Bosque constantly has my mind rattling. Ever since I wrote my first impressions of it, I have never forgotten it – but then I have bought bottles and bottles of other fragrances since then and never Bosque. I’ve always tried to wonder what it is in there that I truly love, why does it have the effect of pure joy as it advertises…
Everyone says Bosque is the easiest to wear of the Humiecki & Graef line… the most generic, the least risqué in a line-up of fragrances with complicated personalities that take unexpected directions. Bosque is the most complicated to me, emotionally at least.
What opens Bosque is a bright, dewy, pastel yellow shade of dried grass, hay – a handful of saffron and an indescribable floral accord listed as “primrose and daffodil” – it’s perfect, it brings to mind exactly that: natural weeds, common flowers – things with a subtle beauty that go unnoticed amongst grander florals. There is citrus, a slightly bitter grapefruit that acts as a “lift” rather than a scent – and I love that. Since when has “joy and contentment” (the emotional concept of this fragrance) been about tangy citrus’ and fluorescent roses and indolic jasmine – these notes are so often used to create this “mood lifting” scent. Here, the opening is joyous – but in a way like no other. It’s a memory scent – the almost mundane smell of weeds and subtle florals, subtle not in the sense of their volume on the skin but rather the lack of power (scent) these flowers actually produce. The saffron a surreal spice inclusion – it’s always a mysterious ingredient and tints the fragrance in an olfactory shade, similarly to how it literally tints food in its culinary uses.
The grass? It’s not the “I love the smell of fresh-cut grass” effect, because it’s not like that at all – it’s dried, yet again a subtle aura of an almost unnoticed natural aroma given a limelight. It’s bathed in dew and sunlight but with such little lift and lack of “sparkle”. It is instantly muted – a relaxed, meditative joy. But this totally isn’t my sort of thing is it? Since when do I like such a relaxed, “happy” perfume? Maybe that’s one of the reasons I find Bosque more challenging than others – I’m not used to this emotion in the opening, and because of that, it almost unsettles me on first spray. How can it do this? Well – it can easily because so many people experience these “happy” perfumes, maybe I just choose not to hunt for them. But happy for me isn’t the imaginary flower garden and tart “fresh” citrus, and Bosque isn’t at all fresh, even from the get go – but then it’s not exactly soiled or dirty either. There is a subtly animalic/human element from afar from the initial blast… maybe it’s a mirage… the saffron? Something more sinister underneath?
What comes next is where it all gets confusing – a Secretions Magnifique metallic/salty/lactonic element. I’ve always loved the heart of Secretions Magnifique – and not its heart in terms of the construction, but more what it’s trying to achieve with its contrasting textures and elements. However, as I stated in my Secretions Magnifique review – it’s all too much. The idea is blown overboard by making it excessively loud and amping up the unsettling notes to an uncomfortable pitch. Here – the metallic element is subtle but undoubtedly evident, the lactones come in and join the florals and the grass – turning them into a “meadow juice”, like an earthy elixir – whilst the salt combines to make Bosque that touch more savoury and the lactonic note “spermy”. It’s undoubtedly familiar for those who have tried Secretions Magnifique – and it captures everything about the fragrance I love at a level that is far more accessible.
But… how perfect is that! Ironic? No, it has to be intentional: The “joy”, of course – the release! The sexual release, a burst of salty, milky, sperm – it’s not literal of course, it’s the concept through a magnifying glass – broken down into accords that give the effect perfectly. You start with the most innocent of joys, the natural meadow grass, the delicate wild flowers and the warmth of the sun (saffron/grapefruit) – followed with a more sinister but perfectly fitting blast of sperm. It congeals and morphs without ever being uncomfortable, the glory of the opening slowly blurring and disappearing into the ugly, and human aromas enveloping it. A musk just enhances this even more – a musk that isn’t glowing and white, there may be that subtle hint of laundry and clothes – and sheets, but more so the subtle hint of skin that appeared at the beginning and vanished.
Now, I said ugly… Bosque isn’t ugly, there’s not an ugly thing in here – but it’s like a dirty, unexpected stain across something so harmonious and innocent, but it wouldn’t be the same if it wasn’t there. Is it joy now? Most definitely, it always has been – but now I understand it more, it was there at the beginning but I couldn’t see it properly.
The vetiver drags the earth-bound opening into the base, along with the saltiness of the heart. The vetiver is bone dry, gradually soaking up the lactonic/milky notes into a crusty residue – still hinting at the moisture that was once there. It’s overlaid with a signature Humiecki & Graef “weirdness” – an almost chemical blur that verges on Iso E Super. It seems to smell more processed than that – if that’s possible: a cross between the laundry detergent previously mentioned and a more intense cleaning product – an antibacterial cream that merely attempts to scrub up the sexual crust that remains on the skin. Constantly: the memory of the innocence at the start, the true contentment of pure, unnoticed beauty, flickers to the surface of the skin – an almost tear-jerking reminder of what once was and what is now. It’s almost embarrassing. Is that ridiculous? Probably, but Bosque matures as you do – the life of the fragrance is literal, and it tells a story more so than any other fragrance I’ve tried. “A fragrance about contentment” – that’s perfectly true, at the start and at the end at least – once you’ve come to terms with everything in between. Sound familiar? Of course – it is a fragrance so accurately expressing life and emotions it’s overwhelming. Love, contentment, peace, selfishness, joy, guilt – it’s all there, in a harmonious and perfect order.
Am I alone here? It seems not – I read one small write up on Katie Puckrick’s blog by a reader who wrote to her regarding Bosque. I’ll quote what he wrote:
“I gather Bosque is H&G’s crowd-pleaser, not only because of all the musk and its accompanying sinus-clearing, steam-cleaned, bracingly fresh freshness (crowds love to be fresh), but because it’s marketed as “a fragrance about contentment”.
I’m not the target for contentment. I’m more content with apprehension, which means Bosque is perfect for me because my fondness for its fresh contentment makes me apprehensive.
In its defence, Bosque isn’t all clean. It also features buffalo grass and vetiver and supposedly some florals that are so pale and quiet, they smell like they’re coming from the perfume on the person across the room from you.
But mostly, Bosque smells clean, like emerging from the chlorinated swimming pool of a desert resort, surrounded by miles of dry grass and nothing else. It’s chlorine and dead grass and while I can’t defend such a thing, I’m hooked on it like its heroin.”
I was relieved to read this – it fits my thoughts perfectly, and I think me and this guy would get along just fine! Although I’m sure we’d drive each other literally insane talking about this fragrance. So what is it about it that is so unsettling? Or is it as this Bosque-fan so cleverly put it “I’m more content with apprehension, which means Bosque… makes me apprehensive”. Ok, so I wouldn’t go as far to say I’m more content with apprehension, but maybe I am in perfume?
This could go on and on and on, and I probably wouldn’t get anywhere. All I can say is – when you smell Bosque (if you haven’t already), don’t expect something extraordinary; maybe in writing this I have destroyed the fragrance due to exceedingly high expectations (for others of course not myself). At the end of the day – it is a perfume, and everyone connects with fragrance differently. It is what it is – a combination of materials, it’s how we interpret them and how we enjoy them that makes a fragrance so special, and personal. For me, Bosque is extraordinary – and it’s a relief to finally own it, I can’t imagine my collection without it already.
I don’t think I will ever figure out Bosque, me and the other quiet ones out there who are struggling to come to terms with it. The most I can do is spray it and enjoy it – personally enjoying the journey and the struggles that go along with it: re-living innocence and the loss of it, finishing in absolute contentment right before it dies peacefully on my skin.