A couple years back the perfume buzzword was deconstruction. Throughout most of that time I heard Inigo Montoya saying, “You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means.” Or maybe more accurately their idea of deconstruction didn’t match my perception of what it should be. What I wanted was a perfume that took a well-known ingredient and using other ingredients to form an accord without any of it present. When it has been done in that style it provides a different perspective on the what it is imitating. Essential Parfums Bois Imperial does exactly this for sandalwood.
Essential Parfums is a unique brand in the way they give the perfumer the freedom to create as they wish. Because of that they also put the name of the perfumer right on the label. This is becoming a small vital piece of the niche perfume sector. Giving talented perfumers the chance to go their own way. The only restriction is that can only use sustainable materials.
That last is particularly apt when it comes to sandalwood as over harvesting severely damaged it in some places in the world. Perfumer Quentin Bisch has decided not to worry about that as he forms his deconstructed interpretation in Bois Imperial.
The core piece of this is the biological degradation of patchouli called Akigalawood. I have written about this in the past as a more versatile fraction of patchouli where a spiciness reigns over a lighter earthiness. It is an ideal foundation to build upon. In the early going he uses two Asian herbs in Timut pepper and Thai basil. Both carry a noticeable citrus piece to their scent profile of grapefruit and lemon, respectively. Those provide a bit of sparkle, but it is the spiciness of the pepper and green of the basil which begin to flow into the Akigalawood. He uses a Givaudan muguet synthetic analog called Petalia to add a fresh green to things. When I first notice it, I am not sure what part it will play. The remainder of the deconstructed sandalwood comes through vetiver and another woody synthetic Ambrofix. The latter is a less monolithic version of the well-known Ambrox. As these notes blend in the Petalia reveals its reason for being here. The grassiness of vetiver and the woodiness of Ambrofix need something to push back against their sharper edges. The Petalia is that. Once it is all together it is a fresher version of sandalwood than anything you can find in nature.
Bois Imperial has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
This perfume is one of the best deconstructions I have encountered all without anyone on the creative team using the word. The next time I do hear someone use it I’m going to point at Bois Imperial as how you construct a deconstructed perfume.
Disclosure: this review is based on a sample I purchased.