When I think of Issey Miyake, I think of the grim calone-driven horrors you find in department stores. So when a friend sent me a sample of this, I was a bit taken aback as to why he thought I’d be interested in smelling it. This couldn’t be further removed from the kind of scents Miyake puts out today. Although I don’t personally like the smell, per se, it’s a brilliant composition with what I swear is the most generous dose of sandalwood I’ve smelled from a mainstream release.
It opens with a orange-peel rose infused with a bizarre herbal accord. Underneath is a rich, milky sandalwood and cedar. The combination of all those main notes is both jarring and yet somehow perfect. It strikes a meticulous balance—and one that stays suspended for its entire lifespan. But as the fruity / rose opening eventually fades, what remains is a milky wood with just enough of a trace of the opening to serve as a reminder. It lasts a really long time as well.
Even though it’s not quite right for me personally (there’s something a little vomity about fruit and milk up top that reminds me of Vraie Blonde), this is a wildly original scent that’s overflowing with comfort once it gets to the base. I’m shocked by how much sandalwood is in this scent — it’s positively booming. Le Feu d’Issey is so unique and perfectly rendered that I can’t help but wonder what went wrong with the brand that they ditched this and kept the ghastly windex that currently haunts the scent wall of low-end department stores. If fruity, rosy, creamy scents are your thing, this is one of the best I've smelled in that style.
Bergamot, coconut, rosewood, anise, jasmine, rose, milk, caramel, cedar, sandalwood, vanilla, musk. (OsMoz.com)
Bergamot, coriander, pepper, rose, tuberose, lily of the valley, carnation, cedar, guaiac wood, amber. (Pere de Pierre)
Some extinct perfume legends turn out to be disappointing on acquaintance, but the much touted, much lamented Le Feu d’Issey delivers the goods. The by-now-famous yeasty “warm bread” note is evident right from the start. At first the most clearly recognizable accompanying notes are a strong toasted coriander seed and a pungent, dry herbal bouquet. All are supported by a smoky wood accord that approaches Bertrand Duchaufour’s Timbuktu and Dzongkha in mood, and which may likewise contain a heavy dose of cypriol. In fact, in retrospect I find it hard to imagine that Duchaufour did not have Le Feu d’Issey somewhere on his mind when he composed Timbuktu and Dzongkha. The Miyake makes no obvious use of incense, but as fish fins to amphibian legs, its austere, dry, smoky, wood skeleton feels like the evolutionary platform upon which the later scents were built.
Moreover, just as Timbuktu and Dzongkha turn surprisingly toward florals in the course of their development, so too does Le Feu d’Issey. Where Timbuktu would employ karo karounde blossom and Dzongkha peony and iris root, Le Feu d’Issey (perhaps even more daringly,) uses tuberose. In such spare, dry surrounds, tuberose takes on a startlingly novel character, shedding all traces of heady tropical languor in exchange for a medicinal air that no other perfume I know has yet revealed. As the tuberose comes into focus the smoky woody backdrop sharpens and intensifies, as if to compensate for any indulgent floral sweetness with pepper and cedar. Indeed, it’s only in the tuberose’s wake, and well into the drydown, that any trace of conventional oriental vanilla or balsamic sweetness emerges. What remains of Le Feu d’Issey after several hours is a warm, soft skin scent of vanilla-seasoned sandalwood, light amber, and musk.
While it’s convention to mourn Le Feu d’Issey as a brilliant one-off gesture, a masterpiece that left no progeny, and an evolutionary dead end, I believe it does in fact have a significant legacy. Besides Duchaufour’s dry incense compositions – Bois d’Ombrie and Sienne l’Hiver alongside Timbuktu and Dzongkha – there are the equally dry and smoky vetivers, including Encre Noire, and Sycomore. In my estimation all of these may owe Le Feu d’Issey for their mood, if not their actual contents.
Opens with a gorgeously sharp, peppery rose similar to Rossy de Palma by L'Etat de Libre d"Orange or Noorolain Taif by Thameen which are the only two fragrances I have smelled recently that come close. After the rose came the pepper, mango fruity smell. Men stopped me in the street to ask what it was. At the time a unique scent. The light version is horrible, like sweet plastic and absolutely nothing like the original, very milky and sickly.
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My favourite sent of all time. It has seen me meet my husband, be proposed to, get married and have my children! To me, the scent is a warm, cashmere blanket wrapped around you. There are the smells of a beautiful Parisian boudoir, or exclusive boutique as it is a mix of lots of beautiful notes. It is as if Jacque was wandering around a fabulous Christmas market and was writing down the various scents he found- pepper, fresh dough, spices, coriander from the giant paella, and when back to his lab didn't wont to leave anything out! In many ways, it should not have worked but ohh it really so does. It develops wonderfully on the skin and has none of the acidic, cheap filler smells now associated with many of the new, popular scents. He must have been devasted when this was dropped, but perhaps not surprised, as it is a grower and perhaps that first sniff is too much, I think for me it was but I left it for 1/2 and hour as I wandered around a departures lounge, then I fell in love with it! Discontinued, blooming extortionate to buy (if you can find it) but oh, oh, so worth it. If you have the chance have a scoosh and savour it! X
if this perfume was not discontinued, i am not sure people would speak with so much delight about it, it is very feminine and likable scent.
the opening, is sweet-soar , and airy...one instantly recognizes this belongs to 21st century it doesnt open up somehow natural or different then the rest of designers, it reminds me of some Escada type of scent with that fruity exotic sweetness....synthetic :) , but
as the time goes by that soar note develops into something very pleasing, radiating citrusy kind of smell that gives it projection and originality, and doesnt die out like in those cheap bad frags, it shines to its best part , that nice balance of sweet, zesty, refreshing and feminine kind of smell...as if it radiates some floral, the same way as tobaco notes radiate some smoke.....that makes it unique and perfect feminine scent, that i think would be likable to average modern consumer, if only they can endure first 30 mins until it develops....
it is gorgeous, i dont smell any spices nor milky notes... but i think that airy sweet note is what people call milky rose....this is better then Rush by Gucci :)
Now here is a fascinating scent. Woody, milky, sweet and sour, this is amazingly sexy on a woman. There is a sensual, womanly smell that is very intimate and presages the "secretions magnifiques" that have come later without the unpleasant notes of that perfume. The milky note is of milk that is just going off--but not quite! Breast milk instead of cow's milk, by the way. The rose in this seems almost human and the coriander gives it a slightly sweaty/post coital note. I love it. My wife has both the EdT and the parfum (in a wonderful latex container that echos the amazing orb-like bottle of the EdT. She rarely wears it as she feels that is has a menstrual note to it (she is right!). I am sorry to see such an interesting and innovative scent discontinued, but can see why this had such a limited market as it is vastly different from the safer earlier Issey Miyake scents which are more Japanese in their approach.
This is his best fragrance by far. It stays all day into the night. Exoctic without being overly heavy and heady. Sensual. Why can't we buy it any longer. The lighter scent is not the same. Please bring this back to the open market. It will be a top seller for sure.
I was wondering if the ingredients were to hard to purchase with so many wars going on. Some of the ingrediens are quite exotic.
Please bring this back to the US. I have heard it is sold in Europe and other countries just not here in the USA.
Believe me, people will remember you by this fragrance.
I am happy finally to have had the opportunity to try Isaac Miyake LE FEU D'ISSEY, and now I know why it was discontinued. The problem is that during the first few, crucial—at the counter and deciding whether to buy—moments, this composition smells not at all unlike mildewy, rotting wet wood. After several minutes it becomes clear that this is a deep and dark absinthe/wormwood creation, with a lot of appeal for those who appreciate woody oriental perfumes with a masculine bent. But the opening is such a turn-off during those “decision-making” minutes that I definitely understand why many potential buyers would have been dissuaded from giving this worthy creation its full due—or a second sniff.
Once the fragrance has fully developed, it is a big, beautiful, dark woody perfume with a somewhat overwhelming sillage, given how out of the ordinary the scent itself is. I would compare the overall effect to that of freshly cut mahogany chips soaked in absinthe and then set out under the hot sun to dry (so that the alcohol all evaporates away). The longevity is impressive. The sheer eccentricity of this composition probably explains its discontinuation as well, since it really smells nothing like the standard categories of feminine perfumes. I would not be at all surprised if some women who purchased FEU D'ISSEY scent unsniffed—or received it as a gift—ended up passing it on to their husband. That's how masculine this so-called feminine composition is. Without having read the entry in The Guide, I am surmising that this one got rave reviews, since LT (a man) happens to favor perfumes with a masculine edge—imagine that!
01st July, 2011 (last edited: 09th July, 2011)
I am sampling this fragrance today and I CANNOT believe such a fantastic scent could be discontinued! Why, oh why?
Warm, fiery, toasty, spicy, milky, peppery, and even sweet...this perfume is so many things all at once. I can't even pick out distinguished notes to describe it. Very well-balanced, long-lasting (8+ hours), and most excellent in the winter!
This is my favorite parfume. I been using it for many years now. I uset to live in another country and could buy this parfume at any parfume store. Now I live in US and unfortunately the only place I can find Le feu dissey is online:( I just wish it would be more easear to buy it. I think this scent is very sexy and unique, it really feets my personality, I love it!
If the sun had a scent this will be it's scent the opening is of dry Mahogany
almost gives you an impression of a dry
desert with sun cracked ground of dark crevices and sand blowing in the hot air.
The spiciness of Coriander leaf and the anise seed makes a nice scent in a likeness of Rye Bread' and the powdery
finish of the top note of rose.
The wood notes drowns out the delicate
lily that makes it hard to detect Jasmine with it's Semi-masculine scent
makes a nice presence but what captures me the most is the drydown of pure creamy milk Coconut flakes and Caramel
makes it Delectable and ends with it's semi sweet vanilla warm amber fiery sandalwood exotic guaiac woods and sharp cedarwood.
This has to be the only versatile fragrance in my collection it can change
from dry and smoky to sweet and creamy like the changling i have an sample right now and i just love the glowing
orange sun motif it brings out alot of energy.
it's interesting reading people's reactions to this fragrance. it inspired me to register and post mine. feu d'issey has been my signature scent for about 7 years. i was so sad when i found out it was being discontinued i went searching for remains and managed to stock pile about 9 bottles. i remember asking the woman at the store why feu was being discontinued and she replied that "it was deemed too sophisticated for a north american market" - funny. i guess a reflection of our general cultural norm of shying away from complexity.
one of the things i love about feu d'issey is how it changes and transmutes on the skin throughout the day. each stage is absolutely lovely and i've had people notice and comment on this characteristic of the fragrance. i've never experienced the sour smell some reviewers have commented on, although i have observed that the scent relates quite differently on different people's skin. i'm not an expert at scent deconstruction, but i think it's obvious even to the novice that feu d'I is a deep and complex experience. there's a real vibration to the amber, floral and woody and pepper notes. they almost seem to undulate together. i guess that's where it's at for me--it's the movement in the perfume. it reminds me of a scene in the movie mondovino, a really interesting commentary on the degradation of the wine industry. one wine maker from France, reacting incidentally to the lack of sophistication and taste of the North American market makes a comparison of californian wines to sex with a mistress--enjoyable at first, yet fast and not going too deep, and traditional French wines as surprisingly complex and challenging to understand initially, but moving and shifting in your mouth with time--like the connection you have with a good lover over years, rather than a few empty moments of pleasure. sounds like some of the reactions to feu below.
i have four sealed boxes of feu d'I left and an almost full bottle. i've tempered my use from daily to stretch it out a bit more--god i love the stuff! i've never felt so attached to a fragrance. i'm trying to find an alternative that is at least half as pleasurable so i appreciate the suggestions below. wow--never been so passionate about a perfume...
What an unusual fragrance. I’m not going to be able to pin any kind of label on this one. The opening accord is intriguing – I get a sort of combination wonderful / dislikingly -startling reaction to it, but I keep sniffing it and that’s the telling thing. The rose–lily / coriander / anise-pepper combination over a base of rosewood / gaïac wood is a masterpiece of creative genius. And the perfumer’s craft shows clearly because this opening accord has quite competent sillage and excellent longevity. I think the longevity can be accounted for because the top and middle seem to be one accord: I can’t determine a separation between. The base carries somewhat the same ambiance as the top two accords except that he gaïac wood is stronger and the “milky” amber is quite obvious in the combination. The most unusual note in the base is somewhat gourmand with its touch of caramel in the background. I catch some musk in it, too. The base is softer than the top and middle and, thusly, loses some of its exoticness of the first accords. In the end I find the drydown beautiful and very wearable and that the Le Feu D'Issey is a delightfully creative, interesting fragrance.
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Issey Miyake Le Feu d'Issey and Etro Etra Side-by-Side Comparison
Le Feu d'Issey Notes: Bergamot, Coconut, Rosewood, Anise, Jasmine, Rose, Milk, Caramel, Cedar, Sandal, Vanilla, Musk (from Osmoz)
Etra Notes: Rosewood, Coriander, Cardamom, Geranium, Sandalwood (from apothica.com)
I read in The Guide (Turin and Sanchez) that Etro was like a "less good" Feu d'Issey. Considering Fd'I is discontinued, I decided to test them together. Looking at the published notes, there is indeed some overlap, and the expectation is that the fragrance will be woody-spicy.
Upon applying Fd'I, it really took me back to the time when I owned it--it is a strange fragrance, unlike most others I have tried. It is simultaneously fresh and dirty, almost as if the perfumer was trying to represent an alternative to carnation. Fd'I has the same cool and moist qualities of carnation with a spiciness which is almost to the point of being sinister. The spices are peppery and woody, with a dirt-like quality which reminds me of cardamom. The spices ground the fragrance while the crisp, watery floral notes float above the base. The overall effect is almost electric--it is fuzzy and diaphanous, making it difficult to pin down exactly where the scent comes from. In the later development, Fd'I becomes a little more ambery sweet, and the bitter, dry spices keep it in check while cedar wood carries the fragrance to the drydown.
Etra smelled quite similar to Fd'I upon first application. The fragrance initially has the same cool-hot combination of florals and spices, but somehow seems more clean. It is a touch sweeter than Fd'I in the top notes, and the mid notes that poke through are substantially greener and more herbal. Etra goes through a low-sillage stage in the mid notes, becoming a skin scent of cedar, vanilla, pepper and cardamom. I had to apply more to get additional projection. I thought the two fragrances would have similar drydowns as they both seemed to be headed toward cedar-musk-vanilla. On the whole, the Feu d'Issey drydown is more complex and unique with peppery spices surviving well into the woody vanilla stage. Etra seems light but satisfying with vanilla, woods and a dash of anise which makes it a dead ringer for the drydown of Serge Lutens Douce Amere.
I can't say I disagree with T&S about Feu d'Issey being the better of the two. However, I think if anybody is expecting is Fd'I from Etra, it will only be in the first half of the development. Since I really like Douce Amere, I can't say I would be averse to wearing Etra at all, as I get two great fragrances in one bottle! Etra really does lack the sparkle and balance of composition that Fd'I has, though. Sampling Fd'I today, I remember why I bought it in the first place--it is a carnation-like composition centered on an alternative oriental base. Where have we heard this theme before? From two of my most treasured favorites: Chanel Coco has rosy, spicy carnation over a traditional amber oriental base; and Shiseido Feminite du Bois has violet and fruit over a woody, balsamic alternative oriental base. Lest anybody lament the demise of Feu d'Issey, its legacy continues in fragrances such as Bulgari Black, Kenzo Amour and SL Douce Amere. And of course, Etro Etra.
Issey Miyake Le Feu D'Issey
When a scent is described as a "colossal failure" and "ahead of its time" it does make one wonder which was right. What one generally finds is reality tends to fall inside the extremes presented by those quotes. So it is with Jacques Cavallier's 1998 creation Le Feu D'Issey. One thing I can say with confidence is that this is not an easy scent to categorize. I've worn it five times and it seems different on me each time. My wife has worn it twice and it has been different on her, too. I think a scent should have some consistency from wear to wear but Le Feu D'Issey sure seems to confound that postulate. At the top I get bergamot and the smell of coconut. This is not the rich smell of grated coconut or of coconut milk. This is the raw smell of the water contained in the nut in the center of the coconut. It contains some of the richness of the meat of the cocnut but it also has a pungency to it. I think it is this accord that cause some people to refer to the opening of Feu D'Issey as smelling "spoiled". For me this is a pungency that I have not encountered before in a scent and on me it wears quite nicely. From wear to wear the strength of this beginning seemed to be slightly stronger or barely there. As this progresses into the heart, jasmine and the controversial milk note come into play. I've only run across one other scent with a milk note, Lostmarc'h L'ann A'el and the milk note here is used as contrast to the jasmine and it creates a richness that brings out the sweet of the jasmine without it being overwhelming. Add to this a light use of rosewood and the heart is a lightly sweet combination of sweet floral and sweet wood. This aspect was consistent from wear to wear. The base went back to being confoundingly difficult to nail down as it seemed like I encountered a different wood every time I wore it. One wear it felt like a creamy sandalwod, another time it was the clean lines of cedar, still another time it seemed like gaiac. Partnered with it was vanilla which was a near perfect transition from the milk accord in the heart. So where do I come down on this one? Surely not "colossal failure". This is envelope pushing perfumery but a fragrance that has an inability to settle down on a person's skin and offer a similar experience from wear to wear is never going to be something the average colognoisseur will seek out. "Ahead of its time", I'm not sure I'm there either this feels kindred to many of the androgynous unisex scents being produced in the late 90's into the new millennium. I don't think if Issey Miyake went back into production this would all of a sudden find an audience and become a huge seller. If I had to categorize this in two words they would be- noble experiment.
Warm, peppery, plasticky, milky. It is difficult to pin this one down. Maybe it isn't supposed to be. Ethereal and indescribable. Don't try to figure it out, just enjoy it.
i LOVE this fragrance, and am so bummed that it is no longer available. the other reviews made me giggle, folks seem to have strong reactions to this one. a neighbor gave me a bottle a few years ago, and i was so excited because it had been discontinued. she went on at length about how putrid she thought it smelled (which, i am not surprised, as she favors fig smells). this would be my signature scent if it was available. it is sexy. i get notes of amber and pepper and it settles into some nice vanilla tones with my ph. love love love it. it is unique, feminine without being coy.
I adore this fragrance and have mourned its passing for years now especially since infrequently i am insulted by its pale little sister Le Feu D'issey light which is repellent worn presumably by those who never smelled Big sister.
When ever i wore it people would stop me in the street to ask me what the beautiful scent was that i was wearing, and on more than one occasion was told that this perfume was what someone thought heaven smelt like ( once by a women who confessed to having ridden the elevator longer than she had to just to continue to enjoy the scent ).
This fragrance is so complex and unusual i think it missed its potential market and was tared with the same brush as L'Eau D'Issey but was totally unable to communicate with a casual perfume wearer.
I keep meaning to hunt this perfume down online but end up forgetting, maybe I'll finally get round to it and get back to smelling like heaven again.
Very odd fragrance. I had to try it because for professinal reasons I had a stock of bottles that disappeared within hours of me getting them.My customers from Paris to Sydney are crazy about that one, and I have a waiting list! I had to see what the fuss was about.
Now , I know. I sprayed it on wrist, and at first sniff, I absoltely hated it.A reviewer called it putrid and I agree.I was seriously wondering why women all over the world would want to pay up to $300 a bottle for something like this?
Well, within 20 minutes,,the putrid scent had totally disappeared and was replaced by something that I can only describe as addictive! The scent was soft, kind of hypnotic even, if this can be said about a scent?
Well, needless to say, I kept myself a 75 ml bottle of this perfume, and will make sure to keep one instore for myself whenever it turns up in my stock again. This is seriously addictie.
When I first sprayed this on I thought it was kind of putrid. After a few minutes the putridness faded and the smell became warm and sensuous. My significant other purrs like a kitten when I wear it - so on special occasions I do.
Splendida fragranza, sarà il 'mio' profumo per tutta la vita. Sensuale ma aspro, misterioso eppur solare. Difficile da portare. Non mi meraviglia che molta gente preferisca (purtroppo) la versione Light. Il giglio giapponese lo rende veramente regale.
10th April, 2006 (last edited: 01st March, 2010)
this stunning bottle is like a sphere of a fire opal. the perfume has a mouthwatering citrusy flower on top, and then softens to a milky amber, more layers than in most mainstream perfumes. i think it is an unheralded siren.
unfortunately it is a little heavy on me and too 'perfumey', so it migrated onto my best friend...
I am having withdrawals-after receiving half a bottle from a friend who hated this,I sprayed it and found myself,once again,in love at first sniff.I get a whiff of rotting apples,though this is not a bad thing(really).It's the sort of smell one smells when visiting an orchard in the Fall.Anyway,it's one of only a handful of scents that people have actually stopped me to ask what I was wearing or to tell me I smelled great.Now to try and find some....