Collection Extraordinaire by Van Cleef & Arpels was introduced to the perfume market in 2009. At the beginning it consisted of six fragrances, to the moment the line grew up to eight thanks to Precious Oud (2011) and recently launched Rose Velours. Collection Extraordinaire is a set of high-end perfumes created by different noses with use of high quality, most expensive raw materials.
The perfumer who worked on creating Bois d’Iris for Van Cleef & Arpels is Emilie Coppermann. “To smell wood, to see its scent from a totally different angle, forget the idea of the forest, leaves, and earth, and picture it on a beach, floating in waves, and washing up on the sand. Driftwood warmed by the sun. I paired it with Ambergris and Labdanum to underscore the solar and sensual dimension of this wood. Iris and Vetiver bring out the texture and elegance of this fragrance.” Thats what Emilie Coppermann wanted to evoke with this particular perfume creation. And she did it perfectly right!
It was one year ago when I first got interested in trying VC&A Bois d’Iris, and then other perfumes in Collection Extraordinaire. A sample of this perfume was sent to me by a kind American friend I met at Basenotes forums. We exchanged many opinions and messages – the talk quickly made us realize that our tastes were similar. She supposed I may enjoy this scent so she included it with the package. When I smelled Bois d’Iris for the first time I was hooked! The beauty of this perfume talked so seduclively to me that less than a month passed until I purchased my own bottle.
On my skin Bois d’Iris begins with the most sensual, delicate and embracing amber accord I have experienced in perfume so far. This smell is very tender, dare I say kind of sexual, but at the same time it’s amazingly inviting. Just a few minutes later, when the perfume settles on your skin this amber note becomes a little bit more balmy. It’s not the simple doing of the amber. A glorious and pure incense amplifies this effect. It’s slightly smoky but so well blended into the composition that even those who hate incense may fall in love with this perfume. At first I didn’t know Bois d’Iris has incense, was surprised when I found out, positively surprised of course. I was really happy to have a perfume with this note!
At the moment of minute 20 the iris enters the composition – it appears with glory, dressed in the most expensive and luxurious clothes. It’s kind of powdery in style for the moment it appears. To me it smells so chic, so alluring and absolutely elegant. Vanilla changes its character to a custard puff, but this impression quickly subsides. The evolution of iris into its woody gown is the most fantastic and enjoyable part of this fragrance. The subtle way it changes and solid effect that is obtained give such a contrast that it’s impossible to miss this part in the progress of Van Cleef & Arpels scent.
Bois d’Iris sources its woody iris from driftwood – that is a name for wood that has been washed onto a shore or beach of a sea, lake, or river by the action of winds, tides or waves. It posesses a very refined, smooth and pleasantly woody aroma. When I smell this phase of the perfume I envision a lonely beach with a pale beige sand and a big piece of wood that once was a tree before it somehow landed in the ocean and all its bark and sharp edges got smoothed by the waves of the sea. I am there, listening to the gentle whispers of the breeze.
Along with the woody notes my nose sometimes catches a smell that I think is salt. Like there was the ocean, salty air captured in this perfume. Or maybe that was just an illusion of ambergris or myrrh, the latter can sometimes be salty. There’s also a sugar note in Van Cleef & Arpels Collection Extraordinaire Bois d’Iris and my nose gets it but it depends on the weather and temperature. Sometimes it can be very strong on me, sometimes it barely appears. Other notes include vetiver and galbanum that I didn’t trace down.
To me this perfume is very unique and unusual. It renders the precious note of iris in a very interesting way combining it with warm ingredients such as amber, incense and a driftwood which gives a final touch of elegance to Bois d’Iris. This perfume is also dear to me, I bought it to award myself after obtaining my bachelor degree at university last year.
I think this perfume tells a story of going to the seaside. It’s the secret story of the driftwood. Nobody knows where did it come from, how long was it drifting on the waves and how long ago was it washed onto a shore. So many things you don’t know about it. But now its in front of you – white, laying on the soft sand, ready to be smelled and touched to give you the feeling of smoothness. This wood surely survived a lot. So remain quiet, close your eyes and listen to the breeze, it might tell you the story of this mysterious piece of wood.
Bois d’Iris has a very good lasting power and decent sillage. To me it’s quite unisex, but some may suggest that it smells more feminine to them. This may depend on the number of sprays, weather conditions and skin matters of course. Van Cleef & Arpels Collection Extraordinaire scents come on 75 ml bottles of a simple and elegant design, eau de parfum concentration. The solid glass bottle bears a black lacquered cap, around the bottle neck there’s a string with a pendant with VC&A logo.