CHANEL Bois des Iles by Ernest Beaux 1926

Hello Fume Heads,

Not so long ago friend and APJ reviewer Michael was over and he was wondering about Bois des Iles (Wood Islands or Islands of Wood) so I went and grabbed my decant. Though I’d spritzed it a couple of times and have a few wonderful memories of wearing it on our holiday this year, I had never taken time to understand the beauty behind this CHANEL princess of a perfume.

CHANEL Bois des Iles 1926

Bois des Iles Chanel FragranticaPhoton Stolen Fragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Aldehydes, bergamot, neroli , coriander, mandarin, peach
Heart: Jasmine, rose, lily of the valley, orris, iris, ylang-ylang, lilac
Base: Vetiver, amber,  sandalwood, benzoin, vanilla, opoponax, musk

Bois des Iles fizzy, fun and fruity opening with a slightly green bent opens up bigger than expected, I know it doesn’t last but the first few minutes could be the slightly muted grand entrance of an 80s blockbuster, so much going on in a fleeting snippet like watching the cars zoom off at the start of an all day car race. After the fireworks Bois des Iles settles into a still slightly zingy, spicy, floral bouquet but sadly on my skin I completely miss the oft talked about and loved gingerbread accord. I get jasmine and ylang ylang as my stand out performers, though the rest are there it is as harmonious background with a quietly insistent sweet woody baseline.

Bois des Iles Chanel FoxHarborPhoto Stolen FoxHarbor

Later we welcome the musky woods with vanilla and various resins in the base. This is the sandalwood dream I remember of early Samsara, a smooth creamy, buttery sweet sandalwood with none of the camphorous/eucalyptus squeaky dryness of modern sandalwoods or the thin artificiality of many of the reinventions through science. Interestingly, Kafkaesque writes that Jacques Polge’s modern Bois des Iles is an imagined sandalwood, an accord created without the use of sandalwood, WOW and Double WOW! A sensual, soft yet lingering masterpiece.

973020_10201291991601593_1959611764_nBois des Iles will forever remind me of Paris,  Jin and my journey there earlier in 2013, our friends Aaran & Gerard hosted us while we were there and in their home was a beautiful stained glass double door panel by a very famous glass artist, sadly he sold it recently, and the wonderful art deco/industrial piece is what I was most astonished by in his home while wearing Bois des Iles. Made around the same time, I think, as the glass doors cum art wall piece it all felt very elegant at the time and now that I’ve done some homework the resonances are striking.

From the CHANEL site: Paris, 1926. ‘Art deco’ is all the rage, exoticism fascinates, and jazz stirs passions. People dream of faraway lands and precious woods. Once again, Coco Chanel shakes up the history of perfume by launching the first woody fragrance for women. An intoxicating, enveloping, warm, sensual, spiraling scent. It’s all there: the precious woods, the opiate scents and magnificent, languid flowers. The fragrance is a mysterious, faraway continent in itself.

Further reading: Kafkaesque and Olfactoria’s Travels
Available exclusively in the CHANEL Fragrance and Beauty Boutiques
Surrender To Chance has Bois des Iles EdT from $4/ml and Parfum from $6/.25 ml

What was your Bois des Iles experience? Have you, or do you want to try it?
See you tomorrow,
Portia xx


35 comments on “CHANEL Bois des Iles by Ernest Beaux 1926

  1. Azar says:

    Hi Portia,
    Thank you for another wonderful review! I can almost smell Bois des Iles through your words.
    Azar xx

    • australianperfumejunkies says:

      YAY!! Thank you Azar, you should smell it. Of all the Les Exclusives it and Coromandel are my favourite in EdT form. I’m not sure yet about my fave parfum because I haven’t smelled them all but Cuir de Russie is my fave so far.
      Portia xx

  2. hajusuuri says:

    Hello Portia! I love Chanel Bois des Iles, the modern version; the vintage one was elusive. The perfect volume for me is 2.5 spritzes because less than that makes it last shorter than 4 hours and more than that would overwhelm. The drydown is spectacular. My dream is to get the pure parfum!

    • australianperfumejunkies says:

      I am SO with you on the parfum Hajsuuri. Thanks for the spritz tip. My skin is hungry though and I put 2 x chest and one each elbow.
      Portia x

  3. Tatiana says:

    Mmm, love, love, love Bois des Iles. Have I mentioned I’m a Chanel girl? Lol. I was lucky, the daughter nudged the DH to get this for me for Christmas a couple of years ago. In the extrait form. A drop on each wrist and I’m good to go. It’s too rich and warm to wear in the summers here, so I really cannot wait for cooler weather so I can wear it again.

    • australianperfumejunkies says:

      WOW! You are a lucky girl Tatiana. It will be Bois des Iles time before you know it. MMMM
      Portia xx

  4. poodle says:

    This is yet another one I haven’t tried. I usually like Chanel fragrances and I love woody scents so I should make a point to seek this out.

  5. Julie F says:

    I love Bois des Iles, also. In another month, it’ll be cool enough here to wear it again. BdI and Guerlain Vol de Nuit are two almost-signature scents for me, although there are a few weird attars that come close.

    • australianperfumejunkies says:

      WOW JulieF,
      You have spectacular Signatures!! I have an unopened propeller bottle, whenever I am down I go pat the plastic covered box.
      Portia xx

  6. Janice says:

    What a gorgeous piece of stained glass. I would not have thought of the Art Deco connection with Bois des Iles but it makes perfect sense. This is one of my cool weather staples and one of the only perfumes that I’ve actually had to replace the bottle–the current EdT. Love it.

    • australianperfumejunkies says:

      GOSH! They are big bottles too. Nice one.
      Yes, the piece ios incredible in real life, Aaran put lights behind it and it was beautiful in the living room.
      Portia xx

      • Janice says:

        Oops, should have said I had the smaller bottle, not the huge one! It’s so interesting too that there is no actual sandalwood here. I had wondered how they managed with the restrictions on Mysore sandalwood.

      • australianperfumejunkies says:

        I don’t know exactly but they did a sensational job, I thought it was in there.
        Portia xx

  7. laniersmith says:

    I love Bois de Iles too. Lovely review that made me dream of returning to Paris. xo
    laniersmith recently posted…LES BALLET DES PENHALIGON’S ~ Launch of Iris Prima by Penhaligon’sMy Profile

  8. Natalie says:

    Love the connections between the art door piece and the perfume. Bois des Iles is such a distinctive and elegant fragrance.

    • australianperfumejunkies says:

      I bet you rock Bois des Iles Natalie. Are you back in Sydney? There’s a talk tonight on What Men Have Smelled Like for 100 years.
      Portia xx

  9. Tara C says:

    I have a tiny bottle of extrait of BdI that until recently it has been too warm to wear – I like this one in fall/winter. However now that it is down to 13C, time to break it out!

  10. greennote2 says:

    I, too, love Bois des Iles. I always feel sophisticated, in an understated way, and that things couldn’t possibly go wrong, they will just glide effortlessly in the right direction.

    Bel Respiro is my favourite of Les Excusifs. Love all the green twiginess.

    • australianperfumejunkies says:

      Thanks GreenNote2,
      I have Bel Respiro here in a 5ml decant but have yet to put it on my skin, to my memory, you have given me a push. i’ll grab it soon.
      Portia xx

  11. hajusuuri says:

    After reading several comments about Chanel BdI being worn in fall/winter/cooler weather, I wanted to mention that I actually tried this during a New York City heat wave and it held up beautifully. Even Carnal Flower, which I usually reserve for winter, worked for me during the heat wave. Perhaps it’s a matter of body chemistry but what I thought probably won’t work well in the heat actually did!

    • australianperfumejunkies says:

      I am a fan of putting on heavy hitters in the heat. Ubar blooms even more beautifully and intricately in the heat too.
      Portia xx

  12. annina says:

    Lovely! Yes, I adore BdI! The weather has turned here – colder and damp – and is perfect for it. I’ve actually worn it all week.

  13. sharon Lenehan says:

    This sounds wonderful. Drfiniely one I want to try.

  14. Penny Cascio says:

    As always your words take me with you…. I too was loving the stained glass and smelling the woody aroma….. mixed with the Parisienne scent of coffee and coissant!

  15. Undina says:

    I like Bois des Iles (the modern version, I haven’t tried any vintage) and I’m sad I hadn’t bought it before the prices went up. Now I’ll have to pay more 😉
    Undina recently posted…As Wild as It Gets (for me): My Hawaiian VacationsMy Profile

    • australianperfumejunkies says:

      Yes, not a huge amount more though Undina, it will mean beans and toast though for a week. He He he
      Portia x

  16. Dionne says:

    I guess I’m odd man out, but for some reason BdI just didn’t rock my world. Nice enough, but it just didn’t hit the spot. Which makes me feel like a bit of a backcountry yokel since it gets so much love in our circles, but in the end love isn’t rational, right?

    However, in my own defense I’ll admit I adore SSS’s Champagne de Bois, which is in a similar vein.

    • australianperfumejunkies says:

      Ha ha ha! Dionne, you are allowed to have your own taste, we aren’t the gestapo of fragrance. Like it, love it or hate it: the fragrance doesn’t mind. More for us. You are hardly a yokel, he he he.
      Portia x

  17. […] Portia (Australian Perfume Junkies): Bois des Iles will forever remind me of Paris, Jin and my journey there earlier in 2013, our friend… […]

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