Angel Belsey is a Londoner. She owns too much perfume and too many books.

Miel de Bois

Miel de Bois is heartstoppingly beautiful. I feel like that's all I need to say. It's packed with honey without being sweet, and that honey combines with the scent of burning dry oak to create a warm, intoxicating, sensual veil of fragrance. It is love at first sniff of the wax sample, and it only gets better on my skin.

Straightforward, right? Well.

The first time I sampled Miel de Bois, I gagged-- I kid you not, my friends. . . . Even the smallest nebulized spritz of Miel de Bois would most likely be construed by those around you as gaseous warfare!) That top note of piss-soaked latrine! . . . This was the filthiest thing I had ever smelled--and I mean that as a compliment. - parfümieren

How can I describe Miel de Bois? Wild animals swimming in honey? Urine soaked wood? Bottled evil? . . . Like Muscs Koublai Khan, something this shocking can only be understood if experienced. Counselling may be required after though, so don't say I didn't warn you. - peredepierre

Miel de Bois is an unusual fragrance, and to be honest, I recoiled in dismay the first time I smelled it. . . . it is an extraordinarily harsh, almost caustic smell. - Now Smell This

Miel de Bois proved that too much [honey] in a fragrance smells like the men’s loo at the bar on Friday night. -Perfumes: The Guide, Fall 2008 newsletter

Miel de Bois by Serge Lutens is as raw as it can get in the honey department. It's also one of the most reviled scents in the perfume world. Those who hate Miel de Bois feel this way because they smell something funky in there. That's a polite way to say they get cat pee. - The Non-Blonde

The way that I work when writing about these samples is that I sniff the wax, make a note of what I get from it, pop it on and keep track of how it works on me and how it changes over an hour or so, then go online to see what obvious things I'm missing.

I've said before that I don't have the most trained nose ever, but, you know. I have a cat. I know what cat pee smells like. Surely even I should be able to locate urine if it's in a fragrance, right? And four out of 5 quotes there mention it (though, interestingly, those are by and large positive reviews if you take the time to read further).

The answer really comes down to chemistry. My skin takes skank and turns it innocent the same way it takes pretty florals and turns them rancid. I can't wear Miss Cherie Dior, but I can wear MKK. I make Chanel No 5 smell cheap, and I make Tabu smell like flowers.

(Believe me, it would be so much easier not to be this way, especially when walking around a department store. People who hawk fragrances in that environment don't generally understand what they're selling, in my experience. They don't understand that there are those of us who have to be careful with florals--they just want to spray me with the latest girly bouquet, because I'm a woman, and because they have sales to make.)

So Miel de Bois, then. It works so gloriously on me that I'm sitting on my hands to avoid buying a bottle straight away, but many other perfumistas think it's basically a puddle of pee. Sample at your own risk.

Miel de Bois, Serge Lutens, 2005 Notes: abstract reconstruction of very dry wood: ebony, oak, gaiac, aquilaria aguillocha (used to make incense sticks), honey [Thank you for these,!]

Youth Dew (bath oil)

Teint de Neige