We review Tobacco Vanille, a spicy and vanilla-infused reinvention of the classic tobacco perfume from Tom Ford’s Private Blend Collection.
Having served as the Creative Director at Italy-based fashion powerhouse Gucci and, previously, at French luxury house Yves Saint Laurent, Thomas Carlyle Ford founded Tom Ford in 2005.
Ford opened an online store in 2006 and, the following year, his flagship boutique at 845 Madison Avenue in New York City. His clothing, eyewear, watches, and fragrances quickly became a favorite among celebrities. Fashionistas and frag-heads expectedly followed suit.
When it comes to clothing, eyewear, and accessories, Ford’s sense of style is undeniable. In 2006, he made his mark on the world of fragrances when he launched the iconic Black Orchid in collaboration with American conglomerate Estée Lauder.
A year later, in 2007, Tom Ford introduced the Private Blend Collection of luxury fragrances, and, with the addition of new scents, that collection has been growing since.
|Concentration||Eau de Parfum (EDP)|
|Description||Spicy and warm tobacco fragrance with a hint of sweet vanilla and creamy tonka beans.|
|Sizes||0.3 fl oz (10 ml), 1 fl oz (30 ml), 1.7 fl oz (50 ml), 3.7 fl oz (100 ml)|
Denatured Alcohol, Fragrance, Water, Linalool, Benzyl Benzoate, Geraniol, Limonene, Coumarin, Citronellol, Eugenol, Isoeugenol, Benzyl Alcohol, Citral, Cinnamal
Source: Tom Ford, last retrieved December 24, 2021
The very mention of tobacco nowadays is enough to raise eyebrows and cause frowns. And yet, that wasn’t always the case; smoking and wearing tobacco was once fashionable.
When Columbus reached the coast of Cuba in 1492, one of the many novelties of the New World that unfolded before his eyes was native Cubans smoking cigars made of dried tobacco rolled in binder leaves.
Columbus brought cigar boxes back to the Old World, where they quickly became a status symbol; smoking became the pastime of conquerors, courtiers, and kings. It stayed that way for centuries, peaking in the 1920s with the rise of big tobacco and the Madison-Avenue advertising companies that worked for them.
Perfume wearers took every opportunity to light a cigarette and take a puff, lacing their clothes with the overpowering smell of burnt tobacco. Perfume makers were left with no other choice than to adapt. But, instead of trying to mask tobacco’s smell, they added it as a note in their fragrances.
And so 20th-century perfumery classics, such as Tabac Blond by Caron (1919) and Alt-Innsbruck Eau de Cologne (1953), were created—perfumes for women and men who smoked cigarettes in public settings and lit cigars in private clubs.
That changed in 1964, when the U.S. Surgeon General officially recognized the health risks of tobacco use. Tobacco companies were required to print warnings on the packaging of their products, and, slowly but surely, smoking was banned in public places.
As tobacco use declined, so did the use of tobacco perfumes. They turned into a relic from the past, fragrances from a time long forgotten and unknown to many.
With the release of Tobacco Vanille in 2007, one of the earlier additions to his Private Blend Collection by senior Givaudan perfumer Olivier Gillotin, Tom Ford brought the tobacco fragrance back into the picture.
And, while smoking tobacco recreationally has fallen out of fashion and is verboten in many parts of the world, wearing tobacco perfume has once again become permissible and intriguing.
A statement of refined taste and sense of style, if you wish.
The top notes are tobacco and oriental spices. The heart notes are vanilla, cacao, tonka bean, and tobacco flower blossom. The base notes are dried fruit and sweet wood sap.
For someone who prides himself on having quit smoking many years ago, I find the smell of Tobacco Vanille strangely familiar and relapsingly addictive.
It smells like the most authentic Havana cigar you’ve ever held in your hands, dipped in an opulent cocktail of the wondrous spices and dried fruit sold by the overly polite and unapologetically pushy merchants in the crowded narrow streets of Istanbul’s spice bazaar.
The opening is smoky and peppery, it hits you right off the bat. (Some say it’s so strong, it almost always makes them sneeze).
As the scent settles on the skin, the sweetness of the vanilla and the creaminess of the tonka bean slowly but surely unfold. You can smell the musky and heady scent of the tobacco plant.
The vanilla is clearly perceptible as the scent dries down, and is accompanied by dried fruit—in an oriental way, mind you, not a tropical one—as well as sugary wood sap, the kind Canadians boil to make maple syrup.
This perfume is one of balance:
It is dark, but also playful. It is stimulating, but also hyggelig. It is assertive, but also inviting. If you recognize yourself in that description, it will fit you like a pair of driving gloves as you ride around town on an autumn day in your 80’s Porsche with the top down.
Tobacco Vanille is a fragrance for the man or woman with strength and courage. It exudes a combination of elegance and warmth so rare that it suits only a certain type of wearer who is so self-reliant that he or she dares to be authentic and sincere in a way that society has long forgotten.
Tobacco Vanille is hard to wear on sultry summer days. It is a night scent best worn in late fall, winter, and early spring. Spray it on before going to a bar, a night club, a cocktail party.
Maybe it’s because I am writing this review in December, but it almost smells Christmassy to me; the way gingerbread cookies do. When it snows outside and I feel like I need a mood lifter, I wear it.
When it comes to longevity, Tobacco Vanille is a perfume that will stick with you for a long time. Depending on your skin type and body chemistry, it can easily last 8 to 12 hours, in some cases longer.
Usually, 6-7 sprays of Tobacco Vanille applied to the pulse points of the body—behind the years, on the neck, on the insides of the elbows and on the insides of the wrists—are enough to obtain a strong scent without it being too overpowering.
You asked, we answered: Why some perfumes last longer than others
Owners of early bottles claim that, back in the day, this fragrance used to be a beast. Now, the sillage of Tobacco Vanille disappoints. The scent sits close to the skin and, though it is strong at first, its projection weakens within 1-2 hours.
Some speculate that it was impacted by the International Fragrance Association (IFRA)’s revised standards, which were introduced in 2013 and triggered a wave of reformulations of popular fragrances. (We haven’t been able to deny or confirm.)
Layer Tobacco Vanille with Lost Cherry to get the missing fragrance in Tom Ford’s Private Blend Collection: Tobacco Cherry With a Vanilla Overload.
Female readers who find the scent a tad too peppery and/or masculine and want to mellow it out should layer it with its sister fragrance from the Privacy Blend, Vanille Fatale. The result is sweet, smoky, femme-fatale vanilla scent no perfume aficionado can resist.
Add boozines to Tobacco Vanille by layering it with Kayali’s Vanilla | 28, an amber vanilla fragrance for women. The result can best be described as Tobacco Vanille Dipped in Rum.
Tom Ford’s Tobacco Vanille Eau de Parfum (EDP) is sold in five sizes: a 0.33 fl oz (10 ml) travel spray and 1 fl oz (30 ml), 1.7 fl oz (50 ml), 3.4 fl oz (100 ml), and a gigantic, 8.45 fl oz (250 ml) bottle.
Read our guide: Which size perfume to buy?
On the day of publishing this review, the 1.7 fl oz (50 ml) bottle of Tobacco Vanille sold for $263, the 3.4 fl oz (100 ml) bottle for $360, and the 8.45 fl oz (250 ml) bottle for $670.
Within the Tobacco Vanille line, there’s also a 1 fl oz (30 ml) beard oil and 5.07 fl oz (150 ml) body spray. There’s even a Tobacco Vanille aromatizing candle for the home. The body spray is a good way to indulge in this scent at a reduced price, if more diluted than the Eau de Parfum (EDP).
Tom Ford’s Tobacco Vanille is as gender-bender of a scent as genderless scents get. That said, it’s dark, smoky, and very spicy, and will only appeal to wearers, male and female, who fancy warm spicy oriental scents.
Don’t blind-buy Tom Ford’s Tobacco Vanille. While this Eau de Parfum (EDP) is one of our favorite Private Blend fragrances, it is peculiar and it won’t suit every wearer. To decide if this scent is full-bottle worthy, get the travel-sized spray or a decant instead.
Fragheads who like Tobacco Vanille should consider buying Back to Black by Kilian (genderless), Herod by Parfums de Marly (for men, but secretly worn by women with taste), and Naxos by house Xerjoff (unisex).
Tobacco Vanille is one of the best-selling scents in Tom Ford’s Private Blend Collection. It’s a warm and spicy oriental scent with a twist that, for a designer (or are the fragrances in the Private Blend considered niche?) fragrance, is worth the higher price tag.