A Perfect Vanilla? Serge Lutens Un Bois Vanille (Revisited): An Updated Review

29 Mar

I have come around to this fragrance. After sniffing my way through quite a few vanillas, including niche, designer, and drugstore (as well as a bunch of organic vanilla essential oils),

I have come back around to this one.

Here’s why: Un Bois vanilla is layered and complex, the vanilla is  unquestionably the focus, and yet it has the most beautiful, natural,  cool translucency and airiness that I have ever experienced in a vanilla. It isn’t weak, it is just so artfully constructed that it never evolves into all of the things which are so easy to dislike (or like?) about a vanilla.

BV is very well blended but has great note separation, and is paired with such high quality, complimentary notes of beeswax and various woods, it really is quite memorable, and is not a projection monster (thank God) but instead settles into a beautiful very natural woody sweetness that stays with me quite a while.

Un Bois Vanilla is much more complimentary to one’s own skin than those vanillas which are opaque, excessively rich, and viscous-smelling.

Also, it doesn’t break down into a musk, which is frequently an easy cop-out for  fragrances that otherwise have merit until their unfortunate final stage of development. So far this is my favorite vanilla on the market, and if I had the money I would definitely own a FB, despite the fact that I am not usually attracted to gourmands.

After revisiting Un Bois Vanille, I tracked down a more technical and beautifully written review on Fragrantica by commenter jtd (author of ScentHurdle.com), which reinforces my new found observations. Here are his conclusions about Un Bois Vanille. I could not have said it better, so I am including his review in its entirety. Enjoy!

“Vanilla is a key component to both the contemporary dessert/gourmand and the classic amber oriental. Vanilla is almost inescapable in perfumery, but it’s usually found in the familiar company of labdanum, balsams, resins, spices or ethylmaltol in the above genres. It takes effort to dissociate it from the foody, cuddly feel. Despite its brief plastic/cotton-candy camouflage topnote (wonderful!), un Bois Vanille does just this. After the foody misdirection, BV avoids the expected. The tease of edibility shows itself as a licorice note, not cotton candy. The licorice also keeps BV from going the amber/oriental route since the genre is almost by definition warm, round, thick. Licorice here comes off as anise-like not candy-like. It’s cool and focused and it brings out vanilla’s sharp, bitter side, making it more potent than plush.After the expansive opening the heartnotes are fairly quiet, with a dry, airy feel that I would think to associate with frankincense, not vanilla. By drydown BV is dusty but still taut, reinforcing the point that vanilla can be strong and direct without being lush. BV stays cool as it winds down and resists becoming a skin-scent, further bucking a vanilla stereotype.BV solves a problem for me. One of very few in perfume fan-dom, I don’t like Caron’s Pour un Homme. The lavender/vanilla combo has no synergy and reminds me of the feel of a stuffy head. In BV, the cool side of the licorice fuses with the vanilla in a way that I imagine Pour un Homme’s minty lavender and vanilla combo works for the rest of the world.”

*  *  *

Un Bois Vanille also solves a problem for me. I have been on a search for a wearable, vanilla-dominant fragrance, and it wasn’t until I became better acquainted with the spectrum of vanilla offerings out there (I realized there is much work to be done still) and came back around to this one, that I was finally able to see it for everything it contained, (or didn’t contain) in order to make it so welcoming and unique.

At last, I can finally rest with this one for a while before moving forward in the never ending quest for a transcendent, exceptionally well constructed vanilla fragrance. Much thanks to jtd, Fragrantica, and of course, to Serge Lutens.

Here is my original review of Un Bois Vanille, if you want to see an example of how much perception can change as our experiences continue to inform us.

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2 Responses to “A Perfect Vanilla? Serge Lutens Un Bois Vanille (Revisited): An Updated Review”

  1. mybeautyblog/Andreea (@mybeautyblog) October 25, 2013 at 8:05 pm #

    I am definitely not! a friend of gourmand scents, but I sampled this once and still remember it. Fun fact: I was pregnant at that time, and was looking for something warm and cozy, but could not decide. Now baby is here and I try to wear fragrances again – my smell is even more refined then during pregnancy? Looking for something warm, cozy and somewhat natural, I decided to give Uncle Serge a new try. And to get my first vanilla frag, hoping my little one can deal with it (he loves ffod, so he might love a cookie-smelling mommy?)

    Thank you for your re-review, I agree that taste can change.

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  1. Serge Lutens Un Bois Vanille EDP Perfume Review | EauMG - April 30, 2013

    […] Signature Scent […]

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