Friday, January 23, 2015

Serge Lutens - Un Bois Vanille (perfume review)

I'm continuing my quest to find some Serge Lutens that work for me. I have several samples in the queue - Chergui, Daim Blond, La Fille de Berlin, De Profundis - but today we focus on Un Bois Vanille.

Un Bois Vanille is interesting in that its a collection of dichotomies. It opens up with the intense sugary sweetness of cotton candy, but rather than being light and airy, it possesses a rich creamy character akin to melting ice cream. But within the depths of the sweet, dark vanilla creme lurks a sharpness I associate with sandalwood. The bold, desserty sweetness is grounded ever so slightly by this sharpness, and there's a mild bitterness thats reminiscent of raw cocoa - in a vanilla perfume.

There's also a really faint undercurrent of black licorice, which feels a bit chewy. But it's really faint. Personally I hate anise and black licorice and it doesn't bother me at all in Un Bois Vanille. It's tempered well by the (minimally perceptible but) rich coconut milk. Clint also hates black licorice, and he didn't notice it at all.

Up close and personal with creme brulee.

Un Bois Vanille is definitely gourmandy, but I don't get sugar cookies or booze or cupcakes or frosting. Un Bois Vanille is basically the perfume version of creme brulee - it's warm, it's dense, it's crusted caramelized sugar over heavy, thick, custardy creams. Yeah, it's vanilla, but the vanilla is almost the backstory. 

Un Bois Vanille is probably the most pleasant Serge Lutens I've tried so far, and I can see why many people love it. Unfortunately for me, it triggers a particularly strong scent association that I just can't get past. I may be the only person in the world that feels this way, but for me the sweet vanilla + sharp wood combination smells strikingly similar to the air freshener (cleaner??) used in many public restrooms. I mean, it's nearly identical in scent and in character. Un Bois Vanille is sweet, thick and heavy, just like that air freshener (which is understandably necessary to mask certain odors!).

Fortunately, the sweetness and heft of Un Bois Vanille backs down around the 2-3 hour mark, ridding it of the bathroom air freshener association. With the sweetness turned down, the vanilla actually takes on more of an extract feel than a dessert feel, and the drydown becomes slightly velvety and powdery on my skin. The drydown is definitely my favorite part of Un Bois Vanille.

-----

Clint's 3: Creamy, Chocolate, Pleasant

Clint really liked this one. He tends to like the vanillas, it seems.

-----

My rating of Un Bois Vanille: 3

1  -  - -  -  2  -  -  -  -  3  -  -  -  -  4  -  -  -  -  5
    Nausea/Gagging         Meh        Decent       Great         Olfactory Elation    

-----

Un Bois Vanille as described by the Aedes website:

Family: Oriental/Gourmand

Top Notes:  Vanilla, Sandalwood
Middle Notes: Licorice
Base Notes: Coconut milk

Perfumer: Christopher Sheldrake

lucky scent actually lists a longer set of notes: Black vanilla absolute, licorice, sandalwood, coconut milk, beeswax, caramelized benzoin, bitter almond, Gaiac wood, tonka bean

-----

Have you tried Un Bois Vanille? Is it one of your favorite vanillas?



14 comments:

  1. Good morning Sun!I looked up what I had said about that one on my old blog - two words "toasted marshmallows" My favorite vanilla is Farmacia Ss.Annunziata Vaniglia Del Madagascar.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Carol! Mmm - toasted marshmallows - that sounds yummy. I would love it if I got that - that sounds a touch lighter than creme brulee. :) I've never tried that one - I'll have to give it a go as I expore more vanillas!

      Delete
  2. Hi Sun Mi,
    What a shame about the rest room association :-( I agree about the black licorice note which I find makes this one stick out amongst the many vanillas, and it's so funny how men in general tend to love vanilla perfumes. Perhaps because the associate them with dessert, and because it's something the recognise as a flavour?
    I like BdV but I don't need it, as I don't wear vanilla perfumes that often, I am looking forward to seeing how you'll fare with the other Lutens'. I do love DePro.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Asali! Yes - it is a shame, but it's okay because there are other vanillas that I've found that I prefer (Orchidee Vanille, Vanille Galante are the 2 most recent). Have you tried L'Artisan's Vanille Absolument? For me that one has a strong black licorice note (to the point that it's unbearable for me).

      As for men - I think the dessert association helps for sure! My husband seems to like the vanillas because they feel creamy to him. Sharper florals don't fare as well.

      My poor baby is cutting his top 2 teeth so I feel like I've been dead to the world and haven't been as active testing perfumes as I should be, but hopefully I'll get a few more thoughts out on the other SLs soon! :)

      Delete
    2. Sun Mi, I have Vanillia by l'artisan, so I probably just didn't bother with VA, but now you make me think I should :-)
      Feeling like testing comes and goes I find, there need to be time to wearing my favourites too.
      Sorry about your baby.

      Delete
  3. OOps, seems my Y sticks. they of course, not the :-)

    ReplyDelete
  4. I am not one for licorice, but I do quite like UBV even so - probably also around the 3 mark. Vanilla is my favourite note, so am on a continual quest to sniff all variants which cross my path. I do sometimes get this one muddled with SL Bois Farine, which tastes like bread sauce sitting on a breadboard. Agree with Carol above on my favourite vanilla!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Vanessa!

      I didn't realize that vanilla is your favorite note - do you have a preference in style? Gourmandy, boozy, dry, etc? I love the way vanilla smells but it's been harder to find it in a perfume I enjoy wearing. I do (as noted in my response to Asali) really like Orchidee Vanille and Vanille Galante, as well as Eau Duelle. Oh, and Black Flower Mexican Vanilla is a really nice non-gourmandy one. I haven't fared as well with DSH Vanille, Xerjoff Lira, L'Artisans Vanille Absolument... Have you tried those?

      It sounds like I definitely need to try the Vaniglia del Madagascar! The Bois Farine sounds interesting - I never would have guess it was a vanilla based on the name. I'll have to check it out on my quest to find my favorite SL! :)

      Delete
    2. Oh, I am not sure Bois Farine is a vanilla scent - I only mention it because I got it muddled with Un Bois Vanille. ;) I like all the vanillas you mention in your 'like' category, and also don't care for Vanille Absolument. Don't know the DSH scent and can't recall Lira, though I think I did try it once. I like my vanillas gourmandy or dry, but not usually boozy or overly foody - Tihota is too much, Vaniglia del Madagascar spot on. Annick Goutal does a nice straight up vanilla in Vanille Exquise and I also like Creed's Sublime Vanille. I don't normally like the treaclier end of vanilla, so Mona di Orio Vanille is my upper end. That said, I like Angelique Noire, which is a bit treacly and vanilla-ish.

      Delete
    3. Hmm - I don't actually know what treacly means, which is making it very difficult for me to imagine these treacly scents. I shall look it up and learn something new - thank you Vanessa!!

      Delete
  5. I'm not a vanilla lover so my list of favorite vanillas is short: Le Labo Vanille 44, Mona di Orio Les Nombres d'Or Vanille, Guerlain Spiritueuse Double Vanille and Diptyque Eau Duelle. None of these I have as a FB and, taking into the account the price and my opening statement, I doubt any of them will ever join my collection. But I enjoy wearing those from decants once in a while.
    Those associations with functional products are ones of the worst: once you smell it this way, it's almost impossible to "un-smell" it. But since you have already other favorite vanillas, maybe it's not that bad that this one didn't work for you? :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Undina!

      It's true - scent associations are really hard to rid yourself of - but it's no worry as there are definitely other vanillas that I prefer. I think that vanilla isn't my favorite note either - but my husband seems to really like the vanillas so I'll probably eventually make sure to get at least a decant of something (but for now I have 8mls of Vanille Galante thanks to the generous Hermes store). And I suppose it can definitely be a cozy and comforting cold weather note. So I will happily continue to try more vanillas - and I'll make sure to add the Mona di Orio and Guerlain to my list!

      Delete
  6. I love the yummy opening of un bois vanille so much but it loses its heft and becomes flat and woody in just under 2 hours. Unlike you, I don't really care for the drydown of this. The lasting power and silage is disappointing too. Nevertheless, I keep a full bottle of this in my collection/wardrobe. I just prepare to have my heart broken when I wear it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Willa!

      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. I'm sorry to hear that Un Bois Vanille ends up so disappointing after having such a great opening for you! I suppose if I had to choose, though, I'd prefer to love an opening as it can usually be recreated with more sprays. Do you find that reapplying at the 1 or 2 hour mark helps with the longevity and sillage at all? If not, perhaps its a perfect scent for a couple hours before bedtime - when you can enjoy the opening and sleep through the rest. :)

      Delete

Thanks for participating!