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The Chanel Project: Bois des Îles


I consider Bois des Îles to be the third in a trio with Chanel’s Cuir de Russie and (vintage) No. 5.

I don’t know why other people don’t comment on the relationship more; I have a feeling it’s because either

1) They haven’t smelled much of the vintage No. 5, in which this aldehydic rose and jasmine pairing take center, spectacular, stage; or

2) It’s just that on my superdry skin most of the subtler elements are lost quite quickly and what I am left with are the family bones.

The latter is certainly possible. I have finally been vindicated about my ridiculously dry skin making things smell too sweet, and girly, that should not, and losing much of the top nuance that people with moister integuments enjoy: on my last two perfume shopping trips with other perfumistas, they would put something on me that they were loving and realize within seconds that nope, what they got from the exact same perfume on my skin was nope, nope, nope.

The Chanel core of aldehydic rose and jasmine (and a touch of iris?) in Bois des Îles are frosted with powdery green. It’s not a really acidic galbanum green, but I feel rather like it wants to be. It’s as if Chanel No. 19 and No. 5 had a love child. Ish.

The “Îles” part of the name is overstated, as far as I’m concerned; the base is the same creamy sandalwood/vanilla thing I smell in the other two, beautiful, but not striking. On me it is far more understated than in Cuir de Russie, oddly enough. The powder and the green hold the focus, between you and the blockbuster florals, and while there is a wood frame, it’s not as though anything is on fire.

Clearly it doesn’t grab my imagination as it has for so many others. I like to think I just have smelled many more things in this category and if I were going for bois, or îles, I’d like to go farther afield than a modified No. 5. There’s no question, however, that it is a gorgeous perfume, and I can see why those who like to live in the Chanel tent would adore it.

Image is “Green” by Susanne Nilsson, via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license; some rights reserved.

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2 comments to The Chanel Project: Bois des Îles

  • I’ll confess that my exposure to vintage No 5 is very limited since I don’t like this perfume and cannot wear. I mean, I smelled it many times over the course of the last 15 years, including some “vintage” samples but it didn’t change my attitude towards it. Maybe because of it I do not see too many similarities between No 5 and the other two, which I love and wear relatively often. But I’ll revisit a couple of No 5 vintage samples and try them in parallel with CdR and BdI – who knows, maybe this time with the power of suggestion, I’ll smell something new?

    • Judith

      It’s the “bones” of the thing, not the overall impression, of course. And if you don’t like vintage No. 5 enough to get to the drydown, I could easily imagine never smelling what I smell at all! (I do love my vintage No. 5.)

What do you think?