When I first blogged about my relationship with Bois Farine, Jean-Claude Ellena's 2003 creation for L'Artisan, it was after a couple of years of continuous sampling and testing. I was mesmerized by this perfume, just couldn't decide if my fascination was a good or a bad thing. Did I actually want to smell as though I've been rolling in pastry dough and stuffing myself silly with peanut butter cookies? Apparently I did, because a couple of years later I finally bought a bottle and haven't looked back ever since.
Back when I first smelled Bois Farine I was bothered by a supposed floral note. I still remember the way I perceived the development of the fragrance on my skin: I felt that the funky dough boy has turned into something pink and more conventional. Years later, I have no idea what I thought I was smelling back then. Bois Farine has a massive iris core, but that's not exactly flowery and most definitely not pink. This is a dry iris, with a powdery facet that feels utterly natural after the flour sack explosion of the opening. If you think about the very chilly yet powdery orris in Olivia Giacobetti's Hiris (Hermes, but almost has L'Artisan DNA) as one end of the spectrum, the inside of an old-fashioned bakery in Bois Farine is the opposite.
Bois Farine walks the perimeter of sweet and gourmand without actually crossing the threshold. Yes, there is a peanut butter sandwich somewhere (especially if you're familiar with the fresh stuff you grind on the spot at Whole Foods. Pure heaven), but the sandalwood and cedar that hold the perfume together keep it from going there. Instead, if you spray enough to last you the entire day, you will find yourself relishing the delicate skin scent with its milky wood and inviting warmth. Yes, it's still kind of weird, and you can't miss the fact that there is a flour note in there, but so what? It smells utterly fabulous.
Notes: white cedar, gaiacwood and sandalwood, white iris, farine flower, fennel seed.
L'Artisan Parfumeur- Bois Farine ($145, 100ml EDT) is available from Twisted Lily, Luckyscent, Aedes, and Barneys. If you do some dedicated googling you may be able to find the now discontinued 50ml bottles at a much more appealing prices.
Photo: The Art of Dance Series by Ron Brewer, 2012