Perfume Directory

Bonheur (2018)
by Bortnikoff

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Bonheur information

Year of Launch2018
GenderShared / Unisex
AvailabilityIn Production / Limited Edition
Average Rating
(based on 11 votes)

People and companies

HouseBortnikoff
PerfumerDimitry Bortnikoff

About Bonheur

The company say:

Bonheur is an aromatic chypre made when a minty and crispy bergamot is spiced up with cool cardamom. Green forest, ice, and cool air. Green and mossy heart notes of Indian vetiver and oakmoss are slowly introduced, and a touch of spices and precious, genuine ambergris with rare violet leaf extract form a solid backbone for the heart notes. Woody, resinous and aromatic combination of cedarwood, labdanum, and vanilla resides at the base providing a lasting power and totally warm feeling for the wearer.

Bonheur fragrance notes

Reviews of Bonheur

I was expecting something much different by the way other people have described Bonheur by Bortnikoff (2018), but maybe some of that has to do with maceration and me sitting on my stash of 10ml tubes for a few years before wearing, so when I finally got to know this scent a little better, it had effectively matured into something different from what was initially described by others. In any event, this is a good "all natural" interpretation of an oriental chypre hybrid, likened to something such as the original Chypre de Coty (1917) with bits of additional sweetness, or Estée Lauder Youth Dew (1953) without the animalic components or patchouli. Lovers of artisanal perfumes already know the deal with this house and their modus operandi, and this one has long since passed into obscurity as a one-off like most Bortnikoff creations, so my review is mostly just for reference and posterity. Bonheur is overall a dark fragrance, which is why the name (which translates as "happiness") is a bit odd to me, unless perfumer Dimitry Bortnikoff is trying to say he finds happiness in the absence of light. Overall Bonheur is one of the friendlier and less-challenging things to come out from the house since its inception, which makes me wonder why more of it wasn't made or it wasn't kept on the books like how Auphorie keeps Miyako (2015) around all the time.

The opening of Bonheur is Bbergamot, cardamom, frangipani, tagetes (marigold), and cempaka flower (a variety of marigold unique to parts of Asia). The house describes this opening as minty, but I get none of that really. Instead, I get rich frangipani, the marigold tandem, and cardamom. Perhaps maceration and aging has rendered whatever bergamot oil was here inert via blending and breaking down, because I don't get much of that either. The sweet floral spice continues into the heart where vetiver and violet add some green to the mix, but are quickly mulled under by the mineralic musk of real ambergris and buttery thickness of real oakmoss. Clove and nutmeg carry this spice theme into the base, where the classic chypre base of labdanum pairs up with the oakmoss in the heart to make a woody finish alongside cedar notes, but the sweetness of the frangipani and marigold see a second wind from tonka and vanilla. This isn't bubblegum sweetness like a modern designer, but the kind of oriental sweetness fans of niche scents like Serge Lutens Chergui (2005) can appreciate, just minus the massive amber dose. Bonheur sits very close to skin but is also very intense after it slowly warms up on skin, so don't be mislead into over-applying because you don't get a barrage of top notes right away.

I'm skipping context here because fragrances generally made as indulgence like this one need none; if you're in the market for handmade all-natural artisanal perfumes, can navigate the panic-buying frenzy that surrounds scents from houses like these, and keep up with each one before selling out nanoseconds after release, you don't need a reason to wear them. Wearing Bonheur is like drinking a particular favorite vintage of whiskey you've kept around for years and only pop open when you're in particular need of decompression or sensory diversion, it scratches and itch and applies a sort of spiritual salve but isn't something you can nor would want to smell everyday; that isn't the point of perfumes like these. I like Bonheur, and if I didn't have such great friends, I would have never come across my supply; although I would be blissfully ignorant of it and not feeling like I'm missing out on anything. especially after having experienced it. If you're a fan of these rich and dark exercises in classic French design, where European perfumers tried to capture the mystery of "The Orient" with the materials they had at hand (long before oud and other things appeared), Bonheur is something to check out if you get the chance. Otherwise, life goes on, and I'm just another perfume junkie lost in his own mind bemusing about a funny little tube of smelly juice. Thumbs up.
17th May, 2020
This is a very expensive way to smell of Cardamon sugar and vetiver.
Smelling it through my shirt, It reminds me of some really delicious cookies that my grandmother used to make.
It is a lovely smell?
Yes.
Do I want to smell like this?
No.
Could a lady pull this off?
Maybe.
11th January, 2020
My favorite (so far) of the Bortnikoff offerings, Bonheur opens with the vivid burst of florals (Frangipani/Champaca) that so easily identify this house among its peers. Something about this opening always reminds me of Hubba Bubba chewing gum, though in a Bonheur it’s less overwhelming than it is in Coup de Foudre.

Mint weaves it’s way through the floral opening and into the heart, though this may be more an illusion created through violet leaf, cloves and vanilla, working in tandem, than any actual camphor/pine/mint ingredients.

It isn’t until the vetiver, oakmoss and ambergris begin to mix with Tonka bean and labdanum, late in its heart, that I go from liking to loving this fragrance, as I’m happy enough to smell Magnolia and Frangipani but I don’t want to be perfumed by them, myself. It may be that I am especially sensitive to these notes as most of the reviews that I’ve read seem more focused on the icy/forest/wood/grass notes and less on the mega-sweet florals that I pick up.

Either way, this is a clear win for me and I’d buy a full bottle were it still available and not long sold out.
25th June, 2019
Airy and aromatic in equal measures, BONHEUR is an excellent composition showcasing the backlighting effect of ambergris on what is essentially a chypre oriental. There is a breezy-fresh almost marine-like undercurrent smoothing out the spikes from the spices and moderating the warmth of the tonka/vanilla base.

Projection is above average for the first hour or two but settles down fairly quickly to a polite yet noticeable presence thereafter. I get the occasional whiff as I go about my usual activity.

Overall I am impressed. Having had the pleasure of wearing ambergris compositions from Areej Le Doré, Bortnikoff’s BONHEUR is arguably the easiest to wear, comfortably positioned between the more aromatic Atlantic Ambergris and the sweeter Baikal Gris.
30th April, 2019
Smells like clove, cardamom, and zesty bergamot. Projection seemed fairly low, for about an hour and a half. Longevity moderate, skin scent for quite a while. It seems similar to Caron 3rd Man. I feel like if I wanted to smell this way regularly, I'd buy the Caron as it is cheaper. Nevertheless, I'm gonna go thumbs up here, since it smells good.
26th February, 2019
Similar to Areej Atlantic Ambergris, however this is much smoother, warmer. I have moved from the Rock and Icy Blue Sea Air to a dry,Seaside, Cedar-ed Warehouse where, some time ago, there was trade in Spice, Vanilla, Tobacco-d Coumarin and Incense.
The Balance of the Tonka initially reminded me of Vintage Old Spice, however the dry Cedar and Clove offer little sweetness to the mix. Marigold plays it's part in this and offers a Masculine rigidity.
Beautiful, Contemplative and eventually, Creamy Goodness.
12th August, 2018

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