Saturday, January 8, 2011

Vintage Scent of the Week: Bois des Iles

  Les Coffret Aux Souvenirs 
image from hprints by Charles Martin 1916

The new year brings a wealth of dreary work related challenges and too little time for perfume pursuits; the weather bites, too. Seeking escape through frequent trips to the vault, I find myself pulling the little old Chanel coffret out. Favorites Cuir de Russie and No 22 are ignored; lately another Chanel has caught my heart. it is just the last of the quartet to really make my heart sing. And high time, too! Since falling under its spell, I've discovered that this is apparently a most highly regarded and universally loved, sought after vintage Chanel perfume. Which one? Well, you may have guessed already but...

Coco Chanel: dressing perhaps a little young, yet looking fiercely divine. 

...I can't imagine Coco wouldn't approve of this new favorite. I won't hold you in suspense any longer; of course I'm talking about the incomparable Bois des Iles. Scarce and generally the priciest of vintage Chanel perfumes, BdI translates as Island Woods or perhaps Island Forest is better. Chanel's ode to the exotic is built around a gorgeous sandalwood. The perfume shifts and evolves from its traditional powdery aldehyde laden opening to a refined nutty sandalwood that sweetens to end with a sigh of vanilla. It smells wonderfully worn out in the cold morning fog but wait until it opens up near the welcoming crackle of a winter fire.

Manavanshola, part of the Marayoor Sandalwood Forest.
image: xploresouth.blogspot

BdI is rare and hard to find. As I've worn it the past few days something tickled the back of my mind and sure enough I found another perfume in my collection built very similarly to BdI, the stunning Sublime. The two aren't completely identical but share to a high degree the same notes and the same spirit. If you're craving BdI but can't find it, vintage Sublime might be worth a try.

Bois des Iles Chanel/Ernest Beaux 1926: 
top: aldehydes, bergamot, neroli and peach
heart: rose, jasmine, ylang-ylang, lily of the valley, woody iris (vs gingerbread, bitter almond)
base: sandalwood, vanilla/tonka, vetiver, and musk.
(notes: basenotes and fragrantica)

Sublime Jean Patou/Jean Kerleo 1992 
top: aldehydes, bergamot, tangerine, coriander, green accords. 
heart: rose, jasmine, ylang-ylang, neroli oil. 
base: sandalwood, vanilla, vetiver, oakmoss, cedar and civet.
(notes: basenotes)

The Vintage Perfume Vault, where the scent of yesterday's vogue lives.


kjanicki said...

Thanks for the tip! I've always wanted vintage BdI but maybe I could find some Sublime instead. Does it have that famous "gingerbread" note to it?

Amelia said...

kjanicki: Good question! I'm glad you brought up that elusive gingerbread note. Many people seek and then feel disappointed not to get a Demeter like gingerbread from BdI.

For me it is more subtle, an effect of the truly high quality sandalwood combined with the bitter almond and vanilla in BdI that gives an impression akin to gingerbread.

Onto Sublime- you won't find any gingerbread here per say, but neither is there in BdI. In Sublime you do have the very same style of sandalwood as in BdI, plus sweet spice of coriander (which is often used in gingerbread spice blends), and vanilla, so there are definite leanings. But you've also got a whole lot of white flowers and some fruit notes to contend with as well in Sublime. Plus Sublime has a tart thing going on that BdI totally lacks.

If it's a gingerbread note you're looking for, you might try for CB I Hate Perfume Gingerbread Absolute, Serge Lutens Five O'Clock Gingembre or Guerlain's yummy Winter Delice. Or that Demeter Gingerbread, if you're on a budget:)

Ines said...

You know, I should really stop reading your blog. ;) I really don't need another vintage lemming (one that is obviously not economically approachable). :)
Sounds divine though.

Vintage Lady said...

I so much love this advertising of Sublime by Jean Patou

Amelia said...

Ines: Sorry but this one is worth it... If you could snag a vintage coffret like I did the chance to score 4 vintage Chanel scents at once may justify the likely $$$ high price for you?

Amelia said...

Vintage Lady: Isn't it just about perfect?

ScentScelf said...

Someday. Someday I hope to have BdI in vintage. Fortunately, I do love my current iterations, so the heart doesn't burst with yearning.

Not quite. ;)

Hmmm...going to have to pull out the mini of Sublime I have. Hadn't thought of it from a BdI perspective. You have my mind working already...

Amelia said...

ScentSelf: See what you think... I just get these weird scent deja vus - and never really know if they're only my own personal scent ghostings or if others might "get it" too. BdI is good no matter what vintage and if you've got enough, you can splash or spray:)