Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
Experiencing Armani Prive Bois d’Encens is like stepping inside a dark cavernous church, where the first sensory impression is of incense. The smell of incense burning inside golden censers, embracing the stones, and creating a pale mist over the altar. The resinous richness of incense is almost overwhelming, yet suddenly as one gets used to it, the scent begins to appear as a soft comforting presence; something that retreats into the background, yet remains near.
Similar transformation takes place in Bois d’Encens, a fragrance created in 2004 by Michel Almairac. The layering of notes results in their gentle peeling away in order to reveal a sweet base of silky cedarwood. …
While the initial resinous dryness accented by black pepper fades like a cloud of smoke, smooth, unctuous flow of frankincense is cut through by its characteristic, almost hesperidic element. The composition assumes a sweet luminous quality, which lights up the wood notes, lending them a soft glow.
If the brief to the perfumer by Giorgio Armani was to recreate a smell of the Catholic mass, which he as a child would attend with his grandmother, the result is quite successful. Yet, a composition has an interesting airy quality which prevents it from being dark and resinous.
This luminous, soaring quality is what distinguishes Bois d’Encens from heavier Comme des Garçons Incense Series Avignon. The fragrance rises up like gentle wisps of pale smoke, rather than clings to the skin like Avignon tends to do. However, for those who prefer a more subtle incense composition lightened by lily, L’Artisan Parfumeur Passage d’Enfer would be the best option. On the other hand, for an unexpected, yet beautiful pairing of incense and peach, Bond No. 9 Chinatown cannot be rivaled.
Along with Ambre Soie, Eau de Jade, and Pierre de Lune, Bois d’Encens is available at Giorgio Armani boutiques, Saks 5th Avenue, and Harrods in the UK as well as directly from Giorgio Armani website. Its presentation of a black square topped with a lid resembling a stone is very streamlined and elegant.