Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Finding my way through the woods - comparing the Serge Lutens boises

So quickly, my apartment has turned quiet again. Husband is back to work after his holiday. My son is back at pre-school. My baby girl is having a nap (I don't know if she technically is a baby any more, she turned one a month ago, but anyway). At the same time the weather has been getting chillier. All of a sudden there is autumn in the air.

So, now I'm going to write about some perfumes that I feel have a somewhat autumnal feel to them, namely the Serge Lutens boises. I've been comparing 5 of them, namely:
  • Bois Oriental
  • Bois et Musc
  • Bois et Fruits
  • Bois de Violette
  • Shiseido Feminité du Bois
The first four all came in 1992 and rely on the same cedary base. I find it hard to describe, but there is sunny wood, sweet fruits (I'm getting raspberry or blackberry jam and quinces) and resin, blended to perfection. Anyone who is serious about perfumes should try at least one of these once.

Bois Oriental

This scent The Perfumed Court touts as a "Gateway Serge Lutens". The reason for that is that the woody cedar base is a lot less intense, I'd say there is about half of it, compared to the other scents. Instead there is a big component of sweet vanilla added. I have to say, this is my least favourite. I really like that woody part, smelling it makes me think of talking a walk in a magical forest I know and love. But all that vanilla, it feels like there is a sticky sweet fog obscuring everything worth seeing. This one is not for me.

Bois et Musc

Do ware panthers pee in the wood?
This one consists of 2 main tracks. There is the good old cedar base and a hefty dose of musk. The musk is faint at first, but grows stronger and in the end overtakes the cedar, as the musk is very long lived.
I've reviewed this one before and I wrote something about "feminine musk" and "a great scent to wear to the office". I must have had a massive cold or possibly suffered from some temporal sort of brain damage that day. That musk is pure animal and lands somewhere between blackberries and cat pee. It's similar to that "after shave" note found in Muscat wines. Everyone who has smelled Muscs Koublai Khan will know what I mean. So, I just want to make this clear - please try before wearing to the office...

Bois et Fruits

Here the fruity parts of the cedar base have been amped up. That means A LOT of raspberries, blackberries and quinces. The fruits are all on the sweet and jammy side, creating a cheery and youngish feeling concoction. I wear this one when I want to smile. I have reviewed it before and I don't feel there is that much to add. The old review can be found here.

Bois de Violette

Another great one, I love to wear this one when I'm feeling a bit introspective and dreamy. Here the cedar is matched by violets, creating a darker but still very beautiful forest. This one I've also reviewed before, the review can be found here.

Shiseido Feminité du Bois

Now, here is a real woman. This one makes the others look like teenagers going through phases, not having found themselves yet. Feminité du Bois is the classiest, sexiest most elegant scent I've come across in a very long time. The cedary base in this one is different, I can't say exactly what is the difference. It's similar to the others, but when comparing them wrist to wrist there is a notable difference.

I'm not sure about the connection between this one and the others. As far as I understand (and correct me if I'm wrong) Shiseido Feminité du Bois is the forerunner, created by Christopher Sheldrake and Pierre Bourdon before the Serge Lutens perfume brand was born. There is a "Feminité du Bois" launched under the Serge Lutens brand as well but it seems like the formula is slightly different according to random Internet sources. I haven't tried the Serge Lutens version myself so I can't really say.

What I can say is that the SFdB is true magic! This is a fairy forest at it's sunniest and most intense. There is a lot of fruit there and I think the most prominent one is plum. If you've been watching True Blood, I'm also thinking of the glowing lumiere fruits. The downside of eating them is that you loose track of time but as long as you get to stay in Fairy and smell like this, I don't see this as a problem. I also get a hint of leather and spices that I don't get from the others. Overall SFdB is more of a skin scent, inviting people in. And it's up to you to use the fairy powers in SFdB to decide if you're ever going to let them go again.

Special thanks to Ines for sending me the sample of Shiseido Feminité du Bois



  1. Feminite du Bois was one of my first perfume loves many years ago, not long after it launched under the Shiseido brand. It smells very much the same today, with small exceptions. Lately I've been preferring Bois de Violette, though, because I'm obsessed with violets. But cedar, that's one of my favorite perfume ingredients ever, and nobody does cedar like Sheldrake. I have yet to try Fruits, Musc or Oriental, but am particularly hot to try Fruits. It sounds lovely.

    By the way, *HIGH FIVE* for the True Blood references, I'm a huge fan. Eric + Sookie 4Evah!
    Feminite du Bois would be a good fragrance for Pam, don't you think?

  2. Haha, poor Pam! She really needs all the help she can get to smell good right now... :)

    I love both BdV and BeF. The start of BeF is a bit artificial if one puts on to much, but when that settles after about 30 minutes it smells amazingly good, so I can highly recommend that one!

  3. I like that you tackled all of these together, it was really interesting to read about them side by side. Now I need to remember to go back and read your other Bois reviews in more detail.

  4. Ever since I first tried them I've been wanting to take a week and try them side by side in all different permutations, to see how similar or not they are. And when I was on vacation this summer I finally managed to do this. That's my inner nerd finally getting her way :)

    These are all great perfumes and I'd love to hear what you think of them!