Annick Ménardo 2006
[bwa darme'ni]
Family: woody, oriental
Notes: olibanum, orris, pink pepper, guaiac wood, benzoin, coriander, copaiba balsam, patchouli, white musk
Cool incense
Period: The haute cuisine years
Bois d'Arménie collection

From the beginning, Guerlain's prestigious L'Art & la Matière line didn't exactly have critics raving. Maybe this was intended, since it was supposed to be "niche" fragrances, luxuries without broad appeal. The style was regarded as rather "un-Guerlain", a bit pretentious and lacking the immediate attraction and full harmony which otherwise characterize the house, although each fragrance had its enthusiasts. Bois d'Arménie, by Annick Ménardo, joined the collection in 2006 and was the first to receive widespread acclaim. One reason for this was that it paid tribute to incense, or more precisely Papier d'Arménie, little strips of blotting paper for burning, impregnated with benzoin resin, which has been produced in France since 1885 and used for its calmly vanilla-smelling smoke.

Bois d'Arménie had that balsamic, nostalgic incense scent of the ancient Orient that made Guerlain lovers associate it with prewar classics. Except that it didn't exercise the classic Guerlain drydown transformation (which is true for all the L'Art & la Matière fragrances), consisting almost solely of base notes: smoky and slightly dry guaiac wood, olibanum, orris, sweet benzoin, balsam, dusty patchouli — the only notes that gave lift were pink pepper and coriander. Instead, it was a panoramic take on the incense theme, gracefully crafted with exceptional softness and transparency, and a shade of coldness. Its patchouli, benzoin and orris were high-grade, adding the particular background effect that whispers "Guerlain..."

Bottle. The bottle for the L'Art & la Matière line is an oblong slender block of glass, decorated on one end with a golden metal strip with the perfume's name imprinted on it, as if it were the spine of an old leather-bound book.

  We love: the cool nakedness

  A soft balsam

  A woody coolness

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