I have recently received a decant of Feminité du Bois Extrait from my very generous friend Saif. This was extremely kind of him because this is not a perfume one comes across easily. I think Feminité du Bois is a timeless masterpiece so trying the Extrait version was an unexpected pleasure I could not pass. If the eau de parfum is a sweet, velvet coat woven in cedar saw dust, where does the extrait version lean? How deep does it get?
Well, not much. On the contrary. I was expecting more spice and darkness but Extrait opens much brighter. The plum note is amped up and maybe supplemented with a touch of honey up front. The EdP opening is full of spices and smelling the two side by side actually reveals a bit of aniseed in there. The Extrait continues more floral, violet mostly, and it will take some time for the spices to emerge. Even then, the dusty texture of the EdP is not there. Instead it is shiny and glossy. It is not that there are no spices in the mix. It is just that when I smell the EdP I can feel the powdery spices being sucked up my nose. In the Extrait I smell the oils extracted from the spices. The high pitched notes of cedar are masked under a more seamless balance of ingredients in the Extrait.
Looking back at the similarities and differences between Feminité du Bois and Dolce Vita, the Extrait seems strangely closer to the latter. One would probably have to admit that it feels, better blended, more seamless. But also more conventional. In the EdP version the concept of using a very masculine woody note -cedarwood- in a warm, feminine composition in order to showcase the femininity of wood, is a lot more obvious. The Extrait version cannot support my previous remark (and many other reviewers’) of different elements dancing and fighting in an ever changing combination of accords. In this version all elements are coexisting in peace. This is not bad of course. But Extrait has no cracks. And as Leonard Cohen has so beautifully captured, “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in”
I love that Cohen quote and it seems to fit so perfectly as an analogy here. What a wonderful review! Thank you!
It seems like a very fitting analogy for many perfumes that I like but somehow do not feel passionate about.
Thanks for this review, it’s very difficult to find much info on the Extrait at all. You make it sound so wonderful!
I am very lucky to have had the opportunity to sample this. And grateful.
Wow, you have some very generous friends Christos! What a nice decant to receive. I never smelt FdB when it was part of the Shiseido collection. Do you have an opinion on the difference between the Shiseido version and the current export or bell jar perfumes? Is there a difference? I do love the Shiseido bottles. They look like something from The 5th Element movie. Hope your cold is all gone and you are feeling better.
I have never tried the Serge Lutens version Clayton. I was lucky to find one of the last Shiseido bottles available in Athens. This and a bottle of Basala which I know you appreciate as well. The Shiseido bottles are amazing especially in this lineup photo. They almost seem to converse with each other
Yes, they do appear to be having a conversation don’t they : ) I’d enjoy seeing Shiseido revert and explore these mysterious oriental themes again, instead of the zen garden and lotus-pond style of fragrances I think they have modelled off the success of Kenzo parfums. I love that you have never tried the SL version. Not many FdB fans, myself included can say that.
I do not expect to see your dream coming true any soon. Zen for Men was a huge, disgustingly fruity and woody mess.White Heat Edition slightly better.
Lovely review Christos!
I too love the multi façades. It’s almost 3D.
Thank you for everything my friend!
Great read. To be honest, I knew extremely little about the extrait.
I’ve found this with a few extraits actually! I think everyone goes into them expecting something deeper and richer and more intense. Often they appear much more fuller and rounded and often easier to wear than the originals.
Another example is Mure et Musc Extrait by L’Artisan which I have. I’d never wear it but, it promised a base of leather and rough greenery – instead it’s just a brighter more opaque version of the original with over the top sillage. Great stuff really, just not my cup of tea.
I’ll have to re-explore Feminite de Bois, I only wore it once and found it uninteresting amongst other Lutens compositions, I need to sniff it thinking about it solely and not what it’s standing next to.
A friend also made the same remark about extrait versions. It seems that higher concentration pushes notes closer together.
Feminite du Bois is amazing if you manage to see it literally: redefining the rather masculine cedar in a feminine composition. And this is exactly where the extrait fails to impress, the wood is subdued that it seems like a misnomer.
I enjoyed reading your review, especially since I’ve just discovered Feminite de Bois (EdP) a couple of days ago. I smelled it on paper before but only during my recent trip to Las Vegas I had a chance to wear it. It is sooo beautiful!
I am so glad you liked it! It isn’t the most straightforward perfume to love but it can take you on a very nice trip. Of course I cannot quite picture it in a Las Vegas setting so this might probably make the experience even more remarkable 🙂