Odd birds in the bush

First things first – LindaB, Zazie and Daniele are the winners of the Bois Naufrage samples, as selected by random.org.

The delightful Andreas of Humiecki and Graef sent me a sample of all the H&G scents to try, including the two latest, Clemency and Bosque. This review’ll be about Bosque, with a word or two about Clemency on the side. But first, the preamble.

Like most of you reading this, I’m a perfume freak, but also a little jaded. Humiecki and Graef’s schtick did little to win me over. Slavic tears, referencing to the horrors of war – it just didn’t work for me. More suited to Now Smell This’s Prix Eau Faux than reality, it somehow conjured up new levels of absurdity – star shaped perfume structure, scents for older women with young male lovers, a bald-bodied but bearded man holding a vase. Perhaps it was and is genuinely felt and genuinely meant, but in a saturated marketplace, any authenticity looks suspect. However, I enjoyed their first release Skarb, supposedly about melancholy, but to my mind about the world where celery meets immortelle and breeds lovage. The herb. Not some strange neologism (I’m gonna have some o’ dat loveage, baybee). I hated Askew (it certainly made me feel passionate) and Multiple Rouge (alien fruit and raspy musk and loudness in combo don’t make my heart skip a beat) but thought Geste was beautiful (dirty/clean musks and powdery violets). Eau Radieuse, though too metallic for me, does interesting things with that whole men’s cologne vibe, changing its direction to something, well, askew.

So what about Bosque? Here’s H&G’s details:

A fragrance about contentment
The HUMIECKI & GRAEF brand is pleased to announce the addition of
another new fragrance to the line, the seventh eau de toilette concentrée:
BOSQUE – a fragrance about contentment. The scent describes the feeling of
being fully at one with the moment, immersed in all-encompassing relaxation.
“Arrival”. Being at one. To give yourself over in ecstatic abandon to the one
whose boundless intimacy you pine for. BOSQUE is inspired by this singular
blissful moment of profound satisfaction. It is the sense of togetherness and
deeply experienced intimacy revealed in the primal authenticity of this
moment. BOSQUE, Spanish for bosk – a copse or grove – represents this
feeling. Since ancient times the bosk, as a sacred grove, has been considered a
place of peace and happiness and a sanctuary of the Gods.
BOSQUE speaks of a modern form of quiet sensuality. It is not showy yet can
be provocative due to its natural quality and physicality. It is joyous and
relaxed without ever being overtly salacious or one-dimensional.
LES CHRISTOPHS (Christophe Laudamiel & Christoph Hornetz) are the master
perfumers who developed this intimate fragrance. Primrose notes symbolize
both contentment and new beginnings – their softness together with Narcise
Absolute (narcissus poeticus) creates a subtle floral scent. The unusual
combination of buffalo grass and musk notes is reminiscent of the smell of
warm skin. Grapefruit, vetiver and saffron notes complete the sensual
experience, conjuring the palette of glowing, warm yellow tones that give
BOSQUE its radiant grace.
As with all HUMIECKI & GRAEF creations BOSQUE is a fragrance for both
women and men. It is available worldwide from March 2010 at selected
perfumeries and concept stores.

I don’t know about the sanctuary of the Gods, ( the Pan in the picture is certainly a contrast to the alabaster maiden, even if I think he’d be more at home in a Berlin ‘special interest’ bar with a name like ‘Sanctuary’,  than a woman’s arms…And what is he holding onto?), but there is something weirdly comforting about this odd little scent.

The great thing – it smells like nothing else on the market. As far as I know. Actually, the grapefruit, vetiver, saffron thing is a totally accurate set of notes for my initial impression. And mine was ‘saffron custard poured onto a lawn. Someone’s eating grapefruit and watching’. There’s a touch of Angostura bitters added to the mix to make it both gourmand and slightly toxic, in that adult-only comfort sense. It’s closest corollary is probably Bois Farine, but that smells much more foody, and seems almost normal compared to this hairy and smooth wonder. It’s soft – maybe that is the primrose, but for someone who has them as a weed in his garden, I don’t recall the smell. And the narcissus kick gives it that slightly off quality that you get in Fleur de Narcisse – as though you went for floral but ended up somewhere oh so much stranger. Narcissus poeticus – and here I do know as they’ve just finished flowering – is the last narcissus of them all to bloom, with the tulips and even the alliums, and whilst they have a rich floral, some would say classic old lady scent, there’s a whole lot of nasty going on there too. In fact, I picked a bunch for the house, went out for a couple of hours and thought I’d brought dog doodoo back in with me. It was the feral skank lurking underneath all that pretty pretty.

There’s a hint of the beast here, but only a little. Occasionally, I think I get a whiff of something generic men’s cologney, along the lines of dihydromyrcenol (sp?) or somesuch. And then it leaves. It might be the saffronish aromachemicals  playing metallic games with me. Or perhaps indeed there is a spermy something lurking deep at this scent’s heart.

But most of the time this is a softly spoken, quirky but cuddlesome geek of a perfume. Loveable, leftfield, and the most curious fragrance I’ve smelled this year. Its relaunched my love affair with scent. And I’ve run out of the sample. Which means something. It’s on my ‘might buy’ list, alongside plenty of others. Only one of which will be selected, though.

With this and Clemency, a slightly austere linden blossom-cassie-rose number that is striking with all the right angles, I’ll forgive Humiecki and Graef nearly all their purple prose.

Both Clemency and Bosque seem to be unavailable in the UK and US right now. My samples were scent via Aroma Company in Germany, and First in Fragrance also stock the whole range, and ship worldwide, both samples and bottles.

Which perfume house can you forgive? And which ones still fail to win you over with their sales patter? Please post – I might not be able to answer for a while as I have a day of meetings follwed by a five hour drive home… Sheesh. I need more Bosque!

  • That was exactly what I was looking for. You have done a great job communicating your message. Keep up the good work.

  • Priscilla E. Bennett says:

    Thank you for your post, and i deem it helps me a lot.

  • Style Spy says:

    The big hairy he-man is preferable, if you ask me, to the smooth, wan little girlboys most designers put in their ads these days. Now I think of it, just about the only ads you see anymore with men who are actually masculine-looking are the ones for fragrance. The clothing ads all are populated with pouty little Peter Pan types. What’s up with that, I wonder?

  • Kate says:

    Fragrances? I can’t get past the idea that the dewd in first picture needs his chest mowed.

  • Winifreida says:

    Hear, hear, these ‘fumes are good!! If I did not already have a vat of L Air Du Rein I would have fallen big time for Geste, I thought it really lovely and the best of this type, but its bad enough having ten tuberoses, let alone three or four of these non/skin/funky/muskys….
    I’ve nearly forgiven Guerlain, although without ebay for the mad buyup of oakmoss Mitsouko, it would not have been easy…I am very curious as to whether they will reissue Mitsouko with that new de-allergenised oakmoss, making the 2009 fake-moss version a future oddity commanding astronomical prices!
    I genuinely like the Matieres, although in general they are rather soft and too pretty, and ludicrously overpriced…hmmm, maybe I havn’t forgiven them!

    • Lee says:

      They are ludicrously overpriced! But so are lots of others the we love too. We’re all such suckers…:d/

  • Shelley says:

    You went into the bush…and may have come back to the fold? :d/

    Bully for Bosque, then, I say. Even if you don’t ever root hole hog in the underbrush of scent again, it’s kinda nice to know that something can pique your interest, isn’t it?

    And you have piqued mine, what with your prose and your reference to Fleur de Narcisse and that very fact that you sat up and took notice, in a comfy with whiffs of both beast and “Generic Eau Masculine” way.

    • Shelley says:

      Okay, I can’t stand it. I didn’t fix my “cemetery” typo last month, but I need to make that “hole” “whole,” or I’ll have dug myself into a hole and never be whole again.

    • Lee says:

      I like the idea of a hole hog.

      Once upon a time, there was a timid pig who found a hole he never wanted to leave. The hole was dry and cosy with old leaves and bracken and looked like it was the perfect place for a shy hog to spend the rest of his days. He huffled down, sighed contentedly and thought to himself, ‘I’m never leaving my cozy hole’.

      But the very next day, it started to rain…

    • Lee says:

      Well, I’ve written a list Shelley. That certainly means the addiction is dimmed but not departed.

      • Shelley says:

        Some of my best days are when I huffle down.

        Some of my other best days are when I am exploring.

        A list, hmm? 😕 Snow on the roof but fire in the furnace…

  • March says:

    What kinds of “special interests?” Antique coins? Ships in bottles? Butterfly collecting?

    It’s fun to read you so excited about a scent! I laugh at their copy too, but I really enjoyed Askew and Multiple Rouge, I think, even if I didn’t want to wear MR… at least they’re interesting!

    • carter says:

      Fine leather goods.3:-o

    • Lee says:

      Ursine studies. Spinach and Macaroni. Salami and Martini. Sequestering and Mediating.

      Aaah, MR makes me a little queasy, and Askew hurts me. But Geste and Bosque – I like em soft and odd.

  • Robin R. says:

    Damn, the boy can write.

  • Tara C says:

    That photo of the man was a bit of a shocker this early in the morning, but love the name Bosque and would like to give it a sniff, as well as Clemency. Hopefully they will show up at Luckyscent some day.

    • Lee says:

      They should do. Bosque is a great name, though the only real assocation I get is the Pan and the maiden qualities from the photos… The scent itself isn’t woody.

  • Louise says:

    Well, I like both pics :d/ Almost equally 😮

    Lovely post, Lee. I’d love to try Bosque-sounds like it might wake my tired nose up. I’m feeling fairly jaded with ‘fumes right now-hoping something elevates me a bit.

    Houses I’ve forgiven-lately, L’Artisan, ’cause I really like the Tube de Nuit.

    How grows your garden? I miss your beets 😡

    • Lee says:

      I must try the NdT – l’Artisan seem to dislike shipping me samples… :((

      Like you, I’m not offended by the pics….

      Beets, spinach, lettuces, broad beans, herbs (dill, chervil, parsley, mint, tarragon, verbena), scallions, carrots are now…


  • sybil says:

    Well…saffron custard poured onto a lawn sounds pretty interesting, if nothing else. But my eyes! Those pictures! I’d still like to try it. Your review made my morning much more amusing, thank you! (hey…how is the formerly little whiskery girl-pup?)

  • Francesca says:

    Before I scrolled down and saw the SWINTON-esqe dame, all I could think of was, Will Bosque make me grow huge quantities of hair all over my body?

    Then I saw the woman and thought, Oooh, will Bosque make me lose 75 lbs?

    Given your description, I’d certainly be interested in giving it a sniff.

  • aotearoa says:

    Oh! My eyes,my eyes.
    I cannot even get past the photo to your,undoubtedly,glorious prose Lee. What smells could such an hysterical campaign be advertising?? – I’ll let my mind boggle and come back later when he’s woken up…………..

  • Pimpinett says:

    Great review, as always! Made me curious – I think I’ve seen Humiecki & Graef bottles here, actually, will have to look for Bosque, at the very least.

    I am beginning to think that I can forgive Aquolina. I still detest Pink Sugar, but it’s a case of horrified fascination rather than cold hatred, and every time I come across someone with a massive trail of Pink Sugar sillage I have to hold back a fit of the giggles. Which isn’t all bad, when you think about it – I’m a little afraid I may even need a sample at some point, for the occasional mirth fix.

  • Fiordiligi says:

    Good morning Lee. Great piece, hideous hairy man photo and I don’t want to smell these scents, but as Joe says, “saffron custard poured onto a lawn” is just brilliant! I think that most of these florid descriptions, translated (usually badly) into English, are so ridiculous they make me glaze over and lose interest.

    Happy Bank Holiday!

  • Joe says:

    Lee, you make me laugh: “saffron custard poured onto a lawn. Someone’s eating grapefruit and watching.” Perfect. And it makes me really want to smell it too. Add narcissus, and I’m starting to really salivate and want to order a sample asap.

    Being half “Slavic,” I wanted to love Skarb but I think all I got was the celery and maybe a sprig of dill or something else leafy. I remember trying one or two other H&Gs that were okay; if I get bored sometime I might pull them out of purgatory.

    But the question of which perfume house I can forgive is easy: État Libre d’Orange. I want to punish (in a very Foucaultian sense) whoever came up with concepts like Don’t Get Me Wrong, Baby… and “Hotel Slut. But they’ve also made a couple things I wouldn’t want to live without (Vierges et Toreros) or consider extremely well done (Charogne, Eloge du Traitre, Rossy de Palma). And there’s a lot more of the line that I’m very curious to try; oh, and my SWINTON should be arriving sometime next week, fingers crossed — unsniffed, but I’m splitting it with some fellow addicts aficionados.

    Ugh! sorry about that five-hour drive! b-( But have a great weekend.

    • carter says:

      You are really getting good with those italics, Joe!^:)^

    • Lee says:

      The five hour drive was holiday traffic nasty (mid-term break + long weekend does not = pleasurable motorway cruising). Never mind.

      I like ELDO – their tackiness is fun. Enjoy the Swinton.

  • I love Christophe Laudamiel and Christoph Hornetz if only because they are amongst the very few perfumers coming up with truly, fiercely modern stuff, even if that makes it a little challenging to wear and kudos to H&G for commissioning it. I haven’t smelled this last one, having yet to review Clemency (it’s still on the decant backlog)…
    As for sales patter failing to win me over… too many brands to mention.

  • carter says:

    Well, I very nearly struck blind by the words “LES CRISTOPHS” but if the pair of ’em have managed to inspire you “to give yourself over in ecstatic abandon to the one whose boundless intimacy you pine for” I say hey, CRISTOPHS, you go girls!

    • carter says:

      Lawd, I’m dropping my H’s like cwazy. ‘enry ‘iggins would be ‘orified.

      • Lee says:

        Don’t you go worryin none about the aitch malarkey, me duck. They’re over-rated.

        I’m not sure there’s been ecstatic abandon. Firm interest however…

  • Ms. Christian says:

    My lesbian sensibilities were affronted by that hairy lounging male clutching at (what indeed?!) something as he feigned sleep, and I was made fearful and solicitous for the skeletal woman hiding her (probably) non-existent breast, but your prose (’saffron custard poured onto a lawn. Someone’s eating grapefruit and watching’) coupled with the Manhattan I’m sipping made me sit up and take notice.

    You’ve done it again, Lee, and in the best possible way. I’ve freed the credit card and samples from FIF will be mine soon.

    Love you.

    • Lee says:

      Oh, Ms. C, sorry to ‘force’ you to spend. I’ll need to hear youtr thoughts…:x