Perfume Reviews

Reviews of Bois des Îles by Chanel

Hmm! The EDT.
After the assault of adelehydes, this is the spot for the dreamy,creamy Chanel Sandalwood drydown.
Chanel has captured the soft round creamy facet of Mysore that forms part of the picture of this precious stuff.
However for a larger view of the whole picture you really need to taste the Vintage Extrait. This presents a better snap of Mysore that I see of childhood. A magical, multilayered, caramel nuttiness that is clearly wood and the transcendence thereof.
I occasionally layer the Chanel EDT with Vreeland Absolutely Vital which leaves a drydown and synthetic that together with the Chanel more closely approximates the Extrait.
As others have said, until you try the Vintage Extrait, you really haven't lived.
22nd October, 2015 (last edited: 23rd November, 2015)
Today I have luxuriated in the edt and parfum layering of Bois des Iles; and I still have a problem with the top. It's better with the parfum version, but the top doesn't quite work for me. About an hour and a half in, we're into the mid and/or base, and it smells like deliciously edible Chanel. But the top is a soapy wood I don't really love. Still, I can't exaggerate and give it a thumbs sideways. The mid and base are delicious.
23rd April, 2015
rbaker Show all reviews
United Kingdom
The vintage version contains someone the best sandalwood I have experienced, preceded by an opening touches of bergamot, rose - gorgeous! - ylang-ylang and the famous gingerbread-vanilla drydown, the latter more marked in the EdT. The original is of stunning quality, with the perfume displaying a dark leathery undertone at times that masterfully combines with the Mysore.
The Les Exclusifs reformulation's sandalwood is quite ordinary in comparison, with much more aldehyde in the top note, a peachy muguet-iris drydown on my skin and a white musk in the base added. More on the floral side, still good but miles off the stellar experience that the original provides. This version gives me a longevity of six hours, the original perfume more than double that.

The original is a grand classic. The new version still very nice. 4.75/5 for the original perfume.
26th December, 2014
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Genre: Woody Oriental

Others before me have described Bois des Îles in accurate detail, and I see no need to retread that ground. I will say that to my nose Bois des Îles has much in common with its sibling Cuir de Russie, especially the prominent doughy iris root, the animalic civet, and the labdanum-tinged amber drydown. Perhaps I’m deluded, as I haven’t seen the observation made before, but I can’t escape the feeling that the two share some crucial DNA. I’ll even posit that whatever core features Bois des Îles and Cuir de Russie share account for the unparalleled sense of indulgent luxury they both express.

Bois des Îles is simply and without a doubt one of the most compelling wood-centered fragrances I know. I rank it alongside (the vintage) Santal Noble as the finest treatment of sandalwood that I’ve encountered. What more can I add? Only that this is a true classic, one of the few scents that every serious student of perfume must smell at least once in order to appreciate the full scope of olfactory art.
09th June, 2014
How do you write about something that turns your knees to jelly every time you smell it? I am a gibbering, drooling idiot in the face of Bois des Iles. Along with Shalimar, it is my one true love. If we are talking honestly about Holy Grail perfumes, the ones you would take to the moon with you if you could only pick two or three, then this is the one that would take a spot without me even hesitating to think about it.

Although the notion of Holy Grail scents is deeply flawed because it implies the search is over once you have identified it/them - and as perfume aficionados we all know that the restless search is never truly at an end because we will always want to smell EVERYTHING - there are a few scents we all come across that we recognize as standing head and shoulders above everything else we have smelled thus far. Like true love, this might happen only once in your life, maybe twice if you are lucky. I think we all know instinctively when this scent comes along - it performs the rare trick of appealing to your head (intellect), your heart (soul), and to your loins (desire) simultaneously. For me, this is that scent.

It smells slightly different to me each time I wear it, because, like the real Mysore sandalwood I smelled as a child, there are many different facets to sandalwood that we can pick up - it is simultaneously milky, woody, creamy, soapy, and rosy. Sometimes I get the aldehydes at the beginning, sometimes I don't get them at all. Sometimes I pick up a brief pop of bergamot at the beginning and other times it goes straight to the rosy, woody heart. When I do pick up on the aldehydes, they present themselves to my nose as a sort of bright coca cola note that is just delightful and downright delicious. This effect must be from the combination of rose and lemon and aldehydes, because I have sensed this effect in another perfume, Incense Rose by Andy Tauer to be exact (although the scents are completely different aside from this one bright coca cola accord). Whatever the cause, the bright lemon-rose coca cola accord is like a handful of bright icing sugar or sherbert sprinkled over the scent, giving it a gently effervescent and most delicious "flavor".

This scent is mostly all about the deep sandalwood heart and base. It is fairly linear. But when a smell is this good, you want it to be linear, because you want to go on smelling it in continuity, for as long as it lasts. I know that the current Exclusifs EDT version does not contain any real sandalwood, so it is an artful, clever composition that relies on the perfumer's skill to present and recreate all the wonderful, shape-shifting aspects of real sandalwood from Mysore, hence the slight varying tones between creaminess, woodiness, sweetness, rosiness, and milkiness. But it all melds together in one warm, delicious wood accord that feels comforting and approachable. Like high art that you can wear as a hug.

I don't want to wither on, but if you think Chanels are stuffy and cool, I urge you to try Bois des Iles. It is the first Chanel I ever tried that had that human warmth that I appreciate in the older Guerlains, and it's the first time I ever thought of a Chanel perfume as being truly sensual. Beautiful, interesting, unique, and deeply soulful, this is one perfume that engages the head-heart-loins axis like no other (barring, perhaps, the great Shalimar).
04th June, 2014 (last edited: 13th June, 2014)
One of my favourite Chanel's ever. Simply marvellous! So great and timeless. I enjoyed Luca Turin's review in his Guide, I feel quite the same. Perfect for men too. Won't try to convince you or describe it – just try it, at least once in your life!

18th April, 2014
This is a fragrance of creamy woods, from start to finish. ln the opening l get a slightly "off" note, which may just be the way my nose interprets the aldehydes. After half an hour, though, this note subsides, leaving a sublimely creamy, sweet sandalwood, with just a touch of spice. Any floral notes are extremely subtle here. There is a rather edible, biscuit-like accord in the base, & perhaps a whiff of incense. The whole thing is very soft, but lasts a good ten hours on me.
l can see why this fragrance gets such high praise around here; it's possibly the loveliest, purest sandalwood l have smelled anywhere. What frustrates me is the lack of any real projection, even when spraying from an atomiser. Perhaps the parfum might satisfy me more, but at the moment l don't have the means to try it.
04th April, 2014
When you take a look at note breakdown, there are lots of notes in this fragrance but to be honest with you, the scent isn't complicated or complex at all!
The opening is a semi fresh floral and spicy scent with some sweetness in the background.
The spices are not that strong and I'm quite sure it's not cinnamon!
The sweetness is very smooth and almost creamy with touch of white and bright floral notes!
It's OK and pleasant but there is nothing special about it.
In the dry down. the spices become weaker and you will get a smooth and light soapy vibe with some florals and some sweetness in the background.
That's it! the scent will not change on your skin that much and also disappears from skin very quickly!
Projection is soft and longevity is weak on my skin! I got around 3-4 hours and it's not that great!
I don't know why people compare this fragrance to "Egoiste" because I can't see any similarities here!
I had "Chanel Egoiste" for a long time and I know how exactly does it smell like and I'm sure they don't smell the same at all!!
Chanel Egoiste has a very sharp and strong spicy cinnamon with lots of woods at the start but this one doesn't have cinnamon and woods and it's much weaker against "Egoiste".
Also the floral note in "Egoiste" clearly is rose which has a masculine aroma, but in this fragrance the floral notes are very light and bright with mostly feminine vibe!
Also "Egoiste" doesn't smell soapy!
What's wrong with you guys?!!!!!
All and all, it's a fragrance right in the middle!
Nothing really bad about it but nothing too exciting or special about it too!
You can easily pass this fragrance!
16th February, 2014
Perfectly balanced floral melange (rose, jasmine, ylang ylang) with spices (almond, ginger, cinnamon) over a sandalwood, tonka bean and vetiver base.

I agree with those who put this on a higher level than Chanel's Egoiste, as I agreed with the idea behind that scent, but not its execution. It was too cloyingly candy fruit sweet and the sandalwood was too dry and harsh. No balance at all.

Bois des Iles is a perfect achievement - why ever did they even consider Egoiste when they had Bois des Iles already a proven hit?
10th January, 2014 (last edited: 24th July, 2015)
Gary F Show all reviews
United States
Lovely Floral

This is perhaps the most feminine smelling of the "exclusifs" line that I've tried. That is not a criticism, just an observation. The florals are tempered with the usual Chanel richness. I can see why it is so well-loved. Not one of my favorites from this line (like Coromandel, Sycomore, or Eau de Cologne), but not one of my least favorites either (Gardenia, Beige). Well worth a try if you're sampling from this line.

Pros: Rich Floral textures
Cons: A Bit Too Feminine For Me

07th July, 2013
demcav Show all reviews
United States
Masterfully balanced

The balance of this gorgeous fragrance, top to bottom, is masterful!  The rose in the opening 15 minutes is the first Spring blossom of an Austin Fair Bianca.  Along with the florals, a deft hint of vanilla over the creamy sandalwood result in BdI's dry down being soft and comfortable, yet grounded enough for a man to wear.  

19th May, 2013
I have to agree when people say that who uses Egoiste soon will upgrade to Bois des Iles. As said, BdI is more creamy, softer and more refined than Egoiste. Both are outstanding fragrances, but since i knew Bois des Iles, i have been using only it.
To have an idea, it's the same about SL's Borneo 1932 and Chanel Coromandel: Coromandel is more refined while Borneo is more raw.

The opening may smell a bit dated, but it does dries down to something outstanding: Bois des Iles has a sweet sandalwood base that lingers for hours.

The longevity is okay, around 7/8 hours, with a good projection and gentle sillage.

Unisex for sure.

So if you like Egoiste, Heritage and other sandalwood based fragrances, Bois des Iles is a must have!

Big thumbs up!
27th February, 2013
Probably modern Bois des Iles has nothing to do with Beaux´s original creation since indian sandalwood is forbiden, but its stil magnificent.

Polge cant use real sandalwood but he managed to recreate some of its beautiful facets, the creaminess, the woodiness, the slight incense smell and a very sofisticated gourmand aura. And to make it all just perfect ther´s the classic Chanel touch al over the place, aldehydes, jasmin, ylang, roses and iris are responsable for the fresh and cool abstract flower smell, that lurks in the back ground just to remind you that this is N5 cousin.

Hands down the best sandalwood fragrance in production
16th January, 2013 (last edited: 18th January, 2013)
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on the complexity this one goes in the same league as 31 Rue cambon, although this one was among 1st chanels,so should be vice versa :)

its perfect take on sandalwood, femminine to me:) sweet,
this put me off at first becasue sweetness i used to asociate with cheapness and simplicity, and lack of uniqueness! but how i was wrong!
its so beautiful, gentle, well balanced sandalwood, with femminine character, bit powdery in the middle,creamy in the ending, with heavenly beautiful opening!!......wearable on all occasions!

from all the exclusifs line this one smells the most like guerlain, old school recepie
09th October, 2012
LaNose Show all reviews
United States
I wish I could rave about this fragrance; it's so storied and revered. But my decant, fresh I believe, was a big disappointment. Although warm, powdery and with more than a hint of spice, over a span of three days, with frequent reapplications, I could not free myself of the impression that this is the progenitor of "CoCo" with less than six degrees of separation. I don't like CoCo and never did.
08th October, 2012
Celia.D Show all reviews
United Kingdom
I don't get the resemblance to No 5. To me this is a far superior fragrance that oozes warmth and creaminess especially in the dry down. It is an understated masterpiece that has an almost mystical ability to transport me to another place. I cannot pick out any particular notes, they all seem so perfectly blended. I cannot rate this perfume highly enough, a truly beautiful fragrance.
06th August, 2012
Wow is all I have to say about Bois des Iles. This was my first nice blind buy and I was quite worried it'd smell too feminine. To start BDI comes off with a hard punch of Chanel aldehydes and spiced floral, which had me a bit worried. The smell between the top and middle notes reminded me of the smell of my Grandmother's Chanel lipstick back in the day. When the top wafted away the sandalwood and light woods shined though. My girlfriend told me I smelled good, not Aqua Di Gio good...a you smell you like you have money good. You smell like a doctor or lawyer she stated. I've never sniffed Egoiste but I'm guessing that's what she was smelling at this point based on reviews. A more refined exclusive version of course. Overall, this turned out to be a great fragrance. I look forward to hearing more feedback from others that smell it on myself. Also, for those with longevity issues..I've noticed this doesn't stick long on my skin. However, the portion that was sprayed on my shirt lasted about 7 hours.
28th July, 2012
cello Show all reviews
United States
For le mouchoir de monsieur...

Current Exclusif EDT review:

Chanel has a history that holds fascination and controversy. Was Coco as she is portrayed to be? I don't have that answer. But through luck, stealth or slyness, she did one thing very, very well. She enlisted Ernest Beaux to create her historical stable of fragrances. And now, we see this continue, in a line that holds true to it's history, and veers only so slightly to modern taste. You will smell the historical references of #5, and really, mostly Cuir de Russie. But this one stands alone, and on it's own.

Bois des Iles, the feminine woody fragrance of past, and surely of current, times. Bearing the Chanel hallmark trilogy of florals - rose, jasmine and ylang ylang - and adding an iris that only Chanel seems able to bring consistently to the front. And the sandalwood. Origin unknown, but has it really lost any of it's magic and smoothness? Sandalwood made lush by the florals, iris added for an additional creamy texture. I dare you to pick out a note. There is always just the fragrance, lifted up, smoothed out, soaring even in this EDT formula - soaring above all other sandalwood fragrances as it whispers to you (and yes, this is soft and close).

History, art, blending, masculine notes made feminine, and then masculine, until you can't tell anymore. You only know what you smell. It can make you dizzy in it's perfection. Or maybe it is just me. This is as close to perfection as I have found. Melding into your skin, becoming how you smell, how you want to smell, how you smell without thought. Only emotion.

I was at a horse show over Christmas, with more than 30 horses in the arena, prancing, heads thrown all over the place. It was warm, and I rolled my sleeves up. Up drifted this iris and sandalwood combination - and I know, from experience, that there was more to this scent, but that is what hit me that day. The music marking time and a beat, 30 horses stepping in unison to a beat, and a fragrance that stepped in unison, blended to heights I had not smelled before. It almost brought me to tears. Trilogy of senses, in beat and in tune. I was waiting for my heart to start beating to the same, but really, I already know that it was. I almost did not recognize this Bois des Iles, as I wear the parfum for the most part now, but I knew immediately that it was my faithful companion, showing me one more facet, and standing on it's own because of it's firm history and backbone.

Perfect, even in EDT, even after all these years, and I'm sure, many changes.

BTW, the current parfum is also holding up just fine. Richer, more floral, less iris, close wearing, but it will knock you out in awe.
13th January, 2012
I am speaking of the reissued scent.
It has a GREAT rose opening -- wow, it is warm and inviting, really excellent. That combines well with the other floral notes. It is very attractive. The rose has such depth that it suggests earthy notes. The florals are rich but not excessively sweet. They are handled with panache. The overall effect is round and even a bit creamy. The creamy note is augmented by sandalwood. The vanilla (thankfully) is restrained, and merely adds a further softening note which compliments the sandalwood. I'd say this is lovely for a woman and yet woody and restrained enough for a man. The rose note persists, and makes welcome appearances from time to time. The sandalwood likewise persists, in a fairly dry manner. The scent is subtle, classy -- a real winner sure to appeal to many who appreciate a well-constructed and complex scent.
13th January, 2012
Judging from descriptions of Egoiste's short-lived ancestor "Bois Noir," it must have been an attempt at a more "masculine" version of Bois des Iles. Which, speaking of the Extrait, is very wearable for men. The aldehydes and florals are there, but the rich creamy ambery-vanillic sandalwood base takes the limelight and makes this the reference sandalwood perfume among those still in production. It's rich and good, not screechy nouveau-riche, it feels effortless and masterful, not like a half-finished underfunded formula, in other words it's an embodiment of classical perfumery lightyears from what frequently passes as luxury perfume today. And as with any masterpeice, it's complexity is hidden behind perfect harmony. Bois des Iles is one of the handful of perfumes you simply must have smelled, if the culture of fragrance is of any interest to you.
02nd December, 2011
The first time I smelled Bois des îles, I thought they put No. 5 in the bottle by mistake. No kidding. Even now, I still think this great fragrance is a carbon copy of No. 5. Could it be that Bois des îles was a one of the first attempts at creating No. 5 and Ernest Beaux decided to put it on the market five years later? I may be completely wrong but I truly believe that the two fragrances could be hard to tell apart to the untrained nose (I must admit that I have never tried to smell both fragrances at the same time). I wish the gingerbread note were more noticeable though. Also, since the name of the fragrance is "island woods", a stronger "woody" note would have been nice too. I love No. 5 so much that I just cannot rate Bois des îles with anything else but a Thumbs Up. However, I would have liked it better if the two fragrances were less similar. But then again, maybe I am the only one who feels like this...
15th October, 2011
Aldehydes, sandalwood and iris on a sweet fruity oriental base. Resinous undertones, dark woods, dry/sweet juxtapositions. Not much to say about such an imponent fragrance but, if you ever wondered how a masterpiece smells like, you have to try this. Men wearing Egoiste on a regular basis may decide to upgrade to Bois Des Iles pretty soon.

One of the 100 best fragrances of all times.
02nd October, 2011
After all the positive reviews, I was excited to try this fragrance in the Les Exclusifs line.

I found it "nice". The standard Chanel aldehydic thing to start then flowers tempered with a bit of spice. The drydown was alright, but kept the floral notes for quite a bit. Maybe Coco's reserved little sister?

It's pretty and interesting, but not a head turner by any means. Perhaps my nose isn't educated enough to appreciate this one?
22nd September, 2011
If you have the opportunity to get the parfum version, i would do so but if not, the EDT is just as wonderful. Its lovely.
16th September, 2011
The Bois des Iles I am reviewing is from the Les Exclusifs line in the EDT concentration.

In every article I've read on this particular fragrance, Bois des Iles is hailed as being the first woody fragrance ever created for women. While I do agree that Bois des Iles has some woodsy qualities, I'm more swayed into placing it into a floral category. A floral woody musk tends to be more true to describing the scent itself.

Bois des Iles opens like a classic Chanel fragrance, soft aldehydes and sparkling, clean soap. For a while it smelt like a cross between Chanel No.5 EDT and Allure EDP. However, once settled on the skin, Bois des Iles becomes quite buttery and 'golden'.

This fragrance smells expensive and unusual, despite its rather predictable composition. I honestly could not detect any hint of the peach or bergamot in the opening, so on my skin the florals tend to dominate.

The heart consists of oily florals that smell rather like a floral-scented lotion on the skin, rather than a perfume. This interesting quality had me sniffing my wrists for hours trying to determine why the scent felt so buttery and soft.

The rich, buttery florals do not dissipate from the skin throughout the whole composition. Even with the arrival of the sandalwood, vetiver, benzoin and musk, Bois des Iles has a very distinguishable smoothness.

I do believe that Bois des Iles is a bit of an acquired taste. While I enjoyed wearing this fragrance and revelled in its amazing lasting strength, ultimately this fragrance just wasn't me. I found Bois des Iles to be a fragrance better suited to a pretty, rather conservative and tamed young lady which is far from my wild self.
04th September, 2011
blueyezz Show all reviews
United Kingdom
A thing of great beauty. The praise heaped upon this fragrance by BNers is truly justified. Along with CdR, this is what perfumery should be about. Together, they define a standard, or benchmark, that all students of perfumery should study and aim to reach. That way we could reverse the trend for mediocrity and lowest-common-denominator dross that so often passes for perfume these days.
29th August, 2011
Bois de Iles is warm, fuzzy, woody oriental with an opening splash of Chanel aldehydes. The Guide stated that Bois de Iles was like the brunette sister of No.5, and I totally agree: it has the same deep murky fuzzy wood notes but Bois de Iles is lighter, perhaps a little more laid back. I would even say Bois de Iles was like the brunette little sister, and is a better "fresher" version of No. 5 than Eau Premiere (which was ash on my skin). Perfect for those early fall days when you want something a little deeper but not too strong, a nice light blazer rather than a heavy peacoat.

Would I buy Bois de Iles? Someday, but it's low on my priority list. Inez by BPAL is pretty similar, like a scent cousin, and significantly cheaper though it comes in only 5ml bottles. If you like Bois de Iles but don't want to spend $110, Inez is a fine substitute; likewise if you like Inez and want more than 5ml, Bois de Iles is where to go. When I finally run out of my bottle of Inez I'll buy Bois de Iles, but not till then.
27th August, 2011
This is one Chanel that is it nearly impossible not to like. A wonderful gingerbready warm classic fragrance, and even some mini aldehydes to keep reminding you that it's Chanel. A treasure in extrait de parfum, especially!
03rd July, 2011
Bois des Iles is number two of my "Les Exculsifs" samples.

At first sniff I find it related to Cuir de Russie, but then they both have jasmine, rose and ylang at the heart so that makes sense. Then I get the sandalwood - lovely, warm, rich and somewhat spicy. So it then differs from Cuir de Russie, but I put them both in the same category of wonderfully dense and rich scents that Chanel
does so well.

This definitely goes on my wish list. It's just too bad it doesn't last longer.
11th June, 2011 (last edited: 12th June, 2011)
Les Exclusifs.

Bois des Îles does indeed smell like Égoïste,
or more correctly, the other way around.

I have nothing bad to say about the frag
itself, but, it has really poor longevity.

06th June, 2011