There are some women who are so much a caricature of conventional femininity that, as a woman, you might wonder if there shouldn't be a separate gender category for them. (Ditto with certain men.) Kelly LeBrock in the 80s (below) and Mad Men's Christina Hendricks are perfect examples. (Big hair, big breasts, big lips, etc.)
Boucheron is to perfume what those über-babes are to everyday specimens of womanhood. First off, Boucheron is in the sweet floral/semi-Oriental category, the va-va-va voom of perfumes.
I'm barely a floral gal, but throw in sweet and I want to run for the hills. I will try, though, to tackle this quintessence of Big 80s Floral.
Top notes: Bergamot, lemon, cassis, fruit complex, basil, orange blossom (Perfume Legends says: tangerine, bitter orange, galbanum, marigold, basil, apricot)
Heart notes: Jasmine, orris, lily of the valley, tuberose, geranium, cedarwood, sandalwood (Perfume Legends: Jasmine, tuberose, ylang-ylang, narcissus, orange blossom, broom)
Base notes: Ambrein, Tonka, benzoin, oakmoss, olibanum (frankincense), civet, musk (Perfume Legends: sandalwood, amber, tonka bean, vanilla)
Boucheron starts off, well, very sweet: orange blossom is flanked with fruit and a tiny bit of herbal basil.* It's got that Amarige screech of sweetness that so many 80s fragrances do, and which today in perfumes stand out like Dynasty-style shoulder pads.The "fruit complex," which must be laboratory made, smells very synthetic and contributes to the difficulty I have with this perfume. Its floral heart joins treacley jasmine and tuberose with a dose of some angles (geranium? narcissus?) and lightness, perhaps from lily of the valley.
Boucheron's dry down makes the sweetness a little more tolerable, and it evolves into a warm and woody/spicy base that veers toward the Oriental. (H&R and Michael Edwards agree on tonka and sandalwood, but H&R mentions orris where ME doesn't, and ME mentions amber and vanilla where H&R doesn't. I don't know what to think, except that I think I smell vanilla, but that could be from the tonka/coumarin too.)
I may be in the minority for this one, but I don't even like sniffing Boucheron much less can I imagine wearing it. The readers on Basenotes almost unanimously love it, Luca Turin praised it, and so on. I just don't have a perfume sweet tooth, or maybe I can't love a perfume just because it's well constructed and its notes seem to blend seemlessly.
I do love the bottle, though, which looks like a piece of jewelry. Boucheron, after all, was the venerable French jewelry house's first perfume. If anyone wants to make an argument for why this is a masterpiece, please let me know! I just don't get it.
* And at least Haarman & Reimer agree on these notes; I'm not sure how it is that Michael Edwards' Perfume Legends has such different notes, particularly its base notes.
My sample of Boucheron was generously donated by Leslie Ann at Miniature Perfume Shoppe.