Miel de Bois

Taste of honey, originally uploaded by Rebeca Mello.

To greet the Jewish New Year, I've worn some honeyed perfumes these past couple of days, including the most dreaded, controversial Miel de Bois from the dense atelier of Monsieurs Serge Lutens and Christopher Sheldrake.

Miel de Bois gets more often negative attention than positive, so I've decided to finally give this jus a try on New Year's Eve, following the tradition of dipping the first days of the year in honey...

The carded sample says:


Honey becomes the trickling sap of dreams, graecfeully melding with a very dry, woody accord. Delicate, subtle and true."

What I got from it was an over-intensified honey candy fragrance, the kind you can also experience with honey-scented soap.

It is not so much honey as it is the cliche of honey. A scent I actually like a lot: it reminds me of rather early childhood memories, when I was about four. My family just moved to the village and there was no kindergarten. Our parents got a relief from caring for their preschoolers and build their houses in time for the fall, in the form of a soldier-teacher: an 18 or 19 year old girl whose name was Gilda, and who in order to appease us and prevent us from getting lost in the bush she gave us honey candies (there was no actual building for this "preschool" she had to run - maybe just a tent but I can't even remember that).
So this perfume does not really raise any profound memories otherwise, except that it reminds me of all honey candies and honey soap bars I encountered thereoff - which will forever remind me of Gilda (whom I don't even remember really without the honey candies attached to her image).

And in attempt to be a little more descriptive rather than reminisce about roaming in the thorny bushes of our village with a soldier-teacher bribing us with candy --
I would say Miel de Bois smells like an artificial honey fragrance. Wherever this "dry wood" is, I can't find it. If anything, it reminds me of a very concentrated artificial honey fragrance oil I got at a Bella Pella - an underground soapmaking shop in Mont Royal (Montreal) many years ago when I began my fragrance craze and was purchasing anything that smelled like something... Their scents are very fun when diluted in a soap base (they had an amazing Gianduja soap that made you just want to eat yourself in the bathtub) but way too strong on their own.
Unfortunately, Miel de Bois smells like it was never diluted in anything. So I am beginning to understand the controversy. It doesn't even have the depth and the density that other Serge Lutens perfumes have - that sweetness that sucks you in and makes you addicted whether if you like the scent or not. Instead, it is sharp, persistent and very artificial smelling. The sharpness is a little floral, but not any particular flower. It has more depth on a scent strip than on the skin, which is peculiar. But it certainly improves with time when worn on the skin - if you can get distracted beyond the "honey candy!" effect, which is ever so potent. I can smell some real honey absolute if I put my mind to it - which is a little more waxy than the fake honey smell. And than there is some baby-powder scent, which is hardly an improvement. And if you pay even more attention you may notice something that resembles wood - Atlas cedarwood, to be more exact, as in Feminite de Bois, which is the only point when one could consider this "smooth". But the fact that it is so difficult to make out anything else but honey is the problem with this perfume and what stands in the way of turning the amusement into real enjoyment.

Tomorrow I'm hoping to find some kind of an apple perfume to balance this review. Hopefully something that is as tart as a Granny Smith!

Green Honeyed Sap

The following are two reviews for two perfumes that use honey in an unusual manner. Rather than in an oriental, honey note is used here to create the impression of sipping a honey-sweetened infusion of herbs and green tea.

Yuzu Citrus by Artemisia Perfume

The art of light and shadows, originally uploaded by eyecatcher.

Vibrant and bright citrus that is sweet and refreshing, like a honeyed ice-tea.
Yuzu Citrus opens with a startling bright green galbanum note, which leads the way to citrus scented lemongrass and lemon verbena leaves, the sweetness of honey and yuzu (the sweet effervescent Japanese citron) with a hint of floral notes, and based upon a balsamic-herbal foundation of clary sage and frankincense.

Galbanum notes weave in and out of the perfume as it evolves – at times green and bright, and other times balsamic and resinous with great staying power. Despite the use of yuzu in the perfume (and the name), this is not a disctintively yuzu scent. It is a green, honeyed, sappy galbanum.

The talented Lisa Fong from Artemisia Perfumes has created this perfume solely from natural essences. Ms. Fong is a former co-director of the Artisan Natural Perfumery Guild, and a student of Mandy Aftel. Her style is that of refined elegance, usually focusing on a particular essence or combination of essences and showcasing their unique characateristics (my other favourites from her line bear the titles Saffron and Jasmine Tea), which brings to mind Jo Malone’s perfumery, emphasizing the individual ingredients. However, I do find Lisa Fong’s perfumes to possess a greater depth and originality and have a better lasting power.

Yuzu Citrus is the most fresh and citrusy of her line. It is a green-citrus scent that is both refreshing and long lasting.

Top notes: Galbanum, Lemongrass
Heart notes: Yuzu absolute, Lemon Verbena, Honey, Harshingar Flowers
Base notes: Frankincense, Clary Sage

l'Instant: Magnolia and Honey

Magnolia/ Tulpenboom, originally uploaded by Gerard Bijvank.

I strongly resisted l’Instant when it just came out. It just was so not Guerlain. My first impression of it was of an unwanted (yet pretty) step-sister to the other Guerlain scents. Young and inexperienced rather as opposed to the sophisticated style that the other Guerlain scents radiate. Although l’Instant did not win my heart when I finally took on to wear it for a full day and notice its evolution, I did discover a beautiful magnolia scent – the trademark of its creator, Monsieur Maurice Roucel. L’Instant is a Floral. If anybody tells you otherwise, don’t believe them: this is not a “modern oriental”, in fact, it is not even what I would call floriental.

L’Instant is a scent that revolves around the theme of magnolia: sweet and honey like without being cloying (an element which the citrus-honey note supports); Iris to accentuate the fluffy powderiness; and a benzoin-vanilla base to maintain the sweetness as much as possible.

HONEY, originally uploaded by chrissie2003

After application, I instantly recognized something familiar. It took me a while to get it - Tocade! Indeed, the two perfumes do share some striking similarities: both contain magnolia, bergamot, orris and vanilla. Tocade has a lot of roses, and in many aspects this is the main difference between the two. In fact, l’Instant is so similar to Tocade that I am surprised nobody picked up on it before. I will not be surprised if it is a tweaking of the Tocade formula – accentuating the magnolia rather than the rose and being a bit lighter on the powdery notes, with the addition of the new notes – like the crystalline musk and the citrus honey. The two also share in common the clean, crisp synthetic bergamot top note.

As the scent evolved on my skin, I got occasional familiar whiffs of pleasant memories – one originated in a magnolia body milk splash I had about 7 years ago, and the other was almost identical to a festive jar of lemon-scented honey (citrus honey with the addition of lemon flavour). Citrus honey, by the way, is honey which is produced form citrus flowers, and it usually has a much lighter colour and flavour than other types of honey.

Overall, l’Instant is a sheer and cheerful modern floral; Very pleasant and easy to wear even if not at all sophisticated or complex like most Guerlain scents are. I would take this any time over most of the recent (non-boutique) Guerlain launches such as the Aqua Allegoria line, myriads of other fruity, floral and ambery-floral modern releases, and definitely won’t hesitate to pick this one over Insolence in an instant!

The crystalline base adds a somewhat aloof sensuality and sweetness – that is not unlike other modern orientals and florientals (i.e. the base in Addict, Nu, Kingdom and others).

Top notes: Rosewood and lilac notes, Bergamot, Mandarin
Heart notes: Magnolia, iris, citrus honey with some light lemon and orange blossom notes
Base notes: Benzoin, Vanilla, Crystalline Amber.

Asja: Honey and Cloves

Delicacy, originally uploaded by toybreaker.

Faithful to its name, Asja is all you could expect from a classical old-time oriental, but has a modern, up-bit twist that will make it adored even by those who typically dislike Orientals.

Rested on a sound foundation of all that could make a perfume an oriental - patchouli, musk, amber and clove bud absolute – Asja brings light and sparkle to this theme by using a well-balanced heart of a floral bouquet consisting primarily of carnations, and topped with a mouth-watering fruity accord.

Asja opens with a seductively luscious fruity notes that are sweet without being cloying and fresh without being flat or one-dimensional. The top not is engaging and inviting, and truly states what the perfume really is: a beautiful and rich, yet not overpowering Oriental, that is fruity and floral and not in the least cloying.

The eugenol theme (eugenol is the main constituent of clove buds and carnations) that characterizes this composition through all of its layers is pervasive but does not overpower the blend, and is not medicinal or sharp as you may expect:
There is something about the overall first impression of the top notes that brings to mind a rich, full-bodied mulled wine...As applied on the skin, a freshly-cut carnation flower emerges, immensely sweet and fresh, thanks to the addition of the round, rich and luscious fruity notes of peach and apricot, and a hint of citrus freshness.

The carnation heart is sweet and floral, and is rounded by exotic, fruity-floral notes of ylang ylang and a rich, subtle rose. It is also backed up by other spices that slowly emerge as the perfume develops on the skin: primarily Allspice Berry – the exotic large peppercorn-like spice, bold and interestingly dry and multi-layered. Allspice smells a lot like a pumpkin pie spice – a combination of cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg.

The eugenol note at the base is dry and sweet at once, like clove-bud absolute, which is much more subtle, refined and feminine than the essential oil. The accord at the base is especially rich and lovely – the orient at its best: patchouli, a hint of dry spices, amber, musk, honey and vanilla, and perhaps even a hint of dry moss.

Asja is a real treat, and an easy-to-wear Oriental. It is sensual, stimulating, soothing and comforting all at once. It’s a perfume you could wear everywhere for any reason (just take care of the doses) – you will enjoy it as well as others around you!
It somewhat reminds me of the charming and un-demanding Cheap and Chic by Moschino – just like it, Asja is a little flirty and mischievous, and begs for being enjoyed without hesitation or a second thought – just put it on and have fun!

Top notes: Carnation, Apricot, Peach

Heart notes Carnation, Clove bud oil, Rose, Jasmine, Ylang Ylang, Allspice berry

Base notes: Patcouli, Amber, Musk, Clove bud Absolute, Honey absolute

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