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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60 thoughts on “O Tannenbaum! – A Blogging Event

  1. I can’t believe after all these years of being a perfumista, I still haven’t tried M7 and it’s one of those perfumes that gets mentioned all the time as a really good masculine (and I’m all for masculines). 🙂

  2. Excellent choices T’ ! In fact, very probably the exact same 3 I would’ve chosen myself, had I been choosing ! :o) ~ (Nothing for me still beats M7 for shear woody beauty !)

  3. Excellent choices with FdB and M7! And I’m swooning over Tom Ford right along with you. I know he’s not super-popular amongst many hardcore perfume-types, but besides being sexy as hell, I also think he understands perfume and how to maintain a signature (even though he’s not a perfumer).

    • Thanks Carrie, I tried to comment on your post but for some reason it wouldn’t let me.

      Tom Ford is so swoon-worthy and I agree he understands perfume and he is an excellent head for business and marketing, he knows his smells!

  4. P.S. … However, I did find some differences between M7 Absolu and the original M7. I found it unfortunately somewhat inferior. (In fact, the original M7 is more fitting to be called the “Absolu” out of the two, IMO.) ~ There was absolutely no need whatsoever to go tweak and fiddle with what was already perfectly perfect !

    As for being one of the first commercial fragrances to introduce Oud to the masses, that it certainly was. And just look at the snowballing black-gold-rush ol’ Tom set in motion there. …
    In fact, I can only think of one other that actually came before M7, but tends to be overlooked, and that was Comme des Garcons’ (Red Series) Sequoia. (Though that one was certainly done in the rather more “astringent” Japanese style of Oud. And also rather more “subtle” in tone, probably so as not to scare the public ;o). ~ Still, it was released the year before M7.

    • A few have mentioned that the Oud Absolu isn’t the same as the original M7. M7 had already been changed before it was reissued as ‘Oud Absolu’, I wonder if they are one and the same?

      Tom Ford has a very good head for trends I have to say.

  5. Good to learn more about M7 and very interesting to hear that it’s been re-released now that oud is in vogue. It certainly was ahead of it’s time.

    Totally agree that hay is a woefully underused note.

    • It certainly was. The odd thing about the M7 Oud Absolu reissue is that it was still on counters as M7 when it was re-released?! YSL are obviously hopping on the oud bandwagon and making sure that M7’s oudiness is know!

      Hay is a wonderful note, another hay perfume I love is Jasmin et Cigarette by Etat Libre d’Orange.

  6. Joining the cacophany: I love Bois Blonds! It’s that hay note that I cannot get enough of– it’s so gorgeous, and effortlessly conjures bright, sunny days (which is a gift in gloomy weather). 🙂

  7. I fear my perfumista card might be revoked by admitting this, but I’ve never tried Feminite du Bois, not to mention the other two. But you describe them so fully and so well, that I feel like I’ve just received a delicious taste of each one. Of the three, I most want to try FdB and M7, so will add them to my endless things of things yet to be sampled.

    I think your perfume tastes are actually very close to my own. I’m going to have to stop by here more often and compare notes, but I remember reading of your love of Amouage Gold Woman and thinking, yeah, he’s my kind of perfume lover!

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  9. Woody scents are among my favorites, would love to try these. How do FdB compare to SL Bois de Violette, I’ve read that they’re “related”? I had a sample of Bois de Violette but sadly it’s all used up by now…BTW SOTD is Trayee, that sample will soon be all gone as well 🙂

  10. Great post! I found it very difficult to not make “woody” jokes. I’m sure none of the other mature perfume bloggers had problems with this…
    M7 is wonderful stuff so is FdB. I need to try this PG you speak of.

  11. I haven’t tried Féminité du Bois yet, and now I must get my hands on it. A great review.
    I love M7’s medicinal oud note. In fact, that was the fragrance that encouraged me to try more “medicinal” scents. I find them comforting.
    Bois Blond is another perfume I haven’t tried despite the countless rave reviews I’ve read. Looks like I have some catching up to do!

    • The medicinal oud in M7 is pretty awesome, and I agree there is something really comforting about medicinal notes.

      You do have lots of catching up to do, but don’t we all, I always feel like there is too much to smell and not enough time :S

  12. “Blokey” + “cacaphony of oddness” = M7 love! In past days I knew a few other wearers (all men) on whom I could enjoy it vicariously. Sadly, it seems to have been supplanted by a tidal wave of calone and/or pink pepper… but I trust it will prevail.

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  14. Smokey, sweet, cozy, yay, now I think I have a sample somewhere of Bois Blonde which I must go and dig out, since I still haven’t found my perfect PG 🙂 I’m a real woody person love all fragrant woody and resiny notes, however like you cedar is a complete hit or (which mostly happens)miss, when it’s miss it’s stale rancid peanuts (in that off sweet smell). Thank you for the beautiful reviews, and merry Christmas.

    • Hi Asali!

      You should definitely dig out your sample of Bois Blond, it could be your holy grail PG :D!

      I totally get what you mean with the rancid peanuts, when cedar is done badly it truly is awful.

      Thank you for stopping by and Merry Christmas!

  15. Thanks for joining O Tannenbaum! I loved your reviews. I have to admit that I only smleed FdB a few years ago and didn’t like it, but I think I might feel differently now. I need to try it again. And I really need to try Bois Bland since I am a big fan of PG.

      • You win the prize for best typo on this blog so far 😛

        Thank you for inviting me to join!

        Féminité du Bois definitely is distinct and I can see why some people don’t like it, some of my friends say it’s quite ‘musty’ or harsh-smelling. Do let me know what you think if you do try it.

        PG is a great line isn’t it?!

  16. The only perfume from your line-up I tried is the original M7. I tried it first when it was released, thought it was strange and put aside a couple of samples that I got from a friendly SA. I tried it again recently and this time I liked it. Not sure I like it enough to move from testig to wearing but it is very interesting. Now I’m curious to compare it to a re-release version.

    The other two perfumes will go to my “Tannenbaum to try” list.

  17. I have never smelled the original M7 in the all-brown bottle. I started with the reformulated M7, the one with the 3 clear sides. At first, I liked “M7 version 2”. It had a “masculine but not mainstream vibe” that I enjoyed and I always received compliments when I wore it. As time went by and as my fragrance knowledge grew, I always compared my M7 to different oud fragrances and it became obvious that M7 is not an “oud fragrance”. It is a masculine fragrance based on the interplay of oud, vetiver, and musk with a bit of bergamot in the opening to give it some light. The role of M7’s oud was to bring the “weird” to the mix by adding a scent reminiscent of “plastic band-aids”. Some people describe it as medicinal, I smell band-aids. The only other time I smelled something similar to this was when I smelled Byredo’s “oud accord” fragrance, a fragrance that arrives at the smell of oud but doesn’t contain any oud. This “plastic band-aid smell” eventually started to annoy me. I stuck with M7 for a few months because I felt there was something there. I felt that “M7 version 2” alluded to a great perfume, it was always saying “I was once great” or perhaps “I could be great”, but after a while of trying to make it work, I swapped it and forgot about it.

    Today, I sampled “M7 Oud Absolu” while I was in Copenhagen. Fortunately, the previous version of M7 was on the shelf next to it and I was able to do a side by side comparison. Sure enough, the old M7 smelled like I remembered. “Hello, plastic band aids.” “Hello, accords that I have since smelled in other fragrances but done in a much more luxurious way”.
    Then I smelled oud absolu. Wow! M7 has been remade with better quality ingredients! It had the aspects that I loved about my old “M7 version 2 but now with something new. The “light” aspects of the fragrance (the bergamot and mandarin) was blended with myrhh, an incense that has aspects of citrus or orange (famously displayed in Serge Luten’s La Myrrhe). The plastic band-aid oud” was toned down by being blended with the ambery qualities of ciste labdanum. Finally, the musk and vetiver were present but I noticed that they were joined by the cocoa smell of patchouli. I am pretty sure that patchouli is a new addition to the M7 mix. It is definitely there because patchouli always reminds me of A*Men and its offspring and it is actually written on the new M7 Oud Absolu label: “Accords: patchouli”.

    M7 had gained depth. The sales assistant (who admitted that she didn’t know anything about YSL’s fragrances) smelled both and said “Well, this is obviously the eau de parfum version.” referring to M7 Oud Absolu. It is easy to see how she came to this conclusion because M7 does smell sparse whereas M7 Oud Absolu smells “filled out” or “richer”.
    In any case, the difference in quality is obvious. I bought it on the spot, one of the few times I went “full bottle”.

    The sillage is average; if you are sitting next to someone, they will smell you but it won’t overpower them. This is definitely not a “sillage monster/ club scent” like Montale’s Black Aoud. The longevity is great. As I write this, the Oud Absolu has been going strong for 12 hours at this point it is a cocoa, patchouli, vetiver drydown. 

    *I want to add that I hate the Mugler A*Men series, as well as Kokorico, or anything with the cocoa/patchouli/vetiver combo but M7 Oud Absolu does it in an elegant way and it might serve to reopen that gateway to that area of fragrances.

    I don’t see this reformulation as a bad thing. I have read that the original M7 had a depressing heaviness to it. As for “M7 version 2”, I can attest that it smelled thin. Now, with M7 Oud Absolu, this fragrance has evolved. It has grown up, you can say. Before, one could have easily said that M7was sexy and weird. Now, it is still those things but one can add another word: elegant. Is it an “oud on steroids”? No, you go to Montale for that. Is it a skanky oud animal that has been running around the spice bazaar in Istanbul? No, you go to L’Artisan’s Al Oudh for that. But is it a beautifully arranged symphony of oud, myrhh, vetiver and now patchouli that is both wearable and distinctive? Yes.

    M7 is lovely and it takes its place on my shelf next to Kilian’s Taste of Heaven, to be used when I am in the mood for a “dark medicinal masculine” instead of the “opulent masculine” combo of AToH’s lavender/absinthe/vanilla.

    It is for those days when you have to wear a suit and go into the office, but you still want to maintain a bit of “weird” in your scent.

    Of course, AToH is still the best fragrance ever…..

    • I think you’ve raised an interesting point there, in regards to a reformulation smelling better than the original. I haven’t had the chance to try Oud Absolu so I cannot comment on the similarities/differences but I do remember the first reformulation (the one with the clear sides) being a lot thinner in the top notes and slightly less rich overall. I’ll have to try the Oud Absolu now!

      M7 is definitely one of those scents that is either love or hate, and I can see why you find it to be oppressive and medicinal.

      A Taste of Heaven is AMAZING isn’t it?!

  18. I think you will love Oud Absolu, considering that you liked Kokorico. Also the new M7 bottle is nice. Have you tried the newly packaged YSL pour Homme? I think it has been reformulated (or perhaps restored to its original glory) because it smelled amazing when I tried it.

    • I agree there, the bottle is nice!

      I haven’t tried the new Pour Homme, I need to try all of the re-issues. I think I’ve ignored them because I’m sulking about the fact that they reissued Nu EDT and not the EDP.

  19. Wait, let’s not go that far and classify M7 as a “love it or hate it” scent. That distinction is reserved for Mugler’s scents, Kouros, Musc Koublai Khan, or Etat Libre D’Orange’s “Secretions Magnifique”. I think M7 has a bit of “weird” (the oud accord) in the opening to middle notes and then dries down to a classic men’s chypre. I think Tom Ford’s vision of how a man should smell is actually very traditional. If anything, his masculine scents are traditional fragrances that have a twist at some point in its evolution. He reserves his “love it or hate it” creations for his feminine fragrances. As you said, M7 is very “blokey”.

  20. I am curious about Rive Gauche Pour Homme, another YSL fragrance directed by Tom Ford, and also reissued in “La Collection”.

  21. While we are on the topic of Oud: I am currently visiting Turkey and I got my hands on some of the fragrances from Junaid, a fragrance house from Bahrain established in 1910. Holy smokes, some of these are fantastic! I am beginning to see how the French and American niche lines have copied these scents and “cleaned them up” for the mass market. Have you heard of this house?

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