When I heard raves about indie perfume house Ava Luxe and learned that it was hand-blended in Boston by a fellow Italian girl, I just had to try it. After spending weeks drooling over the descriptions of her many fragrances but finding few reviews online, I chose Bois Exotique in eau de parfum form based on the sophisticated logic that I’m obsessed with woody fragrances at the moment, and that I am a sucker for anything exotic. This was the best blind buy I’ve made so far this year.
The Ava Luxe site describes the fragrance as an exotic amber-woody fragrance with notes of sandalwood, patchouli, warm spices and Siam benzoin. I have read this is sometimes called Sweet Amber Wood and I get that…it is slightly sweet but in a green way, not cloyingly so. The amber and patchouli are noticeable but not overbearing– the patchouli is well-behaved and the amber is like the person you meet at a party who is charming, well-dressed, and poised, but they interest you chiefly because you sense they have secrets.
For some reason this fragrance reminds me of a large duplex apartment in Gramercy Park where I spent good part of my salad days. Maybe the owner had high quality incense that smelled like this (bohemian with rich daddy). As she was studying to be a chef, she also had a roof garden and lots of spices in her kitchen.
It brings to mind the early hours of her parties, when everyone’s clothes were still pressed and people drank out of wine glasses instead of bottles, but also the mornings after, when we would dissect all the previous evening’s drama over a home-cooked breakfast after sleeping on clean sheets. (Which is not to say Bois Exotique is gourmand or soapy, because it is neither of those things; it is just a mood it evokes.)
I also now get a tiny bit of bitter wood, like driftwood outside of her beach house in November, or the guy I met at one of her parties who didn’t call me back after the first date because he decided he liked her roommate better. The bitter is a nice touch because it puts the sweet into perspective.
Bois Exotique is available from the Ava Luxe website in 15 ml eau de parfum for $30, 15 ml perfume oil for $60, 5 ml perfume oil for $25, and 5 ml parfum extract for $27. The perfumer, Serena Ava Franco, makes up each order by hand so it can take a week to ship, but she also includes several generous perfume oil samples per order.
Bois Exotique smells high quality, natural, and much more expensive than it is. Longevity is more than 10 hours. Sillage is at least arm’s length, and I got multiple compliments on it from the pickiest noses in my life.