Perfume Reviews

Reviews of Les Déserts d'Orient - Songe d'un Bois d'Été by Guerlain

Absolutely wonderful stuff. The smell of burning oud wood supports one the most tangy supple leathers I've ever tried. There's an animalic quality to the leather but rather than being fecal it displays a rich balsamic plush pishyness, raunchy and engaging yet somehow maintaining a debonair tilt.

For what it's worth I prefer this over Leather Oud (Songe's more raucous cousin), Songe just puts on a knife edge the balance of challenging/wearable in such an appealing way while sparkling with life from start to finish. Great stuff, recommended.

28th September, 2015
I must wade upstream here and say this is merely competent. It is not the sweaty cumin or the jaded leather that trouble me, it’s the flatness of the composition – Songe feels thick and sticky, like it has been spread on my skin like a perfumed depilatory wax. I prefer livelier perfumes. For all its naughty notes, it doesn’t feel carnal, just tired.
The early stages have a hefty glug of the sweets, almost as if Wasser’s hand slipped while he was pouring out the tonka or whatever it is to blame. Fortunately that recedes but one is left with a heavily spiced leather, which refuses to budge from its torpor. Even the myrrh, my personal catnip, suffers from the spicing and soaks it up. The scent of the thing is quite pleasant as it doesn’t have huge projection or intensity, but it’s so all of a piece there’s no danger of it bothering my wallet.
30th April, 2015
I have a humorous story associated with this fragrance. I was at a conference in Las Vegas this past April and there was a Guerlain shop in the complex near the Venetian Hotel. I wore Shalimar in college, but haven't worn Guerlain since then (I tend toward L'Artisan and Etro, but I thought I'd stop in and see what they had. I was drawn to the bottle for Songe d'un Bois d'Ete and the associate filled up a small testing tube for me. I wore it from the tube for three days and decided I needed to have whole bottle. Now, up to this point I hadn't asked what the price was and figured it was maybe $100, tops. When the associate rang it up and it was $300 (with tax) I was internally shocked (as was my boyfriend, now my fiancé, who was with me ;-), but I was too proud to want to look like a rube from the Midwest (I live in Nebraska) so I didn't say anything and just handed over my card, mentally figuring that I wouldn't be putting money into my personal savings account the next month...(I make a decent living, but I've never spent over $100 on fragrance...and I have Scots ancestry, so being frugal is part of my genetics ;-) At any rate, I do love this fragrance and don't regret for a moment having spent as much as I did. I would have felt left out if I had said, no, that's too much. I'm glad that I didn't know how much it cost before the moment of payment because I might have talked myself out of something that has brought me joy since April. My fiancé jokes that I smell "expensive" whenever I wear it. It has decent staying power and a little goes a long way. There's almost a cat pee feeling to it at first (I'm sure there's a more sophisticated word for that, but right now I'll own up to rube vocabulary ;-) If you like the L'Artisan and Etro fragrances I linked above you will probably like Songe d'un Bois d'Ete - but maybe get a sample from a friend, because it comes at a cost.

I've read that Guerlain has a bespoke service where for around $36k you can have your own fragrance made, and they won't let anyone else buy it, and you get lifetime refills. Until I win the lottery Songe d'un Bois d'Ete will have to do - I doubt many women around here will be wearing it so I do smell unique (and that's something I prize).
07th December, 2014
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Songe d'Un Bois en Ete smells like the musky, animal, pungent aftermath of sex. Some perfumes smell like the lead-up to sex, like Absolue Pour Le Soir, with its heavy honey and cumin mimicking sweaty arousal, or moments of unwashed intimacy, like Muscs Khoublai Khan, with its creamy, dark musk. Some use civet, like the vintage Bal a Versailles EDC I have, which is so suggestive of an entire ballroom full of horny dandies starting to get it on that it remains hidden in the darkest recesses of my wardrobe, waiting in vain for an appropriate occasion.

Songe d’Un Bois En Ete, on the other hand, smells unapologetically like heated sex organs that have been frantically rubbing up against each other for the past hour or so. In fact, it sends out such a frank sexual message that I keep checking my bottle to see if it still reads “Guerlain”. Yep – still Guerlain alright. But if you are looking for Guerlinade, that mixture of vanilla, orris, rose, gum resins, and animal notes used by Guerlain to imprint its DNA onto each perfume in its stable – then look elsewhere. This is a dry, spicy, smoky woods-and-resins affair that burns with the sexual intensity of a thousand suns.

The genius of this perfume, though, is that it manages to suggest two very different landscapes simultaneously. The first is a vast dessert under an endless sky, and the second, a more intimate space between the bodies of two sated lovers. The expansiveness of the first landscape is one that Songe d’Un Bois En Ete shares with only one other scent that I know of – the wonderful L’Air du Desert Marocain by Andy Tauer. In fact, both these fragrances are instant travelogues to the desert. But at some point, Songe inverts its parameters and zooms down into an incredibly intimate, carnal, human body-centered space. The confidence with which the distance between these two points of reference is crossed makes this fragrance a masterpiece.

But make no mistake – despite the sexual overtones, this is a fairly brutal, dry perfume with no sweetness or softness to blunt the impact. The opening smells simultaneously woody, rubbery, and aromatic, like a pile of oud chips and myrrh resins smoking on a barkhour burner. There is also a stonking jasmine absolute note, which smells like gasoline to my nose. The saffron and laurel give it a spicy pungency that only adds to the deep skankiness of this perfume. All of these hard, uncompromising elements conjure up an image of masculine ‘hardness’, like a Bedouin warrior cloaked in black robes from head to toe, galloping across the desert on a camel, his eyes narrowed against the harsh glare of the sun.

It’s sexy. It’s tough. It’s quite masculine. I find it quite hard to wear sometimes, although I’m not sure if it’s because of its harsh nature or because of the fact that whenever I wear it, I feel like people are looking at me, thinking, “That harlot just rolled out of her lover’s bed and didn't bother washing”. An almost hilariously inappropriate masterpiece from a house you'd least expect to turn out something like this.
07th November, 2014
Kaern Show all reviews
United Kingdom
I don't get any oud at all. I get quite a bit of pepper up top -- must be the mixture of the laurel and saffron.

In fact I would wade through any amount of perceived 'skank' to reach the amazing sensual drydown of leather and myrhh that this fragrance is all about.

Niche at it's very best.
27th October, 2014
A richer and more wearable Dior Leather Oud. Also has less skank factor.
Don't get me wrong, I like Leather Oud too, it just doesn't have the complexity of this magnificent underrated fragrance.
Excellent Longevity. 2 sprays max.
07th March, 2014
Wow, this one really disagrees with me. Up front and center, there's a big slug of that leathery old man smell, paired up with a huge shot of sweaty cumin. It's pure animalic body odor. Oddly, I often don't mind this combination when it's used as a counterpoint to something else (like in Le Labo's Rose 31 or Vetiver 46), but here it's so forward and unbalanced that I just don't like it very much.

Forcing myself to smell around the animalics, I get little bits of interesting nuance - peppery saffron, rubbery oud, burnt charcoal wood, iso e super smoke, some sort of herbal smell that simulates tea - but it's all so deeply buried in the unrelenting funk that it's not winning me over at all.
06th March, 2014
Oud Cedar Leather Combo

Rather than pick at those notes - I am sure they are in there somewhere. This reminded me greatly of White Aoud by Montale. Where is the oud in the notes list because I am getting that oudy bandaid-y vibe which I normally do not like but here ......

Dry ,austere yet a slight floral nature , leathery , woody ( cedary - iso e super - I swear I smell it in this ! ) ,oud-y ,sharp and mellow at the same time and extremely elegant. Unisex. This is wonderful stuff and has the personality I expect from something like this from Guerlain. This is exotic- foreign and mysterious .

The best out of the three and the one I would buy.

Pros: Fantastic Unisex Exotic
Cons: Price and Availability"

18th September, 2013
An uproarious opening of Cedar and Myrrh and Saffron and Oud -- all at once -- it feels so captivatingly organic that it's almost like a love potion or a pheromone... Fantastically severe yet brutally refined... I cannot stick my nose deeply-enough into my own flesh, but not because it is faint or demure, but because it is so enticing and entrancing and exotic. It's Myrrh like I've never smelt before, it's scorching Cedar, it's blistering Saffron... Oud explosion... It reminds me of Wazamba and Al Oudh and Incense Oud, though much more drunken, yet also much more civilized. It really is enchanting, quite literally breathtaking upon initial impression, but eventually the "honeymoon phase" relaxes very luxuriously into Bay & Jasmine & Cardamom, and a heavenly luminous leathery Laurel.

30th March, 2013 (last edited: 09th May, 2013)
A lovely, elegant, brooding fragrance of leather (cardamon?), saffron and cedar. In middle drydown Songe d'un Bois d'Ete reminds me very much of a kinder gentler Leather Oud. The Guerlain creation seems more seamless, but the Dior to have a bit more edge. The pyramid say jasmine, which I love. My nose searched for it and couldn't come up with anything. I think a little more jasmine couldn't have hurt. If I hadn't been introduced to Leather Oud first, ( I get cravings for it once in a while)
I might be more partial to the prettier more subtle Songe.
31st January, 2013
When Guerlain announced the release of the Les Déserts d'Orient series I was initially skeptic. My main concern was why a brand such as Guerlain, which can be easily classified as french perfumery personified, would have jumped on the oud bandwagon. It sounded a lot like gimmick. Yet another way to increse sales in those teritories where fragrances go strong as long as they sound exclusive and unaffordable. WRONG!

Songe D'Un Bois D'Ete is an extremely solid composition and while including some typical ingredients of this kind of fragrances (oud, saffron, spices and resins), smells like nothing else around. It's rich and incredibly refined, elegant yet somewhat easy to wear and, most of all, incredibly well balanced in its iteration of some of the most typical oriental accords.

The opening is addictive. Saffron, oud and myrrh introduce a masculine balmy accord of woods and something that vaguely smells of gasoline. Everything is so calibrated to result original but not challenging. Incredibly likeable. The fragrance evolves with the addition of cardamom while a solid patch-cedarwood base starts to lurk in the back. Smelled from up close, Songe D'Un Bois D'Ete, may recall several woods-centered fragrances of the past ten years but the projection and sillage are incredibly unique. Incredibly detailed and refined. The fragrance remarks its presence with a smooth yet assertive personality which speaks of ancient woods, slight body odours provided by the spices, a subtle yet dark leathery accord, warmness and incredible depth. A long ride that will leave you fascinated from the packaging till the very last phases of the drydown. The next level of these kind of fragrances. Just glorious!

When Guerlain does it right, there's no match for anyone else!
07th November, 2012
cwill Show all reviews
United States
Just received my sample today. I've had it on for about 3 hours now and it's still going pretty strong. This seems rather linear to me, all I get is a B.O. scent from this. Granted, it is a BO note made pleasant and rather intriguing. I'm just not sure I'm getting anything else. Hmmm, this will require further wearings.
17th July, 2012
In complete disagreement with the review below, Songe is a long-lasting (if only medium-projecting) inoffensive crowd-pleaser. Yes, it is far richer and more syrupy than the other two in the middle east series (which is not a quality that turns me off when it comes to scents marketed to a population that can handle turning up the volume and opulance of masculine-leaning scents.)

This scent had me from hello, but with subsequent wearings it has become clear that there is nothing particularly new here except that Guerlain has gone to the trouble of creating the perfect blend of three of my favorite comfort scents - and they put it all in a gorgeous bottle to boot (if for a hefty price tag).

Songe d'un Bois d'Été is Guerlain's take on (1) Dior's Leather Oud... subsequently sweeted with the house's own masterful (2) Tonka Imperiale... and made strikingly carnal with a lesson from (3) L'Artisan's Al Oudh. To be more specific, Songe packs Less heat and suffocation than the top notes of the Dior (a welcomed quality to many) but then envelopes a woody heart with a healthy portion of tonka basting that gives it that sweetened Guerlain-aide magic. One thing that I really liked, and quite rare for a Guerlain, is how it gets a little dirtier with time. There is a really fine cumin note (hence my association with L'artisan's Al Oudh) that, because of the sweetness, will never be confused for B.O. While I suppose I could see all this together as something redundant, I am really enjoying the sultry punch packed into this one bottle. Though the result is a lavish and smoky rendition of how the Arab world "does wood," do not assume that this is an oud scent. It is equal parts dry Cedar and Hot Leather, smoked in incense and garnished with a drizzle of cherry-tonka sweetness.

Very rich. Incredibly beautiful. Completely Unisex. Highly recommended.
08th July, 2012
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drseid Show all reviews
United States
Songe d'un Bois d'Ete opens with a blast of saffron, soon coupling with a very strong cumin and cardamom combination that unfortunately reminds me more than a bit of the "BO" note I experienced with Declaration by Cartier. The cumin and cardamom combo remains in full force through the heart notes, combining with cedar support and just the faintest whiff of jasmine to sweeten the scent only just a hair. The cumin and cardamom finally begin to fade late into the scent's heart, revealing a fine leather note in the base that finishes off the scent, combining with traces of the remaining saffron spice, cedar and a bit of real oud. Projection is average, with below average longevity.

Songe d'un Bois d'Ete was a bit of a disappointment. The cumin and cardamom that reveal themselves after the first few seconds of development are extremely strong and overpowering. They obscure much of what the scent has to offer and are quite unpleasant smelling. When you finally get past the "BO" accord, there really is a nice dry woody leather and oud combo to be found in the dry-down. That said, it is way too little, too late, and the scent fades to nothing shortly afterwards with its relatively short longevity. At approximately $300 for 75ml of Songe d'un Bois d'Ete one should expect so much more than this... indeed one should expect so much more at a quarter of the price. I give this weak composition a below average 2 out of 5 stars.
24th June, 2012