Perfume Reviews

Reviews of Bois d'Iris by Van Cleef & Arpels

I must admit it: I’ve a penchant for iris fragrances. As long as they’re even just decent, I always like them a lot. It amazes me how versatile this material can be, and how many nuances it offers. It can smell warm and luscious, dusty and cold, “grey” and “red”, plushy and earthy, and always so refined and mysterious. Anyway, Bois d’Iris is surely a remarkable must for any fan of this material, probably even more than other more praised ones in my opinion. It explores the colder-dustier and more balsamic side of iris, pairing it with dry resins, warm amber, a very peculiar sort of “greyish”, massively incense-driven crisp woody note, and a sort of rarefied foggy pine-forest feel. So imagine a breezy, balsamic, woody and above all, dusty-powdery incense scent, completely unisex and actually quite dark somehow, or better say “cold”, peaceful yet somehow aloof. Almost “lunar”, I’d say. And extremely refined: the dustiness has some very fascinating sort of sparkling texture – “silver powder”, so to speak. Dior named a scent “Bois d’Argent”, but that name would be so better for Bois d’Iris actually. By the way the two scents are indeed quite similar, but I prefer Bois d’Iris, for a couple of very simple features: less pretentious, more substantial.

What fascinates me about this scent is how it creates a shimmering, rarefied sort of “silver incense” vibe played on iris powder and resinous-balsamic woody notes, without using directly incense. I mean, this fragrance smells quite incensey to me, but in a peculiar way, “incensey and not-incensey at once”. Maybe more than incense I should say “a whiff of cold, azure-grey smoky breeze scented with iris and luxury resins”, as it feels weightless and airy yet surprisingly substantial, balsamic, enveloping. Truly one of a kind, extremely enjoyable and fascinating. Shortly – if it wasn’t clear already – I really like this scent: it feels quality, it’s extremely sophisticated, it’s delicate but not light or too close to skin – just elegantly discreet. I own other iris based scents, and this has definitely its own personality which makes it worth owning even if you think you’ve “smelled them all” when it comes to iris. Maybe a tad too expensive, but a true class act!

27th November, 2015
I love this. It's not a melancholy iris or a fresh one like Iris de Nuit but a smooth, warm, shapeshifting one. The iris, vanilla and ambery woods are perfectly blended but take turns at the front and it seems to grow in strength during the day.
16th September, 2015 (last edited: 19th September, 2015)
rbaker Show all reviews
United Kingdom
This is about iris - and a good iris it is, counterbalanced by woodsy impressions. Not too sweet, with shades of spice and greenness inter-playing with the main theme. I get moderate sillage and good orojection, and four hours of longevity. Simple and of good quality - that's good enough for me. 3.5/5
17th January, 2015
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I'm just not sure about Bois d'Iris. It's OK, but I just haven't found it to be spectacular. I think it actually smells fairly simple, like black pepper mixed with frankincense with a touch of iris to cut the masculine woodiness and a vanilla base.

My big complaint is that the vanilla base is that cheap-smelling cotton candy vanilla, which basically ruins the perfume after a few hours. My other issue, which is a bit more esoteric, is that Bois d'Iris feels like it was trying to be minimal, but came out unfinished. Sure, everything's in its place, but there's no panache, no decoration - Great perfumes are made by the little details. A wisp of smoke, a hint of powdery flowers, subtle little bits that build character and keep things interesting. Bois d'Iris doesn't really have any of these, just peppery incense with a little iris drying down to a terrible candy note.

In a way, I'm being overly picky because this is so expensive and I expect more from a niche "exclusif" collection than I do from regular releases. It's not a bad perfume, it's just not extraordinary. I probably would have given a hesitant thumbs up if it weren't for the garbage base, but that's more than enough to drag my rating down to a tepid neutral.
08th April, 2013
Probably my favorite from the Extraordinaire collection and a new standout among the V&A's creations with its unmistakable noble iris royal smell flanked by a well calibrated amber with its corporeal (may be carnal) substance and some mild woody nuances. At distance (temporal and logistic) the iris comes up subtle and regal with smooth subtleness and all its ambery (ambergris) dustiness. The amber smell is sheer and exalts all the iris sophistication soothing the natural greenness of the noble floral note in a way that the latter turns out smooth and finally carnal while never laundry or angular. The dry down is a bit finally linear but absolutely stunning and elevated. Thumbs up for sure. A great, great Iris in my opinion, elegant, silent, boise and a bit sinister.
09th December, 2012 (last edited: 28th April, 2015)
I was surprised by this one. usually iris fragrances struggle with the fact that they dont smell of iris due to the high price of the real thing. this one does not only smell of iris nobile but also has a nice smokey, woody, powdery warmth to it which makes it subtle but sexy. it has a good lasting power and remains elegant during the day.
very well done
07th April, 2012 (last edited: 29th June, 2012)