Serge Lutens Bois et Fruits, 1992

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Perfumer Christopher Shledrake

The truth of Bois et Fruits, and the other spin-offs of Féminité du Bois as well, is hidden in plain sight in their names. Bois de/et (insert note). Variation, exploration, overdosage. The truth of the matter is, they are flankers. The upside is that they demonstrate that a flanker isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

The first thing a flanker must do is to prove that it’s different enough from the original to have a name of its own, and Bois et Fruits does. The name also implies that the fruit hasn’t fallen far from the tree. If you expect a juicier more flavorful richer perfume than Féminité du Bois, think again. Bois et Fruit IS fruitier than Féminité du Bois, but it is also darker and dryer. Despite the added plums, Bois et Fruit less overtly flavorful than Féminité du Bois. For want of a better word, Bois et Fruit is dusty. But the dustiness is very appealing. The connection between the fruit and the wood is quite different than you find it in Féminité du Bois. Féminité du Bois is know for its singing quality, its radiance. It sings in the key of Iso E, but it does so beautifully. Bois et Fruit doesn’t have its predecessors angelic radiance and is all the better for it. It plays closer to the skin, taking advantage of its relative opacity and matte finish.

This perfume highlights a point I find in Lutens’s other perfumes. Perfumer Christopher Sheldrake seems to make distinctions in tone with the fruit, not the wood. To look at Féminité du Bois, Bois de Violette and Arabie, the woody tone among the three is quite similar. But in Féminité du Bois the fruit is boozy. In Bois de Violette it is crystalized. In Arabie it is stewed. In Bois et Fruits the fruit is dried and preserved, somehow suggesting a stillness and a poise that the others don’t have.  The experience is less taxing, and you’ll find Fruits less likely to wear you than any of the above.

Bois et Fruits is similar to Féminité du Bois and Bois de Violette. (I’ve never smelled Bois et Muscs or Bois Oriental, the other Féminité du Bois spin-offs.) Still, the differences are worth noting. The dryness and the darkness make for a less lingering perfume than Féminité du Bois. I could much more easily wear Bois et Fruits every day. After smelling Bois et Fruits, wearing Feminité bu Bois makes me feel like my ears are ringing.   Féminité du Bois’s famous radiance often makes it feel like it’s creeping up on you every time you turn around. Bois et Fruit is quieter but deeper and ultimately more subtle than Féminité du Bois.

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