Perfume Review – Serge Lutens Bois de Violette

VioletsIn the heart of the cedar forest, one tree towered above all the rest. Its dark, dry bark was peppered, and sometimes spiced with cinnamon, with cardamom that was so rich, it almost verged on chocolate, and with sappy sweetness. The gnarled tangle of its ancient roots protectively surrounded the forest’s greatest treasure: a large bunch of African violets that cast a purple glow that shone like a beacon. Its fragrant smell took over the darkness, lending the forest its name amongst the villagers: “Bois de Violette,” the forest of violets.

The smell was powerful but dainty, delicately airy but dense, and filled with layers that danced in a play of light and dark. The purple petals were bedazzled by fat prisms of dew, creating a watery, purple sweetness. The leaves were dark green, and spicy with the crackling pepper that matched the aroma of the trees around it. And its heart was so sweet, it was fruited, honeyed, and syrupy. From the freshness of succulent, fleshy, ripe peaches hanging on the vine to the sweetness of dark, stewed, glazed fruit, the violet syrup ran like purple blood through the veins of both the flower and the trees. A delicate mist of powder fluttered around the edges, like a darting Tinkerbell who popped up here and there, but who ultimately decided her presence wasn’t needed in the festive play of dainty floral violets, violet syrup, dewy, green, watery, violet freshness, and dark, peppered woods.

Source: modavesen.com

Source: modavesen.com

That is Bois de Violette, an eau de parfum that was created by Serge Lutens‘ favorite perfumer, Christopher Sheldrake, and released in 1992. Though it is primarily an expensive Paris Bell Jar perfume that is exclusive to Serge Lutens’ Paris headquarters, Bois de Violette came out at some point in a regular, import-version, 1.7 oz/50 ml bottle that is easily available and sometimes discounted online.

Serge Lutens Bois de VioletteSerge Lutens describes Bois de Violette on his website as follows:

Full of vim and vigor.

Once again – and I’m repeating myself – femininity worked its way into this composition, by way of its leaves and a few flowers, whose color – a charming discovery made in a secluded thicket – won me over. A vigorous fragrance, it never gives up!

There is a reason why Uncle Serge says he’s repeating himself, and it’s something that is an important context for the fragrance. Bois de Violette is one of a quartet of “Bois” or wood fragrances to follow from Lutens’ ground-breaking, debut perfume, Féminité du Bois for Shiseido. It is a highly admired, much-loved fragrance which essentially served as the mothership for all the Bois siblings which followed.

Luca Turin, the famous perfume critic, has a very useful explanation of the history of the Bois line, their perfume structure, and how Bois de Violette differs from the rest. In Perfumes: The A-Z Guide, he talks of how the “woody-fruity structure of Féminité du Bois was first devised by the perfumer Pierre Bourdon, … and then passed on to perfumer Christopher Sheldrake, who developed it with Lutens… to keep it as dark and transparent as possible.” When Lutens decided to open his own perfume house, he needed more perfumes for his line, and decided to do variations on his uber-successful Féminité.

Enter the technique known as overdosage, widely propagated by Bourdon, in which a backstage component in one perfume is moved to the forefront in a new composition, a sort of rotation in perfume space. From Féminité du Bois came four variations, three of which create new effects by bold-typing one of the components of the original: musk (Bois et Musc), fruit (Bois et Fruits), amber (Bois Oriental).

[¶] The fourth, Bois de Violette, differs because the woody-fruity violet smell of methyl ionone recapitulates and intensifies the rest of the fragrance. Its rotation takes place around the center; the stained-glass mandala is perfected by a violet gem around which everything dances. [New paragraph spacing added.]

In the remainder of that Five-Star review, Luca Turin talks of the day he bought his bottle of Bois de Violette and how he felt as though he were “carrying the most precious object in the world.” He also adds how Bourdon’s fifth perfume sketch or proposal for the Féminité/Bois series accidentally wound up becoming Dior‘s Dolce Vita. But perhaps the truly intriguing part of the review is the sense one has of the usually acerbic, disdainful, haughty, and wholly unimpressionable Luca Turin — “His Majesty” as he is sometimes known — being completely humbled by Bois de Violette. It’s not something one sees very often in his summations, and it says quite a bit about the perfume.

Source: underthemagnifier.wordpress.com

Source: underthemagnifier.wordpress.com

Fragrantica classifies Bois de Violette as a Woody Floral Musk, and says that its notes consist of “violet, violet leaf and cedar.” I see that simple trio mentioned almost across the board in the note listings for Bois de Violette, but I also came across a few references to orange blossom. It intrigued me, especially as one never knows the full, official listing of ingredients in Serge Lutens’ fragrances. So, being a little OCD, I did some digging, and found a surprisingly lengthy list on a few sites. According to The Perfume House (which sells one of those rare, small 1.7 oz bottles of Bois de Violette), the perfume actually includes:

Cedarwood, violet leaf, candied plum, peach, orange blossom, rose, violet, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, musk, vanilla, honey.

It’s a very different matter, wouldn’t you say? In the vial, Bois de Violette smells of violets, its green leaves, and something dewy. On the skin, however, the perfume opens as a rich, complex bouquet of dried fruit, violets, violet powder, wet violet petals, the green of the leaves, the wet, damp earth surrounding it, and violet syrup. In the background, there are subtle flickers of orange blossom, peach, sweet tea rose, musk, cinnamon, and a drizzle of honey. The perfume feels simultaneously light, dark, airy, sheer, and thick– all at once. Yet, its projection is so subtle, delicate and light that I actually had to double my usual dose (to about 4.5 large, dabbed smears) to get all the nuances.

Source: en.wikipedia.org

Source: en.wikipedia.org

The delicacy of the violets is stunning. Fragile, dainty, watery, airy, and, yet, that dark, dense, syrupy shadow lurks behind them. In a strange way, it feels almost ominous, this pretense of delicate fragility with a big, hulking, dark shadow looming broodingly from behind the thicket of equally dark trees. The forest that initially felt a little in the distance starts to inch closer as the opening minutes pass by. It’s cedar, but it’s more than just simply dry, peppered woods. The tree is dark from spices like cardamom, and the merest hint of fiery cloves. The two work in conjunction with the sweetness of the dark fruits, the syrupy violet, and the drizzled honey to create an unexpected impression of something like cardamom-patchouli-chocolate. It’s subtle, muted and short-lived, but cardamom chocolate definitely comes to mind in those opening moments.

Also lurking in the shadows, in a slightly bewildering juxtaposition to the rest of those notes, is a hint of delicately feminine violet powder. It’s as if Snow White’s compact and violet-orris lipstick had suddenly fallen on the wet, damp floor of a dark, peppered, cedar-cardamom forest, lying nestled amongst dark, haunting violets in an interplay of feminine and masculine, light and shadows. I’m not a huge fan of powdery notes, no matter how light and sheer, so my favorite part of Bois de Violette in the opening minutes may be the more delicate aspect of the flowers themselves. Both the violets and its leaves have a wet, earthy greenness that feels wonderfully fresh and natural. It’s as if they’ve been spackled by dew and by hints of sweetly dark, fresh, early morning soil.

Source: RebootwithJoe.com

Source: RebootwithJoe.com

Yet, there are flickers of fruit that start to stir in the background, and which soon add a different nuance to the notes. At first, it’s merely the usual Sheldrake/Lutens base of candied prunes and plums, but soon, less than fifteen minutes into the perfume’s development, there is the peach. It feels bright, sweet, succulent but, also, as fresh as if it were still hanging on the tree. It’s lovely, and reminds me of a note in a vintage classic, but I’m hard pressed to figure out which one. It’s not the peachy intensity or potent sweetness of YSL‘s Champagne/Yvresse, nor of Hèrmes24 Faubourg, and certainly not Guerlain‘s Mitsouko, but there is something frustratingly familiar about it. Whatever the similarity, the peach note is a perfect accompaniment to the violets, adding to their delicate sweetness in a way that sometimes fits better than the darker, candied, syrupy plums or prunes.

Cedar forest via British Columbia's Ministry of Forestry, for.gov.bc.ca.

Cedar forest via British Columbia’s Ministry of Forestry, for.gov.bc.ca.

Around this time, the honey begins its slow rise from Bois de Violette’s depths. It’s not heavy or dark, but, rather, sweet, fragrant, and almost floral in nature. Bois de Violette has suddenly turned incredibly fruited and sweet. In fact, the violets feel quite overshadowed in a distinct, individual way. No longer front and center, they lurk behind the honeyed fruits, both fresh and stewed, and the dark cedar trees infused with spices. The cedar is, to my slight regret, supplemented by ISO E Super and it’s initially strong enough to make my head throb a little. That said, it’s not too much as a whole, just enough to underscore the woodiness of the base and to amplify the note of pepper which begins to emerge. That subtle nuance of pepper is almost everywhere, from the delicate, green spiciness of the leaves to the cedar base, and it adds an interesting contrast to Bois de Violette’s floral, fruited, honeyed, wet, earthy and powdered tones.

Source: hdwallpapers4desktop.com

Source: hdwallpapers4desktop.com

The perfume’s aquatic undertone is really pretty. It’s as though Bois de Violette’s violet syrup can’t dispel the early morning dew on the flower’s petals. The watery, pastel effect is almost a little discordant amidst the peaches, stewed fruits, honey, and peppered woods. As that combination grows stronger, the aquatic element starts to grow weaker, along with the violet powder. Both recede to the background where they will pop up from time to time like a Jack in the Box, but generally they are just subtle, indirect effects on the perfume’s main composition.

The same thing happens with the green leaves which give a really good fight to the stronger, sweeter notes. They refuse to vanish completely, appearing every now and then in a lovely touch of slightly pungent, very peppered freshness. It feels as if you’ve taken a violet’s actual leaves, and crushed them between your fingers to release their subtle oil. That aroma remains throughout much of Bois de Violette’s development, but it’s rarely front and center as it is in the opening 30 minutes. Instead, it lurks in the background, a mere supporting player to the flower and cedared woods.

As time progresses, the notes wax and wane, hitting certain peaks before ebbing away like the tide. First it is the spices which melt into the background forty minutes into Bois de Violette’s development, no longer noticeable in an individual, distinct manner. Instead, they simply add an indirect effect to the richness and complexity of the sweet base. Then, it’s the turn of the musk. Exactly one hour in, the musk appears, feeling neither white nor dark and animalic. Instead, it’s sweet, and strangely indolic in a way. It grows and grows in strength for the next two hours, imbuing everything it touches with a fine mist, until it, too, fades into an amorphous, nebulous, background effect.

Source: shamshyan.com

Source: shamshyan.com

At the 90-minute mark, Bois de Violet starts to change quite dramatically in feel. The perfume feels more subdued, not to mention muted. All the edges have blurred, making the fragrance feel like an out-of-focus swirl of violet sweetness, musk, and dry, spicy, sweetened, peppered woods. It’s hard to know where one note begins and another ends, as they overlap into each other. There are no longer any distinct fruity, peachy, aquatic, leafy, green, spicy, or powdery touches that can be pulled out. Not all those notes are dead, however. Exactly two hours into Bois de Violette’s development, the powder re-emerges. It’s as if it had to wait for the forceful top layer — the dark woods, the fruit, the violet syrup, and the spices — to retreat in prominence before it had a chance to unfurl. The overall result is a soft, slightly powdery, violet fragrance with a hint of fresh, green violet leaves and a lightly sprinkling of pepper (and ISO E Super), all atop a base of violet syrup and woody, peppered cedar.

The perfume turns gauzier and more abstract with every hour. Around the 3.75 hour mark, Bois de Violette is a nebulous, amorphous blend of violets, lightly dusted with a hint of powder and musk, and infused with a vague sense of something green. It’s a soft, muted, sheer, airy combination that floats like transparent purple gauze above the skin. A short time later, at the five-hour mark, Bois de Violette is nothing more than an abstract, sweet, floral musk.

The perfume remains that way until its very end, exactly 7 hours from its start. The sillage was initially moderate before fading to something very soft, discreet, and unobtrusive. And, remember, I had to apply double my usual amount with Bois de Violette (to almost 5 very large dabs in all) to get those numbers. On Fragrantica, there is a mixed assessment of both the projection and duration, with the most votes (10) ascribed to “moderate” longevity and soft sillage (10), followed by moderate (9). One commentator notes that Bois de Violette lasted a mere 2 hours on his skin, but 8 hours on his clothes, with sillage that dropped after 10 minutes to become extremely close to the skin. I suspect that Bois de Violette is a fragrance which will require a lot of sprays to really last, but which will always be extremely discreet and unobtrusive in projection.

Monin Sirop de Violette. Source: us.monin.com

Monin Sirop de Violette. Source: us.monin.com

I like Bois de Violette, but something holds me back from being really impressed. I can’t pinpoint what the problem is. Perhaps it’s the way Bois de Violette went from being so incredibly sweet at first, to becoming a little too blurry, nebulous, and simple. Perhaps it’s because I felt as though the delicate, fresh, natural beauty of the violet flower was initially overshadowed and, then, later, felt so vague that it was like grasping at the wind. And, yet, none of those characterisations are the full story or, maybe, even fair. Bois de Violette is extremely pretty at times, deliciously mouth-watering at other times, and almost delicately…. something. Perhaps if the floral and green aspects to the violet were stronger, I could use the word “haunting,” but Bois de Violette never arises to that level for me. Maybe if it were less syrupy sweet for a good chunk of its development, it could feel like the stained glass window that Luca Turin references with such admiration. Perhaps it’s because the perfume seems like all things violet at once, and, yet, it’s not one single thing at all. It tries to be the full violet from petals to leaf to the earthy damp soil and the trees around it; but it’s also fruited and syrupy, peppered and woody. Maybe it should stick to one thing or the other? Or, maybe, I would have been happier with a more delicate, haunting, pure floral, a violet version of the flowers in the lyrical, stunning, moving and utterly poetic Lutens’ beauty, De Profundis. I don’t know what it is about Bois de Violette, because I certainly like it and would wear it, but I’m not swept off my feet.

I get the sense that many in the perfume community see Bois de Violette as the most perfectly balanced, beautiful violet fragrance around. Whether it’s the handful of bloggers who have reviewed the scent, or those on MakeupAlley who, by and large, adore the fragrance, Bois de Violette is much-loved. On MakeupAlley, for example, 72 people give the perfume an overall rating  of 4.2 out of 5, which is pretty high for such a large number of reviews. The general feeling is that the flowers are dark, sexy, sweet, and perfectly countered by the cedar woods. For example:

  • Sexy, dark violets, perfectly balanced – never cloying or candied and never so intense as to hit people over the head.
  • There’s a period of time in the beginning when the violets are just too much, but once that settles down, this is a beautiful violet-wood fragrance, perfectly balanced and blended.
  • My favorite Serge Lutens. Sweetened (but not overly sweet) violets and woods, mainly cedar. So smooth! It’s warm and snuggy, perfect for winter. Strong yet close to skin, just the type of scent I adore.
  • Candied violets and cedar. Starts out playful and nostalgic, babyish in a vintage way.The violets are effervescent and floating, just loosely tethered to the very grounded cedar. On me, the violets don’t settle down for hours, but when they finally nestle into the wood, it is revelatory, surprising, with perfectly balanced almost austere taste. The scent is romantic and old-fashioned, but not quite a grandmother scent. Instead, it’s like digging in the attic and finding an old wooden chest, filled with mementos of your grandmother’s secret wild life.
  • What a beauty this is! An exquisitely balanced composition of cedar and violet – neither too sweet nor too dry – Bois de Violette has a a wonderful mellow tone to it. The scent is clean, focussed and rounded; it is not a candy-sweet violet or over-green on me, and there is no powder – this violet is deep and true to life. The cedar, too, is warm and pure. Bois de Violette is a wonderfully elegant, tranquil scent[.]
  • A singlular and unique composition of cedar, violet leaves and violet flowers. Ethereal, vivacious and sparkling.
    I was stunned at the super intense cedar note that came through at first. It sure is a woody blast and in those first few seconds lacks any violet. The cedar note is at first so intense that it is almost body odorish but in a good way. Then the violet sweetness emerges and remains playful throughout the rest of the development. The fragrance becomes super sexy[....]

    Source: allthepages.org

    Source: allthepages.org

  • I don’t get a pronounced cedar note like others here. I smell REAL, fresh violet in all it’s glory. [¶] Not typically a lover of florals, I would have to say that this is the best violet scent that I’ve ever had the pleasure to sample. [¶] Full bottle worthy!

Over at Basenotes, Bois de Violette receives equally high numbers and, yet, I get  the sense that people are not quite as enamoured. Moreover, “well-balanced” does not seem to the majority consensus, by any means! Out of 24 reviews, 75% give it five stars, while 25% give it three stars. The fragrance is repeatedly compared to its mother, Féminité du Bois (which many find to be extremely similar), but also to some other violet perfumes. Yet, despite those five-star ratings, quite a few commentators seem to prefer the mothership perfume. As for the “candied” sweetness of the violets, a number of people find it to be “cloying” or excessive. (“Killer sweetness” was one description of it, and it was not said as a positive.) On occasion, there will be a handful who find the note to be fresh and natural, but they aren’t many. Obviously, how Bois de Violette manifests itself will all depend on your skin chemistry, and the extent to which it amplifies or mutes the sweet basenotes. Mine always opts for amplification, and, clearly, Bois de Violette with its syrup is no exception.

Though I wish the perfume were a little fresher, I do recommend Bois de Violette, especially for those who like somewhat sweet fragrances but not full-blown gourmand ones. The cedar, green, peppery, and watery elements provide some balance, depth, and complexity, ensuring that Bois de Violette is more than just candied, syrupy violets. And, it differs from many violet fragrances out there which are primarily powdery and, therefore, somewhat old-fashioned in feel. Bois de Violette can be worn by men and women alike, it’s versatile for day or night, and its low sillage makes it extremely office-appropriate. I’m somewhat dubious about the fragrance’s longevity, though the fact that you can buy it relatively cheaply in a regular bottle (as opposed to the exclusive, uber-expensive Bell Jars) means that you can spray on enough of the perfume to give it greater duration.

All in all, it’s definitely a fragrance worth looking into. If you’ve never tried Serge Lutens before, Bois de Violette is a surprisingly wearable fragrance that could be a good entry point into the line. And, for those who are experienced perfumistas, the range of the violet’s nuances — from petal to leaf, and all the things around it — may win your heart.

DETAILS:
General Cost & Discounted Sales Prices: Bois de Violette is an eau de parfum that Serge Lutens now offers only in the large 2.5 oz/75 ml bell jar version that costs $300, or €135. However, you can still find the smaller 1.7 oz/50 ml bottle (that is either a special edition bottle or something now discontinued) on some U.S. and European perfume websites. It retails at $200, but you can also find it on sale at a much lower price. Bois de Violette is currently on sale at Amazon which sells it directly, and not through third-party vendors, for $94.79. It is also on sale at FragranceNet where the 1.7 oz/50 ml bottle is priced at $97.19 with free domestic shipping and free international shipping for order over $100. The price is also reduced at Sears which sells Bois de Violette for $95.95 through a third-party vendor with $6.95 shipping. FragranceX sells the 1.7 oz bottle for $96.92. I don’t know how long these specials will last.
Serge Lutens: You can find Bois de Violette in the bell jar option on the U.S. and International Lutens website (with non-english language options also available). It’s priced at $300 or €135.
U.S. sellers: Bois de Violette is available at Barney’s in the bell jar format which costs $300. The site has a notice which states: “This product is only available for purchase at the Madison Avenue Store located at 660 Madison Avenue. The phone number for the Serge Lutens Boutique is (212) 833-2425.” However, you can find the special 1.7 oz/50 ml bottle for $200 at LuckyscentAedesBeautyhabit, the Perfume House, and Shop Rescue Spa.
Outside the U.S.: In Canada, you can find Bois de Violette at The Perfume Shoppe for what is US$200, since it is primarily an American business with a Vancouver branch. They also offer some interesting sample or travel options for Lutens perfumes. For Europe, it gets harder. I get the sense that the perfume is seen as “Limited Edition” for many European vendors, in the sense that Bois de Violette is now a Paris Bell Jar Exclusive and, thus, limited for sale elsewhere in Europe. However, I did find a few vendors which carry the old or special edition 1.5 oz/50 ml size. In the UK, Bois de Violette isn’t listed at Harrods, but the 50 ml bottle is available at Liberty and UK 5th Village, both of which sell Bois de Violette for £105. In France, Premiere Avenue sells it for €106, and I believe they ship world-wide, or at least through the Euro zone. In Belgium, Bois de Violette is exclusive to Senteurs d’Ailleurs which sells the 50 ml bottle for €110. In Australia, you can get Bois de Violette on sale from FragranceNet for AUD$105.99 with free shipping.
Samples: You can test out Bois de Violette by ordering a sample from Surrender to Chance where prices start at $3.99 for a 1/2 ml vial. It is also included as an option in a Lutens Sample Set for $18.99 where the vials are also 1/2 ml each, but you get your choice of 5 Lutens Non-Export fragrances (ie, those that are Paris exclusives).

38 thoughts on “Perfume Review – Serge Lutens Bois de Violette

      • I’ve never tried Féminité du Bois. I didn’t think Bois de Violette was too sweet. It is just pretty plain. I’m not the biggest violet fan so take my opinion with a grain of salt. I would describe this as a solid violet fragrance that if 1/2 or 1/3 of the price would be more attractive.

  1. I’m on the fence. Violet is one of my all time favorites but peach, honey, and sweetness make me wary. Kafka do you or any of your fans know how it compares to SSS Wood Violet?

    • I haven’t tried SSS’s Violet Wood but, from what I’ve heard, and I think even from Laurie Erickson herself when she commented here once, it is quite powdery, no? At least, that is my impression. Hopefully, someone with direct experience of Violet Wood can help out with a proper comparison.

  2. Bois de Violette was my blind buy. I dont regret it but I`m not blown away either… I mean its very well put together fragrance and I like the way it unfolds on my skin, but its doing it so quietly almost transparent and I like my fragrances on a louder scale. And the longevity is moderate also. Nevertheless I quite enjoy BdV as well as your great review, Kafka!

    • Ross, I had no idea you were so into blind buys, you thrill-seeker, you. Living dangerously on the edge, I see. ;) :P Especially with Lutens. At least you’re not doing so with bell jar prices. LOL! Joking aside, yes, BdV is very well-done, but I can’t seem to see why Luca Turin was so moved by it. I mean, I don’t recall any review of his (that I’ve come across thus far) which had a similar sort of humbled, awed love for a fragrance. Whatever happened on his skin certainly didn’t happen on mine! It’s very pretty at times, and I actually really enjoyed moments here or there in the beginning quite a bit, but, as a whole….. eh. *shrug* I’d certainly never spend money to buy a bottle, even at the discounted rates.

      • Blind buys excite me for sure, but much less these days I’m afraid. Tubereuse Criminelle was another blind buy of mine and what a great surprise it turned out! :) Not so much with BdV. Before ordering it, I was fascinated how many positive and 5 stars reviews BdV got, especially with Bois de Jasnine and notorious Luka Turin(although I think his sense of smell is broken at times lol). So I didn’t hesitate to order it. It’s really pretty and the price was right but…. I’ll be wearing it tomorrow to see if I up my opinion about BdV. Serge Lutens requires patience and I enjoy his creations, even less dramatic ones :)

  3. I have mixed feelings reading your review. Not sure if Bois de Violette would work for me. I’m not a great fan of violet perfumes.
    By the way – how many more Lutenses do you have to cover?

    • You may like this as it’s more than just violets, and it is both fresh, sweet and countered by other stuff. I think you’d like this more than Fille en Aiguilles, for example, which is one that I reviewed and adored. As for my Lutens marathon, LOL. Fed up and bored? ;) There should be 4 more to go, but I may cut it short. It’s been quite exhausting, given just how complicated the Lutens perfumes are, and just how many things must be discussed all at the same time for each one.

      • Ah, alright. I’m not going to seek it but if an oportunity to try it emerges I will give it a shot.
        As for the Lutens marathon – it makes me exhaused when I read about something I’m not really interested in. My best reads are for the houses I like or perfumes I haven’t tried (and maybe never will!)
        You can continue the marathon if you wish but I imagine you must be tired. Give something less sophisticated and twisted to your nose.

          • I love your blog and you so I’m going to read them but I’m sure you can imagine how cold my heart is when I read about Lutens.
            Maybe I should write a post about it “Lutens and I, a story of one unhappy marriage”

          • I *ABSOLUTELY* think you should do something like that. I’m serious. A critical look at why some houses don’t work for you is always interesting because it encompasses a view of a house’s general style across the board, and that is something that useful. Insights like that have value, in my opinion, because it’s not about a single perfume, but about an overall perfume philosophy. And, you know, there are a LOT of people who dislike the Lutens style. Like the blogger I quoted in my Muscs K. Khan article who said flat-out that he hated all Lutens but that one perfume. I strongly encourage you to take a look at the other side of things with a more critical article that honestly explains why his perfumes don’t move you. It would be in the same vein of growth as writing reviews that are somewhat critical or negative. I think it would be great, Lucas! Do it! :) :)

          • I will think about it but I won’t be able to do this kind of post before my holiday leave. I’ve got a ton of perfumes I want to cover before the blog will be taking a vacation. I’m going to start with amouage fate on monday.

  4. Tinkerbell, Luca Turin, and Kafka. There is a lot going on here! The story of the source and its various outcomes interested me more than this particular fragrance. Great read thank you.

    • HA! There is a lot going on, even ignoring Tinkerbell. ;) :P The Luca Turin aspect fascinated me as his reaction seems so out-of-character. I wish I knew why he was so boulversé by this particular fragrance. Personally, I’m a wee bit baffled.

    • I’m certainly getting there! Not much longer in this marathon and, actually, I may cut it short and leave some for a much later time. Uncle Serge is killing me with his complicated nature. *grin* As for Bois de Violette, part of me can’t see you going gaga over it and part of me can. I think it would depend on how it ended up on you. I know you do like some sweetness, and I think you may find parts of it very appealing, especially as it’s far from being a pure violet scent. The one I think that you’d love is Fille en Aiguilles, though.

  5. It was the sweetness in this one that was toxic… my skin took one sniff, screamed, and went all Guerlinade (the whole rancid, mega-sweet baby powder thing) on me. I had to scrub it off.

    I think part of the problem was that I got a small vial of the original Feminite du Bois a few months ago and practically swooned at the sheer gorgeousness of it when I put it on. When I read Luca Turin’s account of how SL split up the components of FdB to create the four Bois fragrances, I was skeptical. Sometimes a great creation just needs to be left alone (like Garbo), though I can understand SL wanting to tinker with the pieces after IFRA squashed his baby.

    • The thing is, Lutens tinkered with the pieces about a decade before IFRA squashed his original baby. The Bois line came out in the early 1990s. IFRA went nuts in the mid-2000s. So, that’s not the explanation. Serge Lutens merely wanted a “library of books” (to use Luca Turin’s analogy) with which to start his new, independent line.

      I would LOVE to try Féminité du Bois in original version, though I hear it has a hell of a lot of ISO E Super in it….. : As for Bois de Violette, I’m glad to know that I wasn’t the only one who thought it was very sweet. Given what you’ve said about your skin chemistry in the past and how it deals with sweetness, I can’t even BEGIN to imagine what the hell it did on your skin! Ouch. You poor, poor thing. :(

      • Aha – I didn’t think the chronology through (guess I’ve fallen into the habit of using IFRA as the all-purpose fragrance ogre). Thanks for clarifying things!

        And you definitely need to try the original FdB, even though you and ISO E Super aren’t exactly best buddies. :-) I think I got my sample from StC (either there or The Perfumed Court, which I know you don’t like).

  6. It may sound simple but simplicity can be very beautiful, I loved the description and the way this fragrance seems to be so soft and natural it´s lovely, watery flowers, specifically white violets, so very feminine and sweet. I remember a few times in my life, including the last time about two years ago when I was at a fresh field with many flowers. It was Spring but the air was fresh and the smell of nature was great. Maybe Snow White wouldn´t mind sharing with me her powder compact and lipstick :) .

  7. I know that I smelled it but I don’t remember what exactly I thought then. Most likely, I didn’t like it (the same as I do not like Féminité du Bois) so I didn’t even attempt to test it on skin at a store.

    As with all Lutens, I plan to try them if I get a chance but I do not plan on chasing most of them.

    Once you’re done with the series we should do some statistics for your testing results with graphs – tried/loved/liked/hated/other ;)

  8. This was the bell jar that I ended up bringing back from Paris in 2010. I remember really liking when I tried it out in their boutique. We’ll see when I finally get around to wearing it.

    • You have an untouched bell jar from 2010????!!!!!!! o_O Seriously, have you never worn it at all, Little Red? That can’t be, and you must mean you just haven’t worn it a lot. Otherwise, I’m utterly awed. lol.

      • I think I might have told you about my spreadsheet, which I have sorted by year of release and alphabetized by house and name, with all the perfumes in my collection. Well, I’m still working my way through the 80s. :) After I finish my current bottle of Tiffany eau de parfum, I’m moving into the nineties and should get to this one probably next year.

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  10. I know you weren’t super impressed by this, but your review makes it sounds very enticing! I look forward to trying this in the future!

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  12. Oh, somehow I’d missed this review when it first came out, I’m so happy to find it!

    I so love well done Violets, but I despise how poor the sillage, projection, and longevity tend to be. All the good ones are far too expensive to only last a few hours that you have to spend with your face glued to your arm, hmph. And I’m not very fond of fingernail polish remover violet or gasoline violet, although I do like leathery and twisted violets!

    It may surprise you, Kafka, but I am very very fond of Bois de Violette. It’s not my Violet HG, but I’m still quite enamored of it. Actually, I enjoy some extremely strange violet perfumes, some so strange I would be a bit embarrassed to mention them here.

    Oh, but if you think of any Violet perfumes (not necessarily soliflores, but with a very notable violet note) that you think would especially suit me I would love to hear your thoughts.

    • I haven’t come across a lot of violets fragrances, and those I have often tend to be very powdery or weak. But if I think of any that aren’t or that fit your style, I’ll let you know. I do have to ask though, “gasoline violet”?? Do explain further!! :)

      • Sometimes the edgy, borderline trashy violet perfumes seem to smell a bit like petrol, it seems to be a side effect of combining leather with violet, Armani’s Cuir Amethyste can seem that way to me sometimes, and the violet version of Angel definitely does at times to me on other people.

        Some people really seem to like the smell, but it nauseates me, meh. However, I DO like violet and leather together when it smells like suede and flowers (as with Chypre Mousse, but more violets), it’s just that leather seems really tricky to me, and I hate those pleather/vinyl types of leather perfumes.

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