Bois Oriental is instantly recognizable as a Serge Lutens perfume. It's inevitable: if you ever smelled Feminite du Bois (either the original Shiseido version or the Lutens reissue) you'll spot the familiar sweet cedar steeped in all kinds of things. These things, each an elaboration on one of the a themes from Feminite du Bois, are what makes each of Serge Lutens' Les Eaux Boisées perfume its character. In this case, the Oriental is the spice market on all its glory. If you're thinking Arabie, you're in the ballpark, but not quite as assertive on the cumin front, not so full of dates and dried figs (this is why we have Bois et Fruits), and in general: kinder, softer, and easier on the nose of the general public without compromising complexity.
I smell cardamom and cinnamon in Bois Oriental. They're dry, almost toasted at first before the fragrance gets into the Christmasy or compote-like phase where the spices are used to season a juicy fruit dessert (plum? apricot? nectarine?). There's a wonderful sensuality of color and texture. One moment you're standing naked in your kitchen eating the most delicious ripe plum allowing the juice to dribble. But blink and you're in you're serving your guests poached fruit from an antique silver tureen onto your finest china while holiday candles flicker on the table.
The core and dry-down of Bois Oriental are all about warm sweet cedar, dried fruit, and a very spiced yet soft woody vanilla. While Bois Oriental definitely has appetizing foody elements I can't call it a full-on gourmand. There's far too much wood there to qualify as edible, which keeps things interesting. Bois Oriental has been around since 1992 (the same year Feminite du Bois and its offspring were released). You know that it means that things inevitably changed within the composition. I seem to recall a more prominent sillage, but who knows for sure (well, Uncle Serge does, but good luck getting a straight answer out of him). Longevity is excellent, though, and since I'm spraying from a decant (my fourth, by the way), the perfume clings to sweaters and skin with equal success.
Serge Lutens- Bois Oriental is available in the exclusive 75ml bell jars. In Europe they're priced at €135.00 (about $182) and can be ordered online within the EU or directly from the Salons du Palais Royal. In the US you can also order online or get them at Barneys NYC for $310. That's why I still live on decants.
Art: Edwin Long- A Woman Carrying A Basket Full Of Pomegranates (circa 1875).