I don't know about you, but most of the fragrances in my stash have definite personalities. So, by instinct I arrange the mild florals together, not far from the aldehyde-heavy fragrances, and then put the insistent florals on another shelf near the green chypres where they'll get along. The woody scents and leather hang out together not far from some of the vintage divas, and the 1980s blockbusters party by themselves on another shelf altogether. That way, bossy Paloma Picasso Mon Parfum doesn't scare the wildflowers out of the gentle Caron Fleurs de Narcisse, and Dana Tabu's trashy intensity won't freak out the happy-go-lucky Guerlain Chamade. Bois 1920 Sutra Ylang is one of the rare fragrances that could be at home just about anywhere in my perfume cabinet.
According to Bois 1920's website, Enzo Galardi founded Bois 1920 in Florence, Italy in 2005 when he was inspired by formulae for Eaux de Toilette that his grandfather created in 1920. Galardi, who had begun studying perfume in 1985, launched Bois 1920 with eight unisex fragrances. Bois 1920 has since added two fragrances especially for women. An aside on pronunciation: although Bois is spelled identical to the French word for "wood", at my local perfume shop they say that it is pronounced "boe (rhymes with toe)-EES".
Sutra Ylang is one of Bois 1920's eight original fragrances. The Bois 1920 website only lists "hesperidic notes", sandalwood, and Texas citron as notes, but a quick search on the internet turns up a list of notes that sounds true to me: top notes of lemon, bergamot, cardamom, and bay laurel; a heart of rose, jasmine, violet, lily of the valley, and carnation; and a base of sandalwood, cedar, moss, and benzoin.
The name Sutra Ylang might lead you to expect a sultry oriental scent, something seductive and in-your-face. But Sutra Ylang is surprisingly understated. Although Bois 1920 describes it as an oriental amber, to me it is primarily a wood scent. Sutra Ylang opens with a short tingle of bergamot, then launches straight into orange, bay laurel, and violet leaf. I adore the scent of bay laurel and often cut branches to bring into the house. A torn fresh bay leaf smells like an herbal almond, sweet and green at the same time. (If you ever get your hands on fresh culinary bay, try putting a leaf into the water when you steam vegetables. The whole kitchen will smell marvelous.)
All of Sutra Ylang is underlaid with the smell of wood. A little of the pencil shavings kick of cedar sets off sweet sandalwood and oakmoss for a combination as smooth and personable as Cary Grant. As Sutra Ylang wears on, it begins to sweeten very slightly and smell more like oranges, but it maintains an herbal, slightly musty smell that I love. Sutra Ylang lasts for hours, but has a tight sillage and might be blamed for wearing off quickly when really it has retreated to a few inches from skin. As a result, it's hard to overdo Sutra Ylang, and I like the feeling of abandon from being able to spray lavishly.
In the end, Sutra Ylang is like the quiet guest at a party — the guest who enjoys listening to others talk, effortlessly pops open champagne, and mingles as easily with Wall Street types as he does with cashiers at the bodega. When you take the time to really pay attention to him, though, to appreciate his subtleties, you realize that this guy really has it going on.
Bois 1920 Sutra Ylang is available in 100 ml Eau de Toilette. Although the list price is $160, I was able to purchase it for about $100 at an online discounter with a coupon code. For buying information, see the listing for Bois 1920 under Perfume Houses.