Positive Reviews of Un Bois Vanille by Serge Lutens Les Salons du Palais Royal Shiseido

I used not to appreciate Un Bois Vanille, but several things have happened recently to make me think twice. First of all, my three-year old son made a special request of me – he said he wanted his mama to smell like vanilla and sweets and sugar – and Un Bois Vanille was the closest thing I could think of that would satisfy his brief without making me retch. Second, I have been wearing Aomassi by Parfumerie Generale a lot lately, and have come to appreciate more the juxtaposition of dairy-rich accords such as vanilla, caramel, and cream against darker elements such as licorice, incense, roasted coffee, nuts, and wood. Un Bois Vanille is sort of a sister scent to Aomassi.

And although I think I will be wearing Un Bois Vanille more for my son’s benefit than my own, I have to admit that it has started to grow on me a bit. It is a simple pleasure done well – a doughy vanilla offset by licorice, milky coffee, dark woods, and a dash of caramel syrup. The only trouble with a vanilla this gourmand is that I am constantly tempted to raid the cookie tin when wearing it. I tempt fate even more by slathering myself in Yves Rocher Organic Vanilla Lotion and a good dosing of Couvent Les Minimes’ Eau des Missions cologne water, said to be a close dupe of Guerlain’s Spiritueuse Double Vanille. Basically, at weekends, I go around smelling like one giant ball of vanilla ice-cream. But I find I can live with that because anything that makes my son cuddle up closer to me is worth it. I guess it’s true what they say about boys and vanilla after all.
30th June, 2014 (last edited: 12th November, 2014)
I recall Turin's review about this fragrance, and being a fan of traditional coffee making, I must disagree with the "coffee roasting" note he smells here. I don't get it. I get coffee, but not that much and surely not "roasty". All I smell is a bold, kind of soothing and powdery scent of tanning cream, just less creamy and more flowery, but definitely a seaside madeleine (not in the "iodine" sense; more "lying on the beach"). The main structure here is fairly complex and interesting, as I get both a flower and aerial accord blended with a more dense, edible accord of liquorice, coffee, and vanilla. Beautiful, delicate, elegant sandy drydown.

04th April, 2014 (last edited: 05th April, 2014)
Coconut and vanilla heaven.

The licorice plays a brilliant role in toning down the sweetness and adding a slightly bitter aura around the scent. Sandalwood joins forces to balance things even more.

2-3 sprays on the chest is all you need and it will last all day. Spray too much and it will suffocate you.

One of my favorite gourmands and arguably my favorite Serge Lutens.
06th January, 2014
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Reminds me of a cup coffee with a touch of milk. True gourmand fragrance. I get about 7 hours from this one. 8/10
06th December, 2013
A Benchmark Vanilla - one of the best!

Often the pleasure and excitement produced is due to the original blending of a number of complex components. At other times, the mastering of one or two component and pure intensity can give similar pleasure. This is of the latter type.

The vanilla is beautiful, absooooolutely beautiful. Rich, creamy, but more on the brighter side. The sandalwood is light, maybe overwhelmed by its partner at times, but it gives the vanilla a good counterpoint. A touch of coconut in the dry-down can be traced. In essence, this is vanilla delight. After the first couple of hours, the sweetness is much reduced on my skin, and is is never cloying on me. Excellent projection and silage, and a tremendous longevity of around nine hours.
04th August, 2013
Vanilla on a forest night

This really is a divine, deep, intoxicating, woodsy, spicy vanilla. I smell danger here. Very seductive, but not for every day. I feel that this creature belongs to the night.

05th June, 2013
Un Bois Vanille is a warm, woody, buttery vanilla fragrance. You should know what you're getting into when you try it. So, what's the fuss? Either you love these fragrance elements, or you don't. If you love them, you won't find any finer presentations of them. Un Bois Vanille is superb. Vanilla fans shouldn't think twice about buying. All other fragrance affcionados should jump on it, too. Buy it now, before horribly misguided reformulation wrecks it. Soon to be a legendary woody vanilla. You will find no finer.
26th February, 2013
Vanilla is a key component to both the contemporary dessert/gourmand and the classic amber oriental. Vanilla is almost inescapable in perfumery, but it’s usually found in the familiar company of labdanum, balsams, resins, spices or ethylmaltol in the above genres. It takes effort to dissociate it from the foody, cuddly feel. Despite its brief plastic/cotton-candy camouflage topnote (wonderful!), un Bois Vanille does just this. After the foody misdirection, BV avoids the expected. The tease of edibility shows itself as a licorice note, not cotton candy. The licorice also keeps BV from going the amber/oriental route since the genre is almost by definition warm, round, thick. Licorice here comes off as anise-like not candy-like. It’s cool and focussed and it brings out vanilla’s sharp, bitter side, making it more potent than plush.

After the expansive opening the heartnotes are fairly quiet, with a dry, airy feel that I would think to associate with frankincense, not vanilla. By drydown BV is dusty but still taut, reinforcing the point that vanilla can be strong and direct without being lush. BV stays cool as it winds down and resists becoming a skin-scent, further bucking a vanilla stereotype.

BV solves a problem for me. One of very few in perfume fan-dom, I don’t like Caron’s Pour un Homme. The lavender/vanilla combo has no synergy and reminds me of the feel of a stuffy head. In BV, the cool side of the licorice fuses with the vanilla in a way that I imagine Pour un Homme’s minty lavender and vanilla combo works for the rest of the world.
30th November, 2012
My 2nd niche bottle purchase. This smells rich, creamy, it's the best vanilla frag I have ever smelt period! I wear this and my girl literally melts into my arms! I love vanilla gourmands but this has to top the lot.

Projects very well on me and lasts 10+! You can't get any better I feel.
17th April, 2012
this is wonderful as far as vanilla goes...but it's just that...a sweet vanilla. it's's's not run of the mill vanilla, but it is vanilla. you will smell like walking syrupy sweetness with no bad side effects, no unpleasant flavors.
22nd March, 2012
One of my all time favorites! Dark vanilla, not sweet but definitely rich and warm. This is similar to Prada Candy without the very sweet top notes. If you love vanilla, this is a must try.

15th March, 2012
I thought this could be a unisex smell. It does smell a lot like a cake shop with some kind of hot blueberry note, which I love. I can definietly imagine myself wearing this on a cold winter's night.

I once made the mistake of buying a Marc Jacobs fragrance prematurely, the fig notes were too sweet for my liking but this is definitely a more balanced scent. The vanilla note is not over powering and it just gets me salivating.

I have no idea if I would actually like to smell this on a woman or wear it myself. Let me know you guys thinks.

20th February, 2012
Un Bois Vanille Notes

Black vanilla absolute, licorice, sandalwood, coconut milk, beeswax, caramelized benzoin, bitter almond, Gaiac wood, tonka bean

A delicate, smoky vanilla, with a woody base note, sophisticated and enchanting. If you like vanilla, this is one for the collection. Feminine, but a guy can easily wear this. Four words I see over and over again, referring to this fragrance are "grown up Pink Sugar", and that is absolutely true. It is a grown up vanilla, with a few other whispery smoky notes. Magical.
08th July, 2011 (last edited: 31st January, 2012)
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Missy Show all reviews
United States
Love this. It is a warm gourmand scent that envelops you and hugs you tight. It makes me happy to smell this. Not too sweet with the perfect mix of vanilla and smoke. With some coconut thrown in for good measure. In a word it is delicious.
06th December, 2010
Smells like sugar cookies smeared with vanilla frosting at Christmastime. Very edible. Definitely unisex.
30th August, 2010
My initial feeling upon sampling this in a store while looking for a go-to vanilla scent was "this could be in the running". On my skin it dried down to more of a cotton candy although I do get waifs of the vanilla from time to time. I also get some smokiness and every now and then a rubbery smell, which isn't as bad as it sounds.

A little suprised it is marketed as a woman's frag when I could definitely see it being unisex. That being said, I think ultimately I will go with one that falls more on the masculine-to-unisex side (if one exists) especially at the Serge Luten prices.
22nd June, 2010
To be fair, I'm wearing a dupe of UBV. I've never even smelled the real thing. So, that's my disclaimer. But I've bought dupes from several sites online and they are all DIVINE in this scent! I had to laugh when people talked about drooling on their arms because I'm the same way! This is a sweet vanilla, not cloying, doesn't smell like vanilla play doh, not heavy or smoky. But I don't smell any of the notes that are supposedly in it! Licorice? Nah! I don't remember all the supposed notes because they aren't apparent to me. I just know it's a sweet vanilla mixed with something else that's also sweet but not TOO sweet. It's a pretty scent, definitely NOT unisex (remember, mine's a dupe!) and I get tons of compliments on it.
15th June, 2010
I like the spareness of this take on vanilla. In comparison many other vanilla scents are overwhelmingly cloying, syrupy, or gooey smelling (all of which I do actually appreciate, sometimes). The slight woodiness in this is nice, too. Pleasant for what it is. I would like to smell it on a man.
06th March, 2010
A caramelized vanilla scent that does seem to be a semi-gourmand to my nose. Done in typical syrupy fashion, with a little smoke and woods thrown in. For the most part, it appears a rather linear vanilla scent, a quality one.
01st March, 2010
After a smoky yet syrupy start the vanilla loses some of its viscosity and acquires a more gourmand aspect, at which point any comparison to the scent of sweet pastries or bakery is perfectly reasonable. Though UN BOIS VANILLE appears linear for the most part, a closer examination reveals subtle gear-shifts throughout the scent's journey and underscores Sheldrake's artistry in his multi-faceted interpretation of vanilla and sandalwood. I can't help but smile as Un Bois Vanille enters its various phases: smoky, syrupy, gourmandy, creamy, milky, vanillic, effervescent, smoky again...
03rd December, 2009
This is IT, folks... true vanilla. Un Bois Vanille is deceptively simple smelling. It verges on smelling too much like baked goods, but it is saved by "that Lutens transparency" on the drydown. This is comfort food at its best...nutty, sweet and warm. I have been looking for a wonderful, straight up vanilla and this is IT. Unlike "The Guide", I find this to be very wearable and definately unisex. I love it and plan to save my pennies so that it can become part of my permanent rotation.
10th October, 2009
Kaern Show all reviews
United Kingdom
The opening has that woody, smoky note that is almost a Lutens/Sheldrake staple now, but it disappears too quickly and we are left with a straight up vanilla, albeit a superior one. It reminds me a lot of L'Artisan's Vanilia, once the fire has damped down. Definitely unisex.
21st July, 2009
More vanille than bois for me. It is the most beautiful vanille i've ever seen.
26th October, 2008
bbBD Show all reviews
United States
I had no idea this was classified as 'feminine' until I saw it here on BN. Obviously it's my opinion that there's nothing about UBV that makes it more feminine than any other gourmand. And what a gourmand this is!! It's every smell that one would encounter in an espresso shop/bakery, the sweetness of which is grounded and somewhat tempered by undertones of woody notes. There's a lot going on here, and as with other Lutens you can chose to either pick out individual notes, of which there are many, or you can just sit back and just take in the entirety of the aroma wafting up at you. Having just used up a pretty healthy sized sample, I will wait until winter to buy this, not because I wouldn't want to wear it in the heat, but rather because it would be so wonderful to be all bundled up in a parka in the cold outside with a healthy dose of Un Bois Vanille seeping out from beneath the coat.
26th August, 2008
Sweet, rich vanilla and molasses on the opening, then it softens after a couple of hours, with the vanilla still there, but undercut now with woody, spicy note, quite delicious from start to finish. I just wish it broadcast a little louder on my skin and lasted a little longer...
02nd August, 2008
I agree with tigrushka -- this smells like vanilla pod. It's not a fragrance with lots of cards up its sleeve -- it has an almost idiot-savant quality -- but if you like your vanilla rich and warm and toasty, supported by polished wood and something fresh and sharp and silvery, you can't not enjoy this. I just got some for my husband, who's not especially metrosexual, but is French and doesn't work in an office, so maybe he can get away with wearing a "woman's fragrance". Anyway, he briefly falls into a kid-eating-a-cupcake revery when he sprays it on, and I think it's because this vanilla is smart enough to get away with being a bit infantilizing.
01st August, 2008
Wonderful vanilla and woods as only Serge Lutens can do. I get an almost cognac-y note that helps temper the sweetness. The wood gets stronger as time went by, with just a whiff of sweet. More sensual and one has to get close to sniff- not enough sillage is my only gripe but, in the summer, who wants to waft around in a cloud of vanilla. Was prepared to hate this as sweet vanilla gourmands are usually migraine inducing, but at the insistence of my friend I tried. I loved. I bought. Perfect for a hot summer night.
13th June, 2008
Since I was not able to buy this fragrance, I got a small dupe from Suds and Light and find that I want to eat my arm. I have no idea of how close this dupe is to the "real" scent but I can smell delicious sweet stuff and now I want a big bottle of the Serge Lutens. Oh, I really do! This perfume obsession can be quite difficult.
20th December, 2007
A rich gourmand that was sweet on me, yet not cloying. Surprised that Lutens doesn't market this one as a unisex frag (as he does so many others of its type), as it was surprisingly warm and NOT egregiously feminine on me (nor on my other half).

The licorice/anise note worked on me, too, and this is especially odd given my checkered past with that type of note. I think it was the clever use of wood notes that kept the vanilla from getting cloying and the licorice from becoming overpowering.

Thumbs up!
10th December, 2007
I like this one alot! scents containing wood notes are typically difficult for me wear, but this warm, coconut milk & honey Un Bois Vanille gives me the chance to wear those comforting smells with no trouble at all! True enough, there is definitely more bois than vanille ~ but that's fine by me.

Maybe it's just dumb luck that I sampled this one on a cold wintery day -it is lovely and perfect to my senses. While this composition is fairly straight forward, I cannot recall wearing any other fragrance that smells the same! The foody elements are sweet but not too much so. As for the notes of wood, Lutens is the master! I'll be emptying my wallet for this one!
03rd December, 2007