Un Parfum Des Sens Et Bois is part of a trio of fragrances created by Jean-Claude Ellena before his move to the house of Hermes. This collection of fragrances is aptly named ‘Explorations Sensorielles’ and is an olfactory exploration of the Montmartre garden in Paris. The project was realized by Jean Claude’s daughter, Celine and launched in 2006. The first fragrance Un Parfum d’Ailleurs Et Fleurs (A perfume of flowers and beyond) is certainly feminine. It explores the seductive nature of tuberose and orange blossom; flowers that in the Victorian era, young girls were discouraged from sampling in case they experienced spontaneous orgasms. The second is Un Parfum De Charmes Et Feuilles (A perfume of leaves and charm). Compared to a poem by writer Rabindranath Tagore the perfume is an exotic mix of the nocturnal jasmine sambac flowers from India and leaves of sage, marjoram and mint. Un Parfum Des Sens Et Bois (A perfume of woods and senses) is inspired by music from composer Claude Debussy who wrote of the Montmartre gardens in Prelude a l’Apres-Midi d’un Faune. Un Parfum Des Sens Et Bois has all the hallmarks of a French perfume but it is the use of Chinese cedar wood that captures your attention. This eastern brushstroke in what is otherwise a European, translucent watercolour painting is a novel combination making Un Parfum Des Sens Et Bois a refreshing men’s fragrance with a splash of mysticism.
When I first smelt this fragrance I was reminded of Kenzo Pour Homme. Although they share some structural similarities Un Parfum Des Sens Et Bois is as expected a more complicated fragrance. Each note marries seamlessly together. A fresh green melon-like start accompanies the spicy pepper, ginger and elemi notes. Celine Ellena has created a stunning white violet accord, which is the backbone of this creation. Even in the top notes, hints of licoricey vetiver begin to shine through. Patchouli and incense add depth. Once the other notes begin to quiet down the real star of this fragrance, Chinese cedar wood begins to take centre stage. Most perfumers prefer to work with two other varieties of cedar. Virginian (think pencils) or Atlas (think damp wood and furniture). The Chinese variety is very different. It has notes of amber and sandalwood and is often used in Chinese or Buddhist incense sticks. Un Parfum Des Sens Et Bois once again shows The Different Company are masters in the art of perfumery. I only began to appreciate this fragrance after sampling it a few times. As it takes 5-10 minutes to do its thing, I strongly recommend trying on skin and giving it half an hour to really get to know it. You run the risk of missing something interesting if you spray the scent on a tester card amongst all the other offerings of a perfume counter.
Kenzo fans should enjoy this unisex scent. I describe it as ‘modern elegance’. Perhaps it was designed with women in mind but I think this is the perfect male scent for those who are looking for a transparent watery fragrance with something extra. The wood and incense give it guts, and cedar wood on men is always a winner. The freshness of ginger and white violet combined with Chinese cedar makes you feel like you’ve been on a yoga retreat. Although, if you are not a fan of incense you may just feel like you have stuffed your pockets full of Chinese joss sticks. Un Parfum Des Sens Et Bois is suitable for men of all ages.
Perfumer: Celine Ellena (Charabot)
Bottle designer: Thierry de Baschmakoff
Release date: 2006
Typology (via Fragrances of the World): Woods