Nineties Nostalgia: Vanilla Fields Perfume

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Pre-Teen Beauty and the Search for a Signature Scent

Vanilla Fields perfume 

It started with an article on finding your “signature scent.” I can’t recall the publication, but as it was the early 90’s and I was a preteen who had not yet discovered the wonders of Sassy or YM, it was most likely in a Redbook or Reader’s Digest. I was a voracious reader and thought that reading “grown up” magazines somehow made me more mature. In reality it just taught me the four signs of a stroke and how to keep your perennials lush every year.

I also can’t recall the article itself, but I do distinctly remember that it said that wearing a signature scent may seem boring, but sticking to one perfume was classic, like a little black dress that never went out of style. (Unlike my Starter jacket.) The article also used the oft-repeated Marilyn Monroe quote on what she wore to bed, “Why, Chanel No. 5, of course.”

Now, I had no idea what Chanel No. 5 smelled like, but if Marilyn loved it enough to make it her signature scent AND to wear it to bed, it must be amazing. And if I had a signature scent, I’d be just like Marilyn! Having been a tall, chunky, mixed race child from Texas, I now realize this is a lot to ask of a perfume…

Somehow, my search led to Vanilla Fields; possibly because I liked vanilla and possibly because I had received a gift set for Christmas. I had also learned from one of the grown-up magazines the “French art of layering,” which I took to mean, “apply all the products; often, with gusto and strong enough for them to smell you coming.”

Vanilla Fields EDT

This continued for a few years until our local mall finally got a Bath and Body Works and my love of bath products outgrew my desire for a scent that said, “ALYSSA.” Looking back, I cannot be certain that anyone other than me thought of Vanilla Fields as my signature scent, but I know it was not for lack of trying on my part.

On a whim, recently, I decided to pick up a bottle of Vanilla Fields Perfume. Spritzing myself, I was hit with a wave of nostalgia – as well as a cloud of heady florals. I remembered the perfume as being more delicate, more gourmand, but Vanilla Fields is lighter on the vanilla and rather heavy on the fields. It’s pleasant but having become a dedicated user of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s perfume oils, my darling signature scent is much too oppressive.

Sorry, old friend; I think our time has passed. I’m older, wiser and have a feeling that even Marilyn changed it up once in a while. I’m afraid you’re consigned to the back of the makeup case, only to be brought out when I want to go back to days of layered WigWam socks, tight-rolled jeans and a brace-faced preteen learning how to be a woman.

How about you, readers? Did you ever have a signature scent?

photos: Alyssa for we heart this


  • lyssachelle

    Alyssa is kinda geeky, kinda girly and all the way in love with her cowboy husband who can say words like, “ornery” with a straight face. She live in Texas and is working on her Masters, being a good cook and the art of looking cute in the morning AND being on time for work. skin tone: NC42 skin type: oily to normal favorite beauty product: nail polish and mascara

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  1. Icequeen81 says:

    This was my first perfume, ever, I was 15. Indeed 90 nostalgie

    1. I think this was my first “grown-up” perfume, a step up from teh Malibu Musk that my fellow volleyball teammates and I used to wear in lieu of showering after morning practice. (UGH, I can just imagine how it must have been to sit next to us in class! :-) )

  2. Aw, I love this piece! Nothing like scent to conjure up the memories. I was big into sandalwood and hippie oils back in the day, and Coty’s ex’cla-ma’tion–remember the cool bottle?!

    1. I DO!! I remember the ads for it in magazines too, so cool! Ahhhh….good times.

  3. Oh gosh, there were those body sprays that smelled like cotton candy and gummy bears… I remember wearing that in elementary school.

    1. Yes! I remember a lot of my friends getting those in the travel section bins at the store. They were like 75 cents and they would stink up the bus with cotton candy or gummi bears scent…

  4. I remember Vanilla Fields but I am older than you and, therefore, at that time was soooooo much more sophisticated and into Obsession. My first love was, however, Love’s Baby Soft Body Mist. From the first time I saw it at the Hi-Lo Drugstore, I was in love. It was in every one of my Christmas stockings for years (until my college Obsession). I can still smell that pink, powdery freshness…mmmm. Speaking of Hi-Lo, that was also the drugstore that introduced me to another love: Dr. Scholl’s Excercise Sandals. My how I loved to size my feet on the styrafoam foot chart and choose a lovely blister-inducing, splintering, oh-so-uncomfortable sandal that was oh-so-good-for-you! Oh, how I digress! No such thing as a little bit of nostalgia!

  5. This brought a smile to my face. I remember the little perfume tester for Vanilla Fields in whatever magazines we usually had in the house. I have the same wave of nostalgia whenever I walk by a Bath & Body Works and get a waft of the collective scents. Sun Ripened Raspberry, Cucumber Melon, & Plumeria were huge in my day! Thankfully I haven’t seen it come back, but where I grew up the cotton candy and gummi bear body splashes also were big for a moment. I hated both of them and would wince when I walked by girls wearing them in the hall! Haha.

    1. Oh, Sun Ripened Raspberry! Do you remember Happy Daisy? That become one of my favorites, but they discontinued it and I was devastated!

  6. I love that you layered your Vanilla Fields, @lyssachelle ! My first signature scent was Love’s Baby Soft and its low-rent cohort Avon’s Sweet Honesty.

    @amity , I still have my bottle of ex’cla-ma’tion packed away somewhere.

    1. Avon brand perfume!! I think I remember trying to wear Avon’s Imari when I was little and getting in trouble for wearing something “too grown-up”. Ahhh, Avon…

  7. Oh, yes, @lyssachelle! My signature scent, like others of you, was Love’s Baby Soft (and Love’s Lemon). I still love it; so soft and subtle. And then my older sister’s boyfriend gave her Nina Ricci’s “L’Air du Temps.” I thought that it was what Heaven must smell like. I wore it all through my teen years (and it’s still my husband’s favorite).

    1. Isn’t L’Air du Temps what Clarice Starling wore in “The Silence of the Lambs”? :/

  8. I never had a signature scent growing up. I’m not counting Electric Youth. That was less a signature scent and more of a lifestyle choice.

    The only fragrance I’m really married to is Dior’s Hypnotic Poison in the fall and winter. It smells like a root beer float on me. My hubby loves root beer floats. I also get compliments from strangers when I wear it.

    1. “I’m not counting Electric Youth. That was less a signature scent and more of a lifestyle choice.”
      HAHAHA! I love it! And I love the thought of wearing root beer float scent, I’ll have to check it out; although that’s probably your special body chemistry that makes it smell so awesome…and now I want a root beer float.

    2. @lyssachelle – Definitely try out the Hypnotic Poison the next time you’re at the mall. They have it at every Dior counter. Spray it on, walk around, sniff yourself after about half an hour and that’s pretty much how it will smell on you. I had a friend that wore this in college and it smelled more like potpourri on her. It smells WAY different on me.

      Also, when I think about certain fragrances I was unfortunate enough to don, I think of this:

      Bigfoot’s dick. ’nuff said.

  9. I was way too into Vanilla Fields and Love’s Baby Soft. I will argue that they were a vast improvement from my brief foray into Debbie Gibson’s Electric Youth perfume. What was I thinking?

    1. @kellie76 – You were thinking you wanted to smell EXACTLY like Debbie Gibson. :P lol

  10. just_kazari says:

    Ah ha, wow, Vanilla Fields. 90’s nostalgia indeed, as I loved this in late high school/early 20s. Does anyone still wear this? I remember loving it but eventually gave it up partly because perfume has never been a big part of my beauty routine and also because I was afraid it screamed of ‘cheap drugstore cologne’….

    1. I don’t know if people still wear it, but there were only a couple of bottles left when I bought the one pictured! SOMEBODY is buying it…maybe people like me, for the nostalgia factor. :-)

  11. I love Vanilla Fields! I wish there were a more adult version. The notes are very nice but it definitely smells like cheap perfume. I wish someone would upgrade Vanilla Fields into a more high end scent! <3

  12. I must say that MEN really love Vanilla Fields. I did not know why until I read an article that says men are attracted to women who wear perfumes that represent a flavor or some sort of food – vanilla, chocolate, cinnamon etc…

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