Bois Oriental by Serge Lutens

Serge Lutens evokes spiritual demons. His perfume as art are recounts of tales magical; tales of his life and other’s lives both optimistic and tragic. Simple philosophies encapsulated in perfume. The tragedy of a female in La Fille de Berlin is shared unequivocally with many others. The tension of terror laced bluntly in Tubereuse Criminelle; swapping intensities severely. The ceremonial noir and heady grace of La Myrhhe – at once pure and uplifting, yet effortlessly disarming.

I’ve been particularly left in raptures by these stories, solidified and magnified when experienced on the skin – but Serge Lutens too has scents focused on introspection: His own greedy love of Bois.

For him, the almighty wood note ought to be spiced and seasoned in a realm of spice markets, desert air, and unexpected freshness from unique sources. The Bois for Serge may as well be Cedre, but what’s interesting is that his fragrance titled Cedre is far from what one would expect. Instead, the wood range gives cedar every respect it deserves – by allowing it to express itself in multiple formats with complimentary notes.

Bois Oriental is wildly smooth. Exotic with a comforting edge. An utterly delectable cedar fragrance.

Bois Oriental - Serge Lutens © 2016 Liam Sardea

Bois Oriental II - Serge Lutens © 2016 Liam Sardea

Bois Oriental was a special coming of age fragrance for me.

© 2016 Liam Sardea


The Serge cedar paradigm is excellent. His treatment of the wood is superbly done – it is stewed and steeped in a sweet nectar of honey, resins, and delicate spices. In this particular scent, the oriental wood, the emphasis shifts on the spices. They work in a manner to manifest smoothness; a graceful array of warmth moulding as one. A dosage of vanilla first and foremost, adding balsamic qualities unachievable otherwise. Vanilla is at once exciting yet nostalgic, both spicy and pure charged with a velvety warm edge.

Comparisons to the other woods are inevitable, and in omitting a floral potency, Serge Lutens and perfumer Christopher Sheldrake achieve excellent unctuosity – a more wood forward scent still lavish in and with jammy plum, soft beeswax, quills of bluntly spicy cinnamon and cooly aromatic clove. On opening, Bois Oriental is a weaving of the exotica – a mille feuille of fruit, spice, and wood. An affluent and greedy blend smoothing to the greatest degree. Exuberant musks and animalics soften nicely throughout the scent’s progression.

Move inwards, and discover a holographic ginger note – pungent and refreshing with twang-like freshness, creating a classical gingerbread accord refreshed with sandalwood and coriander seed. The amber is amplified in Bois Oriental, aiding the sticky impression and adding immense body to the scent. Present too is a delicious trail of cumin – evoking the dreamlike idea of Moorish bazaars and Persian architecture. As an effect in perfume, cumin adds a bodily warmth with extensive sensuality – then cooled with cardamom.

This is a muted Serge Lutens perfume, with a cascading colour from warm dark browns graduating to golden tones. This bois is wrapped and twirled to create one singular, cohesive fragrance. It hints at juiciness – from an array of sharp fruits – but that detracts with a dulled wood edge. Hence, together, the scent is smoothed perfectly.

Alternatives: Ambre Sultan by Serge Lutens, Bois et Fruits by Serge Lutens, and Bois des Iles by Chanel.

Edible subtle wood.

Subjective rating : 4/5

Objective rating: 4/5

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7 thoughts on “Bois Oriental by Serge Lutens

    • For my 18th birthday, I was allowed one fragrance from the Serge Lutens lineup. I picked this one (I had never smelled it) and to my surprise my father got it hand etched with my name and XVIII.

      Given that Serge doesn’t ship to Australia, I had to wait a delightful 3 months for it too, as a friend was in Europe and flying to Australia.

      It’s a sweet memory because it was a series of events that cumulated into obtaining the fragrance!

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