My reader pal Gail sent me a vial of Barbara Bui Le Parfum because she knew I liked Sonia Rykiel Woman. I'm game to try anything a reader sends me, plus I completely trust Gail, so this weekend I wore it around.
Barbara Bui contains notes of spices, incense, jasmine, white musk, sandalwood, heliotrope, cedar and amber. It opens with sweet, spicy flowers, and develops a slightly sharp powder underneath through the heart. To me it feels like the same sharp candied undertone I get from Poison, although without the strength. Le Parfum is more intimate, more "Psst, stand next to me," than "Hello world! I am here!"
As for its likeness to Sonia Rykiel Woman, there are moments in the development of both perfumes where it's difficult to tell them apart. The top notes especially are similar, although I find the Rykiel Woman a bit spicier than the Bui. The heart is telling (isn't it always?), because while Bui evolves into a powdery floral, the leather note in the Rykiel becomes apparent behind the flowers, making it powdery without the sharp candied edge I find in the Bui. In the dry down they again become more similar, although the Rykiel maintains a heavier undertone, again because of the leather. It's funny, but when I wear Rykiel Woman on its own, I don't notice the leather as much. I notice more the amber and spice.
Truly, these perfumes seem like two sides of the same coin, and it would be easy to divide them along seasonal lines, wearing Barbara Bui in spring and summer--as it's more tender and a bit sprightly--and saving Rykiel Woman for fall and winter, when it's powdery leather can lend comfort. Sadly, Barbara Bui Le Parfum was discontinued, but you can find it now and again on eBay. Rykiel Woman is available at several online discounters.
*image from osMoz