Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Boucheron Boucheron Femme eau de parfum & extait de parfum: fragrance review

Direct kin off Narcisse Noir (Caron's venerable classic built on orange blossom and Sunset Boulevard notoriety) Boucheron Femme is at once a queenly narcotic perfume that recalls retro beauties and a fragrance that breathes contemporary air; if by contemporary we refer to the still living, still breathing women who first discovered it in the 1980s when it erupted Venus like from the sea foam "sprayed" by the creative sperm of perfumers Francis Deleamont and Jean-Pierre Bethouart in 1988. Obviously this is the result of palinoia rather than divine intervention, but it feels like the latter, such is the awe it inspires in me. Boucheron Femme feels the way Venus de Milo looks: eudaimonia (ευδαιμονία), in Greek literally  denoting "of benevolent spirit", a balance of prosperous good living, of contended human flourishing.

I suppose what I'm trying to convey in my Greek-inflected English is that Boucheron Femme possesses the sort of timeless charm that makes for idols such as Greta Garbo or goddesses such as Venus; intelligence built in the glamor package, a healthy dosage of wit and self-deprecation (or self-insouciance), the distance necessary to feel special and never "me too". The only reason I can discern for this perfume being less well known or lauded than some others (and thus forming part of the Underrated Perfume Day feature today) is that audiences have been so conditioned not to understand quality, even when it slaps them in the face, that the likes of Boucheron Femme can remain a code for the secret handshake societies of perfumistadom such as this one.

The formula of Boucheron Femme fragrance remains a beautifully balanced textbook definition of the floriental genre: an oriental perfume skeleton onto which lush flower notes have been etched with the precision of a skilled calligrapher on thick moire paper. Orange blossom absolute with its candied and indolic facets is contributing the main floral theme, blooming as the succession of two different but equally "fresh" directions in the introduction: one is the citrusy fruity theme of hesperides (elegant bergamot, juicy and sweet mandarin) plus fleshy lactonic apricot; the other is the emerald accent of galbanum grass resin rising atop with a couple of complimentary notes in bright minty basil and bluish, celadon narcissus.

Although tuberose and jasmine are among the cluster of flowers contributing to the rich radiant bouquet, Boucheron Femme is that kind of fragrance where one would be hard pressed to say where one floral essence begins and one ends. The orange blossom is dominant, sure, but the rest are supporting players with important lines to deliver all the same.
The plush of the base isn't just downy soft, it can only be described as the finest, whitest ermine, the smoothest marble, the deepest shimmer of smoky cognac diamonds. Constructed out of amber, vanilla, olibanum (frankincense), sandalwood and the vanillic, caramelic benzoin resin, it is everything a grand oriental should accomplish, but without losing the plot into too vampish. Boucheron Femme is always the lady and a very knowing and smart lady at that.

The bottle of Boucheron Femme is famously inspired by cabochon sapphires set on a ring. In fact the glorious parfum concentration (which smooths out the marmoreal qualities of the resins even further without losing the inherent radiance) is shaped like a giant ring for une femme aux gros doigts, sitting in its own leather-cased box lined with felt like a real jewel would. But what am I saying…it IS a jewel, what the French so aptly call un parfum bijou. 

Wear it with your very best, naked skin!

pics via pinterest


  1. Zazie14:25

    oh, I am so glad to see this perfume celebrated.
    I almost forgot about it, but the picture of the bottle alone is able to bring back so many memories...I'm getting emotional.
    I encountered BF during a very particular period of my life, at 18, on a wonderful trip to Paris with my father.
    We did very little shopping - but the two gifts he bought me felt very special (like good luck talismans for my new life ahead, away from home): a silver and amber pendant and a perfume, my first one - Boucheron femme, which I picked upon first sniff.
    I rememebr it's oriental character and would love to smell it you know if it has been wildly reformulated? Is it still in production?
    Those talismans led me to the most beautiful years of my life, full of happiness and excitement...I should ask my dad to exert his magic powers again: I could do with some help from the stars, right now!

  2. I sampled Boucheron Femme very early on in my fall down the rabbit hole and don't recall it in any detail - of course, at that time I was sampling umpteen perfumes at once and can't sort out any memories now, although I do recall that I didn't care for Jaiper. Must revisit Femme soon, it sounds marvelous.

  3. Morticia19:46

    Elena you know how I LOVE this line (accept for Jaipur). I haven't gotten to try this yet as original Boucheron has always been my favorite and am leery of reformulations etc. I will try to pick some up the next time I get closer to civilization. wink wink

  4. annemariec21:49

    Okay: 'If you like Givenchy Ysatis and Hermes 24 Faubourg, you will LOVE Boucheron Femme?' Well I do so likely I will. I have read about BF but not got to trying it. I'm going to get hold of a sample straight away. I admit that I'm motivated partly by frustration: today's round up of new posts on the the major blogs, the reviews are mostly for niche perfumes way out of my price range. They may be good, but are they $250 worth of good?

    This is a fantastic review. I love the 'eudaimonia' concept.

  5. Zuzu03:09

    I really like this perfume as well. I am a little confused though - the bottle you have pictured is different from another bottle that is also called Boucheron Femme. Is there a difference?

  6. YAY!! Boucheron Femme, even now is gorgeous. I have loved it for years and have some earlier versions and the current. All different, all great.

    Portia x

  7. Back with you all shortly. I apologize for the delay.

  8. Ooh I do love this one! I don't come across too many fragrances I know well when I read perfume articles online, but I am happy to see that a couple of my favorite perfume bloggers are fans of this scent as well.

  9. Zazie,

    what a sweet and precious memories laden story! Thanks for sharing. I do hope that the stars smile upon you and that everything gets right and as you wish it.

    To answer your question, I make it a point in the Underrated Perfume Day to include only perfumes which are still in production and are still quite good (even if reformulated). The new version is slightly different in a vague way, yet very, very good indeed, it's an investment you won't regret I believe.

  10. R,

    I didn't care for Jaipur either (at all) but it sounds logical to me as it features pear notes which are something I don't usually have a taste for in fragrance, so…Boucheron Femme is a totally different beast, a beautiful floriental the way they just don't make them in newer releases I suppose. Full blast and yet cultured, not vulgar.

  11. M,

    I'm counting a 3rd dissenter to Jaipur (wink) and I highly recommend you sample Boucheron Femme. The line as a whole isn't a bad one and BF is its crowing glory, still good after all these years. Do try it! ;-)

  12. AMC,

    thank you for the compliment, the eudaimonia concept is one that is -for obvious reasons- very close to my heart.

    As to the prices and frustration etc., well, first I'd like to believe -judging by the traffic stats- that this here is also a major blog in its subject niche (LOL) and secondly that I have perceived exactly this gap in readers' expectations: affordable, easy to get hold of perfumes which are nonetheless good quality and distinctive. Yes, there are some around ("They live", know what I mean? Haha!).
    So this is the point of the Underrated Perfume Day: highlighting those opportunities to smell good and not jump through hoops. It can be done!

    As to BF, yes, it's close to Ysatis and 24 Faubourg in feel and concept actually, so the rec is a good suggestion.

  13. Zuzu,

    so glad to gather all the fans of this glorious scent.
    The bottle I picked is a limited edition in Baccarat crystal, hence the difference from the "plain" (if it can be called plain) regular one with the rich yellow juice in the clear glass and the blue cap.

    Hope this helps! Thanks for commenting!

  14. Dear Portia,

    hi there, thanks for chiming in as another ardent fan of this beaut! Isn't it great? As you say, despite the slight differences between the editions, this is still pretty gorgeous and one of the fragrances that one should have on arm's length at all times IMHO.

    Have fun in the weekend!

  15. Lean,

    I'm honored to be in the company of fans of Boucheron Femme, welcome to the circle of its friends, make yourself comfortable and let's all sigh at its rapturous beauty.

    Aaaah….so good!

    Seriously, thanks for commenting with your positive vote!

  16. I think I would have loved it because I would have loved the bottle. Used to have a full page ad featuring this bottle from the old large Women's Wear Daily framed and at the top of the stairs. Alas, a storm broke a window and my framed picture!

  17. Nadine,

    oh dear, that was unfortunate!
    The ads were pretty fabulous too, I recall. The first one showed only the gorgeous bottle with a mock "hand" holding the ring, there were others with a woman looking into the shop window where Boucheron exhibited their jewels as well. I surmise you had the former?
    I do recommend you sample this if you haven't as it remains pretty spectacular.


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