Monday, September 07, 2009

Serge Lutens Miel de Bois- Bee Here Now Blogging Project

When Roxana (of Roxana Illuminated Perfume, who is also the artist who created the image you see above) invited me to participate in the Bee Here Now perfume blogging project, I had no doubt what my contribution would be. Miel de Bois by Serge Lutens is as raw as it can get in the honey department. It's also one of the most reviled scents in the perfume world.

Those who hate Miel de Bois feel this way because they smell something funky in there. That's a polite way to say they get cat pee. A while ago there were rumors that either Serge Lutens himself or the perfume creator Christopher Sheldrake (or both) have had a change of heart about MdB and dislike it now. The story have since been vehemently denied and Miel de Bois has since become a non-export in a bell jar and is now sold exclusively at the Lutens Palais Royal boutique in Paris.

So what's behind the fuss? Perception and skin chemistry, most likely.

Miel de Bois has top notes of ebony, gaiac and oak wood, middle notes of honey and base notes of beeswax, iris and hawthorn. The wood is smoky, which some might find disturbing as top notes, and the honey and beeswax smell raw and natural, unprocessed. Most honey scents I can think of tend to play the edible aspect (Ginestet Botrytis), but they are also transparent and clean (L'Occitane, MAC Naked Honey). Lutens didn't try to tame the honey here. Instead, there's something animalic here- warm and very much alive.

When things are right, MdB coats the skin and feels like it's radiating and pulsating. The floral element (I get a distant powdery iris, the hawthorn is probably a big part of the animalic facet, as it's a pretty unusual flower note) is certainly not the story here, but it softens the wood and smoke and bring on that raw honey note which is, to me, the whole story. There are many types of honey available in any Whole Foods or good deli. Some favor the delicate, lighter ones like wild flowers or clover honey. I prefer the dark buckwheat honey, which is heavy and pungent. I also like the heady aroma of a good orange blossom honey. I find Miel de Bois to have a little of both.

Miel de Bois is strong. While the sillage is reasonable, the lasting power is beyond amazing, as those who needed to scrub it off would attest. It just doesn't go away. I used to spray it, but this is another Lutens that benefits from dabbing- it unfolds better this way. This discovery would probably have benefited my husband (who adores MdB on me and sees it as one of my signature scents). A few years ago when he was still commuting into the city by train, there were a couple of early mornings when he was reaching for his Gris Clair bottle but instead grabbed Miel de Bois. While Gris Clair is good when sprayed lavishly, MdB was not necessarily meant to be shared with fellow commuters. Or your employees.

While Miel de Bois has been pulled out of the export Serge Lutens range and is now only sold in bell jars (110 euro, 2.5 oz) at the Salons du Palais Royal Shiseido in Paris, there are still many places that still have the rectangular bottles in stock ($120, 1.7 oz). Just, please, don't buy blind. The perfumed Court and The Posh Peasant sell samples. Try them first.

For a different look at honey and bees, please visit the other participating blogs:

  • Roxana Illuminated Perfume

  • Perfume Shrine

  • Scent Hive

  • Beth at the Cleveland Fragrance Examiner

  • Donna at the Portland Fragrance Examiner

  • Bee Illustration ©Roxana Villa


    1. It doesn't surprise me you bring out the smoother and less urinous elements of it (you seem to do that with several things, which merits its own little award) but I can only imagine the faces of the commuters alongside your husband, LOL. It must have been a perfect experiment of scent as olfactive shoulderpads!

    2. I have not had the pleasure of inhaling Miel de Bois by Lutens. How curious I am now, another excuse to travel to Paris!

    3. I see that you and I both have the same feelings about MdB - true love!

      Roxana, it's truly heady stuff, you must try it!

    4. I must get a sample of MdB now. It sounds enchanting!!

    5. I got a serious laugh thinking of your husband smelling of MdB on his morning commute.....wonderful image!

    6. I like MdB is my favourite!
      J adore mmmmm


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