Arabian Nights – Review: Guerlain Songe d’un Bois d’Eté, Rose Nacrée de Désert and Encens Mythique d’Orient

I am inordinately happy about the fact that I managed to get my little Guerlain-crazy mitts on the latest trio of exclusive Eaux de Parfums. This time Guerlain made it even harder for us fans, since those three perfumes are limited in distribution to the middle east (but are also available at Maison Guerlain in Paris and, as it turned out, luckily also in my personal part of heaven: Place Vendome Haute Parfumerie in Belgium. They ship internationally!)

So without further gloating, here are my impressions of this elusive trio:

Songe d’un Bois d’Eté:

Songe D’un Bois d’Eté (Dream of a Summer Forest) was created by Thierry Wasser and includes notes of laurel, neroli, jasmin, patchouli, saffron, cedarwood, leather and myrrh.

Songe is a leather scent, very dry, the harsher side of patchouli and cedar along with a rough leather dominate throughout. It smells like a very old leather bag, worn in and with a history.

The opening is slightly herbal and spicy, the drydown becomes more and more soft as the leathers melts into a bed of myrrh. Resinous and woody, I smell not much of the floral aspect in here, and I must say I could use it. Songe teeters on the edge of too masculine, too dry for me and I wish I got more of the jasmine that is listed in the notes. Over time jasmine does come into its own though, and time and again I am surprised by the tender beauty that lives inside that old leather bag, you just need to open it.

That much punch, that take no prisoners attitude, the decisiveness this perfume exudes, is very unusual for a modern Guerlain, I must say. It is obvious that it was not made with the American or European market in mind.

Songe is not easy to wear for me, but I love it anyway. It is butch and it doesn’t apologize for anything, I like that straightforward assertiveness in a perfume.

Longevity and projection are above average, they are in Amouage territory actually. I am indeed reminded of Opus VI when wearing Songe.

Encens Mythique d’Orient:

Encens Mythique d’Orient (Mythical Incense of the Orient) includes aldehydes, frankincense, ambergris, saffron, rose, patchouli, vetiver and moss.

From reading the notes list, you have no idea how this smells, trust me. This was a total surprise.

Encens is very (and I mean very) sweet on top. It starts with an intensely sweet amalgam of notes that peek out at me for seconds, before hiding underneath the sugarcoating again. There is saffron, some rose, a musky note, almost dirty at times, the infinitely tiny bubbles of aldehydes (but not aldehydes as you know them, here they are much less, much more subdued). And for the life of me I can’t smell any incense for at least an hour. Then slowly you get the idea of a slow curl of smoke rising from your skin, but not enough that I would have gotten the idea to name the perfume after it. If I was not looking out for incense, I’m not sure I would have smelled it at all. The sweetness abates somewhat over time and gets to a comfortable level of “hmm” eventually, but that sure takes a while.

Encens is the most “European” of the three, it would fit into the L’Art et la Matière line without a hitch. There is not much incense, not much myth and not much orient. Of the three, it is the one I don’t feel particularly excited about. It seems like a slightly confused gourmand.

Rose Nacrée du Désert:

Rose Nacrée du Désert (Pearly Rose of the Desert) also a Wasser creation includes notes of rose, saffron, cardamom, agarwood, benzoin, patchouli and myrrh.

A rose-oud fragrance, Rose Nacrée turned out to be my unexpected favorite of the three. It is by no means a totally new, highly original invention, but it is a beautiful rendition of a familiar theme with a new twist. The spicy rose of Nacrée lies on a soft and pillowy oud that is made even softer by myrrh and is sweetened by benzoin. The rose seems a bit dusty, as if dried and faded, but in a good way. Rose Nacrée has a very meditative feel, although it is powerful in its presence (again: projection and wear time are outstanding) it has a calming aura. It feels soft and tender, like a caress. It is similar in smell to By Kilian Rose Oud, but is less clear, it smells as if viewed through a soft focus lens. Guerlain’s own Rose Barbare is brighter, more upbeat and easygoing. The grand perfumes Neela Vermeire Creations Mohur and Amouage Lyric are bigger roses than Rose Nacrée.

The three perfumes are a departure for modern Guerlain as we know it, in terms of power and longevity. Clearly their market destination is evident and that is a good thing in my opinion (although they could and should sell them throughout the world, they are exclusive enough as is, if they would be in Guerlain boutique distribution).

Songe d’un Bois d’Eté is a powerhouse and the most unique of the three, Rose Nacrée du Désert is the most beautiful and Encens Mythique d’Orient, well, it is the sweetest of them all. 😉

Do you crave that newest release? How are your lemmings doing, Guerlain-lovers?

Image source:,,,

About Olfactoria

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This entry was posted in Amber, Floral, Fragrance Reviews, Gourmand, Guerlain, Incense, Leather, Musk, Myrrh, Oriental, Resins, Rose, Spicy, Woods and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

58 Responses to Arabian Nights – Review: Guerlain Songe d’un Bois d’Eté, Rose Nacrée de Désert and Encens Mythique d’Orient

  1. Hi Birgit,
    If you ever want to do a split of either of your faves. I’m in.
    Portia xx

  2. Sandra says:

    Oh how I would love to try these. Thank you for the reviews. I will seek them out in Paris.

  3. Asali says:

    Beautiful reviews Birgit, I’m so looking forward to tryng these in Paris:-) It’s a thumbs up from me for having a good projection, and not following into the skinscent world. I take it non of them came on your monthly bottle allowance list;-)

  4. Tatiana says:

    You’ve just created a lemming or two for me. Think I must stop in at Guerlain today. My husband is not so pleased.

  5. Undina says:

    If I get a chance, I’ll try them all. Lemmings?.. Nah… You do not sound like you love any one of these three. I’ll wait and see which one grows on you 😉

    • Olfactoria says:

      Very good thinking!
      I must say that I tried to get this review out as soon as possible, I may fall for either Songe or Rose eventually, the potential is there. 😉

  6. andreawilko says:

    i have seen the fuss about these perfumes and have a friend who tried to ring the store in Paris to find out about distribution but to no avail, why oh why do they make it so hard for us perfume lovers?? With that said I am always a sucker for anything Guerlain and would love to try these some day, I am sure some resourceful person on one of the forums will come up with a split eventually, I live in hope, I would buy a decant of Rose in a flash as I am trying to find a rose perfume to love (so far lyric is in No 1 spot after previously disliking and discarding it) 🙂

    • Olfactoria says:

      You could be that resourceful person! Just email Steven at Place Vendome (placevendome at telenet dot be) and order them yourself! Free shipping above 250€ I believe! 🙂

    • chris says:

      Hello andrea
      These new Guerlains feature in the June issue of the Harrods Magazine for £160 each. So they should be at Harrods any time soon.

  7. raab says:

    I’ll have a look and a sniff on those beautiful things at the flagstore Guerlain but reading all this, it makes me desire to find again my smell, my scent, Oriental Brûlant from Elixirs Charnels’s range: white almond, oliban, frankincense, amber, vanilla, bitter orange……. I realize how much I love and miss it!

    • Olfactoria says:

      I love Oriental Brulant as well, but it is miles from those three (that is not a ranking though, just a difference in style). It is a very French oriental, whereas those three are more authentic in feel, rawer somehow..

  8. Tara says:

    Thanks for doing the reviews so quickly, B, I’ve been wondering about these. As a big fan of Rose Oud I really love the idea of a soft focus version. I wish they would come to Harrods!

    • Olfactoria says:

      Let us hope that maybe they are exclusive to the Middle East only for some time and then go in boutique distribution. That Place Vendome has them is a very good sign…

  9. Alexandra says:

    Yep – huge lemmings created – big enough to get me looking at my diary to see if I can rationalise a day trip to Paris! I have fallen for leathers in a big way over the past few months (and I am wearing Cuir de Lancome today in honour of all the chat about it yesterday, yum) and a good rose (even if I am inordinately picky with roses) is definitely worth travelling for. I second Tara’s Harrods wish, and it would make good sense market-wise…

  10. I saw the title of this post and knew it would be a bad idea to read it…

    They all sound wonderful and I LOVE the names!

  11. Fernando says:

    Sheesh. I was planning to ignore these… you’ve spoiled that plan! I hope you’re right that they may eventually show up in other places. I’ll add them to my list for the next time I go to Europe, I guess. (No plans at all to go to Dubai…)

  12. Suzanne says:

    Yippee! I’ll get to smell these with Asali and Ines very soon. And your gorgeous reviews really, really make me want to smell them … especially Songe!!

  13. Alexis says:

    I want all three – even Songe just because I bet it would smell divine on my husband. I am curious about all three scents. The last one definitely because I LOVE Rose Oud. Thank you for letting me live through your nose!

  14. Dionne says:

    I almost didn’t read this post because I didn’t think these would interest me (I’m behind on my reading, and trying hurriedly to catch up), but dang it, the lemmings are stirring. LALALALALALALAL, I can’t hear you!

    Nope, not working.

  15. Joe says:

    Probably just my mood lately, but I’m not really incredibly eager to try these. I wouldn’t mind, though, and the names are beautiful, and I enjoyed your somewhat early review (lucky).

    I’m sure these are beautiful, but sometimes I wonder why we spend so much time chasing after things that are almost imperceptible twists on concepts we’ve seen — or even loved, deeply — before. A new, beautiful bottle? A drool-inducing press photograph? Random desire to just pounce on the newest and greatest so we can cross it off our lists? Mind you, I do all these things too, to varying degrees.

    But once the 15th “Rose Oud” fragrance was released by yet another house, it started to seem ridiculous. There’s a new “something special” several times a year, and exquisite, “never-smelled-before” luxury is merely a constant, not a special occasion. Something new to chase. (Forgive: I’ve been a bit stressed about the mess my collection has turned into. Really.)

    • Olfactoria says:

      Joe, I know that mood very well, and I have been there many times. The constant hunt, the never ending want – it can be exasperating. But on the other hand it is part of this strange hobby we share and the joy we get from it is a great one, isn’t it?
      If I feel stressed out about my collection, I start purging. Selling, gifting away… and then inevitably, something new is on the horizon and my passion awakes anew and the hunt is on.
      Will it ever end? I don’t know. We don’t hear much about lapsed Perfume-aholics, they are not a very vocal group, I guess.
      I think we are in for life, although hopefully, eventually a more calm and contended stage will be attained where the enjoyment of what we have is greater than the need for something new.

  16. Himari says:

    Thank you SO MUCH for these thoughtful accounts (+nice pictures). Guerlain lemmings have been at me all year but I have learned to be disciplined! My comment comes with a question, b/c I am really intrigued by Songe d’un Bois d’Eté:

    You say the patchouli in Songe tends toward “harsh.” I tend to think of patchouli in two categories: 1) the sharp/green/clean + sweet(?) type in contemporary frags like Angel, Shalimar Parfum Initial, etc. – this type of patchouli is in Les Voyages Moscou where it is overpowering on my skin, making lovely Moscou unwearable for me – and 2) the dark earthy patchouli as represented in Borneo 1834, which is less sharp/shrill but still intense, and “dirtier.” May I ask what is going on in Songes, patchouli-wise? Many frags I like do have patchouli integrated but this note is SO hit or miss for me when it is featured that I am hesitant to do a blind buy here (in spite of those beautiful bottles, including the Arabic text which will likely be absent from any eventual EU/US release). I do love leather (particularly unsweetened like TF Tuscan Leather and Bandit), earthy fragrances, and Guerlain Derby and Vetiver Pour Elle are faves. Can you offer a girl any advice?

    • Olfactoria says:

      Hello Himari,
      you are very welcome! Thank you for reading!
      The patchouli – well, it is not a clear answer I can give you. It is not a totally cleaned up “new Patchouli” as in the perfumes you mention, but it isn’t a Lutens style deep earthy grave patch either. I guess it is somewhere in between. The mentioned harshness does not last long. The leather is definitely more prominent, so I don’t think the patchouli will be a big problem for you.

  17. Ines says:

    Ok, I don’t seem to be able to comment normally on wordpress anymore just because I made an account and now it makes me switch to it and keeps deleting my comments.

    So, if any of my previous comments appear, delete them. 🙂

    I was saying that you’re very lucky to have tried them already and I can’t say from your reviews which one might be the most to my liking, but luckily for me I’ll know in 2 weeks (or so) time when I try them in Paris! 😉 With Asali and Suzanne!

    Have fun in London!

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  20. Zubi d'Nova / Melissa de Blok says:

    Ohhhhh my….. My wallet wishes i had not found this post. Will update you tomorrow after visiting the boutique.

    • Zubi d'Nova / Melissa de Blok says:

      I had posted on another post of yours that I will be in Paris tomorrow, it isn’t sowing. On iPad, hate typing on this. Will update u on how broke I am when back home in the weekend

      • Zubi d'Nova / Melissa de Blok says:

        I bought:

        Rosine: Poussiere Rose and Rose Praline
        Guerlain: Gourmand Coquin
        SL: Boxeuses

        AND I AM SO HAPPY. Going to the boutiques – esp Guerlain – was like going to Disney was the days before for my bf. 😀 I had a permanent smile – which is still lingering – on my face.

        I feel a bit sad that none of the other exclusives worked on me as Gourmand did. Some worked, but none gave me that “Oohhh what is THAT” feeling that I have only previously had with Memoir and Aziyade.

        I’m so happy I want to hug everyone! So here’s a hug! 😀

        PS I’m also writing a blog post about the perfume community, you are featured 🙂 Will let you know on Twitter once I post it.

        • Zubi d'Nova / Melissa de Blok says:

          Forgot to add that the reason I feel a little sad is because Gourmand coquin got such bad reviews (and yours was on the fence for me, when you mentioned children liking it, haha!). I feel like a terrible perfumista, but then I remind myself that I only get bitter chocolate with sweet fruity accents, and no candy floss that others mention. 😛

          I didn’t like that the Guerlain SA tried to give me a fruity scent after I liked the gourmand; I feel like my taste and sense of class got downgraded in the holy shrine of perfume.

        • Olfactoria says:

          How lovely!!! Perfume makes us so happy, doesn’t it?
          Thanks for the hug. 🙂
          Geat choices, I love Gourmand Coquin and have a bottle, Boxeuses is also very, very nice.
          Enjoy your loot, Zubi!

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