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Monday, January 30, 2006

Perfume Review: Armani Privé Bois d'Encens

Armani Privé line of fragrances started as a private collection of scents to be worn by Armani and his close friends. Only the finest, purest ingredients were used to create this unisex “haute couture” collection. The line right now consists of four scents, Ambre Soie, Bois d'Encens, Eau de Jade, and Pierre de Lune; a fifth scent, Cuir Amethyste, is about to be released. Armani meant for Bois d’Encens to evoke his childhood memories of attending church with his grandmother. Having said that, in my opinion, Bois d’Encens does not have an overly churchy feel. (As a scent evoking a church and nothing but a church, Avignon by Comme des Garcons still reigns supreme.) Bois d’Encens starts with a black pepper accord, very rich, nose-tingling note that I adore; pepper smoothly transforms into frankincense (which to me often has a peppery smell anyway), then an unexpected but very prominent lime-like note appears and freshens up the composition, and finally cedar and vetiver join the show in the drydown.

Three things surprised me in this scent; first, the unanticipated lime note, which is perhaps a result of my quirky skin chemistry, and for which I am thankful, whatever is its origin, because it livens up the otherwise pale grey wood-incense composition and makes it somewhat different from other scents of this type. Second, for a scent with “bois” in its name, the cedar note is quite subdued, on my skin. As far as my nose is concerned, this fragrance could have been called Encens et Poivre , because pepper and frankincense are much more prominent on my skin than wood. And finally, having read about the inspiration behind the fragrance, I expected a more somber, heavier, more church-like scent. Instead (and this is not a bad thing at all, heaven knows, there are plenty of scents that evoke churches of all sorts of denominations) Bois d’Encens brings to mind a sophisticated, minimalistically furnished loft in a stylish part of a hip city. Its owner (we won’t be gender-specific here, this is a unisex scent after all) drinks lime gimlets, burns incense and loves to decorate the flat with wooden objects of simple, straightforward proportions.

Such stylish way of life does appeal to me on some days, and on those moments when I fancy myself as being or aspiring to be urbane and fashionable, I reach for Bois d’Encens. Those moments are rare and thus Bois d’Encens is not full-bottle worthy for me. I also think that Privé Eaux de Parfum are rather overpriced ($185 for 1.7 oz). Bois d’Encens is an elegant, good quality scent, but it is still decidedly not worthy that kind of money. Bois d'Encens is available at Saks and can also be bought online at

*The image is from


Blogger marchlion said...

This one is a beautiful scent that somehow leaves me... cold. Avignon is, yes, the perfect church-y incense. I like frankincense so much I own a tiny bottle of essential oil which I sometimes use to cut something too sweet on my skin; on me, at least, it has a definite citrus-y aspect. I suppose nothing has yet displaced Passage d'Enfer in my affections, although that's a different sort of incense entirely.

9:34 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

You summed up my feelings about Bois d'Encens. Beautiful, well done, but...leaves me cold.
I also love Passage d'Enfer. It is my comfort scent of sorts, not warm-up comfirt like Ambre Narguile or Collection, just melancholic, detached sort of comfort. Love it.

9:46 AM EST  
Blogger lilybp said...

Well, I do love this; it's a simple scent but a beautiful one. I caved for a stunning bottle (at least I got the FandF discount at Saks) and I've never regretted it. Get no lime, though:)
I also got some Ambre Soie (samples from the boutique, and a swap decant) and I find they layer beautifully together, making a warmer, less severe scent.

9:50 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

That combination sounds wonderful, as you said, Bd'E would be less intense, while Ambre Soie would be less sweet. I am going to try this!

9:59 AM EST  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

M, I am going to have to go back to look for the lime! I think if I had noticed it, I might have bought this. Nope, changed my mind: nothing will make me buy it at that price!

The furnished loft part is right on target!

12:54 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

That must what makes me think of lime then. Good to know!

2:17 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Same here. Lime or no lime, church or no church, $185 for 1,7 oz is madness. The bottle is gorgeous, indeed...but still...

2:20 PM EST  
Blogger Victoria said...

I like this best of the four and I agree I don't get much wood either. Which is why I like it. I'm hoping the Amethyst is really good since it's my birthstone and I'd love to own that bottle.

2:39 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I have high hopes for it, mostly because it has "cuir" in the name. I love leather.
What about Pierre de Lune? What do you think about it? I haven't tried it yet and have heard some positive things about it.

5:16 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Patty and Christina,
You two are making me lemm Pierre de Lune! Evil, bad girls! :-D

8:23 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

PS. I do think the bottles are objects of art, so sleek, so seemingly heavy, so minimalistic. I especially like the all-black BdE bottle.

8:25 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bois d'Encens. I love the bottle but i can not make up my mind as of yet...i have to try it once more and see..

11:36 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

makes me think of lime...

6:30 PM EDT  

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