In science-fictions books or movies time travel is a regular occurrence. Do you know those scenes when the protagonist visits his younger self to give some essential advice that eventually saves the world?
Well, if I had the chance to give my younger self circa 1992, some advice, I doubt it would save the world, but it would have saved me some heartache. I’d go up to teenaged B and in no uncertain terms tell her to go and pick up a bottle of Shiseido Feminité du Bois, or better make that two. It would have been so easy then. I distinctly remember seeing that beautiful Japanese bottle in the windows of perfumeries then, I admired it from afar only though, since it was way too expensive for a student’s budget. I wish I had known how much I would crave this smooth, dark bottle with its revolutionary (for the nineties) juice in 2011…
Feminité du Bois was created in 1992 for Shiseido under the art direction of Serge Lutens by Christopher Sheldrake and Pierre Bourdon, it includes notes of ginger, cinnamon, clove, plum, peach, orange blossom, violet, cedar, sandalwood, vanilla and benzoin.
In 2009 Feminité du Bois joined the Serge Lutens export line and was repackaged in regular Serge Lutens rectangular flacons. If that was also the point in time of reformulation, or whether that came earlier or later, I am not entirely sure. Fact is, Feminité du Bois has been reformulated and quite distinctly so. I am not saying I don’t like the new version, I do, but it is different nonetheless and I would love to own the original, for the scent as well as the Shiseido bottle.
Feminité du Bois was revolutionary for its time, because it used a traditionally masculine note – cedar wood – in a feminine fragrance. The stewed fruit-spice-compote we take for granted now in a Lutens creation, appeared for the first time. Indeed a far cry from floral fragrances that were the usual offerings for women on the perfume market.
Many spin-offs sprang from that initial cocktail of spicy fruit and wood, the Bois series are part of the Paris exclusive range (Bois de Violette, Bois et Fruits, Bois et Musc, Bois Oriental).
This review is about the Serge Lutens version that is available now.
Feminité du Bois starts off spicy. Ginger, clove, cinnamon are vying for attention and getting it too, the first minute Feminité du Bois is pure spice, nothing else. But then all of a sudden the perfume opens and deepens, widens and stretches and an olfactory vista of plum and orange blossom sweetness, of woody violets and vanilla tinged cedarwood lies before your nose. Breathtaking in its beauty and softness, Feminité du Bois is the softest and most quiet Lutens perfume I know. The volume is on low, the sillage is below average, but longevity is excellent. Apparently, Iso E super is to thank for the smoothness of the woody notes.
What I like about this fragrance, is its smooth, plummy softness, its rich spiciness, its dark woodiness, all presented in low volume. Feminité du Bois allows for a sumptuous tableau of notes, but never overwhelms. It wraps itself around me like a soft cashmere shawl, clinging close, warming but not stifling me. It is elegant, seductive and comforting.
I am happy with my version of Feminité du Bois, but knowing myself I will not rest before I have a bottle of Shiseido’s original version, somehow I feel it belongs in my collection. I would put it right beside Le Feu d’Issey and I can already anticipate the smile on my face everytime I look at those two.