Serge Lutens Un Bois Vanille

Despite being a master Girl Scout cookie salesman, I was not a particularly successful girl scout. I actually got suspended from my troop for “bullying” the local Boy Scouts (an OUTRAGEOUS FALLACY that I will deny to the death). I do, however, have many positive memories of the Girl Scout days, the most vivid being the s’mores. There’s nothing like 2 graham crackers, some Hershey’s chocolate, and a marshmallow burnt to a charcoal-colored crisp.

Un Bois Vanille was the first Serge Lutens that I was able to enjoy without any effort. With notes of black vanilla absolute, licorice, sandalwood, coconut milk, beeswax, caramelized benzoin, bitter almond, Gaiac wood, and tonka bean (Luckyscent), UBV is nothing short of mouthwatering.

The opening is strange, with an awful lot of licorice. I am growing to tolerate anise in compositions such as Lolita Lempicka and Caron Aimez-Moi, but I’m not sure what it brings to the table here. This stage soon gives way to delicious s’mores goodness, complete with extra-burnt marshmallow and a roaring campfire in the background. The coconut gives it a creaminess, and the woods and almond balance out what could have been potentially overwhelming sweetness.

Luca Turin calls UBV a coffee fragrance, and I suppose the “burnt” vibe could be interpreted as roasted coffee beans, but I just don’t get “coffee” as strongly as I do the s’mores imagery.

UBV is often compared (unfairly, I think) to Pink Sugar. However, Pink Sugar has a prominent raspberry note (which I can’t stand) that is nowhere to be found in UBV. If you like the idea of Pink Sugar but the reality makes you want to cry, do give UBV a try.

Disclaimer: I tried UBV at bluemercury.


4 thoughts on “Serge Lutens Un Bois Vanille

  1. I was surprised to like this one – I rarely like vanilla-centered scents, but it’s one of the few that has absolutely no scent of plastic or New Barbie Doll in it. And I love the licorice – I agree that it’s flat-out weird, but I’m always happy to find it in any perfume.

    1. I thought the licorice was a great touch. UBV certainly has a lot more depth than any other vanilla scent I’ve encountered. Never smelled New Barbie Doll in anything! Guess I’ve been lucky… or just grew up too late to know any better?

      1. New Barbie Doll is a sort of clean combination of plastic and rubber. It seems to be a part of a lot of vanilla notes. I reviewed Jessica Simpson Taste, because BeautyEncounter sent me a free sample and I thought I should try a non-niche once in a while (See how I feel the need to justify trying a mainstream fragrance? I’m such a snob.), and to me it has a whole lot of New Barbie Doll.

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