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Serge Lutens Bois Oriental vs. Shiseido Feminite du Bois
It is rather difficult to wear Bois Oriental and not compare it to its "mother" scent, Feminite du Bois. I am wearing both today, with an eye toward teasing out the differences that Bois Oriental has to offer.
Upon initial application, FdB is immediately violet-woody. In contrast, the violet in Bois Oriental seems to be dramatically attenuated in favor of a fresh soda-like top note. The effect is sort of like lemon-lime soda or tonic water blended with the same waxy, woody cedar base that is used in FdB. Interestingly, the seeming lack of violet makes Bois Oriental seem much softer, less penetrating, less bright. It has a lovely muted quality that allows the woods to take a more central role. As far as the top notes go, this would be an excellent way to enjoy the wonderful FdB base for people who are not crazy about violet. On the down side, the top notes fade much more quickly than in FdB, so the middle stage is very faint and seems to lack the complexity of FdB.
Further into the middle stage, Bois Oriental and Feminite du Bois are closer in character. FdB still seems to have more violet than Bois Oriental, and this violet note gives FdB a feminine, powdery floral quality. Bois Oriental has much less of this powdery note, and seems to have more of a sweet, clean musk or amber note. Drydown comes rapidly with all the Bois fragrances (less than 2 hours and probably closer to 1 hour). In the drydown, Bois Oriental has most of the same notes as FdB--beeswax, cedar, spices--but it is softer and sweeter, probably due to the added musk/amber. The overall effect is much lighter, and at this stage, Bois Oriental is more of a skin scent than FdB. Feminite du Bois eventually catches up, though, and in the deep drydown, the two are nearly indistinguishable. It is the beeswax, wood and light spice that remain at the very end.
Overall, Bois Oriental is more muted, less complex and develops more rapidly than Feminite du Bois. I loved the soda opening and wished it lasted a bit longer--the fizzy quality combined with sweet amber and wood was very refreshing and fun. It makes Bois Oriental seem less serious and heavy than FdB, and probably much better for general daytime, office or warm weather wear. Longevity is extremely poor, and the fragrance wears very close to the skin. FdB is still my preferred fragrance of the Bois series. However, I can see that Bois Oriental has its place, and some may prefer it if the heavy violet from FdB is off-putting.
01st January, 2009