Forest bath perfumes to bring the outdoors in
Imagine walking through a dense dark forest, breathing in the aromas of plant life, resin, pine needles, damp earth and leafy branches. It is essentially the olfactory family of wood. Its most common raw materials are vetiver, sandalwood, patchouli, cedar, pine, cypress, guaiac, and fig and agarwood bark, all of which provide structure, character and hold. to the fragrance when integrated into its base notes. There is no doubt that over the years, certain cult masterpieces for women, including Bois des Îles by Chanel, Samsara by Guerlain and Féminité du Bois by Serge Lutens, have played with woody notes, but the movement remained relatively calm. And while there have been a few stars – Dolce Vita from Dior, Miu Miu from Prada and Women from Calvin Klein – wood is taking center stage in boutiques and major perfume houses this fall.
“Wood is an endless source of treasures,” says Isabelle Michaud, Montreal perfumer and founder of Monsillage. “Its vibration can be warm, creamy, resinous and even earthy, but also cool and transparent. This is what makes it so beautiful. Michaud, whose scents include Eau de Céléri made from vetiver, has a vision shared by Barnabé Fillion, the French perfumer behind Aesop’s fragrances. “Wood is one of my favorite materials,” says Fillion. “It brings texture and depth to mixes while interacting well with other materials, making them sparkle.” Delphine Jelk, perfumer at Guerlain and the woman behind his new intoxicating woody floral, Santal Pao Rosa, agrees. “Nothing like an exceptional wood to trigger strong and contrasting sensations, “she says.” In my latest creations, sandalwood, a precious Indian wood, highlights the rose in a totally unexpected and carnal way. It anchors it and gives it the creamy power that I dreamed of.
Although traditionally reserved for men, woody scents are now popular with all those looking for a unique and assertive scent. “The predominance of woody notes in a scented combination enriches the feminine dimension of the person who wears it”, specifies Michaud. “Maybe it’s because of the juxtaposition of masculine-feminine codes. One thing is certain: their presence transports us. A whiff of vetiver or pine and you have one foot in nature.
Perhaps our deeper appreciation of nature over the past two years explains the welcome return of woody scents; in these uncertain times we have turned to things that bring us comfort. “A perfume creates a world that is both real and imaginary”, explains Fillion. “It is also an open window that overlooks nature and invites us to dialogue with what surrounds us, to which we no longer pay attention.
Wood has this strange power to soothe us and renew our vision of the world; it also offers us a collection of scents that touch both our heart and our skin. We’re definitely warming up to some more wood in our lives.