… or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Honey-bomb.
This post is dedicated to the nine of you who think Serge Lutens’ Miel de Bois is wonderful. You know who you are. You get together in dark alleys on the full moon, do your disgusting secret “handshake,” and head on inside to your deviant festivities that make a nice, skank-loving gal like me blush. They say it takes all kinds, but when it comes to stuff like MdB I have never been sure that´s true.
I love the smell of beeswax, that slightly musky, floral note – the scent of pollen on a billion tiny wings. If I´m lucky, that note winds up in various edible honeys. When I lived in Santa Fe, one of my biggest treats was buying honey at the farmer´s market from some rural apiary that boasted a particular kind of flower. There´s clover honey and tupelo honey (and the Van Morrison song by that name which makes me cry every time I hear it, because I used to rock Diva to sleep to it.) Anyone who´s been to Florida has seen (and if they´re lucky, tasted) orange blossom honey, and there are many other flavors as well.
I´ve been looking for the perfect honey fragrance – one that gives me that rich, sweet, golden smell without anything odd or undesirable. Serge Lutens´ Miel de Bois is an absolutely stunning honey, but I have to get through what is for me an almost unbearable six hours of funky-foot, musk and boxwood-smell before I can enjoy it. At the other end of the pricing spectrum, L´Occitane makes an Eau de Miel Honey Gentle Water for kids (and their moms and dads) that´s delicately scented, as it should be, and quite nice for such an inexpensive product, but doesn´t have the oomph or lasting power I´m looking for.
I need to order up another sample of Santa Maria Novella´s Acqua di Cuba, which is allegedly a tobacco scent but was was also perfect honey for about five minutes, and I thought – eureka, I´ve found it! – until that … um … that male smell came in. Let´s call it liquid male essence; I´m trying to be delicate here. Lee and I whiffed it simultaneously on our skin and burst out laughing, it´s that specific. I´m open-minded and all but I´m still not walking around smelling like that, sorry.
Then there´s that Arabian Oud store thing Louise sent me home with, Prestige (oud, sandalwood, cinnamon, saffron, patch, honey). The problem with that is, I have to put up with two or three hours of fairly strong oudh and what I thought was rose, although it´s not listed, and while that isn´t the end of the world I´d like to skip directly to the honey.
Anyway, last week I found myself out at Art With Flowers (how does that happen?) standing in front of the Lutens section. I threw caution to the wind and sprayed on Miel de Bois on my elbow, for old times. Just to get another reminder of how truly unbearable it is.
And surprise, surprise. I get it, finally. Miel de Bois is a revelation, monumental for me, because it graces the top of a fairly short list of fragrances I truly despise (another is Borneo). I had to open my mind past the idea that it would smell like “honey” – like the olfactory version of the stuff you taste in your tea – and embrace the perfection of honey in the woods. There´s that whiff of hawthorn, with its semi-indescribable smell (floral with a weird undertone of funky Frito dog-feet?) which only emphasizes the similar musky note that appears in beeswax, honeycomb, or standing next to an actual hive. The gaiac and oak add a smoky note that just upped the oddity to me until I read up on the scent a little and could then identify them (to be fair, Serge did helpfully stick the word Bois in the name).
I’m a little suspicious of my profound change of heart — this time around the scent seems to be completely missing the cat pee aroma that so many find objectionable, and which is explained in Bois de Jasmin’s hilariously polite, unenthusiastic review. Has the formulation changed? Did I sniff an old bottle (how much of that stuff can they sell, anyway?) Time will tell.
Anyway, for any of you willing to take the plunge, I still only needed one spray on my arm, and I am still fairly certain that throwing this on with abandon would kill me (which I would say of most Serges, really). And I still wouldn´t be wearing this thing to any enclosed office spaces where you don´t want people to hate on you. But I’m a convert. Let me know where the next meeting is.
Images: honeycomb, wikimedia.org; hawthorn, Carreg Cennen: www.walkcarmarthenshire.com