A Blog about my love in perfumes, the aesthetics, the hedonism, the greatness of these artistic creations of the olfactory world. It is about my wish, my dream to create something like this one day.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Chanel Exclusifs : Bois des Îles

The first time I smelt Bois des Iles was in a samples fridge in the fragrance library in Firmenich.

The thought of exotic wood, in a faraway land, hardly related to the cold open refrigerator door and the cold bottle dripping with condensation. Yet the mildly golden liquid within transported me to another place.

As I put my nose to the touche, I sense immediately the spicy woody accord, led by a short burst of aldehydes and bergamot (so typical of Beaux), it quickly led to the main interlude of the fragrance.

The exoticism of the fragrance can hardly be denied. Slowly rising from the skin of my hand, it is like a warm stream of vapour, from a cup of hot chocolate with cinnamon and cloves. The accord is formed between the familiar milky creamy sandalwood and spices. The dominant sandalwood note is flanked and accentuated by soft aldehydes and rose/jasmine to give it lift and volume and a certain lightness, and supported by other notes like vetiver or perhaps vetiveryl acetate to give it the dryness and fine woody feel.

Before the sandalwood note becomes too sickly stifling and boringly “nourishing“, a spicy note immediately contrasts with and balances the rich creaminess. The slightly clove and cinnamon spice note is enriched with ylang.

The whole perfume is carefully balanced, not too overtly woody, just a hint of spices, florals and citrus/musk to lift it up. This fragrance could be a feminine or a masculine fragrance, either way. Many think of it as a feminine perfume because it comes in parfum, but I think it works really well on a man’s skin too.

Eventually this fragrance would evolve into another masterpiece, Egoiste, who many say is a fragrance way too ahead of its time. It was through the lens of Egoiste, with its ultra masculine note of sandalwood and black spices that made me understand this very sublime and subtle fragrance. If Bois des Iles is a exercise in polished elegance of the feminine, then Egoiste is a conscious exercise to push these elements to an almost rough hewn chiselled torso of a man. In many ways, Bois des Iles is one of, what I consider, the trilogy of Ernest Beaux. One of the last perfumes that is still on offer that is created by this great Russian perfumer. He started with the same group of materials with which he created No. 5 with the aldehyde overdose, and then polished up the florals which eventually gave birth to No. 22 and 4 years later, Bois des Iles.

Watch out for it, other woody perfumes I will review are Sandalwood by Elizabeth Arden, Samsara by Guerlain, Rush Homme by Gucci, Egoiste by Chanel, Feminite du Bois by Shiseido, Poeme by Lancome, amongst others.

Image from www.toutenparfum.com

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