Perfume Review – Chanel Bois des Iles (Les Exclusifs): Out of Africa

Out of Africa. Smoldering sensuality that purrs like a languid cheetah resting on a sandalwood branch. Sophisticated luxury under the most polite and elegant of veneers. The Chanel signature taken to exotic lands.

African sunset. Source: Tumblr

African sunset. Source: Tumblr

That is essence of Bois des Iles, a spectacular Chanel fragrance with a very feline heart that makes me just close my eyes in the deepest of admiration. I’m not generally a Chanel enthusiast; the typical floral-aldehyde signature leaves me rather cold, and I find that restrained aloofness to be far from my style. Whether green and powdery, floral and soapy, or just plain unobtrusive, Chanel rarely tempts me. But Bois des Iles…. my God, is it good! And I’m just talking about the current eau de toilette version from the Exclusifs line. One can only imagine the smoldering richness of the pure Parfum. And the vintage version would probably bring me to my knees in tears of joy.

Ernst Beaux.

Ernst Beaux.

Bois des Iles (which translates to “Wood of the Isles”) has a long, rich history. Ostensibly the very first “woody” fragrance for women, it was released in 1926 and was the result of collaboration between Coco Chanel and her cohort in olfactory adventures, the great, legendary Ernst Beaux. He was a Russian émigré who created some of the greatest perfumes in history, and an extremely intellectual man who supposedly used both Tchaikovsky and the great Russian poet and novelist, Aleksandr Pushkin, as his inspiration for Bois des Iles. In specific, Beaux is said to have created the perfume while entranced by Tchaikovsky’s opera, The Queen of Spades (“La Dame de Pique”), which was based on Pushkin’s story of love, obsession and madness.

Chanel, however, gives a very different backstory for the perfume on its website, describing instead the Paris of the 1920s, gripped by the fever of Africa and exotic lands:

Josephine Baker who danced at Le Bal Negré and who helped trigger the fascination with Africa in 1920s Paris.

Josephine Baker who danced at Le Bal Negré and who helped trigger the fascination with Africa in 1920s Paris.

The year was 1926. People were discovering the explorer within themselves. They danced at the Bal Nègre. Africa became the inspiration for fabrics, jewelry and earthenware. Mademoiselle Chanel and Ernest Beaux took their turn at evoking distant lands with BOIS DES ILES. It’s all there: the precious woods, the opiate scents and magnificent, languid flowers. The fragrance is a mysterious, faraway continent in itself.

I never even knew Africa was mentioned when I was testing the perfume and, yet, oddly, my notes for Bois des Iles were filled with comments about languid cheetahs, the sizzle of the Serengeti, and opiate woods. There is something about the sandalwood heart of the perfume that purrs not like a pussy cat but, rather, like a large, sleek, jungle cat.

Chanel Bois des IlesIt’s very surprising given the current situation worldwide for real Indian sandalwood. The current Bois des Iles is not the exact same formula used in the perfume created back in 1926. This one was released in 2007 as part of Chanel’s prestige, quasi-niche line, Les Exclusifs, and was created by the line’s in-house perfumer, Jacques Polge, who tried to stick as closely as he could to the original version. Unfortunately, he was hampered by the fact that Mysore sandalwood — the essence of the first Bois des Iles — is now in danger of extinction. So, he constructed an ode to sandalwood that doesn’t use the actual ingredient — and what a spectacular job he did!

According to Fragrantica, the notes in Bois des Iles include:

aldehydes, bergamot, neroli, peach; jasmine, rose, lily of the valley, iris, ylang-ylang; vetiver, sandalwood, benzoin, musk.

The perfume’s start on my skin is not exactly joyous. Chanel’s signature floral-aldehyde combination is twisted from its usual sparkling, frothy, soapy nature into something sharp, bitter, pungent and darkly green. It’s still soapy, but it’s also acrid and, yet, simultaneously, tinged with a somewhat odd sweetness. It is unpleasant, but sheer enough to be easily ignored. 

In less than ten minutes, however, the perfume starts to change. The bitterness and green sharpness start to fade away, as the floral notes start to grow stronger. At first, they are initially just abstract; an amorphous and vague sense of general “flowers,” if you will, with no individual components. Soon, however, they start to take shape with a strong rose note, backed by jasmine, then light touches of orange blossom, lily of the valley, and bergamot. The latter doesn’t resemble Earl Grey’s bergamot but, rather, a lemon-nuanced orange. Florals dominate these opening moments of Bois des Iles; the sandalwood cheetah is still sleeping. Instead, rose, orange blossom and citruses dance under the veil of softly soapy aldehydes.

Source: Wallpapers Online.

Source: Wallpapers Online.

Fifteen minutes in, the sandalwood starts to slowly rise to the surface. It’s so creamy, it almost verges on a coconut note. As it starts to infuse the florals, the aldehydes drop; their soapiness is tamer, softer, milder, adding just a subtle touch to the woodsy notes. At the same time, the resins begin to appear, creating a slow amber purr in the background as if some golden, black-spotted cheetah were sunning himself on the sandalwood branches of a great plain. Chanel’s resins are rarely the sort of molten, viscous, heavy, opaque ambers that you find in other houses or perfumes. Yet, here, there is something deep, rich, almost smoking in the combination of the sandalwood and resin. It’s rich and luxurious — all while feeling very lightweight in feel. It’s a combination that really seems to start at a low burn (or purr, if you will), smoldering quietly in the background until it takes over completely by the end in a blaze of smoky, spiced sandalwood glory.



But, in these opening hours, the cheetah is just awaking, opening his eyes upon a plain of flowers and woods. The bitterness of that green opening vanished long ago, replaced by vetiver that creates a vision of green and brown: its earthy rootiness is combined with the soft, loamy black earth, and just the quietest hint of musk. The bouquet of florals blooms, sometimes abstract, sometimes with more easily detected individual notes like jasmine or ylang-ylang. And, throughout it all, the sandalwood trees smoke little trails of what almost feels like a light incense. Less than 90 minutes in, the sandalwood has an orange-spice feel that is simply beautiful. It mixed with the much more prominent jasmine which is simultaneously sweet, heady, sheer and light, in a beautiful balance. The jasmine is far from indolic, and never feels over-ripe, sour, plastic-y, or verging on the narcotic. Underneath that beautiful jasmine-sandalwood canopy, there are flickers of citrus, orange blossom, amber and vetiver.

For my personal tastes, I would love it if the combination were richer, spicier, and deeper (clearly, I need to get the eau de parfum!), but Bois des Iles is not meant to be unctuous. It’s intended to be a lighter version that is airy and soft. Even the sillage is moderate, wafting out just a foot (or less) in the opening two hours, before dropping further. Bois des Iles is not gauzy or translucent, but it’s definitely not heavy and thick. It is like a cashmere cardigan on your skin, keeping you warm despite its lightness.



By the start of the second hour, Bois des Iles is all creamily spiced, rich sandalwood with lightly smoked resins. It’s as smooth as the gait of the waking cheetah, stalking the spiced woods and its golden fiefdom. That image isn’t wholly figurative; there is almost an animalic, leathery quality to the resinous combination — though it is light and just a subtle undertone. The perfume remains that way for hours and hours, until finally, it turns into a slightly powdery amber-and-smoke combination. People are always talking about how Chanel’s orientals have a “gingerbread” accord in the final drydown, and it’s almost like that here, if you really push your imagination. But, on me, the final touches of Bois des Iles are really just spiced amber with some extremely light hints of powder and musk.

Bois des Iles lasted an incredibly long time on my skin. Ten hours later, I could still detect faint traces of it on my arm. But there were times when the perfume replicated my experience with Chanel’s extremely lovely 31 Rue Cambon by taking on ghostly qualities: it seemed to disappear completely from a certain part of my arm, only to pop back up thirty minutes later. The scent in some parts seemed to wax and wane in strength, sometimes seeming to fade, only to end up even stronger than before. It’s a puzzling thing about some of Chanel’s Exclusifs, and I’m hardly the first one to experience it. I sometimes wonder if that ghostly act — which is particularly bad in the case of 31 Rue Cambon — is the reason why a few people (not all or many, but simply a few) think that the perfume has faded away completely in a brief portion of time. I certainly thought so for Rue Cambon and, after all, how many people spend their day constantly smelling their arm (or having someone sniff their neck)?

Nonetheless, longevity seems to be a problem with Bois des Iles. For once, I was incredibly lucky with how long a perfume lasted on me. In contrast, some people on Fragrantica reported Bois des Iles dying after an hour! The numbers are all over the place: one person gave 12 hours in duration, another 7-8 hours, and one saying 30 minutes with “generous spritzing.” Oh dear.

I don’t think that possible longevity issues should stop you from at least trying this beautiful perfume. It all depends on your personal chemistry, and you may have no problems at all. Plus, you need to see what the fuss is about because, for once, it is truly warranted. Even if you ignore the rave reviews littering the blogosphere, consider the perspective of the perfume critics, Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez who awarded it the full 5 stars in Perfumes: The A-Z Guide. There, Ms. Sanchez writes:

What Ernst Beaux’s plush Cuir de Russie did for leather, his cozy Bois des Iles did for sandalwood. Though I’ve never worn a sable stole, I insist it must feel like Bois des Iles: a dark, close, velvety warmth, sleepy and collapsingly soft. For once, the marketing material has it right. Chanel says it smells like gingerbread in the drydown, and so it does, sweet with vanillic balsams and spice. But that description doesn’t begin to communicate the depth of the fragrance: there are aldehydes sifting a powdery brightness over all, so that the fragrance feels sometimes like the brunette sibling of No. 5. There is the delicious top note of citrus and rose, with the fruity brightness of cola. It is basically perfect and, though over eighty years old, seems as ageless as everything Chanel did in those inventive years. If you think of all the best Chanel fragrances as varieties of the little black dress — sleek, dependable, perfectly proportioned — Bois des Iles is the one in cashmere.

My experience with the perfume was not really the same as Ms. Sanchez. For one thing, she doesn’t talk about that difficult opening 10 minutes; read any number of comments on Fragrantica or elsewhere, and the subject does come up. For another, on me, the aldehydes didn’t last for long (thank God). I also think the term “fruity brightness” may create a very misleading impression since this isn’t a fruity perfume by any means. Lastly, I don’t think her review conveys — at all — the true feeling of Bois des Iles with its smoldering sandalwood that is stunningly spiced, smoky, creamy, dark and ambered. The elements she describes are brief, fleeting flickers that never seriously impact the feline heart of this perfume. In fact, all the talk of aldehydes and roses almost detract from the basic fact that Bois des Iles is primarily a very sultry, amber oriental.

Where I absolutely agree with Ms. Sanchez is that Bois des Iles is a sandalwood stunner that is incredibly elegant in feel and simply oozes “money” (or “a sable stole”). It is restrained in that classic Chanel way, but you can almost sense that the woman wearing that perfect, elegant dress is sporting the sexiest of skimpy lingerie underneath it — if she’s wearing any at all….

Comparisons are repeatedly drawn between Bois des Iles and other Chanel perfumes. Three names, in particular, come up: Egoiste, No. 5, and No. 22. It’s been a while since I tried all three that I wouldn’t be able to make acute, detailed comparisons, but my memory syncs up with those of general commentators on Fragrantica. Bois des Iles is more refined than Egoiste, as well as softer, less intense, less complex, and creamier. It’s also less spiced than Egoiste which has a strong cinnamon undertone. (My comments only apply to vintage Egoiste, which I adore, and not to the current, reformulated version.) Bois des Iles also differs from Chanel No. 5 which is sweeter, richer, heavier, more powdery and (to me) soapier, though some seem to disagree on that last part. It is, also, more animalic at its heart, and its primary nature is floral. Bois des Iles’ nature is primarily woody, with the florals being mere accentuating touches. As for No. 22, my memory of that one is the weakest, but I recall it as being much yellower, much sweeter, far soapier with the aldehydes, and with significant powder (which Bois des Iles does not have). All in all, I’d say Bois des Iles was like the lovechild of Egoiste and No. 5, combining the best parts of both.

Bois des Iles is both unisex and incredibly versatile. Its moderate sillage makes it perfect for the office, but it is also a perfume that works well on a night out with friends, on a date, or just to curl up and feel sultry at home. It has immediately become one of my favorite Chanel fragrances, tying with (vintage) Coco and the beautiful oriental, Coromandel, Chanel’s ode to incense and labdanum. But something about Bois des Iles feels much more feline to me than those other two perfumes. Try it, and dine with the cheetah….

"Dining with a cheetah" photo by Leombrumo-Bodi, Vogue 1960. Condé Nast via Tumblr.

“Dining with a cheetah” photo by Leombrumo-Bodi, Vogue 1960. Condé Nast via Tumblr.

Cost & Availability: This review applies only to the Eau de Toilette version of Bois des Iles. It comes in two different sizes: $130 for a 2.5/75 ml oz bottle or $230 for a massive 6.8 oz/200 ml. You can find it exclusively at Chanel boutiques or on the Chanel website. (The more concentrated, richer Parfum is $175 for 0.5 fl. oz.) You won’t find Bois des Iles at Nordstrom, Barney’s, or the like, though readers tell me that it is available at select Saks Fifth Avenue Stores (like the NYC flag-ship and the one in Washington, D.C.). It is also apparently available in-store at NYC’s Bergdorf Goodman and the Seattle Nordstrom (which will ship out to you wherever you are). However, Bois des Iles is not listed on any of those stores’ websites, so your best bet if you’re not near one of them is to go through Chanel itself. You can also use Chanel’s Store Locator guide on their website to try to find Chanel boutiques near you. As a side note, bottles are frequently sold for a bit less than retail on eBay. As for samples, you can find them at Surrender to Chance where prices start at $3.00 for the smallest vial (1 full ml) of the Eau de Toilette. If you want to try the pure Parfum version, it’s $5.99 for a tiny 1/4 ml, $11.98 for a 1/2 ml, $23.96 for a 1 ml vial, and up.

48 thoughts on “Perfume Review – Chanel Bois des Iles (Les Exclusifs): Out of Africa

  1. Bois des Iles was like the lovechild of Egoiste and No. 5. not bad! the aldehydes in BdI are however very brief, so I would lean toward 31 rather than no.5….
    because I’m one of those with serious BdI longevity issues (literally after an hour is virtually gone like a train. the extrait, well it is truly rich and yummy, but even that dies too quickly to justify the price), I must alas ‘settle’ for Egoiste, which is mos def not such a terrible fate 🙂 egoiste concentree – very rare – is especially close to BdI and lastes forever. i enjoyed (as per your usual high analytical & prose standards) your review of the new DvN by Malle. What do you think of one of my oldest bottles: Luten’s Santal de Mysore?

    • Tim, yes, the aldehydes in BdI are (thankfully) very brief but I brought up No. 5 because, well, that’s what most people bring up as a comparison point. And, also, because No. 5 is far richer than 31 Rue Cambon. But you’re absolutely right in how 31RC and BdI are similar in the problematic longevity area — which I did point out. lol. I’m sorry to hear that BdI is so fleeting on you. One hour is terribly disappointing. Even worse is that the costly Extrait/Parfum version also vanishes too fast. Damn.

      You’re so right, settling for Egoiste is not a terrible fate. 😉 What a lovely perfume. (I’m assuming you are talking about the vintage version, right?) You know what is my other favorite from Chanel’s men’s line? Antaeus. (Vintage, of course). Some of my favorite men’s fragrances from the classics: Antaeus, Habit Rouge, Kouros, Egoiste, Karl Lagerfeld, and, then, Xeryus.

      So, what did you think of the Dries van Noten by Malle? As for Lutens’ Santal de Mysore, I’m afraid I haven’t tried it yet. I have a sample but it sits in my Lutens’ pile, in part because something in the Luca Turin/Tania Sanchez Perfume Guide put me off a little. Which is completely silly, I know, since I rarely agree with either of them! But I’ll get around to testing it eventually. 🙂

      • the DvN reminded me too much of a malle candle i have – santal cardamom, which is nice ambience, wouldn’t wanna wear it (you nailed it; a rich confection). SdM is also quite foody, but there the sanfdalwood emerges slowly from a strange and slightly disconcerting spice mix. it’s strange but wonderful lil perfume! like la myrrhe and sarrasins (from lutens anyway) i seldom wear it – hence a 14 year old bottle! – but is great to have around. but you should check it out since you’re on a bit of a sandalwood roll at the moment.
        yes, the egoiste best i like is vintage concentree, though the current formulation is pretty darn good. would’ve liked to try bois noir, on which egoiste is based. is it true that egoiste is unavailable in the states, and you can only get the nasty platinum? from your classics, i too love HR and xeryus, but also azzaro, ferre for man (vintage, mid 80s fantastic!), and my precious remains of vintage derby & patou homme. ah, the 80s 🙂 karl lagerfeld always felt like candyfloss, antaeus scared me (too macho!) and kouros’ opening is sick-inducing to me :/
        the etro sandalo is a very nice straight-up, versatile sandalwood. tam dao is interesting, as is cadjmere & praline santal by pierre guillaume. the creed (santal blah blah) is the usual creed silliness – avoid!
        it’s a lovely, if coolish sunday & i’m having lunch with a long-lost friend – that derby is calling me 🙂 have a good one. doei! from amsterdam 🙂

  2. Bois des Iles is simply beautiful, and I am *so* glad you reviewed it! As for the comparisons, for me it stands alone (although I’ve never tried No. 5 on myself, so it’s actually been eons since I’ve smelled it). Egoiste, to me, is far heavier and woodier. You were very right with your comparison between the two! And No. 22, which I think is also great (though certainly no BdI) is far, far more sparking/soapy/etc. I can see the basis for comparison, but I also think they are more dissimilar than similar. Even if one didn’t like Egoiste or No. 22, I think there could be a chance Bois des Iles would be appealing to them.

    Anyway, this review is great and does well to capture the spirit of Bois des Iles! Between this review and “Like This,” I feel like I’m being catered to! LOL. I have a bottle of vintage Bois des Iles EDC and it’s heavenly. In fact, your review inspired me to decant from the giant splash bottle into a small atomizer so I can wear it more often. And I’m wearing it this morning! Like you, I do wish it were a bit heavier and spicier – but Bois des Iles really is beautiful as is. When I want heavier, I suppose I’ll just wear Coromandel, which is probably my favorite of all Chanels and is near to perfection for me.

    I can also say that the Saks in DC does carry the Exclusifs line, although I think it’s been fairly recent that they got it. 🙂

    • I agree, Kevin, there really are no real similarities to No. 22. I was surprised to keep reading that name, though it didn’t come up as much as No. 5. Egoiste is really the closest, with all the differences that we’ve discussed. It’s as though Chanel sought to feminize and tame Egoiste a little, and brought in some aspects of No. 5 to do it.

      I was thinking, you really need to look for some vintage Coco. The amber, labdanum, incense, and spiced sandalwood would REALLY appeal to you! (But make sure you get vintage and try to get the parfum version, too.)

  3. So great that you enjoyed Bois des Iles. Your review makes me think that you were really surprised when you found out that you actually enjoy it a lot.
    This is a great perfume, I know it’s really feminine, probably the most in Les Exclusifs line but it’s SOOO good.

    • Very astute, Lucas!! Yes, I’m always a little surprised when I like a Chanel perfume. LOL. I usually start with the assumption that I won’t, as they are all so light and that aldehyde signature is so NOT my thing! As for BdI, I can’t remember from our discussion of 31 Rue Cambon if this is one you said you had the ghostly problems with it seeming to vanish. How does this one last on you?

      • It was the iris, 28 La Pausa that was a ghost disappearing for good and then appearing again after some time.
        Bois des Iles lasts around 3 hours longer than La Pausa on me, which is like 6 hours, not an excellent timing

  4. The sandalwood in this is very nice. I enjoyed reading your take on the perfume as a whole. It just didn’t spark that much for me, even though I do like it a lot.

  5. Oh, this sounds quite lovely, I think I must try it! Merci for another gorgeous review.

    • Given your personal tastes and style, Cacomixtle, I think it will be too lightweight and restrained for you, and that Coromandel would be a much better fit! That said, it may definitely be worth testing out BdI for days when you’re looking for an extremely refined, smooth, easy to wear sandalwood.

      • Hm, I wondered if you might say that, and was also considering the possibility of of Sonoma Scent Studio’s Champagne de Bois, which is supposed to be quite similar but with more spices and amber… but possibly more aldehydes as well. As I recall, The Muse in Wooden Shoes actually did a side by side comparison of the two that I shall have to revisit.

        I’m waiting for my Coromandel sample, and wearing Mitzah today. You were so right about Mitzah for me, it’s gorgeous and comforting and sensual… I love the rum and honey notes. I think it’s very fb worthy for me! Thank you again for another perfect suggestion!

        • Hurrah for more Mitzah love! You should know that there seems to be some recent talk that Mitzah is perhaps being discontinued after all. It really is not clear and there are a lot of conflicting accounts, but if you want a full bottle of it, you may want to order it soon. Call the lady I linked to in my Mitzah review at the Las Vegas boutique, and tell her Kafka sent you. I ordered my bottle from her, and she will not only give you free shipping with no tax, but some incredible gift extras as well. But wait perhaps until the Coromandel comes in and you try that one, because there are some definite threads tying Mitzah and Coromandel together, though ultimately they are quite different, imo.

  6. After using and loving two samples of BDI, I finally decided to buy a full bottle, which I just did after reading your review!

    • Oh I’m so glad you liked Bois des Iles, NJLinda. And to go ahead and buy a full bottle…. Congratulations! (To do so after reading my review kinda made my morning!) I know you will smell utterly fabulous.

  7. Dear Kafka, what a lovely review! I have a decant of Bois des Iles which I got from a swap. I love it…EXCEPT, unexplicably, it does not last long on my scent glue skin! What’s happening? Normally, perfumes last on me twice longer than they last on you! It’s possible that I did not spritz enough (I did 2 which is normal for something with a strong presence in the opening). I’ll need to double that the next time I wear it. I will also need to seek out the parfum at some point. It truly is a beautiful perfume.

    I am 100% sure that the Les Exclusifs line (and the equally snooty SAs) is available at Saks, at least in store at the mid-town NYC flagship store. I was at Bergdorfs yesterday and while I did not stop by that little corner, I spied the bottles from my peripheral vision. Barneys and Nordstrom do not carry this, as you mentioned.

    • It didn’t last on YOUR skin but did on MINE???! What on earth is going on, Hajusuuri? I tell you, I have the *oddest* skin in the world! LOL. Between our opposite outcomes for Bois des Iles and the “Tilda Swinton, Like This” perfume, everything has turned topsy-turvy. *grin* As for the parfum concentration, I’m determined to seek that out as it sounds glorious by all reports. Something stronger and more concentrated is always much more my style anyway. But if Bois des Iles doesn’t last on you, you are (unfortunately) not alone. Another reader, Tim, didn’t even have luck with the parfum version. 🙁

      Thank you so much for letting me know about the NYC Saks & Bergdorf availability. I will update the review to include that, along with Kevin’s helpful comment about the Saks in DC.

  8. Kafka!!! Finally we found one more perfume that we both like 🙂 Wonderful review! (and those big cats!!!)

    I’m with hajusuuri though: EdC doesn’t stay on my skin as well as many other perfumes (including several from the same line). But it doesn’tstop me from liking it and wearing (from a decant for now).

    I want to add that Exclusiffs line is also available from Seattle Nordstrom (their flagship store) so if there is Nordstrom in your area you can ask your SA to call in and place order for you from Seattle store (I did it last year for Cuir de Russie, so I know it works). But it’s not available online from

    I have one correction and one question. You can edit out this part of the comment afterwards. Pushkin is considered to be the great (well, probably the greatest) Russian poet, not a novelist: he did write a couple of novels but the only one he is famous for was a novel in verse, so he’s definitely known as a poet (The Poet even).
    As far as I know, parfum concentration = extrait = pure perfume and not EdP. So I’ve always heard BdI parfum (the one that comes in 0.5 oz/15 ml) referred to as a pure perfume – why do you think it’s an EdP?

    • Undina, wonderful points about both Pushkin and the Parfum. You’re absolutely right about both issues. I have no idea why I wrote Eau de Parfum instead of Pure Parfum. I can only chalk it up to getting about 3 hours of sleep a day, max. I will make the changes, and thank you. As for Pushkin, the funny thing is that — in my mind — he’s almost more of a novelist than a poet. Perhaps because Eugene Onegin seems more like a novel and perhaps because I associate poetry with shorter, concise things, as opposed to something so epic. But, of course, epic poems are the nature of things like The Aeneid and many other masterpieces throughout the ages. I should really stop thinking of poetry as something like a Baudelaire poem or Shakespearean sonnet. Totally my fault. 🙂 (BTW, you may be amused to know that I once had a great, big Blue Persian cat whom I named Pushkin.)

      Also good to know: the availability of Bois des Iles from Nordstrom in Seattle.

      Re. Bois des Iles: See, I’m not your *complete* perfume nemesis and evil twin. 😉 LOL. And I’m glad you liked the big cats. I could have posted photos of cheetahs all day long and only barely restrained myself from doing so. Heh.

  9. Me again, dear Kafka. Your review inspired me to make Bois des Iles my SOTD today. This time, I used 3 spritzes (with few exceptions, my normal for any perfume is 2 spritzes) and it is now hour 8 and yes, I can still detect traces of it. The drydown is wonderful and I am getting that amber-resiny-vanillic (to my nose) vibe. This morning, in the first hour of wear, I was having breakfast at a Dunkin Donuts (if you must know, I had to kill time before going to church for the later service since I would have been very late for the early service). Every time the door opened, I smelled something nice wafting towards me and I kept thinking someone smells good and it turned out to be me :-).

    • Hurrah! I’m truly thrilled the increased amount worked for you and that you got to dine with the cheetah! 😉 The drydown is beautiful, isn’t it? But did you get no sandalwood at all? As for the amount of spritzes, 2 seems very little to share between two wrists/arms, especially for the super-light fragrances like many of the Exclusifs. I guess it depends on how much comes out and on the nature of the aerosol spray, but I think 3 is the perfect amount to split between 2 arms. Anyway, do you think you may move forward and buy a large decant or full bottle of BdI at some point?

      P.S. — Dunkin’ Donuts used to have the best bran muffins. They actually turned me onto that type, whereas before I always thought “Ugh, Bran.” I was essentially addicted to them for my last 6 weeks at uni, so I would never scoff at anyone spending time in a D/D coffee shop. xoxox

      • Sandalwood – faint traces (I don’t think I can handle dominant sandalwood as in Dries Van Notten). As to the 2 (well now 3) spritzes, the walk into the mist application covers more body surface…I almost wish the aldehyde was quieter in the beginning so I can do 4 spritzes. Need to look for the pure parfum. I am thinking about an FB but we’ll have to see once I try the pure parfum.

      • OK, so I went to the Chanel boutique on 57th Street and asked for the Bois des Iles pure parfum and they had no testers – none. The SA told me it is exactly the same as the EDT except it is more concentrated so I guess I will have to give this a pass for now.

        • Give which one a pass, the EDT or the Pure Parfum? Do you mean not get either one for a while? How big is your decant to begin with? You know, if you were on the hated Facebook, there are always tons of BdI splits going on…. 😉

          • Both. My decant was originally 10 mLs…and I had probably used maybe 2mLs (hard to tell since it is in protective dark blue glass). In any case, given the variety of perfumes in my collection, I should be able to make this last a while :-).

            One of these days I may break down and join the Facebook group but in the meantime, I will probably just include it in my Wish List for the next swap!

  10. I’m not a Chanel girl, but I do have a soft squishy spot in my heart for Les Exclusifs. I think that I can happily wear every single one with maybe the exception of Jersey. Some I am even sick in crazy love with (Coromandel). I will need to revisit this one.

    (btw, did you read my mind?! I made you a sample of Égoïste two days ago!)

    • Oh my, Egoiste! Thank you! I haven’t seen a bottle of the original in years. As Tim noted, it does not seem to be widely available in the US any more. You are far too generous, BaconBiscuit. Thank you so, so much. As for Bois des Iles, if you revisit it, I’ll be interested to know your reaction. 🙂

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  12. Hello Kafka. I love your site. I was wearing Bois des Iles looking for anything more on it when Google led me here. Your article is perfect, the images and descriptions, just masterful. And BdI is the love child of Egoiste and Chanel No. 5 (or perhaps 31RC is better but I’ve never smelled it and the opening of BdI instantly conjured images of No. 5 with Egoiste in my mind). Who could choose between BdI, Egoiste (in all its incarnations) and Coromandel? I find it impossible. Each is just so wonderful in their own way. And now I’ve learned about Mitzah! All you have to say is similarities to Coromandel and discontinuing to get me to blind buy. Can’t wait to read the rest of your site 🙂

    • What a movingly sweet, kind comment, Cohibadad (love the name, by the way). Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. It means much more to me than you can know and I am truly touched. Thank you! As for Bois des Iles, it’s a stunner, isn’t it? I love Coromandel and Egoiste, too, so it seems as though our tastes are very similar. I do hope you will look up Mitzah. It’s not a sandalwood-based perfume but a labdanum and incense one that is truly smooth, like the best cognac. And, then, look up my review for Puredistance M, one of my all-time favorite fragrances which is a bit like vintage Bel Ami at the start, before turning into molten amber. Simply spectacular. Truly, truly, truly spectacular.

      • Well thank you Kafka. What a nice day, two new fragrances that I’ve never heard of and so highly recommended? I can’t resist such advice. And I thought Mitzah looked phenomenal until I checked out your Puredistance M review. Sandalwood, labdanum, incense, smooth like cognac and molten amber are all music to my ears. I had to laugh when you described the leather of Cuir de Russie as “barnyard leather”. I’ve been asking myself for the last couple days, “What kind of leather is that? What kind of leather is that!?” I have a lot of reading to catch up on here. I have been roped into some website design, drafted more so than volunteered, so I have put quite a bit of thought into how a website is constructed and how it appears. And I think your design is top notch.

        • Thank you, Cohibadad, for the kind words on the design. I didn’t have much to do with it beyond selecting certain options and colours from the (limited) choices offered to me by WordPress, but I’m glad the overall appearance isn’t too shabby to expert eyes. 🙂 As for Cuir de Russie, thank God someone else has issues with the barnyard note, too. Normally, those who detect it seem to quite like it, but everyone generally thinks the perfume has the smoothest leather around. Well, I’m clearly a philistine since it wasn’t my cup of tea! 😉 😀

          • Before I was asking myself, “What kind of leather is that,” I was actually asking myself, “Where is the leather?” My nose couldn’t even identify it as leather. And I searched and searched until I realized, omg, that is what they are calling leather. I think I was expecting something more like Tuscan Leather. Cuir de Russie seems more like something rubbed into the leather than leather itself. It reminds me of whatever I used to rub into my baseball glove in Little League, mixed with sweat and grime. It is odd. Do I love it? Can’t say I do. I don’t hate it though. It is just so odd it intrigues me.

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  16. *drifting in late again*

    I love this perfume, although I briefly get a lot of peach after the initial nose scouring moment wears off. The longevity is dreadful on my skin which tends to eat perfume like a famished lion at the best of times, but I usually find that it lasts much better on my clothing/hair and so that is where it is sprayed. Sadly, the extrait – which is utterly gorgeous – lasts roughly about fifteen minutes, cycling through the whole range in that time. So I stick to the Eau and just have a tiny sample of the extrait that I can visit every now and then for a gorgeous fifteen minutes.

    I’ve not tried Egoiste, but it seems I might have to. In general I have a very bad relationship with Chanel perfumes – 5 makes me flinch, Coromandel is suffocating on my skin even though I like it in the abstract, 19 twists around and the powder/wood/green is hard. Cuir de Russie I like because of its barnyard leather (I blame Australia entirely for toilet hand soap fragranced with leather in the 90s, it means everything leather reminds me of public loos), but don’t really feel driven to wear it. Bois des Iles has been one of the only ones I could not only wear, but love to wear.

  17. I’ve been so focused on niche fragrances that I’ve forgotten there are many wonderful perfumes from the “big” houses. Bois des Iles is one I see cited often as beautiful, along with Coromandel. I remember buying Egoiste sometime in the early 90s before going on holiday. I received *many*compliments wearing that one. I loved Egoiste, but after several years I gave away my bottle to a friend. Like my Gucci Envy, too. Back then I didn’t know they’d be reformulated or discontinued. Honestly, I didn’t know anything about reformulation until I started reading your blog. Sorry, went off on a tangent! Anyway, I’m going to try BdI, because of your review. Do you know how the current Egoiste compares to the old? I’m also considering buying Coco. Well, I’m considering alot when it comes down to it. LOL Your review of Mitzah has me curious about that one also. I’ve been reading reviews on Basenotes for CD Leather Oud which sounds like one I could give.a home. Or Oud Ispahan. 🙂 Problem is once I open my doors to these bottles, next thing you know: I’m running an orphanage for perfumes. Pity.

    Hope you had a great weekend with warmer than me!

    • Current Egoiste is obviously a watered down version of the original and with none of the real sandalwood of the original. I can’t tell you the finer points and detailed differences beyond that, because it’s been a while since I’ve tried it. I have samples of both versions that I’ll eventually get around to review, probably some months from now.

  18. Thanks! I forget what Egoiste smells like. Trayee is still on my list to try/buy because of the real sandalwood and your review.

  19. OMG. The first sample I tried of this was a disaster. I posted this somewhere else-the aldehydes lasted for two hours…. But I was back at the fancy store looking for a sample of Dior’s Cuir Cannage, picked up a sample of Chanel’s Sycomore (you’re right, waaaaaay better than Encre Noir)… And asked for a sample of Bois de Iles. It’s been months, I figured why not. I’m in love. And this has not played out at all like my first sample. And I’m pretty sure it’s sample quality-I went back to the first and it just smells off, like corked wine does. This is FB material for me… Just have to figure out if it’s the extrait or EDT version. The latter may just be enough for my esthetic, but will ponder (and see what is actually available at the store). Goes to show: quality of the sample matters big time. Lesson #421 in fume land.

    • Interesting about the sample differences. It can certainly happen, especially for older releases. I’m just glad you got to experience the good side of Bois des Iles. I hear the extrait is stunning, but I haven’t tried it.

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