Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
Chris Sheldrake and Serge Lutens created Bois de Violette in 1992, inaugurating the stint of Serge Lutens as a leading figure of the perfume line for Shiseido at Les Salons du Palais Royal. There is a tendency both to relegate cedar to the masculine, while violet to the feminine domains. One is sharp, resinous and potent, another is soft, modest and sentimental. Yet, Bois de Violette blurs these conventional distinctions so effectively that it cannot but be appreciated for this reason alone. Of course, the ingenuity and the beauty of the composition is another reason to sample this fragrance.
The top notes settle into a mélange of violet leaves with their fresh cut grass scent and soft white cedar, which gradually allows a clear violet note to appear. At first, it is just a glimpse of violet, misted over by sweet and resinous notes, however, the adagio of violet gathers force and takes the center stage. Cedar in Bois de Violette acts like corps de ballet in Marius Petipa choreographed pieces, in which dancers in the background hold same poses for long stretches of time, with minor permutations, thus providing an essential backdrop, without which the ethereal beauty cannot be achieved. The violet is sweet enough to temper resinous notes of cedar, while cedar, in turn, prevents it from becoming a confection-type or powdery violet. It stays close to the skin, creating an olfactory vision of opalescent silk.
Photo: Swan Lake by St. Petersburg’s Ballet Theater. arts-world.co.uk. Swan Lake is an example of classical Petipa choreography.