Sunday, August 25, 2013

Van Cleef and Arpels- Bois d'Iris (Collection Extraordinaire)

Bois d'Iris. Even the name of this fragrance from Van Cleef and Arpels's Collection Extraordinaire spells Love, and indeed, it is. As a matter of fact, it makes up for the other Boid d'Iris, the one by The Different Company, a beautiful perfume that suffers from lack of longevity and a sickly pallor on my skin. But back to Van Cleef and Arpels and the seductive magic it exudes.

Bois d'Iris is very much a bois fragrance. It uses several facets of wood to make its point. The perfume opens as dry and windswept but becomes richer and sweeter as it develops on skin. There's a pencil shaving element at the beginning, but it disappears rather quickly together with the whiff of smoke. It is then that the iris makes its first appearance from behind the large chunks of the salvaged wood. Two things happen from that point: Bois d'Iris becomes considerably sweeter and even vanillic (think of an exquisite quality vanilla- a boozy and precious vanilla extract). It also smells downright animalic and even a little dirty, like second day hair (and I mean it in the best possible way). I thought I was imagining it until I saw that ambergris is listed as a note. It explains not just the driftwood scent, but also the sensuality and warmth.

If I were to be picky, I'd complain that Van Cleef and Arpels and perfumer Emilie Copperman who composed Bois d'Iris didn't go far enough with the iris. This isn't Iris Silver Mist (Lutens) or even Iris Gris (MPG). But this is such a satisfying and sexy fragrance it's easy to love it for what it is. Sweet or not, there's a sophistication about the perfume that's equally at home in well-cut evening attire as it is in a bohemian setting. The wearer that leaves the penthouse apartment and slides into the towncar on the way to a perfect soiree can be a man or a woman; either one of them has an expensive haircut and wears a pair of custom-made shoes that don't make a sound on the city pavement. The shiny black car moves down the avenue and disappears, but you're not quite sure if the destination is all about glass and metal or a fantastic wood full of magical creatures. Bois d'Iris goes well with both.

Notes: Iris, exotic wood, and ambergris.

Van Cleef and Arpels- Bois d'Iris ($185, 75ml) from the Collection Extraordinaire is available from Berdorf Goodman and Luckyscent.

Art: Virginia Frances Sterrett, 1920.


  1. You've made me a believer! What a beautiful review. Thank you, Gaia.

  2. What a well written review! And I love the illustration. Now I must try the scent.

  3. Hey there Gaia,
    I love the image you've picked to go with your review, it places the frag serenely in fantasy land, as does your lovely review.
    Portia xx

  4. I will be ordering a sample ASAP!

  5. Wow. I've followed you for years, and you have finally reviewed my signature scent. But I want to keep it to myself! What a lovely fragrance. I originally bought the VCA Collection Extraordinaire sample pack several years ago, and really liked this fragrance. But upon wearing it, day after day, I found that it convinced me...and with an extensive collection, this is my choice most days, regardless of weather or temperature (in a hot and steamy climate). Driftwood is the touchstone, and I love it. To work, in a crisp white blouse and black pencil skirt, or on the weekends, in boho casual, this fragrance feels perfect.

  6. Your wonderful review compelled me to try this fragrance. Usually iris is not my cup of tea (too powdery, almost ancient, and my skin doesn't go well with powdery fragrances), but this is really different. On my skin is mostly iris rounded up by musc and a salty, sultry amber gris. Truly wonderful. Also quite modern, not ancient at all!
    Thank you!


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