Sutra Ylang by Bois 1920 has as much to do with ylang-ylang as their Sushi Imperiale is related to raw fish. This 2005 release, one of Bois 1920 eight original creations, is a beautiful light floriental with a complex spicy edge that smells like a proper perfume. It's well-blended, sophisticated, and somehow manages not to overwhelm even in the summer heat.
Sutra Ylang and the rest of the Bois 1920 perfumes from 2005-2006 take me back to that time when "niche perfumes" seemed like the great new hope for fragrance connoisseurs. Bois 1920 was never quite as hyped as other lines that popped up at the time (the only other review of Sutra Ylang I could find is by Angela of NST), and none of the perfumes have become cult classics. It's a shame, really, since they really are very good: interesting enough, nothing weird for the sake of weirdness, and they exude equal parts of cool and quality. Sutra Ylang is a great example of that.
The perfume opens sunny and airy. Citrus zest is carried in the air of a summer garden, where an abundance of flowers and herbs grow nearly wild in mid-July. It gives me the impression of an old Italian villa, a beautiful path lined with white stone benches leading towards the heart of the garden, where an antique fountain is hidden among the bay laurel shrubs. Speaking of which, the bay leaf is the real hook for me in this perfumes. There aren't enough perfumes that let it shine as well as it does in Sutra Ylang, where it serves as a perfect transition from the light breezy florals to to the heavier wood/amber base.
The dry-down serves a few surprises of its own. There's a perfect balance between the clean and proper and something deeper, sweeter, and dare I say skankier with a hint of almost-vintage like sensibility. Not enough of the latter, maybe, but Sutra Ylang still has that very perfumy vibe, neither masculine nor particularly feminine; just lavish and full of character, even if it remains on skin level and not as a mega sillage.
Like all Bois 1920 perfumes, Sutra Ylang is an eau de toilette that would have greatly benefited from a higher concentration. Longevity is questionable unless I saturate and marinate myself, which I admit to be happy to do. My cats find it highly objectionable, which is a rarity for these long-suffering felines who seem to have become completely indifferent to most perfume notes. Then again, I really do go to town spraying it.
Notes: bergamot, lemon, cardamom, bay leaf, rose, jasmine, violet, lily, carnation, sandalwood, cedar, benzoin, oakmoss, amber.
Sutra Ylang by Bois 1920 retails for $205 at Luckyscent and Barneys, but it seems that ever since 2008 when Angela's post was written you can usually find it significantly cheaper from various online discounters. Google is your friend.
Art: Dolce Far Niente by Will Hicok Low (c.1890)