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Monday, May 01, 2006

Perfume Review: Vivienne Westwood Boudoir

Boudoir is Vivienne Westwood’s first and perhaps most successful perfume (the other two scents, Libertine and Anglomania, seem to have been discontinued; only Boudoir is featured on Westwood’s site). According to Jan Moran, the notes are viburnum, marigold, orange blossom, orris, red rose, cinnamon, coriander, cardamom, amber, vanilla, sandalwood and patchouli. The fragrance is classified as Oriental-Green, and the “green” sub-category comes as a surprise to me. I would have welcomed the freshness and even the sharpness of a green note, I would have loved it to pierce the creamy, rich olfactory texture of Boudoir but unfortunately there is no hint of green here, to my nose.

It might seem from the above paragraph that I dislike Boudoir. I do not. However I am unable to wear it. When I do, it seems that, as the expression goes, the scent wears me, not the other way round. It envelopes me in its opulent, heady cloak and slowly but surely smothers me till I give up and wash it off (not an easy thing to do, by the by). It amazes me that a fragrance this smooth can be so deadly. The orris is soft and velvety, the rose is silky, the floral accord that I have always suspected to include tuberose is suave and sweet, the vanilla-amber-sandalwood blend (I do not get much patchouli here, but I do get a hint of dirty little something that I am sure must be musk) of the drydown is so creamy and thick, it seems possible to slice through it like through a wedge of butter. The overall effect is incredibly rich, too rich for my feeble physique. In that respect, Boudoir reminds me of two other beautifully blended scents that I admire but rarely dare to apply to my skin, Sacrebleu by Parfums de Nicolai and Talisman by Balenciaga. All three have the warm, sumptuous, dark-golden creaminess that is incredibly attractive and that makes them very hard for me to wear.

Boudoir is available at, $68.00-$85.00.


Anonymous Flora said...

I have the very same problem with this one - it's just too much to wear, though I love it just to smell straight from the bottle. It must be the viburnum - if that's really what's in it - as that can be incredibly sweet. It smells great on the tree, but concentrated like that it is so heady it's dizzying.

Too bad Libertine is no more - I liked that even better, and it was more wearable, as I recall.

12:45 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the lovely review! I am intrigued by your comparison of Boudoir to Talisman and Sacre Bleu--I wear all 3 regularly. I'm going to be doing some experimenting! cheers, sara

7:32 AM EDT  
Blogger lilyofbp said...

Now I love this; I think it's VERY sexy! But, like Sara, I also love and wear Talisman and Sacrebleu (though I never thought of comparing them; I too must do some experimenting). I am glad you stopped with the pineapple:)

8:48 AM EDT  
Blogger Dusan said...

M, I've heard (or read) somewhere that Boudoir can be worn by men too. The presence of heavy florals intimidates me somewhat, particularly if paired with creamy, opulent basenotes. Don't get me wrong, I love Angel (yeah, I can hear you gag), but I could never wear it in public. Can you set me straight, pls?

9:04 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

I remember Libertine as a much more easy-going scent.
I did not know what viburnum is so I googled it and apparently, as you say, its flowers are highly aromatic. I am wondering if what I perceive as "tuberose" here is actually viburnum. A sweet, creamy floral note.

9:08 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

I don't think they smell the same (as in, have the same notes). But to me they have the same feeling about them, the same creamy thinkness or thick creaminess.
They are stunning and I am envious that you can wear them. :-)

9:12 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

I think's its sexy too and, in the drydown, a little dirty. But it suffocates me :-(

*pouts on behalf of pineapple* Wait till I go on the quest for my perfect pear LOL

9:14 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

I have no doubt that a man can wear Boudoir. In fact, I would love to smell it on a man. It should be gorgeous. This is not a "girlie" scent in any way, it is powerful, sexy stuff.
In general I believe that one can and should wear whatever one likes, regardless of gender. All these mascuine-feminine distinctions in perfumery...Bah! :-)

9:32 AM EDT  
Blogger Dusan said...

Yes, agree that there should be no gender distinctions in perfumery, so I promise to wear Coco Mademoiselle tomorrow :-). I'm just not sure how my GF will react to it, she's not a big fan of it as it is. As for Boudoir, I'll try to track it down, thanks for clearing things up.

9:54 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

I am not a big fan of Coco Mademoiselle either, but it might turn out to smell stunning on your skin. It's all about skin chemistry, isn't it

9:57 AM EDT  
Blogger boisdejasmin said...

Boudoir is the fragrance I have not worn in a long time, and your lovely review inspired me to revisit it.

I tried Talisman the other day and I was struck by the fact that it reminded me of (ok, you will laugh, esp. in light of my own musings today) Euphoria. :) Here is why--Euphoria is driven by the accord of fruit, amber, patchouli and woods. So is Talisman. Except, Talisman is executed in a rich, dark manner that combines heft with luxurious depth. Euphoria is a much more lucid composition, with the fruit rendered in a trasparent, weightless manner and the rest of the notes as well. I have been testing various modern gourmand compositions lately, and having revisited Talisman, I was struck by the similarity of the main accord, if not the whole composition, to the themes we see today. I hope that it makes sense.

2:36 PM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

I can see that: the similarity of the central accord and the richness of both compositions. Euphoria is perhaps more fruity and Talisman is "thicker", richer, creamier, but still. Great comparison!

2:56 PM EDT  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

Different varieties of viburnum have different aromas (and some none at all)...but I don't think of it as being nearly as heady as tuberose.

Did you try Anglomania M?

5:06 PM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Very intersting! I haven't even seen viburnum, I think.

I did try Anglomania. Me no likey. Here is the post I had some time ago:

5:27 PM EDT  
Blogger Jenny said...

I love the smell of Viburnum, in fact I'm working on a perfume with that smell, but it can be to overwelming so it's nice but is to strong to be the dominant note.

6:14 PM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

It sounds like a beautiful but tricky note to blend. I am in awe of your talent!

7:04 PM EDT  
Blogger katiedid said...

C, I have never met the perfect pear, though of course I have never had any notions of seeking one out, but... Lulu Beauty's Gigi is my favorite every gardenia, that features a prominent pear note. It's awesome, which I mention just in case you decide to start looking ;)

I received a sample a long while back of Bourdoir, and yet, I never had any desire to sample it for some reason. I don't know why. I think I ought to dig it out if I have the time and give it a real good test drive though. Sometimes I kind of like those ones that wear me instead of the other way around :)

7:14 PM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Writing down Gigi. I blame Yves Rocher for my weird fruit cravings. Their Pineapple and Pear shower gels smell so good, I want to find perfumes with notes...They Pineapple and Pear EDTs are not good however, way too simple, like little girls fragrances found in those toy make up sets.

11:20 PM EDT  
Blogger Sub-Surfer Rosa said...

I know this isn't a very popular statement in this blog but I love Boudoir. I have been wearing this perfume for 2 years and love it either on the skin or straight from the bottle. Do you have reviews for Talisman or Sabre Bleu? I'm still kinda new at this and don't recognize those perfumes.

3:43 PM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

By all means state your love for Boudoir on this blog :-) I admire that scent, I just unfortunately can't wear it.

I haven't done reviews of Sacrebleu and Talisman, but here are the links to review on

10:20 PM EDT  
Anonymous anna said...

Hi! Love the comments, but does anyone know if this perfume is tested on animals?

4:26 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ladies & Gents -- thanks for the review and comments. I love Love LOVE Boudoir and always have. It's not for everyone, but when it works... damn, it works! I've been wearing it for about 7 years and I literally have men AND women sniffing me . I apply very little and it strategic points, of course. My boyfriends have all gone crazy for it, and I notice strangers turning and sniffing aaaaaall the time :-) There's some secret ingredient, I just don't know what. Someone mentioned it smelling "dirty". Well, they say it smells like sex. But for all you prudes and innocents, don't be turned off. It's just a little bit dangerous, but mostly it's "pretty" and "strong". That's how I'd describe it. Also, I can really seeing this working on a man!

12:54 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think i couldn't live without it - i'm really Boudoir addicted :)

3:26 PM EST  
Anonymous Lilly Moos said...

I'm new to Boudoir...and I'm totally in love. The first time I put it on I sprayed in on my arm and the smell almost made me pass out. I didn't put it on again for 2 or 3 weeks then decided to give it another try, but this time I sprayed in in the crease behind my knee...JACKPOT! Not I wear it all the time and I LOVE it and other folks seem to as well. I've had a couple of folks ask me what the scent is and I tell them (although I laugh a little on the inside when I think of the reaction they may likely have when first using it, thinking that I must have lied to them). I am totally addicted to this perfume. It's exotic and sexy and hubby has no idea why I'm suddenly more irresistable! ;)

1:42 PM EDT  
Blogger Amanda said...

I have been wearing the same bottle of Boudoir that I purchased almost 10 years ago. It's very strong, but I wore it when I went out at night to bars or shows. I felt sumptuously sexy with it on. My current man however is extremely allergic to almost everything and now my beloved Boudoir has given babyboy a mild migraine. I guess it truly is a special occasion scent. I had a bottle of Libertine once too and I would definitely wear that during the day or for work. But I didn't really love it like Boudoir. I only bought it because I saw it at Marshall's of all places dirt cheap so I grabbed it. I ended up finishing the bottle off simply because I would use it everyday, unlike Boudoir. As much as it doesn't fit in to my everyday, or even every weekend lifestyle, I will very likely end up with another bottle of Boudoir. It's just unlike any other fragrance. But not until I'm finished with my bottle of Prada L'Infusion d'Iris!

2:18 AM EST  

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