The first time I tried Bois de Violette I kicked myself for having bought Feminité du Bois a few months earlier. You know that shitty feeling of having bought the good, and then finding the better? I quickly came to the conclusion, though, that I prefer Feminité for most purposes and would choose it over BdV if I were to have just one. BdV brings into relief a feeling about Feminité that I could never quite get my nose around. Feminité’s boozyish combination of fruit, wood and flower expresses itself with a dried-fruit resinousness that I find nowhere except in the SL Feminité and Bois perfumes. Without using any of the classic perfume resins/oils (benzoin, olibanum, myrrh, spikenard, peru balsam, cistus labdanum) Feminité synthesizes a flower/fruit/wood that has the same stickiness and chewy quality that we associate with botanical resins.
Bois de Violette, while gorgeous, removes the stickiness of Feminité in order to focus on the highs of the added violet. The result is that it speaks in a higher, perhaps prettier register, but loses some of the implicit harmony of Feminité’s middle register.
The Feminité / BdV dilemma fleshes out an understanding that I’ve been coming to. I’ve always preferred the range of the viola to that of the violin. In the small bit that I’ve experienced of opera, I’m instantly drawn to the mezzo soprano rather than the soprano. The majority are drawn to the most prominent, the one that shines the brightest, the highest in the hierarchy. But just listen to a recording of Marilyn Horne singing Rossini and you’ll understand why I’ve come to prefer Feminité du Bois to Bois de Violette.