What is not in doubt, however, is the talent and taste of Ernest Beaux, nor his temperament which allowed no one the privilege of telling him what to do. His best composition was not No. 5, which has always been cleverly promoted, but rather the magnificent Bois des Iles of which Chanel has never taken full advantage.
— Perfumer Edmond Roudnitska, in the foreword to Michael Edwards' Perfume Legends. I have owned this book for years but somehow never read the opening.
Bois des Iles has been on my sample list for quite some time. I wonder how it has held up over the years. There’s still a few Chanels I’ve yet to explore, but I’ve found all the ones I’ve tried well made, even if I don’t feel compelled to own them all. The fragrance wardrobes are such a great idea and have been tempting me for a couple weeks now.
It’s a wonderful fragrance, do try it. Vintage extrait, if you can.
Bois des Iles is definitely in my five top favorite perfumes. It is so achingly beautiful.
Interesting! I have yet to smell Bois des Iles, and I attribute it to Chanel’s non-promotion of it! Totally unavailable to us peons who don’t have a Chanel boutique nearby. Must order from PC at some point…
BTW, I wore No 5 for a few years…now wear Eau Premiere – beautiful.
My Nordstrom’s carries the Les Exclusifs….
Really? Wow. No Nordstrom nearby – closest is 1.75 hours. But their fragrance selection is pathetic. Definitely no Chanel Exclusifs, though I will double-check next time I’m down there!
It is worth seeking out. I do think it’s Chanel’s best fragrance, ever. I admit that I have not tried the EdT version in the Les Exclusifs collection though.
OK. Now I really need to try it…
In my experience, the Les Exclusifs version is considerably thinner than the edt sample I obtained from TPC last year. I was disappointed – because BdI is gorgeous and rich and well-bred and reassuring.
Where the *#^% would one find vintage extrait at this stage??? It’s never on ebay when I’m looking for it, says the ebay troller! (Oh, no… now somebody’s going to comment that they just found it at bargain prices last week… that sound is my teeth gnashing.)
You know, I have no idea where to find it other than eBay. I’ve also heard the new version is a bit thinner (but was told it was still good). Also seems to me that someone told me you could still buy the extrait in Paris. Don’t know if that’s true, but it’s a darned shame if it isn’t — they really ought to be selling it somewhere on earth.
Hey, we should ask Patty from Perfume Posse to check it out since she’s in Paris at the moment.
I said of the LE when I first smelled my decant – “Well, this is the right smell, but it’s so thin!” Gone in a wink, translucent as a bridal veil… it’s like they just added some extra alcohol to the LE version.
it stays if u spray it alllll over your clothes which is possible since it is such a huge vat…same with RC
The extrait is available at the flagship Chanel boutique in Toronto.
I have the current EDT from the Les Exclusifs line and love it. The SA indicated that the extrait wouldn’t necessarily last longer, but had a bit more intensity in the some notes – specifically the gingerbread part.
I would love vintage extrait leads as well!
(even though I just said in my post that I ABSOLUTELY CANNOT go looking for it right now…I am mental)
Not vintage, probably, but…
egad, are you trying to kill us???
Hmmm, I got a sample from TPC last year too, I wonder if it was pre-Exclusifs. Well luckily there’s a Chanel boutique here in Hamburg so I can confirm.
I’m going to try the LE version on fabric at the Chanel boutique when I can…
I love BdI, particularly the opening but the Les Exclusifs EDT is very fleeting on me. I’d love to try the parfum one day.
I also really like the sound of that book but it appears to be out of print an it’s going for silly money on Amazon.
It’s the best perfume book I own, hands down. Worth keeping an eye on Ebay, sometimes you can find it for around $100 (and worth every penny if you’re serious about perfume).
Thanks for the tip, Robin, I’ll keep an eye out.
I don’t mind if they continue to not promote it… it can be our little secret. I’m no judge of quality, but I definitely find BdI much more to my taste than No. 5 (which is not at all the same thing, as I frequently prefer the “lesser” perfume).
I mind only because I very much want it kept in production!
Oh, well…there IS that. I wasn’t thinking it was so unknown as to be at risk.
Dios mio, boojum! My Nordstrom doesn’t even carry Shalimar! You are a lucky, lucky girl. I rather foolishly tried all of the Les Exclusifs at once, so I have no memory of BdI whatsoever. In my perfume notebook, I wrote exactly one word: “Woody”. Nice one, Ari.
Ah, shame…I have no other for comparison. Mine is in the gargantuan monster known as the Mall of America, so I suppose would have more selection than average.
Ah well, next time!
Does anyone know if the the boutiques carry a higher concentration of BdI than the Les Exclusifs EDT? The LE version is certainly beautiful but my reaction to wearing my TPC sample was comme ci comme ca. Maybe it’s a bit too oriental/sweet for my taste, but I’d like to keep an open-mind to falling in love with it. Perhaps the vintage extrait (I’m not sure where to find that), as Robin suggested?
mjr17, the EDT is all the Chanel boutiques have, too. At least that is the case in the States, perhaps a higher concentration might be available in France.
As I said above, I had heard they still sold the extrait in Paris but don’t know if it’s true. It isn’t on the French website.
A year ago I bought the extrait in Saks–the SA said it was the last bottle. I don’t know if he meant they were not making it any more or the had to order more. I use it sparingly over the LE which I spray with abandon.
Hmmm. We must get to the bottom of this! Anyone headed to Paris sometime soon?
Yes, they do. The 31 Rue Cambon boutique definitely carries it. I bought the Les Exclusifs version and am happy with it, maybe because I’ve never smelled the vintage version.
Oh how I love BdI, but it’s so pricey, I’d love to own a full bottle someday. If I had any sense, I’d forgo two bottles of impulse purchases and invest in this true masterpiece. If I had any impulse control.
Yeah. I know that story.
I thought your were reviewing Bois des Iles, Les Exclusifs edt in your review from 2006… I didn´t read properly. Now I understand that it was the vintage formula edt you were reviewing… Anyhow I remember reading it a little more than a year ago and it was actually your beautiful review that triggered me to order a sample of BdI from TPC at the end of year 2008 (Les Exclusifs formula). I loved it!
Recently I received a larger decant of the Les Exclusifs edt; it is truly lovely, wishing maybe for better staying power, but I sitll enjoy it a LOT! And all this thanks to Super Split Host Daisy (“Labben” here!)!!!
I understand that I am still in for a treat; haven´t sampled the extrait – yet. Oh, and the vintage extrait… A girl can always dream…
Oh, the vintage extrait is simply outrageously good. So much nicer than anything I’ve ever smelled from Chanel. I don’t know that they could even still make it that way given what’s happened to sandalwood in the wild.
Hi Labben!! (waving like crazy!) Nice to see you commenting, and yes Bois des Iles is lovely in the edt—and now I’m craving the extrait as well! (when am I not craving something??)
I have a decant, too, courtesy of Daisy, gotten unsniffed, and when I tried it my immediate reaction was “This IS Chanel”. I don’t wear 5 anymore, but I am smitten by BdI enough that when the decant is gone I may need a bottle.
It’s on my buy list, but who knows. I’d really rather have some vintage.
You know, I’ve got to try a vintage formulation, or get enough so that I can spritz liberally, or something because…. I just don’t get it!!
March just reviewed BdI and Samsara last week and said something about the Les Exclusifs version being like expensive scented water. I have no idea what my TPC sample (about 2 years old) is, but it didn’t do it for me. I need to pull it out again. Honestly, March made vintage Samsara sound like much more my kind of thing.
I should mention I do have a sample of Samsara edp from TPC, probably recent vintage. I’ll need to do a side-by-side later tonight with BdI. Here’s March’s review if anyone’s interested. She indicates she thinks that other than Les Exclusifs, only extrait is still in production:
Thanks for linking to March’s review, Joe. Now, I know I’ve got to try some vintage extrait! It must be the gingerbread note she refers to that bothers me ( the oriental/sweet thing I mentioned above) because foody-bakedgoody smells turn me off, generally. But if the extrait is more sandalwood, then BdI and I may have future together after all!
Joe, Samsara is jasmine banana pudding next to BdI, lol. Samsara is so rich, thick, and sweet.
I have some vintage No 5 parfum and some current. I can definitely smell the difference in synthetic sandalwood between them. It really sticks out once you pick it up.
I think the 200 mls exist because you do need to spray liberally! But it is quite interesting. I would love to smell it in extrait.
It’s interesting with the concentrations. I know Sycomore is pretty potent, and Coromandel is somewhere in between. Maybe there’s no choice but to make sandalwood fragrances wimpy these days?
Haha ain’t that the truth. Sycomore is sillage-city on me. More than two sprays and I end up tasting it for hours on end.
Joe, everyone, … I am glad I am not nuts. I have a big sample of this from TPC from about 2 years ago. I retest it over and over… and I too do not get it. While I think it is a very well done woody-sandalwood fragrance, it just doesn’t go anywhere for me. And I *want* to get it!!! I love Chanel fragrances. I wish I would speak to me. That being said….
I will accept all tomatoes flung at my head. For all of you lamenting the fact that the new LE BdI is a bit thin… I highly recommend that you test the Sonoma Scent Studio Tabac Aurea. To my nose, the woods part in TA smells almost *exactly* like the drydown of what I do get from BdI.. that rich, thick, sensual sandalwood with spices, etc. Just a suggestion….
Ann: Thank goodness. They can send us both to the perfumista penalty box, or make us go to our rooms until we learn.
Ah, I love watching hockey in person…. I am trying to picture us all padded up with that big buzzer sound… We can use an empty bottle of Bulgari Black for our puck.
I think I’d have to disagree, Ann – you KNOW I love me some Tabac Aurea, but the two are wildly dissimilar on my skin.
I accept And Laurie also thought that comparison was nuts, lol!! …. I think I pick up so much woods/sandalwood in TA because I can’t actually smell the sweet musk that is in TA — all I smell is gorgeous honey, tobacco, and sandalwood and it all stays very dry for me, like BdI is dry. That’s why I get this “gee, this wood smells like the wood in BdI.” My nose is weird. It is probably just a direct wood to wood comparison that makes me think of it.
A lot of people recommended BDI for my wedding, so I just ordered a sample. I have a feeling I’ll like it, even if it turns out not to be the right one for the wedding. I love all the other LEs I tried, like 28 La Pausa, Bel Respiro, No. 22, Beige…..I just wish they would offer smaller bottles. Karin, might you be interested in another split? LOL
Hi Meita!!! Congrats on your upcoming wedding! Very exciting. Would definitely consider another split, but I sure wouldn’t want to host it.
It’s great stuff, despite the staying power issues with the LE EdT that others have mentioned (I can fairly well douse myself and it still but a memory in about half a day). I know I’ll have to track down the extrait eventually…though not anytime soon as I’ve started off the new year with some serious overspending!
Overspending already! Tsk. (j/k, I’m plotting a purchase myself)
This is a heartbreakingly beautiful perfume, ridiculously unknown. I wear it only occasionally, though, because although it is solidly in my top five, there is a kind of ‘beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear’ thing about it — just too precious for frequent wear. If I *were* planning a wedding, this would probably be my choice.
Agree, don’t think I would ever wear it all the time.
I wonder if sandalwood or a sandalwood synthetic induces early scent fatigue in some people? I’ve noticed that a large number of people complain about perfumes with sandalwood, like Bois des Iles, or even a sandalwood “effect” like Bulgari Omnia, smelling weak, faint or very short-lasting to them, while they come through loud and clear for a long time for me. I do have a similar problem with some mossy perfumes – to my sorrow, since it’s a genre I love – and of course with musks (i.e. all versions of NR for her, particularly the musk and intense versions), like many others.
Glad to hear I’m not the only one. BdI may not last as long as most frags on me, but that isn’t saying much. If I apply 1-2 spritzes in the morning, the drydown is still there when I get home 10 hours later. It’s a very quiet scent at that point, but still present enough to interfere with any testing I might otherwise want to do.
Interesting. I think of that as a musk thing, but you might be right.
I have a bottle of BdI extrait I purchased maybe 4 years ago at Saks (that rue cambon set, with Cuir de Russie, Gardenia and Bois des Iles in 1/4 ounce parfums). It’s lovely but doesn’t last all day on me. I spritzed the edt exclusifs version this past winter at the Chanel boutique in the Holt Renfrew store in Montreal and really liked it. They also had 1 ounce bottles of the extrait there, so maybe it’s easier to find in Canada?
Oh, good to know, thanks!
I don’t know if they still carry it, but I bought BdI extrait from the SF Chanel boutique about 6 months ago. It is one of my favorite Chanels also, but No 22 is right up there with it. I love BdI and No 22 in all their (available) iterations…current extrait, vintage and current edt. I was lucky enough to find the vintage edts of BdI and No 22 on evilbay…but that was at least a year ago.
Even with LT’s 5 star rating I might have passed it by but y’all have mentioned BdI so many times that I just had to see for myself. I recently got a sample and I’m wearing it right now. Thank you perfumistas. You are right: it is amazing.
i love love love bois de isle…i havent’ yet unwrapped my extrait bought about a year ago…am waiting for the special moment…maybe my daughters wedding?
meantime i use le bois de isle liberally and love it.
today i sprayed sublime edt and wonder why it is not as popular as arpege and no 5…it’s gorgeous, simply sublime!!
Oh, unwrap it!!
Robin, I’d love to hear your take on the new EdT version. Perfume Posse just did a post about how it’s a little light. I tried Ormonde Woman on one arm and BdI on the other recently, and the BdI did sort of disappear…I was searching for the spot on my arm where I sprayed it. My husband still smelled it but I didn’t. I guess I prefer Ormonde Woman, to me it’s a similar effect, but I love the idea of wearing something by Ernest Beaux that is almost 90 years old, something other than No. 5. And I love the first top notes, like coca-cola as others have said! (I think the one I tried was the new EdT, it was a sample from TPC, but I’d have to confirm.)
Have you tried Cuir de Russie? That’s another gorgeous Beaux creation for Chanel (and my favourite).
Unfortunately I don’t have a Chanel LE counter anywhere nearby…will try it when I can!
I haven’t, thanks for the rec! Will try. And I guess if BdI has been reformulated it takes the romance out of wearing a Beaux creation that’s really old…