I have been waiting for Vanille Fatale all my life.

The name brought me to a halt when I first heard it, everything indicated this would be the vanilla fragrance that would save me.

It wasn’t out or available, but I did finally get my nose on it last week at Stansted airport, and at first whiff, honestly, I felt a little conned.

I couldn’t put a finger on it, but this was a very different animal to the one I had been led to pursue. I asked my friend to chip in. He loved it. It was masculine, for sure. It was very wintery to me, like a wool sweater. It was further from vanilla than other Tom Ford fragrances I own, like Soleil Blanc or Orchid Soleil (both dreamy). After a week and a sample vial, I'm re-learning to reject that initial....Vanilla semantics-induced confusion... and come to conclusions for you:

I would say Vanille Fatale is a woody/leather gourmand, and that Tom Ford has produced a delicious, classic masculine vanilla. Unfortunately, it's far from the vision of vanilla I’m drawn to wear myself.

On first spritz, it’s very boozy like straight Jack Daniels. Immediately, a strong punch of leather saddle follows, and shortly after I start to sense some strong white flowers coming at me like a church organ. It vaguely conjures Serge Lutens Un Bois Vanille at this point. The scent is, as with most Tom Ford releases, quite « pungent », which can be good or bad depending on whether you like it. It then goes nutty like marzipan, or maybe it’s the tonka, and the vanilla absolut is introduced at this point and settles in. I love the vanilla accord, I just wish I could detangle all the other sticky stuff off it! The smell remains the same from there onwards, but if you wash it off, or the next day on your clothes, the whiffs you get are mostly an ambery vanilla pod. Which is nice.

To be honest, I’ve seen this progression before. It reminds me in character of Ambre Narguile from the Hermessence series, as well as of Vetiver Tonka. While I wear it, I get deja vus of Frederic Malle’s Dries Van Noten. They are almost identical. The lingering dry down reminds me of Agent Provocateur L’Agent, which I sometimes miss. The myrrh is interesting but I prefer my incense in burning sticks (I sold the discontinued Sahara Noir which was all the myrrh) and by the end of the movie it also reminds of Tom Ford Noir Pour Femme, which is built on a similar vanilla ground.

It’s a scent I enjoy on the right guy.

But not on me.


I WOULD SAY THAT Vanille Fatale is a woody/leather gourmand, and that Tom Ford has produced a delicious, classic masculine vanilla

There seems to be a conspiration against vanilla- like nobody really knows what it is or should smell like. To me, the truth lies somewhere between a vanilla pod and a vanilla orchid: sweet like a cake loaf, but fresh like a flower petal. Since nobody gets this right, vanilla got a really bad rep for years. Then, as « ironic » became the new « cool », everybody embraced vanilla, some rush-buying Britney’s Fantasy, some agreeing to jump on the bandwagon only as long as the accords included darker tones like incense, leather, tobacco and booze. A myriad of fragrances came out with vanilla on the name and gentleman’s club on the sleeve. And it was a revolution.


But you know what? The vanilla orchid is a flower, and I don't agree that the only elegant form of vanilla is one mixed in with all these resins, leathers and woods- they weigh it down. They can absolutely be beautiful, but the delicacy of the flowers is ruined, and the spirit is absolutely altered. I think we can move on from that preconception. So while perfume reviewers are often thrilled when they find a resinous vanilla, it is always rather a downer to me, because I’ve seen it before, and it was never that stunning to begin with.

It would be unfair for me to declare this a disappointment though- as a man's scent, it's fabulous. I just wanted it to be for me...!

Bottom line: If you're a girl dying for some new Tom Ford, I'd get one of his mat lipsticks. Which is exactly what I did.

If your intention is to bite your boyfriend, Vanille Fatale is not a bad condiment. You can purchase Vanille Fatale at the following:

USA retailer / UK retailer