Slumberhouse Kiste: Southern Melodies

Gone with the Wind and Light in August, Kiste takes you straight into the heart of the American deep South. It’s the latest fragrance from Josh Lobb of Slumberhouse, released today without fanfare or advance press, and it is utterly beautiful. In fact, it is my favorite creation from Slumberhouse to date, and the first one that I would buy for myself.

Gone with the Wind image. Source: wildbell.com

Gone with the Wind image. Source: wildbell.com

Kiste is a deeply evocative fragrance, but I can’t make up my mind if it evokes Gone with the Wind or one of William Faulkner’s set pieces. The meticulously balanced composition has the genteel qualities of Tara, conjuring images of Scarlett O’Hara sipping sweet tea and eating a peach cobbler on the plantation veranda, as Rhett Butler smokes a honey-laden cheroot and takes a swig of bourbon under a honeysuckle tree.

1935 photo by Walker Evans,  Library of Congress FSA/OWI Collection, via southernstudies.org

1935 photo by Walker Evans, Library of Congress FSA/OWI Collection, via southernstudies.org

Yet, Kiste also has an underlying ruggedness, a pronounced muskiness, and a tiny streak of masculine rawness as well, even though the fragrance is far too perfectly balanced for it to ever verge on brutish strength. Something about the mix creates a sense of underlying earthy darkness, subtle though it may be. But it’s enough to create a parallel image that is far removed from the sun-dappled sweetness of Gone with the Wind.

This other side of Kiste evokes the darker, grittier world of William Faulkner’s South (or Robert Flaherty’s Louisiana) where things are less pristine, less simple, less a land of sweet tea and peach pie. Here, the muskiness and earthiness that were such a big part of Light in August abound. The more animalistic strains of honey, the sensuous muskiness of a fleshy peach, the rawness of tobacco spittoon juice, and even spiced, dark earth all strain at the leash, threatening to spill over and darken Tara’s summer light like an eclipse. In the end, they don’t. What triumphs is a creamy sweetness and golden warmth that tame the musky darkness, as though the South’s gentler side had overcome. The result is so comforting, so delicious, I feel like saying, “Bless my stars,” and “Frankly, my dear, I do give a damn.”

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Von Eusersdorff: Classic Mimosa, Orange, Myrrh & Vetiver

Camille Henfling of Von Eusersdorff.

Camille Henfling of Von Eusersdorff.

Von Eusersdorff is a Dutch-based perfume house that is run by the descendents of German immigrants with roots dating back to the 15th century and who are now inspired by the vibrancy of New York City. According to the company’s website, the original Von Eusersdorffs ran an apothecary for three centuries, “dealing in rare perfume materials, spices and herbs.” The brand was reborn in 2010 as “Von Eusersdorff New York” under the direction of Camille Henfling-Von Eusersdorff, and its five eau de parfums finally became available in America a few months ago after being European exclusives.

I first tried a few of the fragrances last year at Jovoy, but didn’t have the time to give the full range a thorough assessment. Finding the scents in America turned out to be impossible, despite the “New York” part of their name. Then, several months ago, a very thoughtful, generous reader, “Petra,” kindly sent me samples of all the fragrances from German. About six weeks later, the perfumes became available in America, first at Twisted Lily and now at Indigo Perfumery. So, I thought it might be useful to briefly cover four of them — Classic Mimosa, Classic Orange, Classic Myrrh, and Classic Vetiver — leaving the fifth one, Classic Patchouli, for a comparative review with Lorenzo Villoresi‘s Patchouli.

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Stéphane Humbert Lucas 777 Soleil de Jeddah

A ball of orange, green and gold, dripping with exotic juices from an orchard before being swathed in Russian leather and amber. Soleil de Jeddah from Stéphane Humbert Lucas often feels as bright as the sun it was named after, but there is a slow eclipse as dark, slightly smoky leather casts its shadow over its bright heart.

Stéphane Humbert Lucas. Source: SHL 777 Facebook page.

Stéphane Humbert Lucas. Source: SHL 777 Facebook page.

Soleil de Jeddah is a 2013 parfum extrait from Stéphane Humbert Lucas 777 (hereinafter just referred to as “SHL 777” or “777“). All the fragrances are created by Monsieur Lucas, who used to be the in-house perfumer for SoOud and Nez à Nez. Up to now, the 777 line was exclusive to Europe, Russia, and Middle Eastern, but there is good news. The complete SHL 777 line should be coming to America in a few days, including the stunning amber monster, O Hira, that was previously contractually limited to Harrods and to Printemps, and the 2013 iris-amber-heliotrope Khol de Bahrein.

The new 2014 releases should also be available, such as the highly original cherry-latex-almond-cedar-oud Qom Chilom, the immortelle gourmand, Une Nuit à Doha, and the Cambodian oud, smoke and leather, Oud 777. The scents will be exclusive to Luckyscent and Osswald NYC. I have samples of the line, thanks to the generosity and kindness of Monsieur Lucas, and Soleil de Jeddah is the last in my series. (Rose de Petra was accidentally omitted from my package.)

As a side note, it is Monsieur Lucas who takes all the photos of the perfume bottles that I have shown in this series, and I think the one for Soleil de Jeddah may be one of the prettiest images that I’ve seen for a fragrance in a long time.

Source: SHL 777 Facebook page.

Source: SHL 777 Facebook page.

Soleil de Jeddah is a pure parfum with 24% perfume concentration that is described in the press materials provided to me as follows:

Source: Stéphane Humbert Lucas.

Source: Stéphane Humbert Lucas.

Bakelite of pulverized amber.
A fragrance both dignified and aphrodisiac.
Solar fragrance, luminous, bright, respectful reference to the holy city.

Lemon – Roman Chamomile – Osmanthus
Iris Root – Amber – Earthy Notes
Iris Butter – Russian Leather – Vanilla from Madagascar.

Regular readers will know by now that, as with other SHL 777 fragrances, the official list is merely a nutshell synopsis. I’ll spare you the details of my now routine (and very comedic) email exchanges with Monsieur Lucas, where I tell him all the other things I smell in the perfume and ask what is missing from his official list. Suffice it say, he is a very kind and patient man, and we’ve had a good laugh about my OCD obsession with details.

Mimosa. Source: Fragrantica

Mimosa. Source: Fragrantica

The actual note list for Soleil de Jeddah is incredibly long. These are just the main elements:

Osmanthus, Roman chamomile, Acacia mimosa (Fleur de Cassie), genet (Broom), lemon, mandarin, Sicilian bergamot, iris butter, iris concrete, jasmine, carnation, Indian patchouli, Russian leather (Isobutyl quinoleine and birch wood), oakmoss, civet, musk, styrax, labdanum amber, benzoin, and Madagascar vanilla.

Photo: House of Herrera, Caroline Herrera. Source: popsugar.com.au

Photo: House of Herrera, Caroline Herrera. Source: popsugar.com.au

Monsieur Lucas described Soleil de Jeddah to me as a perfume with a powerful citrus opening, followed by a strong floral heart, above a persistent, dark, intensely leathered base that is imbued with mousse de chene or oakmoss. He visualises it as a perfume that a woman would wear to a ball, with a long, flowing gown whose open back exposes sensual skin, all worn with a “panoply of jewels” and furs. I can see his vision and understand it, but, for me, Soleil de Jeddah is more akin to a glowing ball of yellow and orange centered on a massively concentrated citric and fruity heart, above a leathered base flecked with animalic civet.

Apricot. Source: forwallpaper.com

Apricot. Source: forwallpaper.com

Soleil de Jeddah opens on my skin with juicy apricots that are tangy with jamminess, followed by very tart, sour, zesty lemon, then iris, more iris, a light dusting of iris powder, chamomile, and an odd woodiness. There are leather nuances and a touch of smokiness, but the overall impression is of brightness. (I wrote in my notes, “bright, bright, BRIGHT!”)

Osmanthus often smells of apricots, with a leathery undertone, but flower in Soleil de Jeddah is highly imbued with other fruits as well. The result is a mixed osmanthus note with a concentrated feel that I’ve never experienced before. It reminds me of Black Gemstone‘s dense, tangy lemon curd, only here, the citrus is accompanied by equally concentrated apricots and oranges as well. Just as in Black Gemstone, the fruits in Soleil de Jeddah have been heavily amplified by a jammy, purple patchouli, but the main sensation is of tartness, not syrupy sweetness. It is a saturated explosion of tangy zestiness that is fresh, crisp, heavy, sweet, and sour, all at once.

Green mango via alegriphotos.com

Green mango via alegriphotos.com

It also strongly reminded me of something else, and, for the longest time, I couldn’t place it. Initially, the overall effect made me think a little of a tart Jolly Rancher candy infused strongly with iris and a touch of chamomile. But that wasn’t really it. There was more going on. Then it came to me: the green tartness resembled a kiwi and pineapple mix, with perhaps a tiny touch of cassis or black currant. At least, the first time around. On two subsequent tests, the zingy, tart, tangy fruitiness consistently smelled like green mangoes. It is exactly like the very concentrated, potent, heady mix in Neela Vermeire‘s bright mango floriental, Bombay Bling. I tried them side-by-side at one point, and yes, I am wafting green mangoes. I cannot explain it at all.

Photo: My own.

Photo: My own.

In all my tests, however, the multi-faceted fruit accord is always cocooned in iris above a slightly leather base. The iris smells wet, rooty, woody, cool, and lightly powdered all at once. The leather base is dark, thick, and, initially, lightly smoked, with flecks of a dry woodiness that reminds me of tree bark.

Many fragrances attempt to recreate the impression of “leather” through other notes. As the Perfume Shrine explains, “[r]endering a leather note in perfumery is a challenge for the perfumer[,]” and that what is “actually used” to create that olfactory impression are vegetal or synthetic ingredients which can include birch tarjuniper cade, and quinoline. The Perfume Shrine adds:

isobutyl quinoline … possesses a fiercely potent odour profile described as earthy, rooty, and nutty, echoing certain facets of oakmoss and vetiver and blending very well with both. Isobutyl quinoline also has ambery, woody, tobacco-like undertones: a really rich aromachemical!

Source: quattraenergy.com

Source: quattraenergy.com

While some of that description applies to what I smell in Soleil de Jeddah, my nose seems to read the leather more as “birch tar,” probably because that is how I am used to “Russian leather” being replicated. The note here is very similar to the leather in Caron‘s Tabac Blond and Chanel‘s Cuir de Russie, but Monsieur Lucas said only a little birch was used in the fragrance and that the main elements in the base are smoky styrax resin and isobutyl quinoline. Still, on my skin, there was a definite streak of woodiness in one of my tests of Soleil de Jeddah that I interpreted as “birch” bark shavings.

Source: creativity103.com

Source: creativity103.com

It’s an unusual combination when taken as a whole. The iris with the tart, tangy fruits and chamomile stands out as it is, but I have to admit that the “birch” wood totally threw me the first time around. Its dry woodiness and smokiness feels a bit strange in conjunction with apricot-kiwi-pineapple (or mango). And, yet, somehow it works. On some levels, Soleil de Jeddah reminded me of a super concentrated, heavy, more powerful cousin to Creed‘s cult hit, Aventus. The fruits are completely different, but the tangy, juicy, citric, lightly smoked feel underscored by birch leather is the same. Soleil de Jeddah is more dense and complex though, with constant streaks of chamomile and iris.

Photo: My own.

Photo: My own.

Those last two notes are soon overshadowed as the leathered base grows smokier and more powerful. The iris consistently fades on my skin after 20 minutes, and is never replaced by the other floral notes on the list. Carnation? Not on me. Jasmine? Non plus. Mimosa? Only occasionally, in the background, and in the most muted way imaginable. For the most part, Soleil de Jeddah’s main bouquet on my skin is consistently some fluctuating mix of apricots, oranges, lemon curd, green mango/kiwi/pineapple, chamomile, and jammy patchouli, all over the smoky leather base made up of styrax, birch, and isobutyl quinoline.

Source: footage.shutterstock.com

Source: footage.shutterstock.com

It’s an intensely concentrated, deep, strong mix but there is a surprising weightlessness to it. Despite the richness of its notes, Soleil de Jeddah doesn’t feel opaque or dense, and the sillage is generally average on my skin. 2 large spritzes from my atomizer, amounting to one good spray from a proper bottle, gave me a soft cloud with 3 inches in projection at first. Using 3 spritzes expanded the radius by another inch. Yet, in both cases, the sillage dropped at the start of the 2nd hour, and Soleil de Jeddah lay 1-2 inches above the skin. It turned into a skin scent roughly 4.75 hours in, which is much less time than some of the other SHL 777 fragrances that I’ve tried. Still, for those first few hours, Soleil de Jeddah has good sillage, and feels particularly strong up close due to the saturated, rich nature of the notes.

In all my tests, Soleil de Jeddah starts to transition into its second phase at the end of the 3rd hour. A powdery vanilla arrives to diffuse both the smokiness of the styrax resin in the base and the tartness of the fruits up top. It casts a thin blanket over the notes, softening them through the lens of a dry vanilla. As in a few of the SHL 777 fragrances, the note is not so much powdered or sweet as grainy and sandy; it’s almost more textural at times than actual vanilla, if that makes any sense. Soleil de Jeddah is still sharp and rich up close, but it lacks the same degree of concentrated, thick juiciness in its fruits, and the woodiness has disappeared.

Source: thewallpaperr.blogspot.com

Source: thewallpaperr.blogspot.com

The leather remains, however. In the majority of my tests, the apricot-orange-mango accord takes a step back, letting the smoky Russian leather and vanilla slowly take over center stage. Tiny flickers of chamomile continue to lurk about, while the amber begins to stirs in the base. It doesn’t smell like ambergris (which is what First in Fragrance mistakenly lists it as), nor like labdanum. Rather, it is merely a soft, golden haze which adds warmth to the scent. The jammy, purple patchouli occasionally appears in its own right as an individually distinct note next to the apricot-orange-lemon-mango accord, but, generally, it melts into the fruits. Once in a blue moon, I think I may smell a brief pinch of mimosa in the powderiness, but it is probably the power of suggestion.

At the end of the 7th hour, Soleil de Jeddah is a blur of black Russian leather and abstract, tart fruits, all lightly powdered with vanilla and cocooned in a soft, golden warmth. There is a civet-like sharpness to the scent, along with a lingering touch of sweetness that made me wonder if there was honey in Soleil de Jeddah. Monsieur Lucas says there isn’t, but the sweetness has a definite animalic sharpness that seems to go beyond mere civet on my skin. Whatever the source of the note, Soleil de Jeddah’s leather has a touch of skanky dirtiness underlying it.

Photo: My own.

Photo: My own.

The leather eventually fades away, and Soleil de Jeddah’s final drydown on my skin consists of tart fruitiness with vanilla and civet. There are touches of jammy patchouli which occasionally pop up, but very little remains of the birch, isobutyl quinoline, or woodiness. There is no powder, and Soleil de Jeddah isn’t even really ambered any more, either.

In its final moments, the perfume is a mere blur of dry, semi-tart fruitiness with a touch of vanilla and some lingering sharpness from the civet. All in all, Soleil de Jeddah consistently lasted over 10 hours on my skin. With 2 spritzes, I thought it was about to die at the end of the 9th hour, but the perfume lingered on tenaciously for a total of 10.75 hours. With 3 spritzes, Soleil de Jeddah lasted just under 12 hours, really more like 11.75.

Painting by Moon Beom via lostateminor.com

Painting by Moon Beom via lostateminor.com

I could not find any comparative reviews to show you how others see the scent. On Fragrantica, where Soleil de Jeddah is categorized as a “leather,” the perfume’s entry page has no comments at this time. However, one of my readers, “Lady Jane Grey,” owns the scent and shared her experiences in the comment section of another one of my SHL 777 reviews. There, she wrote about how Soleil de Jeddah was 2 perfumes in 1 on her skin, changing its character from one occasion to the next:

Jeddah smells differently worn on the same spot (left wrist) – when I tested at Harrods (mid afternoon) it was fruity and bright and happy, a spring scent entirely with a golden agarwood note in the back. Spritzed in the evening on the same spot the oud has that medical note, which in fact I quite like, because I find it calming. The scent is sweet and creamy..

Soleil de Jeddah has no oud, so I suspect the isobutyl quinoline and birch may be responsible for the woodiness that she is detecting.

Source: hdwalls.info

Source: hdwalls.info

For another blogger, the charming Christos of Memory of Scent, a brief test of Soleil de Jeddah in Switzerland’s Theodora Parfumery was all about the bright fruits. His short synopsis reads:

777 Stéphane Hubert Lucas Soleil de Jeddah: high end, high price, Middle East oriented house. This however, 3 hours after being sparyed on a blotter, feels like it is dripping fruity juices, in the best possible way, coming from someone who doesn’t like fruity fragrances. And all this with a touch of leather and ambergris! Very interesting!

I don’t generally like fruity fragrances, either, but I share his view that Soleil de Jeddah is a very interesting take on it, thanks to the smoky Russian leather and the other accords.

While Soleil de Jeddah’s strong backbone of fruitiness isn’t my personal style, I think the perfume will be a hit for those who are looking for a more adult, polished, original take on fruity fragrances. Those who adore very bright, tangy, sunny orientals like Bombay Bling will enjoy the similar vibe here, while the inclusion of smoky leather, animalic civet, and soft ambered warmth should reassure those who aren’t into “fruit cocktails,” as one friend of mine calls the category. And, who knows, you may even be lucky enough to experience the plethora of floral elements included in the scent, though they never really appeared on my skin. Finally, if you’re a fan of Aventus‘ mix of tangy-sweet fruits with birch leather, you may very much enjoy the richer, more concentrated SHL 777 take on the theme, especially if the Creed perfume doesn’t last on your skin.

Soleil de Jeddah is priced in the middle of the SHL 777 range. In Europe, it costs €235 for a 50 ml bottle of pure parfum that has 24% concentration. I don’t have the official American pricing rate, but I believe Osswald will sell it for $309. So, it’s not at the high-end represented by the magnificent monster amber, O Hira, but it’s also not at the “cheap” level of the lovely iris-amber-heliotrope, Khol de Bahrein, or the gourmand immortelle-marmalade-tobacco, Une Nuit à Doha.

In short, if you’re looking for a leather fragrance with a twist, or if you enjoy bright, tangy fruits whose rich juices feel as though they’re dripping off the vine onto your skin, give Soleil de Jeddah a sniff.

Disclosure: Perfume sample courtesy of Stéphane Humbert Lucas. That did not influence this review. I do not do paid reviews, and my opinions are my own.

DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: Soleil de Jeddah is an Extrait or pure parfum that is only available in a 50 ml bottle and costs €235. The 777 line will be at Luckyscent and Osswald NYC at the start of May. [Update 5/2 — Osswald now has the full 777 line. They sell Soleil de Jeddah for $309.] Outside the U.S.: Currently, the SHL 777 website is under construction, and doesn’t have an e-store. The best online resource is First in Fragrance which just received the complete SHL 777 line, including the new 2014 releases. It offers a sample of Soleil de Jeddah for €14, but is currently out of stock of the full bottles. In London, you can find the entire collection at Harrod’s Black Room, while in Paris, they are exclusive to Printemps under the name 777. Zurich’s Osswald also carries the line, they don’t have an e-store any more. The Swiss perfumery, Theodora, also has SHL 777, but no e-store. In Cannes, France, the store Taizo is said to carry the 777 line, but I didn’t see the perfumes on their website the last time I checked. In the Middle East, Souq.com has about 6 of the earlier fragrances which it sells for AED 1,500. In the UAE, the SHL 777 line is available at Harvey Nichols and at Bloomingdales in the Dubai Mall. In Russia, SHL 777 is sold at Lenoma. Ukraine’s Sana Hunt Luxury store also carries the line, but they don’t have an e-store. Samples: None of the U.S. sample sites currently carry this fragrance, so Luckyscent and Osswald NYC will be your best option once the SHL 777 line is released. Osswald has changed its Sample Program such that individual pricing now depends on the cost of the particular perfume in question. They range from $3 a vial, up to $9 a vial for fragrances that cost over $300. The program is limited to U.S. customers and has free shipping, but there is also a 3-sample minimum, I believe. If you have questions, you can call Osswald at (212) 625-3111 to enquire further.

Perris Monte Carlo Bois d’Oud

Honeyed oud, plummy fruits, the smoky smell of burnt leaves and singed wood interwoven with delicate florals, vanilla, and white creaminess, all combined in a mix that resembles some other well-known fragrances on the market before turning into its own creature — that’s the essence of Bois d’Oud, a fragrance from Perris Monte Carlo.

Source: Fragrantica.

Source: Fragrantica.

Perris Monte Carlo is a relatively new house that emerged in 2012. I’ve been curious about it for a while as it is based in my old home, so I obtained two samples of the line. The majority of the fragrances, including Bois d’Oud, were launched in 2012 in Europe, before later being released in the U.S. in 2013. I can’t find a company website to see how Perris would describe Bois d’Oud, only a lot of PR babble about how the company’s signature involves luxury, gold, and prestigiousness. It all sounds terribly nouveau riche and obnoxious, so let’s get directly to the perfume’s notes.

According to First in Fragrance, Bois d’Oud’s ingredients are:

Top Note: Bergamot
Heart Note: Peach, Plum, Jasmine, Iris, Rose, Orange Blossom
Base Note: Cedarwood, Agarwood (Oud), Patchouly, Vanilla, Ambergris, Labdanum (Rockrose), Musk

Honey and plums. Photo: Alice Carrier at Bread and Honey blogspot. (Website link embedded within photo.)

Honey and plums. Photo: Alice Carrier at Bread and Honey blogspot. (Website link embedded within photo.)

Bois d’Oud opens on my skin with the richness of honey-drenched oud, followed by plums, a patchouli rose, smokiness, and a toffee’d, dirty, labdanum amber. There are subtle strains of orange blossom, and, indeed, a light flicker of orange itself. The overall effect is of a multi-faceted, dark sweetness that is dominated by plummy fruit, oud, and honey.

Bois d’Oud’s opening immediately and instantly calls to mind Arabian Oud‘s Kalemat. The Perris fragrance is slightly different with more plums, a stronger oud presence, and the inclusion of orange blossoms in lieu of blueberries. It is also thinner, sheerer, and less opaque in feel than Kalemat’s opening. For a brief moment, Bois d’Oud also reminds me of an oud version of Serge LutensFille en Aiguilles, though there are even more differences with this one. Bois d’Oud is less plummy than that one, lacks the heavy frankincense element, has honey instead of brown sugar sap, includes a very noticeable strain of jammy rose, and its smokiness seems to stem from different sources. Throughout Bois d’Oud’s development, I kept feeling like I was smelling something akin to guaiac wood, with its aroma of burning leaves in a fall bonfire, as well as its occasional facet of stale dustiness. That’s all very different than Fille en Aiguilles. Ultimately, perhaps the combination of honeyed sweetness, slightly dirty ambered labdanum, oud and darkly plummy fruits is closer to a third fragrance that came to mind during Bois d’Oud’s development: Nasomatto‘s Black Afgano. Bois d’Oud opens like a mix of Kalemat and Black Afgano, before eventually moving closer to the latter.

Source: picsfab.com

Source: picsfab.com

10 minutes into its development, the notes in Bois d’Oud realign themselves. The plum takes a small step back, while the peach, orange blossom, and jammy patchouli rose step more to the foreground. The orange blossom adds a subtle (very subtle) soapy undertone to the fragrance, though it’s fleeting. The peach adds a different sort of fruitness, but it is the patchouli which is most prominent. It’s a purple fruitchouli that is thoroughly intertwined with the rose, but it doesn’t feel like dark molasses so much as syrup. Very sweet syrup that underscores the strong impression of honey. The oud, fruit and floral accords are quite drenched with both elements, creating the impression of stickiness, though the perfume is very airy in weight.

Source: ghulmil.com

Source: ghulmil.com

The whole bouquet is nestled in a cocoon of abstract woods and a subtle tinge of smokiness. As noted above, I keep feeling as though there should be guaiac wood listed in the notes, because something in Bois d’Oud replicates its particular form of singed dryness. It goes beyond the smell of mere cedar, though both woods can have a dusty, stale undertone like the one that appears later on in Bois d’Oud. In truth, I really don’t smell cedar in the way that I’m used to, and all the wood notes beyond the oud feel really indistinct in an individual manner. As for the oud, it is not medicinal, fecal, raw, or butch. It is merely honeyed, and a little bit musky.

Photo: TheCozyApron.com. (For a recipe for grilled cinnamon plums with honey and marscapone vanilla, click on the photo. Website link is embedded within.)

Photo: TheCozyApron.com. (For a recipe for grilled cinnamon plums with honey and mascarpone vanilla, click on the photo. Website link is embedded within.)

Bois d’Oud continues to shift. About 20 minutes in, the vanilla emerges in the base, along with what I can only describe as a white creaminess. It’s doesn’t feel like it comes wholly from the vanilla, though that does seep over into it. I can only describe it as something that is almost like white, honeyed beeswax, but not quite. It doesn’t smell waxy or even particularly honeyed, so perhaps it’s not an offshoot of labdanum (which can often take on those nuances), either. Whatever the source, it goes beyond a mere textural thing and is one of my favorite parts of Bois d’Oud, especially when it has that lightly vanillic flavour to it. Interestingly, as the vanilla creaminess grows stronger, the honey note that burst out of the gates grows weaker and thinner.

At the same time, the first glimmer of a dry, woody aromachemical appears. It emphasizes my early impression that the oud note is synthetic, not real. As Andy Tauer once noted in his blog, most purported “oud” fragrances on the market today use hardly any of the increasingly expensive, real ingredient, relying instead on chemical substitutes put into a cypriol base. It smells like that here with Bois d’Oud. At first, it is quite a subtle chemical twinge, thanks to the growing creaminess and soft vanilla that help to cushion the note. Later, though, it becomes a slightly different matter.

"Coffee and cream" Art Print by Shalisa Photography/ Sharon Lisa Clarke on FineartAmerica.com

“Coffee and cream” Art Print by Shalisa Photography/ Sharon Lisa Clarke on FineartAmerica.com

As a whole, Bois d’Oud at the end of 30 minutes is a well-blended bouquet of oud, patchouli rose, slightly vanillic creaminess, plum, and labdanum amber with flickers of orange blossoms, smokiness, and an abstract woodiness. Bois d’Oud still feels syrupy, but now it is from the purple fruitchouli more than from the honey. The peach lingers in the sidelines, but it is quite muted. It’s the same story with the cedar, and that subtle smokiness.

Bois d’Oud doesn’t change substantially for the next few hours. It drops in sillage at the start of the 2nd hour, hovering just 2 inches above the skin at best, and its weight feels as though it were cut by 60%. I keep having images of translucent cream tulle, splattered by plummy, purple fruitchouli and roses, then sprayed with a synthetic oud. Something in the base is taking on a faintly medicinal vibe, though it’s not the “pink rubber band-aid” smell that oud can sometimes have. Whatever it is, I’m not a fan. Equally disappointing is how that lovely vanilla and white, cream beeswax note is being increasingly overshadowed by a woody, stale dustiness that probably stems from the cedar.

Bois d’Oud turns into a skin scent about 2.5 hours in, though it easy to detect up close, thanks to the plummy, syrupy patchouli in particular. The honey, peach and orange blossoms have vanished, though the jammy rose lingers. The vanilla seems very muffled, while the aromachemical aspect is not. The focus of the scent is increasingly on oud and dry woods, infused with that creamy note and the subtle touch of abstract, stale dustiness. Bois d’Oud feels now like a Montale fragrance. You can take that how you will.

I’m obviously not enthused about this stage, but I have to say that Bois d’Oud recovers very well, changes again, and has an extremely nice drydown. Near the end of the 4th hour, Bois d’Oud takes on more ambered and earthy nuances. There is suddenly a lot of gritty, dark, golden amber lurking about the edges, creeping closer to the main stage. At the same time, there are undertones of something that smells like dry tobacco. Much more noticeable is a definite animalic muskiness that wafts about as well, adding a dirty earthiness and the tiniest, subtle touch of skankiness.

Source: samsunggalaxy.co

Source: samsunggalaxy.co

For the most part, Bois d’Oud is now a soft blend of creamy woods, oud, dirty labdanum amber, dryness, earthiness, and a tinge of animalic muskiness. The bouquet is still infused with roses and a syrupy sweetness, but both are much lighter touches that have been diffused or countered by the new elements. Unfortunately, Bois d’Oud has become very gauzy and thin, and you have to sniff really hard to detect its nuances.

The earthiness and skanky musk slowly fade away, and their place is taken by other elements. There is the faintest trace of soft, sweetened powder that briefly pops up in the base for about 40 minutes. Up to top, there is a subtle stale smokiness that flitters about. It’s not quite the smell of campfire ashes, nor the smell of burning leaves, but subtle parts of both, amidst the stronger smell of singed wood. It’s that guaiac wood impression that I talked about earlier As a whole, Bois d’Oud feels much drier at the end of the 5th hour and the start of the 6th, much more purely focused on its wood notes, though that quiet creaminess still remains.

Source: top.besthdwallpapers.info

Source: top.besthdwallpapers.info

Bois d’Oud’s notes slowly shift in terms of their prominence and order. For a few hours, the perfume consists of sweet oud, creaminess, amber, and dry woods, upon a base consisting of an aromachemical tinge and plumminess, all lightly flecked by that whisper of singed woods and dustiness. Slowly, though, the creaminess fades away and the amber takes over.

By the end of the 9th hour, Bois d’Oud is a gauzy blur of amber, followed by abstract woodiness and a lingering touch of sweetness. It’s very nice, and has almost a caramel undertone to it, thanks to the labdanum. At times, the syrupy jamminess of the patchouli rears its head, but generally the fragrance is centered on ambered woods in a mix of dryness with sweetness. That is how the perfume remains until its very end, almost 11.5 hours from the start.

Source: pugetsoundbites.wordpress.com

Source: pugetsoundbites.wordpress.com

On Fragrantica, people seem to really like Bois d’Oud. I was interested to see that the notes the people found most dominant were, in order: oud (22 votes), plum (18), vanilla (16), and patchouli (14). Several people picked up on the creaminess, which they found to be vanillic in nature. Others talk about the plums, sweetness, and, in one case, the peach. One woman compared Bois d’Oud to a Montale fragrance, a brand she says she loves, and wrote, in part:

the scent is quite a stunner. It is very similar to Velvet Aoud from Montale, only richer, sweeter and woodier. There is a plastic kind of aura which reminds me of Iris Ganache from Guerlain.

I cannot smell the bergamote they describe for the top notes. It’s had a syrupy feel, without being too sugary. The sweetness must come from the plum and the peach. I do not smell any flowers of any kind. There is a strong woody, forest-like smell, which isn’t fresh at all… Aoud is the most dominant note, along with dried fruits. Like dried plums and apricots, which have a lot of sweetness and a little saltiness in them. Lots of them! The roses and jasmine, if there, are totally hidden to my nose. Maybe the smallest amount of neroli and iris…. Cedar is listed, but cedar for me is always a “fresh” kind of wood, a little green…. I don’t smell that either… The woods in here are deep and dark. There is also a lot of ambregris which has a vanillary tone, but no distinctive vanilla. I cannot smell much musk or patchouli. No freshness here.

Overall, I would call this a fruity woody, if such a category existed…
Case and point: dried fruits + aoud + dark woods + ambregris. Great silage and longevity, fairly linear, becomes a tad fresher in the base, surprisingly. [Emphasis with bolding added by me.]

Source: spicewallpaper.blogspot.com

Source: spicewallpaper.blogspot.com

Other impressions of Bois d’Oud are:

  • one of the best Ouds on the market surpasses all Montale creations IMO, this could be a vintage M7 flanker, enough said!
  • The beginning, to me was all about the oud, not very sweet – quite earthy and musk-laden. It reminded me very much of M Micallef’s Oud Gourmet – and I didn’t find it at all fruity. About 5 hours later now, the vanilla has really come out and it feels more creamy. I’m really loving this dry down, but am sorry to not have experienced the plum notes and creaminess earlier on.
  • very special frag in a perfume world lately dominated by oud in all his forms ,this a sirupy quite sweet oud maybe one of the most feminine around ,it reminds me a lot of the first original not reformulated poison by dior ..anyway a definitely worth buying frag  7/10   [Emphasis to names with bolding added by me.]
Source: souq.com

Source: souq.com

On Basenotes, the very first review at the top of the page almost made snort with its amusing conclusion:

Perris is based in Monaco, the juice made in Italy, and the thrift store bling of the bottles is aimed straight at the Middle Eastern market.

Yes, I think the bottle’s bling definitely approaches the tacky level, and is not representative of Monaco. (I promise you, Monaco is not a vulgar place, at least it wasn’t when I lived there. This newcomer, Perris, seems to be quite a different kettle of fish, though.) The rest of the review from “Gimme Green” is interesting, and seems to reflect my perception of a stale dustiness underlying Bois d’Oud:

Dry, dark, dusty wood with touches of sweetish suede and hints of dry fruit. Faded rose petals crumble about it. Lived in and somewhat musty.
Has a shut in feel, so claustrophobics beware.
The oud is of a recognizable sort (something similar is in Dueto’s City Love) and I imagine this is one synthetic we’ll come across more and more.
It’s modest, un-fresh and a satisfying wear, if not exactly breaking new ground. An oud one can don and not be distracted by. Plumps out and opens up surprisingly in the deep drydown.

Suede. Source: seasonalcolor.yuku.com

Suede. Source: seasonalcolor.yuku.com

One commentator, “Darvant,” also detected a suede tonality, along with an incense-y rubberiness and a strong floral element that included the jasmine. He writes, in part:

So luxurious, stormy, spicy/fruity and intoxicating in its first explosion but in a while so silky, slightly powdery, delicately rubbery (almost as a golden musky/resinous suede). […] a tornado of diverse elements by soon interacting each other in an armonic olfactory orchestra as luxurious hesperides, mellow plummy/orangy fruits, sambac jasmine, exotic sweet spices and powdery iris (the latter in its heady and mastering role). By soon the spicy/fruity drama is encompassed and comforted by a soothing accord of mossy galbanum, smooth balsams, animalic resins and probably rubbery/incensey suede. The influencing iris provides hints of floral powder perfectly integrated with musks, star anise and suede. A touch of olibanum or just powdery iris, woodsy resins and velvety suede? Probably it’s the note of agarwood (as linked with iris and star anise) which provides a sort of suede/rubber (vaguely boots polish type of) boise vibe around. The sambac jasmine affords an incredibly glamour “icy” spark in the air, as well as combined with musky amber, anise, talky iris and may be aldehydes. Actually in conclusion a velvety rubbery suede type of vibe emerges from the storm with all its exotic silkiness. A dark patchouli provides structure and stableness for all the general oriental mélange.

PS. In the dry down the vanilla emerges and tames a bit the agarwood spicy “gassiness”. The agarwood resin smells slightly synthetic and some people can demur it but i add that this element does not understate the extreme sophistication of the olfactory performance and can’t veil in any way the beauty of its glamour modernity.

In sharp contrast to all those layers, a third Basenotes poster wrote that he or she detected nothing more than “dry woods… [b]ut it’s such a nice smell, that it’s more than enough. Not groundbreaking though.”

I agree with that last statement. Bois d’Oud is not a revolutionary or unusual scent, as all the perfume comparisons from me and various forum commentators should make clear, but it’s not identical like the others either. It is not as dark, dry or smoky as Black Afgano; it seems smoother, plummier, more gourmand at times, and sheerer. Despite the initial resemblance to Kalemat or to an oud version of Fille en Aiguilles, Bois d’Oud later turns into something quite different from either one. I haven’t tried Montale’s Velvet Aoud to know how it might compare, or the Micallef scent mentioned on Fragrantica, but I can say that I think Bois d’Oud differs from vintage M7. There are a few token similarities in terms of how oud is mixed with plummy, resinous, labdanum notes, but as a whole, the two fragrances are very different, in my opinion.

Perhaps the ultimate reason why Bois d’Oud stands slightly apart from similar takes on the plummy-oud genre is the inclusion of the vanilla, creaminess and dustiness. Half-gourmand, half-not. Is that enough for perfume lovers who own similar scents in the same style? I don’t know. It’s going to be an individual decision.

All in all, if you like very plummy oud fragrances with sweetness, amber and vanilla, you may want to give Bois d’Oud a sniff. It is firmly unisex, in my opinion, and has good longevity with decent sillage. The perfume is not hugely expensive per ounce at $150 or €125 for 100 ml of eau de parfum, especially as you can find it priced for less than retail. Will it blow your socks off? I highly doubt it, but Bois d’Oud has some very enjoyable parts, along with a useful, versatile easiness about it.

DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: Bois d’Oud is an eau de parfum that is available only in a 100 ml size. It costs €125 and £125. In the U.S., I think it costs $150, but I can’t find a ton of retailers to confirm that. The company has no website that I could find, either. In the U.S.: the Perris Monte Carlo line appears to be sold at Henri Bendel in New York, but their website only shows the Imperial Oud Black bottle. That seems to be a different fragrance entirely, but, oddly, subtext on the page also mentions Bois d’Oud. I have no explanation for that. Like Bendel, Neiman Marcus only carries the Imperial Oud and the new Rose de Taif. Elsewhere, I’ve noticed Amazon sellers offering Bois d’Oud. One sells a 10 ml decant for $35, while another has a 100 ml tester bottle for $100. Outside the U.S.: in the U.K., you can find Bois d’Oud at 10 Corso Como for £125, along with the rest of the Perris line. The perfume is also available at First in Fragrance for €125. I noticed Bois d’Oud on sale for €105 at the Parfum Center in the Netherlands, while it’s at regular price at Celeste. In Spain, you can buy it from Novento Grados, in Italy at Etos Profumeria, in Greece at Rosina Perfumery, and in Munich at Bruckner. In the Middle East, I found Bois d’Oud at Souq.com for AED 596. Kuwait’s Universal Fragrances has most of the line discounted for $99. Samples: Surrender to Chance doesn’t have Bois d’Oud in an individual form, but it has a Perris Monte Carlo Sample Set of 5 fragrances from the line in 2 ml atomizers for $38.99. You can order Bois d’Oud in an individual vial from The Perfumed Court where prices start at $4.96 for a 1 ml vial.