O Tannenbaum! – A Blogging Event

O Tannenbaum

O Tannenbaum! is a joint blogging event where the finest of perfume bloggers have got together to each post a trio of reviews focusing on woody fragrances. Taking part in the project are;

All I Am – A Redhead: Part 1 & Part 2, Another Perfume Blog, Beauty, Bacon, Bunnies, Beauty on the Outside, EauMG, Eyeliner on a Cat, Fragrant Reviews (@FragrantReviews), Muse in Wooden Shoes, Olfactoria’s Travels, Parfumieren, Redolent of Spices, Scent of the Day, Suzanne’s Perfume Journal and Undina’s Looking Glass.

Please head over to their blogs to view their posts!

My tastes tend to lean towards those perfumes that are either floral, oriental or gourmand, and woody fragrances, whilst not being my favourite type, belong to a genre that I have learned to love as my tastes have developed and improved along my perfume-sniffing journey. For this reason O Tannenbaum! has been an intriguing post to write and I have tried to choose three scents that represent completely different aspects of the woody genre.

When faced with the premise of reviewing three woody perfumes of my choice, I felt that I’d need to think long and hard about my choices. Firstly I decided to go with two of my favourites; Féminité du Bois by Serge Lutens and M7 by Yves Saint Laurent and just to add a little excitement to the mix, I thought I would pick out a random woody sample from my stash and give it a go, and that’s what I did, so my third review is of Parfumerie Générale’s Bois Blond.

Féminité du Bois

Serge Lutens (Shiseido)
Féminité du Bois

The Notes

Top: Ginger, Cinnamon and Clove
Heart: Plum, Peach, Orange Flower and Violet
Base: Cedar, Sandalwood, Vanilla and Benzoin [1]

How Does it Smell?

Féminité du Bois is an important perfume, it was the catalyst that sparked the revolution of feminine woody fragrances within the 90’s and is seen as a reference perfume for the genre, so in this series of woody perfume reviews it is only fair that Féminité du Bois goes first!

When I first tried Féminité du Bois I approached it as neither a fan of cedar nor a fan of Serge Lutens, two facts that probably confirm my position as an olfactory-heretic amongst the fumehead community, but it’s true, a fan I was not. So, as I was neither a fan of cedar wood nor Uncle Serge, I thought I would detest Féminité du Bois, but I was absolutely WRONG, in fact it is one of my all-time favourite perfumes.

I have learned, that with our dear Uncle Serge, it’s always best to expect the unexpected, he never does things in a conventional way, and this can be said of Féminité du Bois, which when it was first released by Shiseido in 1992, was as unconventional as a scent could be.

Féminité du Bois opens with a very dry cedar wood that is instantly contrasted by rich, purple fruit, think prunes & plums and you are on the right track. This blend of dry woods and sharp fruit gives the fragrance a distinct texture and I’ve always imagined this texture to be that of soft purple velvet.

There is a wonderful, earthy floral quality to the heart of the fragrance thanks to the addition of sweet violets and this floral facet is perfectly complimented by the combination of cedar and sandalwood. The spicy, and almost spiky nature of the cedar is tamed by the sandalwood with time but it never creeps into creamy territory, it stays strong and true to its dry, woody goodness.

It is fair to say that most of what you smell in Féminité du Bois is front and centre right from the very beginning, however with time the subtle changes that do occur make for a wonderful experience. Féminité du Bois is beautiful in it’s simplicity, yes it is a fairly linear fragrance but it is all the better for it – with such a wonderful smell, why would you want it to change?

This review is of the Serge Lutens re-issued Eau de Parfum. For two excellent reviews of Féminité du Bois please head over to Memory of Scent and Olfactoria’s Travels.

M7

Yves Saint Laurent
M7

The Notes

Top: Italian Bergamot, Sicilian Mandarin and Provençal Rosemary
Heart: Agarwood and Haitian Vetiver
Base: Amber and Musk [2]

How Does it Smell?

This will come as no shock to my regular readers, but I don’t own many ‘masculine’ fragrances and most of the masculines sitting on my shelf belong to my long-suffering (and very lovely) boyfriend. I’m not entirely sure why I don’t own many masculines, the feminine fragrances that I own range from being über girly to being quite masculine and hairy, and the masculines I do own tend to be quite ‘blokey’. Come to think of it, none of the masculines I own are more blokey than M7.

M7 was first released by Yves Saint Laurent in 2002 and was composed by Alberto Morillas & Jacques Cavallier under the creative direction of Tom Ford (swoon). It was one of the first designer fragrances to showcase oud (long before everyone and his dog was doing it) and it threw the note into the mainstream.

As far as openings go, none are quite as intense and weird as M7, it starts fruity, medicinal slightly powdery and quite feminine. At this point you are trying to work out what the heck you are smelling, and despite being unusual, the initial cacophony of oddness does smell pretty good and the fruity/medicinal vibe is like nothing I have ever smelled.

The oud (or agarwood as it’s often referred to) in the heart of M7 is synthetic (as most oud notes are) and it does show, it is very medicinal but at the same time it is deep, rich, sweaty and intense. M7 isn’t as oud-centric as a lot of other oud fragrances, in fact it doesn’t feel like M7 is about oud at all, it is about rich wood, with oud just being part of the formed impression of strong wood.

As M7 dries down it becomes bready and yeasty, this is due to the blend of the oud, amber and musk, it is in no way unsettling, in fact it feels comforting and natural like warm, naked skin. M7 was yet another triumph for Tom Ford (please see Gucci Rush and YSL’s Nu for two others) but it wasn’t a commercial success for YSL, it was a little ahead of it’s time and was perhaps too unusual for mainstream tastes. M7 is however, one of my favourite masculines and it takes pride of place on my perfume shelf, next to my hoard of feminines of course.

This review is based on an older bottle of M7, which has since been re-released as ‘M7 Oud Absolu’.

Bois Blond

Parfumerie Générale
Bois Blond

The Notes

Cereals, Grass, Galbanum, Cedar, Hay, Blond Tobacco, Amber and Musk [3]

How Does it Smell?

Parfumerie Générale is a recent discovery for me (yes, I’m late to the party, I know) and I have found the line to be solid, interesting and full of unusual takes on well-established genres. Birgit of Olfactoria’s Travels sent me a good few samples of the PG scents to try and when I picked out Bois Blond as my random woody choice for ‘O Tannenbaum’ I was most pleased.

Bois Blond is part of Parfumerie Générale’s Private Collection and is yet another fragrance that focuses on the note of cedar wood, a note that I find to be ‘hit or miss’. What I like about Bois Bond in particular, is the fact that it’s not a typical cedar wood, you won’t find any pencil shavings or harsh wood lurking around, it’s a delightfully smooth and cosy take on cedar.

Bois Blond opens with a touch of fresh citrus and green notes, there is also an unusual hay note that occupies the first half of it’s development. I find this hay note to be most intriguing and it makes me think that it is a hideously underused note that needs to be used more often, it adds a golden natural quality that I find comforting.

The ‘Bois’ in Bois Blond is a smooth cedar note that grows smokier with time and the addition of a sweet tobacco note compliments the smoke whilst adding a light touch of ‘gourmand’. The whole thing is rounded off with an enjoyable, albeit pretty standard, cosy vanilla/amber base. Lovely.

What makes Bois Blond so interesting is, despite the ‘Bois’ in the title, it’s not overly woody, it shows how wood can be used as just one facet within a composition whilst bringing out the best quality in other ingredients. Try this if you like warm, slightly smoky and sweet fragrances.

Availability

Féminité du Bois is available in 50ml Eau de Parfum for £52.28, M7 is available in 80ml Eau de Toilette for £55 and Bois Blond is available in 50ml and 100ml Eau de Parfum, with prices ranging from £90.50-£137.

Disclaimer

This review is based on bottles of Féminité du Bois, M7 from my own personal collection and a sample of Bois Blond generously donated by the lovely Birgit of Olfactoria’s Travels.

[1] & [2] osmoz.com

[3] luckyscent.com

Image 1 christmas-wallpapers-free.blogspot.com

Image 2 cosmetictimes.com

Image 3 selfridges.com

Image 4 galilu.pl

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