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Monday, July 24, 2006

Perfume Review: Guerlain Bois d'Armenie

Bois d’Armenie is delicate and transparent, it is a vision of an ethereal, light smoke emanating from the burning incense, or, as the case might be, from Papier d’Arménie, the scented paper used as incense since the 16th century, which served as an inspiration for this fragrance.

Patchouli is immediately apparent from the very beginning, as is iris, but these two notes do not show their earthy side here. They are airy, wraithlike. The rose is there too, but it is a gentle, eerie rose, not a ripe, sensual flower in full bloom. The sweet piquancy of coriander is rather subdued, the musk is but a hint, and the woods are soft. The scent speaks in delicate whispers; it evokes an image of a beautiful ghost, of an almost-translucent apparition. It is the scent of a spirit; it is bodiless.

Bois d’Armenie is undoubtedly beautiful; it is masterfully and thoughtfully done. Along with Rose Barbare, it is certainly the most interesting of the now four fragrances in the L'Art et la Matière collection. I must admit that I expected a more intense, earthier, woodier, darker scent, however, the more I wear Bois d’Armenie the more I appreciate this attractive, understated, soulful blend.

As far as I understand, Bois d’Armenie is currently sold only at Guerlain’s Champs Elysées store in Paris and costs €140 (please, correct me, if I am wrong).

The first image is from La Maison Guerlain. The second, Black Smoke, is from


Blogger elle said...

I confess that I'd have liked something slightly gutsier and darker, but I may come to appreciate this if only because I will now think of it w/ your second photo of that delicate swirl of smoke in mind - gorgeous. I never can resist the beauty of smoke curling up from a cigarette or candle flame. I would have been a world class cigarette smoker if I hadn't had such an early addiction to perfume which made me not want to mess up my sense of smell w/ cigarettes. Health concerns were not foremost on my mind at 14.

8:35 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I'd have like gutsy and dark too too, but it is growing on me rather fast as it is. At first I thought, this is bland! But now I realize that it is tastefully understated, which, as they say in Odessa, are two big differences :-)

8:40 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I think you will like it! How do you like smoky/incese scents? If you don't require them to be too intense, or even if you don't like them at all, you might really enjoy this.

9:36 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I love that one too! But no, they are not very similar...AE is much richer, "buttery". Bd'A is trasparent and light in more ways than one. :-)

10:19 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Bodiless" and "translucent" is not what I want to hear but, like Elle, the second image still makes it extra appealing, and I doubt I'll be disappointed. :) Wishful thinking, maybe. Sounds like you're quite loving it now yourself! ;D

10:43 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

It was a case of wrong expectations for me. Not higher expectations, because Bd'A is really quite nicely done, but wrong expectations. That just shows that one should never have preconcieved ideas about new scents. :-)
I think you will like it!

10:57 AM EDT  
Blogger marchlion said...

I found the others to be ... just too ethereal for me. I am afraid I'd feel the same way about this one. In terms of relative weight (I know the smell is totally different), how would you compare it to, say, Passage d'Enfer?

1:21 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I'd say almost the ame, wight-wise...or a little "lighter"...but they very different otherwise. I am just comparing "weight" :-)

2:35 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I cam eto regard it as beautiful too in the last couple of days. As soon as I got over my disappointment, which was all my fault anyway, the scent really grew on me. I think it is quite superb noew :-)

2:36 PM EDT  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

M, this sounds so lovely, can't wait to try it. Anything else you can think to compare it to?

3:16 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

It didn't remind me of anything, really...I think you will like it.

3:18 PM EDT  
Blogger katiedid said...

Sounds rather interesting. I don't necessarily mind airy per se, though bodiless sounds like perhaps it's one of those fragrances I will only wish to smell at for its own sake rather than to test out for personal wear. It's certainly an interesting concept.

6:12 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

This is not airy as in "fresh", mind you. I would have disliekd that. It is airy as in "weightless". It is certainly worth a try.

6:14 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Sounds delightful. Too bad they aren't selling it here.

I wish they would try to sell stuff like this rather than the fruity "youth" scents they are hawking here. Since I am godfather to a teen girl, I interact with her friends with some regularity (being her Mom's GBF means I have a cool cachet other adults don't; thanks "Queer Eye"). I get up on all the new teen stuff; I knew about MySpace two years ago. None of these kids want to smell like watered-down Kool-Aid: my godchild asked for a bottle of Acqua di Parma last Christmas. Her friends are equally sophisticated- as a matter of fact, this sounds perfect for them. Diva in training.

10:27 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

You know, you are right! Although this is certainly a very sophsticated scent, in a quiet sort of way (the best kind of sophistication, really), it would totally suit and be liked by a young person with taste and style. Unlike the so called Insolence or all those pink Guerlains they keep pushing on the young customer. :-)

10:32 PM EDT  
Blogger lilybp said...

Just got some of this, so I'm trying it out. It certainly is very beautiful--and very light. I do admire it, but I can't decide if I should pursue it. I'm putting on a lot now, in an attempt to get a stronger effect; but, as you point out, the ethereal quality is part of its beauty. I wonder what it would be like sprayed?

12:25 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I sprayed ad I splashed and I dabbed. The sillage is as subtle if not non-existent and the lasting power is the same as well, whatever I do. It doesn't so much disappear on my skin as syas extremely close to it. I don't really midn that. I think I will need a bottle of this, darn it. :-)

2:00 PM EDT  
Blogger carmencanada said...

I've tested this at the Guerlain store and couldn't quite decide if I wanted it or not (price is of course a factor)... Perhaps because it's a Guerlain yet not a Guerlain. Or because, like the other l'Art et la Matière compositions, it's deceptively simple and understated -- thus, not a Guerlain. Perhaps because it smells of a place rather than a woman. The scent, in itself, is quite beautiful, but the jury's still out... Maybe when the weather gets cooler? Paris is an over-polluted oven right now!

4:57 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really, really like Bois d´Armenie, but it will take several tests to know if it´s a "must-have" or not.
Like you, I expected something richer, heavier, more masculine. It´s rather "tame", smooth, I think, with some sweetness & some vanilla, but nevertheless woody. In my opinion it´s a mysterious fragrance, perfect for autumn/winter or evening wear.
By the way, I had the chance to test Parfum d´Empire Cuir Ottoman :)
This might be what you expected from BdA. It´s a very strong scent, hard to bear for the first hour or so. But then it gets softer & much more wearable.

7:47 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Purfectly put - a scent of place rather than that of a woman...And I agree that it does not smell like a Guerlain. But at least, unlike other recent Guerlain releases, which also don't smell very Guerlain-like, this one is obviously well-composed and overall beautifull.

9:07 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Oh I am so envious!! How I'd love to smell Cuir Ottoman. Did you like it?

9:07 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hoped you´d be envious :D *lol*!!!
Hm, if I liked tell the truth: I´m not sure. It´s not bad - not at all - but I found it to be a bit masculine for my taste (& normally I like masculine/unisex scents). I think it´s one of those scents that need to be tested many times before you really know what to think about them.
It´s really complex:
the beginning is so strong, smoky & way too masculine for me, but then it softens, the cuir comes more & more obvious & that´s the part when I begin to like it much more. It´s more on the herbal side.
I just had the possibility to test it once & they didn´t have samples (it´s due to be released in October I heard), so when testing it again perhaps I´ll have a different opinion!

10:25 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Ahhhh, I want it!! :-D

12:48 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My husband got BOIS D'ARMENIE for our anniversary. I love it! A little bit expensive, but I would not expect less at the French boutique in Disney World. :)

3:41 PM EDT  

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