About a week ago, I stopped by the penthouse suite at The Standard Hotel for a beauty event to learn about a soon-to-be-released foundation. The first words out of the publicist’s mouth after “Hi!” was, “Oh my god, you smell incredible.” The comment caused a commotion, and soon enough, I had several people around me, sniffing and taking down the name of the perfume I was wearing.
This isn’t the first time this situation has occurred—every time I wear this perfume, I receive two compliments, minimum. This includes bouncers outside of bars and Uber drivers to men on dates and medical receptionists. In fact, every time I spritz on this scent before a first date, I always get asked on a second one. (Even though I’m sure the perfume plays some role, I’d love to think that my wit and charm pull most of the weight.)
Back in January, the receptionist at my acupuncture’s office asked me to write down the name of the perfume I was wearing because she was obsessed with the scent.
Photo: Ama Kwarteng
Before I do a deep dive into the scent and my experience wearing it, here’s a fragrance glossary to keep in mind:
Notes: This is a fancy perfume term that basically means ingredient.
Top Notes: These are the first notes you smell right after you spritz on a scent. The top notes set the tone for the fragrance and last anywhere from five to 15 minutes.
Top notes in Bo: elemi resin, tobacco leaves
Heart Notes: The heart notes, or the middle notes, emerge after the top notes evaporate. They make up the core of the fragrance, and add warmth to the scent. They also support the top notes and act as a buffer for the base notes.
Heart notes in Bo: pine needles, incense
Base Notes: The base notes emerge during the last phase of the fragrance journey, after the heart notes start to fade, and they stick around the longest. They’re typically rich and heavy, giving the scent an overall sense of depth.
Base notes in Bo: white cedarwood, vanilla beans
The perfume is a nuanced blend of woody and warm notes with a hint of spice. I like to think of it as the slip dress of my fragrance wardrobe—it manages to feel comfortable and sexy at the same time. The perfume’s smokier notes immediately evoke a mood; it reminds me of smoking cigarettes in Paris’s 11th arrondissement with friends, both old and new, outside a buzzing cafe. (The smoky notes aren’t overpowering, so don’t worry about smelling like you’ve just walked out of a dive bar.)
Thanks to the deep, creamy notes of white cedarwood and vanilla beans, it creates a cozy aura around the wearer, cocooning them in long-lasting warmth and giving the fragrance its versatile quality. It’s sensual enough to wear on a date yet casual enough for a daytime hang with friends. The juice also gives off a California beach vibe (maybe it’s the incense??), which probably makes me seem a lot more chill and laid back than I actually am.
I like to think of it as the slip dress of my fragrance wardrobe—it manages to feel comfortable and sexy at the same time.
“Smell, like color, is a biological phenomenon. It is not an intrinsic property of a molecule—it is what our cells feel when they touch it,” writes scientist Luca Turin in The Secret of Scent. Our perceptions, emotions, and memories shape scents and influence how we interpret them. Because of its note composition, Bo would slot into the wood fragrance family, characterized by raw, earthy notes that call to mind things like leaves, bark, and pinecones. These scents are immediately familiar, triggering nostalgic memories of a seasoned bonfire or brisk walks with leaves crunching beneath your boots.
Nostalgia isn’t the only thing Bo has working in its favor. The word “perfume” comes from the Latin words “per fumum,” which means “through smoke.” There’s a hint of danger innate in smoke; smelling it usually sets alarm bells off in our heads. As the Greek myth goes, Prometheus is best known for stealing fire from the Gods and giving it to the mortals, and he is punished for this act. With its smoky notes, Bo gives us a whiff of danger without needing to strike a match.
This tension is what attracted me to the scent in the first place and I believe it’s why so many people around me are instantly drawn to it, too. While I love to rotate through scents, this fragrance is definitely the one I reach for most often. I’m ecstatic to have found a versatile, compliment-magnet of a fragrance that doesn’t assault the nostrils of everyone around me.