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Group: Oriental vanilla
I happily throw myself on any fragrance produced by niche French perfume house Serge Lutens if I can get it cheap enough on Ebay. Founded by Serge Lutens himself in 2000 after a long and successful career with Japanese cosmetics giant Shiseido, the company is known for using high quality, natural raw materials to compose exclusive and unusual fragrances that all have a story behind them. The nose behind the fragrances is Christopher Sheldrake.
Un Bois Vanille comes in a tall, rectangular and see-through bottle and brown cap common across all 50ml editions. The liquid is dark brown due to the genuine vanilla extract you can tell by just smelling the bottle.
Notes: coconut, licorice, beeswax, almond, benzoin, tonka bean, guaiac wood, musk, sandalwood, vanilla
Not all fragrances follow the classic pyramid structure of top, middle and base notes and this is especially true for Serge Lutens creations. What I'm picking upon first is a burst of sweet, natural vanilla extract aroma similar to my Vahina vanilla extract bought from the supermarket I use to flavour my soaps and showel gels with. Vanilla extracts are rich in nuances that range from caramel-y and smokey to spicy and honey-like. Within the minute, the vanilla gets mixed with a sweet, slightly astringent and nose-tickling, sharp note I identify and honey. Honey and vanilla are present in equal measures and create a gourmand, dessert-like accord which for me isn't cloying, sickly or sticky but rather naturally sweet and dark.
As if using nature's two sweetest ingredients together wasn't enough, some 15 minutes later a sweet and fresh milky coconut rounds out and stretches the gourmand notes further giving the vanilla - honey combination a tropical edge. The coconut is natural and gourmand and only serves as a backup anchoring note so there's absolutely nothing cheap or suntan-lotion-like here. The woods start kicking in about 3 - 4 hours later as the honey disappears and the vanilla mellows out to a more powdery and plush substance with a distinct cooking vanilla edge. The sandalwood tempers the sweetness and blends in seamlessly with the rest of the accord which now has a certain dark and almost smoky, caramely feel to it.
I obviously do not wear Un Bois Vanille on a daily basis but on days when I specifically crave sweetness or vanilla, I put it on with pleasure. It's a safe fragrance to wear anywhere and almost all year round due to its smooth and gently flowing quality, like liquid silk. Its evolution is fairly linear and definitely stays true to itself. It doesn't offend and certainly never shouts but boy you know it's there. It's sweet and gourmand but never gets syrupy or annoying. The only thing slightly missing is the smoky, balmy and resinous aroma of gaiac wood listed amongst the notes, which is a slight disappointment. Un bois vanille is a luxurious, high quality niche product that's miles and miles away from the hordes of artificially sweetened, commercial cupcake-y vanilla fragrances.
If you like vanilla-based scents and want a perfectly-blended complex vanilla perfection that smells incredibly natural, gourmand and niche, look no further. This is what Yves Rocher's Vanilla Noir tried to be but couldn't. The name can be misleading so if you're looking for a woodsy, edgier and less sweet masculine scent this might not be for you. I've seen this fragrance marketed for ladies as well as a unisex however its woody aspect is underdeveloped to suit a male audience. In my opinion Un bois vanille is a rather feminine, in and out grown up, luscious and high-end oriental vanilla scent that can be layered with ambery or woody orientals or enjoyed on its own for pure guilty pleasure!
PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
Available in department stores and Amazon at full price ranging from £70 - £85 to £105 / 50ml Eau de Parfum. I won my half-full 50ml bottle for about £20 on eBay last year.
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Black vanilla, natural /