Today, I shall attempt to defend the very maligned Bouche Baie, by Nez à Nez. Averaging a score of 1.6 out of 5 on Makeupalley, reviewers have labelled it “fruity cough syrup for children” and even Pink Sugar during a nightmare. They also compare it with celebrity scents, exclaiming that they cannot and will not pay $150 for a niche scent that smells so trashy.
But is it really as bad as they claim? Is it really a vile fruity floral concoction that deserves to flop as pathetically as a fish out of the ocean of fragrances in the market? In my opinion, not at all. In fact, Bouche Baie is quite the catch. (Please pardon all the fishy imagery, I just shucked some really delicious oysters!)
Bouche Baie does open sweet, but not lollipop sweet as most would make it out to be. Immediately, the black currant makes its entrance, rather like a muted Poison by Dior, which inspires admiration and terror in equal part with its grape soda opening. It is the mark of a delectable fruity floral when the sweetness is carefully calibrated such that it isn’t cloying. Bouche Baie isn’t cloying, but rather stands on the edge of the cliff – a testament to perfumer Karine Chevallier’sskill, if anything.
I mildly panicked when the cherries poked their heads in through the window, as cherries can be difficult to pull off, but thankfully it was nowhere near Serge Lutens’ Louve – the cherries were very much reined in and came across more as powdery almond than cough syrup disaster. Safe, comfy and cosy came to my mind. It helped that the florals – orange blossom and a smidgen of jasmine – resembled those in Etat Libre d’Orange’s Divin’Enfant. They were rather discrete, and helped to provide the fragrance with more depth.
It was the transition to the drydown, however, which really captured my heart. Bouche Baie is anchored by the gentlest gourmand accord of vanilla, tonka and almonds, and brought to mind the Guerlinade base that many love and adore. If you found Guerlain’s Insolence too exuberant and too loud, Bouche Baie is her younger sister without the steroid treatment. My only complaint would be the longevity of the top and heart of the perfume. I wish the top and heart would last slightly longer before the transition to the drydown. The drydown does last for quite a long time, though.
So there you have it – my defence of a fruity floral. Regular readers will know that I seldom mince my words, especially when it comes to the banal or the vile (seriously, go try Nicki Minaj’s Pink Friday, as I did at the London Stansted Duty Free – let me know if you live to tell your tale). Admittedly, the fruity floral genre is not the most ubiquitous one around (neither is oud). But Bouche Baie demonstrates what can be done when a fruity floral is married to a lovely oriental base – it’s not an earth-shaking, ground-breaking fragrance, but it’s certainly darn good, and a sign that fruity florals can be done well. So throw out your preconceptions, and give this one a sniff. Interestingly, the name Bouche Baie is a French pun, were ‘baie’ refers to a berry and ‘bouche bée’ literally refers to being open-mouthed and is used to express tremendous surprise. Another reason to love Bouche Baie!
Based on my chats with the staff at Roullier White and my observation with the disappearance of stock from Liberty London, it seems as though the entire Nez à Nez range is being discontinued, and being pulled from shelves. I’m just glad that I got the last full bottle of Bouche Baie from Roullier White.
Bouche Baie is still available on Luckyscent and retails for USD165 for 100ml. It should also be available in the more manageable 30ml travel spray, but as always, with it most likely being discontinued, one can’t help but hoard more. As of 8 November, there is one last 30ml bottle of it left in Roullier White!
I’m very happy to share a 2ml spray vial sample (not official) from my own bottle with readers, and anyone around the world can enter, although I will not be responsible if customs or Royal Mail decides that perfume is a dangerous substance and destroys it (although I would be mighty angry!). All you have to do, and this is a spot of shameless self-promotion, is to either subscribe to the blog or to like The Smelly Vagabond’s Facebook page (hey, you’ll get updates, so it’s not so bad!) and drop me a comment here saying that you’ve done so. Draw closes on 31 November 2013 at 12pm GMT.