New Perfume Reviews Ex Nihilo Bois D’Hiver and Oud Vendome- Two Faces of Wood

Back in March I wrote about the new perfume brand Ex Nihilo created by partners Benoit Verdier, Sylvie Loday, and Olivier Royere exclusively in their Paris boutique. At that time, I had five of the nine releases and was hoping for another helpful friend to get me the remaining four. Instead those remaining four came to me as Ex Nihilo has opened an in-store boutique at Bergdorf-Goodman in New York. Ona recent trip to New York City I stopped in to get samples of the remaining four and take in the Ex Nihilo experience. I will talk more about that in tomorrow’s review for today I will give quick reviews on two of the woodier offerings in the original collection.

michel girard

Michel Girard

Boid D’Hiver (winter woods) is composed by perfumer Michel Girard. M. Girard has spent most of his career composing mass-market designer fragrances. I am always interested to see what a perfumer who has been so successful in the mass consumer market does when given the opportunity to go with a niche sensibility. In Bois D’Hiver it is clear that M. Girard relishes having the opportunity to add a few more precious raw materials while staying true to his populist aesthetic. It makes Bois D’Hiver the more easily experienced fragrance but no less interesting for that affability.

M. Girard uses a very focused burst of cardamom and pink pepper to lead you into those winter woods. The first of which is cedar wrapped in a floral cloak of cyclamen and heliotrope. The intense florals do an excellent job of making the cedar more interesting and less of a framing device as it so often can be. The real woods come in the base as an oud accord and sandalwood form the real woody heart of Bois D’hHver. A little patchouli and a little musk are here also but it is the sandalwood and cypriol-based oud accord which stand out.

Bois D’Hiver is a smoothly unspooling piece of perfumery. I admired the way M. Girard agilely carried me from one phase of development to the next. Bois D’Hiver is so easy breezy to wear I suspect this is going to be one of the brand’s best sellers.

Bois D’Hiver has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.  

olivier-pescheux

Olivier Pescheux

Oud Vendome by perfumer Olivier Pescheux is the opposite of Bois D’Hiver as I think it is one of the more adventurous entries in this inaugural collection. M. Pescheux combines many of niche perfumery’s most challenging notes into a perfume which is fascinating for how they all manage to combine into a perfume more enjoyable despite the envelope pushing going on.

M. Pescheux opens with a very focused ginger swathed in saffron. The ginger here is really tightly controlled making it a concentrated focal point. By making it that tight the saffron has more space to expand into. I think there are going to be people who will be surprised at this opening as it was nothing like I imagined it would be when I saw the note list. The heart is a raw cedar wood made even more vestigial with galbanum making it seem like a freshly shattered branch. Then we get down to a base of real oud matched with incense. The oud is allowed to be oud and some of its more challenging facets are here to be seen. The incense helps keep them from being as strident as it could be.

Oud Vendome is going to be the one Ex Nihilo for those who really want to smell different. I think when it finds its audience it will have a fan forever.

Oud Vendome has 14-16 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

I appreciate the creative team at Ex Nihilo choosing to have two such very different interpretations of a woody perfume. It is a real testament to the variety overall of these first nine releases.

Tomorrow I will review Rose Hubris and Musc Infini as well as give you my impression of how the Osmologue personalized my favorite in the line, Vetiver Moloko.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Ex Nihilo.

Mark Behnke

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