Romantic Vanilla – Review: Van Cleef & Arpels Orchidée Vanille

By Tara

The majority of vanilla perfumes focus on the end result of vanilla production – those calorific cupcakes and cookies. However, Orchidée Vanille takes its inspiration from the start of story: The orchid flower which produces the vanilla pod.

This floral vanilla creation manages to prove that vanilla perfumes can be grown-up and refined while still possessing that addictively satisfying quality many of us love so much.

vca orchidee vanille

Orchidée Vanille is part of the Van Cleef & Arpels high-end Collection Extraordinaire. It was created by perfumer Randa Hammami (Cruel Gardenia, Epic Man) and released in 2009 as an eau de parfum. Notes include mandarin orange, litchi, bitter almond, dark chocolate, Bulgarian rose, violet, vanilla pod, cedar, tonka and white musk.

Sparkling mandarin and smooth chocolate meet in front of a vanilla back-drop for a striking opening scene. The litchi (or lychee) adds a feeling of freshness and the bitter almond gives it some bite.

For those familiar with UK confectionary, it doesn’t resemble Terry’s Chocolate Orange too closely because the mandarin is tart and the chocolate dark. I thought this first act would be brief but it lasts on me for a good hour.

The next stage is my favourite and when it arrives it’s a nice contrast. The violet and rose merge to form a fine cosmetic overlay to the vanilla. The effect is extremely pretty and feminine, with the colour and texture of lilac devoré velvet.

Most vanillas are best suited to colder weather because of their heaviness and comforting sugar content, but Orchidée Vanille feels like a summer perfume. The vanilla seems aerated, so you get the volume without the weight. It’s not too sweet either, only peeking over the fence into gourmand territory.

The base is lush, creamy vanilla and I could still smell remnants of it on my skin the next morning. So despite not being thick and gelatinous, longevity is outstanding. It projects nicely too, leaving a pleasing trail. It’s the kind of fragrance you and others would be subtly aware of.

During his wonderful evening of vanilla perfumes for Perfume Lovers London, Neil Chapman of The Black Narcissus said Orchidée Vanille is beautiful but lacks backbone. Being someone who has struggled with vanilla-centric perfumes, this suits me just fine. The vanilla is a captivating scent in the breeze rather than an all engulfing pudding.

Neil also described it as a good “pulling perfume”. I would venture to say this is not because it’s overtly sexy but rather because it is highly alluring. It’s a lingering fragrance which would draw you in rather than get its claws into you, femme fatale style.

It’s perhaps unlikely to satiate those who like straight-up, tooth decaying vanillas such as Tihota but for those looking for a vanilla based perfume with style, Orchidée Vanille is a classy option. It has a similar balmy, romantic feel – if not scent – to Annick Goutal’s Songes. Both are the kind of fragrance I can imagine being worn for a wedding ceremony on an island shore.


If you’d like to read more about the Van Cleef & Arpels Collection Extraordinaire do see Olfactoria’s mini-reviews of the first six fragrances.

Have you tried Orchidée Vanille or any others in the Collection Extraordinaire?

Which perfumes do you think would be fitting for a tropical beach wedding?


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This entry was posted in By Tara, Fragrance Reviews, Gourmand, Van Cleef & Arpels, Vanilla and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to Romantic Vanilla – Review: Van Cleef & Arpels Orchidée Vanille

  1. cookie queen says:

    The bottles are beautiful. I hope I can try this. My list is quite short so I reckon we can huh?? xxxx

  2. Lady Jane Grey says:

    Thank you, Tara, for reminding me, how beautiful this perfume is – in fact, it’s among my 3 favorite vanillas. It’s interesting to read the notes, because I couldn’t really separate them : Orchidee Vanille is simply a wonderful floral vanilla on my skin.

    • Tara says:

      It really is a beautiful, well blended floral vanilla. Interesting to hear it’s in your Top 3 – that’s a great recommendation in itself.

  3. Sandra says:

    I keep looking for this in Vienna Tara but I am probably blind as a bat! Sounds beautiful. Xo

  4. Asali says:

    Lemming alert dear Tara! This sounds like a perfect vanilla for me too. I only own few straight up vanillas ( SDV and Vanillia), since I am not keen on smelling like pudding either. Your description is so lovely and elegant, and those heart notes of violet and rose sound so beautiful in this composition.
    Which other vanillas do you like?

    • Tara says:

      I don’t really like any other vanillas so this is quite a find for me. I go back and forth with SDV but I can’t seem to make my mind up about it. Maybe I need to spray myself down with it next time I’m near a tester 🙂

      Lucky you, owning Vanillia! So strange that one was discontinued.

      Orchidée Vanille is really elegant. It’s vanilla clothed in shades of pink and mauve.

  5. Vanessa says:

    I wore this just the other day and thought how lovely it was. You have captured all its pretty facets, especially its suitability as a wedding scent on a tropical island. It reminds me too of a more refined, more subtle Lalique Flora Bella, though I still like that one a lot.

    And your reference to ‘an engulfing pudding’ made my day!

    • Tara says:

      Ha ha! Did you imagine being swallowed whole by a giant vanilla pud?!

      I know you love your vanillas, V so your endosement counts for a lot. It is very pretty.

  6. Lady Jane Grey says:

    You know, some days I just would like to be swallowed by a giant vanilla pudding…

    • Tara says:


      This summer I am steadily eating my body weight in raspberry ripple ice-cream (with chocolate sauce). I swear the stuff is addictive.

  7. lucasai says:

    My mum loves this perfume. I was even planning to buy it for get birthday (w nich was yesterday) but we’ve has some expenses lately and nim said it’s not the time to buy it. Plus she recently bought Prada Candy l’eau.
    But she will get that Orchidee Vanille one day

    • Tara says:

      Your mum has great taste. I hope she had a nice birthday and gets that bottle of Orchidée Vanille before too long.

  8. I can see you in this one, Tara. Like you, I like that it’s not a vanilla pudding and has that lovely cosmetic vibe to it.

    Remind me to bring some California Reverie with me next time I see you. That’s very pretty stuff, indeed.

    • Tara says:

      Yes, the light cosmetic vibe is really what I love about it. Gorgeous.

      I’d love to try some California Reverie. Thanks!

  9. Hey Tara,
    I have dismissed the VC&A Serious line. Now I will have to winkle them out. I think they have them at our David Jones.
    Portia xx

    • Tara says:

      It is their “Serious line”!

      I wonder what you will make of Orchidée Vanille. Whether you’ll find it pretty but lacking backbone like Neil or if you’ll find it just your cup of tea, like me.

  10. Suzanne says:

    Orchidée Vanille probably isn’t my kind of perfume, but it’s a pure pleasure reading your review, Tara, and wishing it was “me.” 😀 I’m charmed by the deft yet sophisticated language you use to convey how it smells!

    • Tara says:

      *Beaming* Thanks so much Suzanne. The more I like the perfume, the better my writing is 🙂

      I love your bold perfume style and often wish my tastes weren’t so sedate. That’s the fun of our community though, right?

  11. Lavanya says:

    I totally want to try this after reading your review Tara..I don’t love straight up vanillas either (through in theory they sound wonderful and comforting).

    • Tara says:

      Lavanya, I completely agree. Straight-up vanillas do sound so appealing but in practice I just find them a turn-off.

      I hope this works for you.

  12. Eva S says:

    This is probably my favorite vanilla, a perfect comfort scent! I’ve been thinking about a FB for a long time, I would love to get hold of one of their new smaller sized bottles.

    • Tara says:

      Yes, I was excited to read they are now available in 45ml bottles. That’s so unusual for a high-end line these days. It might just push me over the edge…

  13. Undina says:

    I’m not a huge vanilla-centric perfumes fan so I’m curious about Orchidée Vanille. 45 ml bottles sound much more promising than 100 ml – so I’ll keep my eyes open for them to appear at Neiman Marcus – the only place where that line is available here.
    Nice review, Tara.

    • Tara says:

      Thanks, Undina. Yes, bringing out 45ml bottles is such a good move. I wish more of the exclusive lines would do the same.

      I’d be interested to hear how you get on with Orchidée Vanille . I think you might like it.

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