Miller Harris En Sens de Bois : Perfume Review



Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

Lyn Harris founded her perfume line Miller Harris in 2000 and included fragrances ranging from the crisp Citron Citron to the delicately pretty Fleur du Matin. Nouvelle Line is a separate range of fragrances, having limited distribution, higher prices and exotic descriptions. The names alone are rather enticing: Cuir d’Oranger, Piment des Baies, Terre d’Iris

En Sens de Bois is the newest fragrance from Miller Harris, and it was inspired by the scents of Japanese temples. The mere allusion to temple incense was enough to capture my attention, as my imagination immediately began to paint images of smokeless Japanese incense, the silky embrace of cedarwood and the resinous clarity of pine wood. …

However, En Sens de Bois does not take me quite as far as Japan. Instead, it stops in the English garden on a foggy morning right in front of a toolshed. The resinous green vapors rise and fade as the grey accord comprised of woods reveals itself. The smells of damp woods, trimmed branches and rusty gardening implements rush past me. Pale smoke swirls out of the woods and in contrast with their dampness, it serves as an interesting counterpoint before the composition falls flat on the vetiver heavy base. The base is reminiscent of chypre compositions, with their combination of earthy notes of iris, coolness of vetiver and sweet powderiness of mosses, enlivened by a bit of patchouli. It is not particularly rich, and while it has smoky touches, En Sens de Bois retains the cold, grey air as well as transparency, which in this case simply strikes me as thinness.

While I have not been captivated by any of the fragrances from the regular line, which struck me as somewhat flat and pale, the Nouvelle Line fragrances are more complex and interesting. Nevertheless, wearing En Sens de Bois, I keep expecting more warmth and depth, which it does not offer as it continues to expand panoramically until the last twist of vetiver exhausts itself. I find myself wishing that it unfolded into yet another layer, complementing the wet woodiness and the grapefruit crispness of vetiver. The fragrance would be suitable for both men and women, and it would fit perfectly into the unisex category of fragrances with its woody base touched by the subtle mossy coolness.

Notes include cedar, sandalwood, patchouli, vetiver, bois des landes, moss, cade, amber, iris, carrot, and ambrette seed. Miller Harris En Sens de Bois and the rest of Nouvelle Line is available from their website and Saks 5th Avenue Miller Harris boutique in New York. Moreover, samples sets are also available directly from Miller Harris.

Photo: from

Tomorrow: Paul & Joe Bleu, a fragrance created by Pierre Bourdon.



  • annE: V, you really had me going there! LOL! Sounds like this one was a bit of a let-down (in that understated English way). 🙂 January 5, 2006 at 8:53am Reply

  • Laura: ‘However, En Sens de Bois does not take me quite as far as Japan. Instead, it stops in the English garden on a foggy morning right in front of a toolshed… .’ This is hilarious, V! What, you don’t see the romance in loppers surrounded by a musty accord? I tried this one, too, and was as underwhelmed, though not as wittily, as you. I do think Terre d’Iris is pretty, though. I always wish the fragrances in this line were better because I somehow feel they should be. Know what I mean? Something about the bottles and the hoopla. January 5, 2006 at 4:25am Reply

  • Robin: Drat, had high hopes for this one. January 5, 2006 at 9:41am Reply

  • Judith (lilybp): Happy (belated) New Year, V. I recently returned from a trip (as I guess you have). As everyone said this sounds—-almost good. Brilliant review, and I feel that I have escaped another bullet:) I need to start escaping more; my husband is watching wide-eyed as the perfumes begin taking over our house! January 5, 2006 at 9:45am Reply

  • linda: Your review made me laugh! I sniffed all of the fragrances at Saks and I was underwhelmed. They didn’t last at all and they all seemed cold. January 5, 2006 at 11:10am Reply

  • Marina: Sounds like a “cold” scent, probably good to wear on a moody day. But the smell of “rusty gardening implements”? That scares me off somewhat. 🙂 January 5, 2006 at 8:30am Reply

  • mreenymo: Dang, woman–this one stops at the toolshed?? And, I bet it’s a dilapidated one at that!

    Oh well…next fragrance, please!

    Hugs! January 5, 2006 at 2:03pm Reply

  • Tara: Just sampled this myself on Tuesday. I agree with your underwhelmed impression – I wanted this to smell more incensey and deep. Instead I just got a slightly dusty wood smell. Quite disappointing. The only ones I really like of this line so far are Terre d’Iris and Figue Amere. January 5, 2006 at 2:18pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: L, I also prefer Terre d’Iris out of the entire line. The descriptions are so wonderfully enticing, however the fragrances do not live up to my expectations. January 5, 2006 at 5:19pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: M, rusty garden implements smell is more abstract, and it is not scare. The main problem is that the composition is too one-dimensional and somehow heavy without being rich. Try it, of course. Perhaps, you might like it better. January 5, 2006 at 5:20pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Ann, I was rather disappointed, as it did not correspond to what I expected. However, I admit that I am not the biggest fan of the entire MH line, to begin with. January 5, 2006 at 5:22pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, try it nevertheless. I would be curious to hear your thoughts. January 5, 2006 at 5:22pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Judith, Happy New Year to you too! Hope that your trip was fun. I am also glad to discover something that I do not want to own these days! January 5, 2006 at 5:24pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Linda, I liked Jasmin Vert and Terre d’Iris the most. I guess I like more warmth in wood based fragrances. January 5, 2006 at 5:24pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Patty, toolshed is exactly the image that came to mind! I am not sure how else to describe the intial impression. 🙂 January 5, 2006 at 5:25pm Reply

  • julien: I never smelled any Miller harris(well not enough to make myself an opinion about them)but i know Paul and Joe bleu!lol
    So waiting for tomorow.
    I hope i will one day make my own vision on the miller harris.
    They are said to be very good and Fleur orientale to be a little like the beautiful Shalimar.
    is it true?

    kisses,thanks for the review.
    j. January 5, 2006 at 5:25pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, oh, well! There are plenty other fragrances for us to love. January 5, 2006 at 5:26pm Reply

  • Patty: This is the week for “this doesn’t smell very good” reviews. 🙂 Love the description. Toolshed, hee hee! January 5, 2006 at 12:26pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Tara, that is exactly what I wanted–more incense and more depth. If something could lift that base, it would be perfect. I like the idea of this fragrance, but it just did not work for me. January 5, 2006 at 5:27pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Cait, I love abstraction too, which is exactly what modern perfumery is about. I do not mind the reference to natural perfume ingredients, as long as they are actually used in perfume. January 5, 2006 at 5:33pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Julien, I hope that you can test them for yourself at some point. Fleur Oriental does not remind me of Shalimar, and I cannot really see that reference, however maybe I should compare side by side. January 5, 2006 at 5:35pm Reply

  • Cait: It serves Harris right for dissing harshly stinky cleansers that this scent is underwhelming. I don’t know why that irked me, so. I think I resent perfume that tries so hard to refer to authentic natural stuff in the universe. I find it uninspiring compared to, say, the abstract intrigue of the great perfumes of the 20th century. Not to sound doctrinaire… January 5, 2006 at 3:01pm Reply

  • peter: Has anyone tried Geranium Bourbon? Would it work for a man? Thanks! January 5, 2006 at 10:37pm Reply

  • marchlion: I tried a number of these — the bottles are so pretty, and on paper they sound lovely. I was sure I would love one. But they were all muddled, and several smelled surprisingly harsh and abrasive, considering the all-natural emphasis. I agree with the comment that they seem… cold. Coincidentally, as I type this I am wearing Citta di Kyoto, an interesting departure for the SMN line. I got it from Patty, have no idea where she got it — on me it’s a lovely Japanese-style incense, both warm and austere — evoking the temple rather than the church. January 5, 2006 at 10:51pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Peter, perhaps someone else can answer this, because I do not have a clear recollection of this fragrance. I tried it only once. It struck me as unisex. That much I remember. January 6, 2006 at 12:04am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: March, I cannot but agree with you. I keep expecting to love at least one, however I have not been successful thus far. Citta di Kyoto sounds wonderful, however. I should definitely look for it the next time I am near the SMN counter. I love the smell of Japanese incense. January 6, 2006 at 12:06am Reply

  • Qwendy: I always think I’m going to like Miller Harris fragrance, probably because I’m such a sucker for french perfume names, and the literal translations of them are always so much more evocative than the scents themselves, even though they are quite simple — another minimalist line, minimal ingredients, packaging, and if the names were in English they would be fairly minimal too! Although just saying “Oriental” is enough to make me want to try anything! I’m a Baroque through and through. January 6, 2006 at 3:37am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Wendy, I tend to feel the same way about them. I love the packaging and the names, but the scents do not work for me at all. I am laughing over your suggestion that translating the names would kill their allure. January 8, 2006 at 8:18pm Reply

  • peter: Thanks for your help! January 9, 2006 at 11:44pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: You are welcome! January 10, 2006 at 1:11am Reply

  • jonbenet: Wafts of terrier shit and musk touch my nose as I experienced what I expected to be an English Garden. Alas, no. I was dumped instead in front of a Japanese temple, surrounded by the thinness of ricepaper and the ethereal, no, cheap, organza-like cheeziness of burning plywood. What a dissapointment this scent was. I had expected it to deliver strong, woody, rusty notes of cedar plank and hay. Rather, it dumped its load of manure, cat litter and piss instead. I cried all night at my loss. July 14, 2006 at 4:01am Reply

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