Tag Archives: Serge Lutens

Serge Lutens Santal Majuscule: Little Drops of Heaven

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It seems entirely apt that in this season of goodwill and nativity plays, Serge Lutens Santal Majuscule reminds me of Christmas, cosiness, and all things nice.

It’s an unusual but simple blend of Sandalwood, Rose and Cacao.  It seems as if one dominates, only to be taken over by another, then another, in rotation.  One minute I think this reminds me of the dried fruit in Serge Lutens Arabie, the next there is a droplet of rose against a dusty, rich sandalwood background, and then the slightly fruity, rich note comes in again.  In fact, at first sniff, I was convinced there was fig here.

Some sandalwood purists would have preferred this to have been made with Mysore sandalwood, but in all honesty, I am not discerning enough to differentiate. I’m just happy to have sandalwood, any time, any place.

Cacao refers to the seeds of an unripened cocoa pod before it becomes suitable for harvesting and growing advent calendars.  An unripe cocoa pod is green and bitter and here it is captured, not as green and bitter, but as if all the richness of dark chocolate has been captured before any sweetness has been added. Against sandalwood it works terrifically well, and a lack of sweetness, unlike in real life, becomes a virtue.

The whole melange works incredibly well and I would happily wear it every day in this icy weather, which is saying something for somebody as scentually promiscuous as me. (new word alert!)

Serge Lutens Santal Majuscule is wonderfully warm with just the right amount of  sandy prickliness to stop it being too gourmand-y.  I love it. It may well be my favourite Serge, and that’s a hard one to call.  Christopher Sheldrake steals my heart yet again.

Stockists:  In the UK You can buy Serge Lutens Santal Majuscule online from Selfridges, Liberty and Escentual.  In the USA and Canada you can try www.Fragrancenet.com  or Amazon.com or Amazon.ca.

WANTED! The Notorious Tubereuse Criminelle.

 

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The first time I heard of Tubereuse Criminelle  was on Mumsnet. A Mumsnetter found it so appallingly bad that she was inspired to start a thread entitled “Worst Ever Perfumes”.  The thread is now in its sixth incarnation, which means over 5,000 replies have been posted and the thread has evolved from worst to best, from SOTDs to recommendations hither and thither.  Samples have been swapped and perfume true loves have been discovered.  And all because of the notorious Tubereuse Criminelle.

fragrancelife.ru
fragrancelife.ru

Created by the prestigious and prolific Christopher Sheldrake for Serge Lutens, Criminelle is certainly a Madame with dark intentions.  I have long thought that Tuberose, when good quality, is creamy almost to the point of being medicinal, and Christopher Sheldrake must have thought the same (I flatter myself to think we agree, he is a genius and I, a mere passionate amateur). Sheldrake has taken the almost chemical notes of uber strong, nuclear Tuberose and concentrated it to the Nth degree until it smells like something else, at least initially.

On first spray, Criminelle smells like  TCP antiseptic along with clean fabric sticking plasters.  This is not a complaint: I rather like it. Then it smells like the pink mouth wash you get at a dentist, then it finally calms down a bit and the Tuberose (XXX strong), starts to come out after doing a rather tricky striptease in the opening Act.

The Tuberose is accompanied by Jasmine, Hyacinth, and Orange Blossom, with a base of Styrax,  Clove and Nutmeg.  What this translates to on my skin is: Antiseptic, then Tuberose to the Max, and finally a faint whiff of dried leaves, like old pot pourri still with satiny Tuberose infusing everything.

This is utterly dastardly in its deception and its tricksy opening, and then a triumph as the bud opens to reveals the flower.

wiki
wiki

Longevity, as you would expect from a Serge, is around nine hours.  Two things: don’t wear it in company before noon, and don’t buy it blind. I would love a full bottle of this, and would treasure it like gold.

I have a very kind soul to thank for this sample- follower and friend of the blog, meganinstmaxime sent me this sample all the way from France.  In keeping with its crafty nomenclature, this sample disappeared into thin air after I tried it.  I looked everywhere- even going through the bin at one point. I turned my house upside down, raiding drawers, my handbag, my desk, the sofa, the kitchen and everywhere you could think of.

This morning I found it- on the chopping board.  Why? What on earth…? I tell you, this is a crafty one.

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Serge Lutens Arabie: Leather and Fruit? Can I Tempt You?

fragrantica.com

You can tell that I am a fan of Nigella Lawson. The appalling state of my copies of her books is testament to this. The sticky toffee pudding recipe is stuck together with sticky toffee pudding and she is responsible for at least one dress size that I didn’t used to be.

Don’t worry, my blog hasn’t changed direction, but one of Nigella’s recipes sprang to mind instantly when I first smelled Serge Lutens Arabie. The recipe in question is for Nigella’s Black Cake from the  Nigella Christmas book. The instruction is as follows:

 Cover the fruits and leave to steep for at least two weeks, but up to six months. I say up to six months – which is what Colwin writes in Home Cooking – but I must tell you that I steeped all the fruits one year in November only to find in December that I was just too exhausted to make the cake. So I used it up the following year, after 13 months’ marinating. It was strong, but it was good.

chow.com
chow.com

When I first sprayed Serge Lutens Arabie, I was indeed vividly reminded of dark, rich fruit that had been steeped in rum for many years.  Uncork the lid and there it  is, wafting out like a snake being charmed from a basket. If you’ve ever eaten so much Christmas cake that you feel you may turn into one, you will be familiar with boozy fruit, and this beauty has it by the bucketful.

I wasn’t remotely surprised to see that the main notes were Fruit, Nutmeg, Figs and Dates , or that there was some festive Myrrh in there too. For some reason, on the second day of wearing this, I picked up a slightly smoky Leather base as well.  Leather is not listed as a note, but it could be the Myrrh and the Resin creating a by product that provides smoky warmth.

This is rich and redolent with feast like properties, but stops just short of being strictly edible.  The Myrrh makes it fragrant- like incense, and the combination of rum doused fruit and  a wisp of smoke makes Serge Lutens Arabie full of mystery and allure.  And Christmas.

 

Van Cleef by Van Cleef and Arpels: Is it a Cliché to Say It’s a Gem?

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I’m a big fan of First by Van Cleef and Arpels and I was more than happy when I stumbled across a sample of Van Cleef by Van Cleef and Arpels. (Have I said Van Cleef and Arpels too much in one sentence?  It’s hard to stop!)

Image I realised I wanted it badly, and I also realised that apart from some Oriental-lites (Cacharel LouLou, Jesus del Pozo Ambar), I do not have an Oriental bottle in my collection.  Yes, it’s very much a First World problem, but I have to put this right and soon!

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Gratuitous photo of Van Cleef & Arpels jewellery for me to drool over

Van Cleef smells a lot more expensive than it is.  I couldn’t figure this out until those clever articles in Fragrantica pointed out that Cedar, used liberally in Van Cleef, is also a bit of a trademark of many Serge Lutens scents. This may explain my feeling that Van Cleef smelled like a good niche scent.  Add to this some bitter Galbanum and a miasma of Sandalwood and you have a rather lovely all season Oriental.

I don’t really find this very floral, despite the presence of Marigold, Roses, Jasmine, Neroli and Orange Blossom.  What I smell more than anything is Oriental Spice and Cedar and all things piquant to the point of bitter, but just stopping in time and bedding down into a rich, Ambery cloud. (NB There is no Amber in this, but crikey it smells like it!).  All in all, this is very reasonably priced at under 35GBP for a 50ml EDP and longevity is loooong at around nine hours.

 I’m adding it to my Wish List. It will be mine. Oh yes.

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Original Van Cleef and Arpels  Catalogue cover from 1924

Serge Lutens La Myrrhe: Instant Vintage

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Forgive this fragrance, because it knows not what it does!
You know about myrrh and the Three Kings.
What you don’t know is that, here, myrrh takes on the fragrance of the night. I make it sparkle and fizz like champagne, sustained by a base note of mandarin orange. -Serge Lutens

I had a similar experience with Serge Lutens La Myrrhe. When I first dabbed it on skin, it smelled like dried fruit that had been steeped in rum for so long that it had begun to rot.  There was spice and richness to an almost unbearable level. The volume was louder than my nose could cope with.  However, fast forward an hour, and I have a beautifully restrained spiced fragrance on my arm.The dark, resinous Myrrh is dominant, but the Amber, Spice and Almonds make this a beautifully winter rich scent for the colder months and the run up to Christmas.

It is as sumptuous as ten year old Christmas Cake, steeped in booze and kept airtight until the moment of eating. It smells like those mythical 200 year old cognacs that are still drinkable (although I wouldn’t it).

If you want the richest that Christmas has to offer.  It’s right here.  I can’t think of anything darker, richer or more festive right now. But give it a second chance, you might not take to it straight away. Oh, and be assured that if anyone asks you, you could tell them this was a 50 year old vintage scent and they would believe you.

Serge Lutens Bois de Violette

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 As a fan of Violets I couldn’t resist trying Serge Lutens Bois de Violette.  Having tried its cousin, Feminite du Bois, I was interested to smell how this branch of it  fared on its own.  As you may recall from my earlier review of Feminite du Bois, it frankly, smelled a bit like pants on me, despite its delicious woody top notes.

 Bois de Violette does rather better, although the Violets provide the chorus, rather than being the leading lady.  It opens with Woods and Violets, and beds down into more woodiness.  In fact, this gave me a vivid scent of a schoolroom: there was wax and chalk dust and the rich aged scent of old fashioned teak desks.

Created by the legendary Christopher Sheldrake, who co created Feminite du Bois, you can tell that Bois de Violette and Feminite are from the same hand.  Where Feminite was  a bit too intimate for me, Bois de Violette still has that human touch, although the basenote is more of a subtle smell of dried spit.  This is no bad thing, it’s a bit like the smell left after a long kiss, so not quite as bad as the old pants aroma.

The Violets remain both sweet and woody throughout, as if made from the bark of a mythical Violet tree. Longevity is stupendous.  I could swear I could smell it the following day, almost 18 hours later. Sometimes it’s really worth splashing out.

Serge Lutens Vitriol D’œillet: The Carnation Bites Back

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I really didn’t know what to make of Serge Lutens Vitriol D’œillet when I first sprayed it.  I thought it was a slightly bitter Aldehyde with brash, unadulterated sour limes. However, it soon morphed into something altogether different as it dried, but the opening  blast was worthy of a Tauer and reminded me of how Andy Tauer uses Aldehydes and Bergamot in a retro way.

Paradoxically, once Vitriol has calmed down, it heats up.  Before long, spiky, spicy Carnations take over.  Their prickliness is enhanced with a backdrop of strong clove, pepper and chilli. However, there still seems to be some Bergamot in the backdrop, even though it is not listed as a note.

Image I find Vitriol very unusual.  I have to pay it the compliment of saying that although I’m not sure I like it, it has really kept my interest today and I can’t stop sniffing it.  It’s almost like a mystery that I want to solve.  The Carnation is there, but it’s not a floral scent.  The edible spices are there, but it’s not savoury. It has Peppers and Chili but is not a gourmand.

In fact, I’m not sure what category I would put this into, but I really want to get to know it better.  I guess I’ll put it in the “Fascinated” category.  This one might just creep up on me and make me fall in love with it, but right now, the jury’s out. Oh, and don’t buy it blind.

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Serge Lutens Serge Noire: It’s Not You, It’s Me

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Created in 2008 by Uncle Serge himself and the legendary Christopher Sheldrake, Serge Noire, is a fabulously deep and dark spicy scent. On the right skin that is.  Sadly on me, there is a definite “off” note which was backed up my expert in residence, and three year olds don’t have an edit button.

The notes listed had my mouth watering. There is not one note that I don’t love: Patchouli, Amber, Incense, Ebony, Clove, Spices and Woods. I love it all. Pile it on, I can take it.

Or so I thought.  Just as I was blissing out in the smoky tones of the top notes, a note of Baked Bean-like body odour jumped Imageout and slapped me in the face.  How rude, I thought.  I tested a second time, later in the day. There it was again, the unmistakable smell of an unwashed truck driver’s armpits. Just to check it wasn’t me, I stuck my hand under the nose of my aforementioned three year old.  I was vindicated. “Yuk,” he said, “Cheese and onion”.

You see, it’s not just me, I promise. I did not prompt him, and he was in the middle of watching Numberjacks, so his verdict was both random and candid.  As if to torment me more, the other notes smell intoxicatingly good: smoky, dark, spicy and perfect for Autumn. I would love to smell like this, apart from the obvious drawback.

To eliminate random elements, I can assure my dear readers that my personal hygiene is of the highest order and that the side of my wrist has never smelt of BO even on the hottest of days.

It’s just  a combination of chemistry and bad luck. I actually love Serge Noire and will be jealous of anyone who can wear it without this truck driver barging in. I can smell it’s rich potential, in fact, there is even a wonderful hint of black pepper in there when I waft it past my disappointed nose.

I blame myself, I bet this smells lovely on everyone else, and I happen to know a certain reader has just bagged herself a bottle.  I bet she smells amazing in it too. Damn.

Serge Lutens Daim Blond: Apricots? And Suede? Mais oui!

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When I first smelled Serge Lutens Daim Blond, it was a sort of blind smelling in so far as I knew nothing about it and knew nothing of the notes. The first image that popped into my head, unbidden, was of a school corridor. I couldn’t fathom it out. Who wants to smell like a school corridor?

Fast forward a few months and I tried again. This time I had two samples and wore Daim Blond exclusively over a couple of days. Ah, now I get it.

 Daim Blond is a toned down leather, in fact, it’s suede rather than leather. Still cow hide, but softer.  In the background is something clean and medicinal. Hawthorn? Cardoman? Maybe this is where the school corridor image came from. Leather satchels and a hint of spicy Dettol? I tried again. This time, it made me think of something very expensive: say an Hermes handbag concession or a luxury car showroom. Must be all that new smelling suede.

And then there’s the curious Apricots. Normally one glimpse of anything  remotely Peachy on a list of notes and I run a mile in the other direction, but the apricots in Daim Blond kind of bloom like a rich juicy flower, and I found them quite pleasant, almost orangey.

It’s a curious blend, with fairly subtle sillage and longevity of around five hours.  Now that I’ve got it to know it better, the school corridor has gone and in it’s place is an expensive handbag on the seat of a brand new showroom-fresh luxury car that I can only look at by pressing my nose against the glass.

There is Heliotrope and Iris in there too, but I could smell neither. I could be ignoring the Iris though, since she and I don’t get on.

This is a subtle and classy scent. It doesn’t show off. It’s smooth, and pretty, but not so pretty that it tries to draw attention to itself. It would smell superb on a man, especially a billionaire.

Daim Blond smells of money.