was up against Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille (another winner_ and I found that it held it’s ground pretty well. It was, as you say, much more tenacious than I expected, even if it is light and fresh 🙂

    I’m so glad that you loved this one, especially having bought unsniffed!

    • Olfactoria says:

      I am glad you liked it too. Too bad your M went for the Tom Ford though budgetwise 😉

      • deeHowe says:

        He’s not picky, so long as everything he has is the best 😉

        Although, we wore Jeux de Peau yesterday, and really liked that… so maybe he’ll change his mind and want that one for the birthday!

        I can’t believe that Serge Lutens is the new “affordable”! LOL.

        • Olfactoria says:

          How far we have come that Serge is considered affordable now, lol. But Jeux de Peau is really great, I prefer it over Tobacco Vanille.

          • Undina says:

            What are you doing to me?! I really like Tpbacco Vanille and was resisting the purchase only because of the price… What if I like Jeux de Peau not better than TV but in addition to?

          • Olfactoria says:

            Well, then you end up loving all three! 🙂 And rightly so, all three are so different and great in their own ways.

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  13. I thought this was such a fresh take on vanilla. No cupcake in sight 🙂 It did last a crazy-long time too. I didn’t know that it was launched in the spring, but that is a nice thing to know.

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