Féminité du Bois 
Serge Lutens (1992)

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Féminité du Bois by Serge Lutens

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About Féminité du Bois by Serge Lutens

People & Companies

Serge Lutens
Fragrance House
Pierre Bourdon
Serge Lutens
Packaging / Bottle Design
Original House

Féminité du Bois is a women's perfume launched in 1992 by Serge Lutens

Fragrance notes.

  1. Top Notes

  2. Heart Notes

  3. Base Notes

Reviews of Féminité du Bois by Serge Lutens

There are 64 reviews of Féminité du Bois by Serge Lutens.

Féminité du Bois by Serge Lutens (1992) was originally a Shiseido perfume, that like all Shiseido perfumes, seemed to only be given maybe a few years shy of a decade on the market before being axed by the brand, as it seems the house values novelty and rotating styles. Shiseido gave Lutens his start in the fragrance industry in 1982, when they commissioned a fragrance from him, Nombre Noir (1982). A decade later, and he was a creative director in the cosmetics division for the brand, after decades as a photographer, hair stylist, and makeup artist, first getting his foot in the door just two years before making Nombre Noir for Shiseido by instead being in charge of remaking their image as a brand. Being a Japanese company, Shiseido obviously liked to keep business within Japan as much as possible when dealing with contractors and partners, as a matter of respect; thus it would be that Takasago was contracted to make Féminité du Bois, which leads us to Pierre Bourdon. Christopher Sheldrake, who was a nose for Shiseido in-house, also had a big part to play, and would in time become unofficial house perfumer for a lot of the early work put out by Serge Lutens, and indeed Bourdon too would be contracted to return a few times. By 2000, after Shisheido had decided it reached the end of the life cycle for this fragrance, Serge Lutens decided to break away from the Japanese company and spearhead his own Parfums-Beaute Serge Lutens, and Féminité du Bois became the Serge Lutens classic it is today.

So what's the big deal about this stuff? Femininity of the Wood? Well, sort of yet also not really. Nobody was really a fly on the wall to hear the conversations that must have transpired between Bourdon, Sheldrake, and Lutens back when this was being put together; but it seems most agree that the idea to make a woody scent for the conventional female palette of the time was something big cosmetic brands just didn't do, and thus why it should be done. Overall, this is described as plum wine, with an unlisted cumin-based funk for a musky used underwear drawer feel, and the wood of the dresser drawer itself is the base, pencil-shavings and all. In the original run this came in an intense pure parfum, full of that ripe plum over a slew of spices like cinnamon, ginger, and met with meaty tarragon, cumin, and mace. The dandy floral heart of carnation, rose, jasmine, ylang, violet, and orris is juiced up with peach lactones, then settles over the rich wood, benzoin, vanilla, and undercurrent of civet. Not very 1992 if you ask me, which is perhaps why it became a hidden gem among the more-mature crowd yearning for the glory years of mid-century women's fragrances that weren't afraid of a little dirt. Féminité du Bois Eau Timide is the taller bottle most people see in photos from the Shiseido era, and it's a lighter, less-funky, less-rich take on the subject, being suitably more "timid" as the name suggests. Performance is long, but this is not a beast of a fragrance, in any rendition.

Once the move to the Serge Lutens bottle came in 2000, Christopher Sheldrake did a modification without Bourdon that became the stuff we know today. This version, leans far more unisex than the original, being even muskier, woodier, and a bit drier, with the plum notes less sweet, and less transparent than they were in the original Shiseido version. Of course, guys into Serge Lutens are going to prefer this take to the classic over the one co-composed with Bourdon, but it should be noted that this wasn't done due to any IFRA regulations or lowered materials budgets, as Serge Lutens himself said the fragrance was always intended to be a meeting of the masculine and the feminine, so the Serge Lutens iteration is actually more -correct- in his eyes than the previous version released by Shiseido in the 1990's. Also, there is no more pure parfum or Féminité du Bois Eau Timide either, so in some ways, you can almost consider them different perfumes, as the proper Serge Lutens version stands alone as the singular representation of Féminité du Bois as it had always meant to be. That said, I can totally understand and respect people who fell in love with the original "spiced plum wine" variant of the scent, as the newer Féminité du Bois (which has been around longer at this point), does much to de-emphasize that particular element, especially as it no longer even has the packaging to communicate it. Women's woody perfumes seem forever doomed to stay as the occasional lark or blip on the radar, but this one is responsible for helping define the style of perhaps the 21st Century's most archetypal niche perfume house. Thumbs up


Explorations in the attic of my past, I trace my fingers across the buckled, bowed surface of a wooden artifact, with afternoon sunlight shining through a jungle of spider plants in the windows that face that backyard. Cedar, along with pine, are my earliest scent memories. There is a sober sweetness to a red cedar, a small face spelunking through the deepest hope chest in the world, pretending to be a vampire returning to his coffin.

Feminite du Bois has a profound impact on my olfactory receptors. "Where have I smelled this before?" turns into a near dissertation each time I wear it. A transportive experience can only be applied with only a few dozen fragrances out of several that I've smelled, and this one is included. We know how highly regarded it is among perfumers and perfume critics for its innovation and avant-garde approach; it opened the world of woods to fragrance in an unprecedented manner, it was a benchmark for what would become niche perfumery (as we would see in further Serge Lutens releases throughout the 90s). It also blurred the lines between what constitutes gender in fragrance, particularly for the western world. "Femininity of the Wood," may scare some men, but this exploration has proven to be genderless, especially thirty years after its release, where perceptions of gender have been successfully challenged in modern, even mainstream fragrances. Those who love Hermes Bel Ami will find something kindred to it with Feminite du Bois as well.

This also features one of my favorite plush, velvety plum accords in a fragrance, as it balances the sweet with the spicier qualities, underlined with a dusky cumin which mellows after its opening. The dry down has a stage that brings to mind violet scented beeswax candles, burning leaves, and smoke from a distant fire. When I wear this, I want to relish autumn days minute by minute, and retreat from the noise and into the forest. End scene with a slow fade.

The combination of clove and plum in this fragrance immediately transports me to an underground urban street, where a hint of smoke rises from industrial activity. The sweetness from the plum helps to balance the smoke and woods. This scent is perfect for fall and winter. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it, as I never expected to. The blend of clove, ginger, and cinnamon is cleverly composed and the spiciness almost gives off a smoky quality that makes it enigmatic.

The drydown is where this fragrance really shines. While it may lean towards a more mature audience, I don't find it dated or old-fashioned. It's unisex, but the spice and woodiness make it lean towards the masculine side. I recommend giving it a try even if you're not typically a fan of cloves.

Vintage Féminité du Bois by Shiseido is the fragrance of a pinned up librarian by day,sex goddess by night,when she know before her leave the house that she will not return alone.this is so gorgeous.the kind of gorgeous where you just can't stop sniffing your arm to get more of it.very film noir and stunning.this is astringent and warm at the same time, cedary and sexy,with warmth from the plum.i am getting image of an older woman sitting at her make up mirror, slapping on rose powder, spraying on old fashion perfume,and caking on lipstick.she has a open bowl of ginger cookies.

It opens on my skin with a burst of cedar, conjuring up images of bonfires in autumn,the beauty of the leaves turning colours and the crisp air blowing across your face and you're wrapped up in your favorite sweeter. it's like a nostalgic hug. as the heart notes begin to show themselves, i get spiced plum and ginger.a gorgeous, spiced fruit connection that never gets sweet,but never too spicy either.the cedar and other wood notes stay lingering in the background,but allow the fruit and spices to steal the show during the dry down.the result is a more tempered sweetness,a darker and woodier edge.it sublimates impluses,desires,instincts, memories into a bottled magical fountain pumping with sexuality.

Much has been written about this one, most of it laudatory. I was glad to see Barbara Herman single out the prominent cumin note that isn't in the pyramid–I was starting to think I had the wrong fragrance in the sample tube! But, no, FdB is most definitely cumin-forward, which is not necessarily a problem for me, although too much, or skewing too strongly to "B.O.," is a deal-breaker.

In the case of FdB, it's not so much the strength of the cumin as the juxtaposition. Herman likens the overall scent to "a poetic perfume rendition of a woman's nether regions," which may have been the intent, but I find the underlying fruit to be the wrong sort of sweetness for that; no disco lemonade here, alas. Rather than poetic punani, I got a fruity-floral bouquet of the 1990s "fresh" aromachems I abhor, and all the woods and spice in the world–which are seemingly crammed into FdB–aren't enough to compensate. It dries down better after a few hours, but not to anything worth slogging through the opening for.

For photorealistic sex-in-a-bottle, I'll stick with Eau d'Hermès, thanks very much.

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