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It's time we all admitted that vanilla is good. I love the spice, and I'm not afraid to declare it. See, the thing with vanilla is that it's incredibly versatile. I love it in food and fragrance; it's warm and sweet yet can be spicy, boozy, or even smoky. Like rose, vanilla can be pulled in many directions to consistently show up in new and exciting ways. It's time we put some respect on vanilla's name.
When it comes to fragrance, vanilla is in almost everything you're already wearing. It's a reliable note that can temper and balance without ever pulling it sweet—if sweet isn't your thing (still: I would encourage you to unpack that.) Byredo knows vanilla deserves to be celebrated and does just that with their latest launch, Vanille Antique ($330).
When I first heard about the new fragrance, I was excited and even more because it was part of their Night Veils collection. Night Veils is made up of extraits, meaning they have a higher concentration of perfume oils, making them more potent on the skin and longer-lasting than your typical Eau de parfum.
I’ve worn all of the Night Veils collection, and while they are all more potent and last longer, the first thing I noticed about Vanille Antique is how light it is. As much as I love vanilla (have I mentioned that?), some people can find it overpowering if the fragrance leans too hard into the one singular note without balancing it out. Many brands overdo the note, only to have the final product be cloying and headache-inducing. Vanille Antique does the opposite. The fragrance sits close to the skin and is detectable only, almost, with skin-to-skin contact, which is an unexpected choice. As a vanilla apologist, I would have preferred something stronger. Still, you realize it’s worth the chase when you can smell it.
The fragrance begins with freesia and plum, which is a great start. The freesia offers a soft texture of a velvety petal, opening the scent with a gentle caress against your skin. Byredo executes plum-like notes, like fig and apple, excitingly (see Pulp, Bibliothèque, Space Rage). Here, it adds a ripe tanginess that enhances the scent's expected sweetness.
The heart of the scent gives you cashmere woods and amber, which anchors it and gives longevity throughout the day. The vanilla is still center stage, but the warm amber and the soft, dry woods help make the sweetness palatable even for those who reject scents like this. The base is held down by cistus oil which is warm, woody, and spicy. Madagascan vanilla reaches up through the fragrance and holds hands with the cashmere woods and amber for an enticing, inviting aroma.
The Bottom Line
Byredo took a polarizing note and created something equally unique and charming. Vanille Antique takes a more accurate approach to vanilla, blending it with notes that let it breathe. The scent gives us an ultra-approachable, timeless option perfect for year-long wear. Some vanillas skew very spicily, boozy, or cakey, but this is a soft, alluring iteration that's unexpected and familiar.
Vanille Antique fills a needed space in the Byredo collection. The brand recently discontinued its Seven Veils scent, which was the most vanilla fragrance in its collection, and without it—Byredo's fragrance family lacked something. Still, the brand addressed that directly and gave us a vanilla formula that everyone can enjoy—one that's even better than their previous offering.
Many of Byredo's recent scents have been intense, heady, and commanding. Surprisingly, a fragrance that could have easily been just as overpowering is easy to wear, and it's also probably my favorite of their recent releases. You should try it because—it's okay to admit it: You love vanilla, don't you?