“She’s a rose with thorns, don’t mess with her. She’s a girl who goes to extremes.
When she can, she soothes; and when she wants … !
Her fragrance lifts you higher, she rocks and shocks.”
I like a rose. The smell of rose petals has me inhaling deeply and satisfyingly. There is nothing to beat the smells found in nature. My grandmother’s rose garden was her pride and joy and her passion was infectious. She grew deep velvety red roses, roses with coral petals named after the Queen Mother, and a lovely yellow rose whose petals were tinged pink like a blush. My grandmother died ten years ago but she is with me every time I smell a rose in the sunshine. Roses make me happy.
Or so I thought until I smelt Serge Lutens La Fille de Berlin. My first impression, admittedly after a day of trawling Sephora and Marionnaud, was “After Eight Mints”. Don’t ask me why. Maybe it was the high concentration of the roses giving them a slightly medicinal scent, bordering on herbal, or even antispectic. Maybe it was the fact I was saturated in more than seven fragrances at the time. I had broken my golden rule of “one scent, one arm, and then go home”. But when faced with a sweet shop, it’s hard to just buy one humbug.
La Fille de Berlin is like having concentrated essence of Roses squirted up each nostril and then being shoved face down into black cherry jam, whilst being read stark war poetry. You may well feel differently. The combination of Rose and Pepper is considered by some to be a perfect balance: a sort of serendipity, like bacon and maple syrup. What lucky chance that these two were thrown together to make a symphony worthy of Kings. I once knew a girl who loved Marmalade with her Sausages. It’s remarkably good, though not, of course as a fragrance.
With La Fille de Berlin the image and name contribute to my aversion. There is an impression of sadness, war and grief beneath the fragrance. The video on the Serge Lutens website left me feeling bereft and hollow, helpless with a compassion that has no direction or use. It’s all cold thorns, snow and suffering. Wearing La Fille de Berlin ruins a good memory and paints bad memories over the top of it. It repels me and makes me scared of losing cherished memories of smelling roses. It stamps over the petals, reminding me only of the thorns and bloody fingers. Even the bottle is a bit too red for comfort.
This is melancholy and tragic and the roses are too many, like a nightmarish replication that suffocates until roses become your enemy. Give me back a rose I can enjoy.