The background: French niche line Comptoir Sud Pacifique released Vanille Banane in 2003. At that time, the brand had a bit of a cult following for their various vanilla + fruit blends, none of which I cared for (although I still wear two early Comptoir Sud Pacifique fragrances, Aqua Motu and L'Eau du Gouverneur). I doubt I even tried Vanille Banane. In due course it was discontinued, then in 2018 they brought it back.
What the brand says: "Renowned for pristine beaches and lush tropical scenery. Walk among the Banana trees, delighting by the gourmand scents of banana fruits combined with the green notes of the banana leaves. An unforgettable fragrance intensely exotic, a greedy fruity cocktail with Vanilla and Rum." The notes include orange, banana, whipped cream, banana tree leaves, clover, vanilla and white rum.
Why I bought it: I've mentioned before that 2018 was not a good year for me. I did not succumb to an entire year of stress buying, but I did bookend the year with stress buying. First, in January, a spur-of-the-moment purchase of Atelier Cologne Iris Rebelle. Then in December, I succumbed to a long-time, spendy-for-me lemming for Aftelier Candide. While I was at it, I was buying some other things for the holidays (you know how that goes) and I had a 20% off coupon (ditto) so I thought, banana, why not? How bad could it be?
What it smells like: The opening smells like banana candy + banana pudding + a touch of cream soda. So, think banana flavoring, not the freshly peeled fruit — if there was some intention of verisimilitude here, the inspiration must have been laffy taffy or banana runts, both of which you'll find frequently mentioned in reviews of Vanille Banane. After a minute or two, add a dollop of coconut cream and a splash of rum (personally, I could do with another splash). The banana hangs around for a good 30 minutes or so before fading gradually. What is left is pretty much the vanilla, which is adequate, but no Guerlain Spiritueuse Double Vanille. If you love Comptoir Sud Pacifique Vanille Extreme or Vanille Coco, you might love the dry down more than I do.
The lasting power: There are lots of complaints about the lasting power. I wish the banana lingered a little longer, but otherwise I have no complaints — the vanilla lingers 2-3 hours after the banana is gone, which is long enough for me.
Verdict: You will either think it's all great fun, or you'll think it's ridiculous as a personal fragrance. Quite possibly, six or seven years ago, I would have fallen into the "you've got to be kidding" camp. At the moment, I find it serves its purpose admirably — every time I spray it on, I smile. It's cheaper than Xanax, folks!
If you need some: Comptoir Sud Pacifique Vanille Banane can be found in 10 ($24, and possibly out of stock everywhere), 30 ($42) and 100 ($85) ml Eau de Toilette.
The quick poll: Name a fragrance that makes you smile when you're stressed or unhappy, but that you probably wouldn't wear otherwise.