Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Oh, what can you do with a sentimental heart?

Scent SpotlightL'Artisan Bois Farine EdT

As promised, this year as I sprint through five scents a week, I promised to pause on occasion to sing high praises for the occasional show stopper.  The first of these is inspired by that most commerical of lover's holiday -- Valentine's Day.

Here's what L'Artisan has to say about Bois Farine, a 2003 release:
Created by Jean-Claude Ellena, perfume composer of great talent and international fame, Bois Farine (Wood Flour) is the product of his encounter with a magic tree in the Reunion Islands. Here, in a forest known as the coloured wood forest, surrounded by evocatively named trees , red wood, yellow wood, iron wood and milk wood, he unexpectedly discovered the fragrant white tree - a rare and nowadays protected species, reputed to have magical powers. This tree is specific to Reunion Island and its red flower smells like flour.

Bois Farine is a single and unique fragrance, a magical union between witch wood and flower powder … As rich and fresh as flour rain.

Notes: white cedar, gaiacwood and sandalwood, white iris, farine flower, fennel seed
A ton of reviewers comment on an initial encounter with what they describe as a "peanut butter" note. My pretties, I am getting none of that, and I like peanut butter enough that you could probably still list a well-made  PB and J among my favorite foods, so I admit it was weirdly disappointing.

Instead I was bombarding my a fleeting litany of imagery I can only describe as Valentine-esque. I was so stunned by  the experience I actually set Bois Farine aside expressly for a very special February spotlight.  I'm on try four now, just to confirm my prior impressions, and if I were going to say that any scent seemed stereotypically Valentine's Day like to me, this would be it.  Here's what I get:

Slide 1: A little girl, light brown curls and cupid's bow lips, cutting a string of paper hearts from cheap red construction paper so faded it actually looks kind of sickly
Slide 2: A thin, almost severe looking woman with black hair tied into a bun in a black satin night gown before a large oval mirror on a dressing table, looking at her hollowed cheeks with an air of discerning judgement, then hitting herself smack in the face with a huge and overloaded powder puff
Slide 3: Tiny hands very carefully gluing, with WAY TOO MUCH glue, hearts cut from paper doilies onto purple paper with "HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY" printed very carefully across the top
Slide 4: A young woman exclaiming in cartoonesque excitment over flower delivery of completely silk flowers straight from the factory
Slide 5: a pre-teen flopping down on a bed, giant "Princess Leia" esque headphone on as she carefully writes out the tracks on the inside lines of a casette tape in smearing pastel glitter pens
Slide 6: A shower of red hots falling onto a glass bowl sitting on a well-floured surface, then pink frosted cupcakes being pressed, frosting down, into them until they are coated with red hots

I could go on.  My initial notes, which are really my immediate, unfiltered, stream-of-consciousness impressions read as follows:

Baby powder and lipstick, silk flowers and red hots.  If I were going to say that any scent seemed stereotypically Valentine's Day , this would be it.

Here I am three weeks and several tries later and I stand by it.  It's woody, but not in a pencil shaving way or an incense-y way like so many others.  It's sweet, but not overly so. I don't think of it as foodie, even though the immediate thought I have every time is red-laquered nails digging in a bin of  waxy holiday candy.  I think I keep getting red hots because it's cinnamon-flavored candies I keep thinking I'm smelling, and I don't think I've ever thought I smelled that in a scent before.  It's not precisely floral, either, but it still has a vaguely sweet floral scent.

So the big question: do I like it?  Bois Farine is a controversial scent when you look through other reviews. People either love it or hate it or cannot decide enough to say, which says a lot for its not smelling like anything else, and that alone is no mean feat.  Bois Farine was the first in the Far Away Travels line, and I have to appreciate the strange pace it set for what followed.  when it comes to the "Far Away Travels" series, which I personally either psychotically love (Timbuktu, Dzongkha) or find really disappointing (Havana Vanille). FN1  This one I'm putting tentatively  into the love category, which surprises me.  I do really like it, though, perhaps because of, instead of in spite of, its weirdness.  It's definitely a "try before you buy" scent; hell, you should probably try it twice.  Like Robin, I wish I could get it in a 15ml sprayer.  I think I'd wear it, but not often enough to merit 50ml.  15ml would be about perfect.  That, or I need to find another Bois Farine loving weirdo to do a split with me.

You can buy Bois Farine direct from the perfumer, as well as at Luckyscent, Beauty Encounter, Beauty Habit and I'm sure a ton of other places. The price? 50 ml for $95 and 100ml for $135, which let me tell you is a downright reasonable price point if this melts your butter.

"O-o-old habits die hard when you got,
when you got a sentimental heart .
Piece of the puzzle, you're my missing part.
Oh, what can you do with a sentimental heart?"

"Sentimental Heart," She & Him

Want more? Try...
~ a rare reconsideration from Robin at Now Smell This!
~ a review from Bois de Jasmine
~ a review from Aromascope
~ a review from Pere de Pierre
~ a review from Olfactoria's Travels, who looks like she started back in October and has a pretty good thing going

FN1 Yeah, yeah, yeah, you all love it.  You seriously question my taste if I don't. Etc. Etc. Let the stoning begin.

Photo, and all attendant rights related to it: kristelyoneda.

4 comments: said...

Hi Diana, thank you for the link! I look forward to reading your blog! Bois Farine is such a lovely and unique fragrance, I loved your "slideshow" of associations. :)

ScentScelf said...

Bois Farine is happy hot breakfast cereal to me. I like it. :)

I enjoyed your stream of consciousness. I think there are some primal elements--as in early childhood happinesses--that are indeed vague-ish, and therefore lend themselves to free associations. I love glue and valentines. Yours made me smile.

Diana said...

Olfactoria --

(You don't mind if I call you by your first name, do you?)

--thanks for stopping by. I like your blog. I'll try to stick my head in as much as I can. :)

Diana said...

ScentScelf --

"happy hot breakfast cereal" -- I LOVE THAT! It's not what I get from this one, but now I'm going to be on the look out for my "happy hot breakfast cereal" equivalent. God, I just love the image -- a scent that fills you up and launches you out into your day, gives you strong bones and healthy teeth and all of that. Love it!

I appreciate the nice words about the visual stream-of-conciousness. Sometimes scents are like that for me -- like watching reels from a home movie I never made. You're probably one of my most visually attuned readers, so if you like it I like to think it communicated well.

Glad to hear from you, as always.