Serge Lutens

Hear ye, hear ye! This page shall be dedicated to all Serge Lutens fragrance reviewing…in other words, it's a little corner of heaven!

First up…Sarrasins!

Sarrasins is one of those evil non-export Serge Lutens fragrances which one can only obtain if one has a Paris connection, is willing to pay for a decant at the Perfumed Court, OR has a friend who happens to already own a bell jar. In my case, it was the latter. (THANK YOU, Iris!!) I normally refrain from even sampling the non-export Serges…tres exclusif, oui, but also tres pain in the arse to obtain. Really, what does Serge have against the American market, anyway? In this case, however, I was intrigued by the controversy over the scent and must have whined enough about not having any that Iris sent me some (THANK YOU, IRIS!!).
But I digress.
Sarrasins, reputedly, is an indolic jasmine. For the non-perfumistas, indolic is a polite term used in fragrance to convey a certain, err, fecal quality to the scent. Well, my friends, if Sarrasins is indolic, you can go ahead and call me a freak because I ADORE it! This is the most interesting, luscious, amazingly decadent jasmine I've ever tried. I…want…more! Especially since the juice is a deep, inky purple that completely lives up to its dramatic promise.
Sarrasins starts out with an admittedly funky note. It doesn't smell like indoles to me, but rather a teensy bit plasticky. But Serge managed to take the icky out of plasticky somehow, because I don't really mind it. And then, oh Lord, the honeyed nectar comes out to play and decides to stay the day with you. Because yes, Sarrasins is a long lasting scent. It is not precisely true to life jasmine…but it comes darn close. It is jasmine with an edgy extra something. I find it far superior to Serge's other jasmine, A La Nuit. To me, A La Nuit is more linear and lacks the depth that Sarrasins has. It's also greener. When I crave jasmine, I crave a sexy, sumptuous flower that speaks to my dark side. I don' want no stinkin' greenery.
I believe the official notes for Sarrasins are: jasmine (duh), woods, musk, and coumarin. Know it all alert: coumarin is tonka bean…OK, yes, I DID check wikipedia. And, if you didn't catch this in my earlier whining, Sarrasins is ONLY available at the Palais Royale in Paris. Or, you can buy a decant from, with whom I am not affiliated, but should be given all the money I spend there.

I recently purchased a bottle of Serge Lutens Datura Noir so it only seems fair to review it and tell you why! It's only my second Serge bottle purchase-they are so darn expensive, and I find I can make do with decants most of the time-but I DID get it on sale at Beauty Encounter with a 20% off coupon, so some of my guilt is assuaged.
Datura scents fascinate me. I've never smelled a real life datura flower, but I'm so curious to do so, because there really is something dark, almost sinister, about every perfume I've sniffed to feature the scent. Datura Noir is aptly named, and much darker than my other well-loved datura fragrance, Maitre Parfumer et Gantier's Secrete Datura. That one has quite a bit of fresh green that Datura Noir decidedly lacks. The official the notes are mandarin peel, apricot, lemon flower, datura flower, tuberose, osmanthus, coconut, heliotrope, myrrh, bitter almond, vanilla, tonka bean, musk. I've noticed that different elements of this rather fascinating blend tend to be more apparent depending on the person wearing the scent. For myself, the top notes include datura, apricot (or osmanthus…they're so close, it's hard to tell which one I'm smelling), musk, and coconut. As the fragrance settles, the apricot and the coconut becomes a mere wisp of what it once was. The musk becomes more apparent and the heliotrope and almond emerge. The datura is constant throughout, which is really what hooks me into this fragrance the most. How many times have you sniffed something named for a particular note, only to have that note disappear 5 minutes after applying? That Serge was able to retain the datura, and still have all of these other notes drift in and out is to his credit.
Datura Noir is heady, but not energetically so. It is perfectly suited to a hot, tropical, lazy afternoon. You can purchase Datura Noir anywhere Serge Lutens is sold-it is a permanent export, thank heavens. I got mine from, but also highly recommend The Perfume Shoppe in Vancouver-if you mention, Nazrin, the proprietress will give you a very nice 10% discount.

I'd long avoided sampling Serge Lutens Chergui because even though it is the darling of many perfumistas, it features several of my least favorite-to put it euphemistically-fragrance notes. Namely, tobacco, hay, and honey. Honey seems to always turn into rancid powder on my skin, hay makes me sneeze, and tobacco makes me cough. However, I couldn't help but be curious about Chergui's devoted following and my profound love for another sweet tobacco fragrance, Fifi Chachnil, led me to finally procure a Chergui sample.

And it's one of those unexpected delights that just reinforces the notion that while buying fragrances based on one's favorite notes is generally a reliable practice, it's good to branch out every once in a while. There should be no dogma in perfumery. Chergui features the following notes: honey, musk, incense, tobacco leaf, hay sugar, amber, iris, rose and sandalwood. On the face of it, this sounds like a rather strongly smelling concoction, does it not? But it isn't. Chergui is a soft, sweet, spicy wood fragrance. All the above melds together into something surprisingly feminine. It is somewhat powdery and just sweet enough that the notes with typically strong personalities that usually overwhelm my nose-tobacco, incense, rose, honey-instead are dampened and blend together in a very intoxicating swirl of warm goodness. This is decidedly a fall/winter fragrance. It makes you want a roaring fireplace and warm cider. I adore it. It is pretty linear too. If you like the top notes, you will like the drydown. Nothing vile will pop out at you an hour into it. And while this usually makes for a boring fragrance, in this case, the top notes are so delicious that I'm glad they stick around.

You can buy Chergui at luckyscent for $120. I'll be purchasing a decant for significantly less, however, as this is not really an everyday fragrance. A spritz or two on special occasions will do me just fine.

Today, venturing bravely forth into another of the dreaded Lutens non-export line. Dreaded, because the fragrances are so wonderful and so unobtainable if you live outside Europe. Fortunately, the gals at the Perfumed Court long ago caught on to this dilemma, and I got my decant of Bois et Musc from them. Like pretty much all of the Bois series, this one is heavy on the cedar. The top notes are a dry cedary blast reminiscent of Le Labo 31, Heeley Cedre Blanc, and Feminite du Bois. Some may cry pencil shavings. I'm ok with that. Cedar makes me think of a spa in a forest. For others, it evokes a hamster cage. We can't all like the same things.
But wait, you may ask - where's the musk? The musk - a sweet, greenish variety - hovers at the edge of the cedar for about an hour into the drydown. Then, the cedar slowly drifts off and you are left with a humid musk tinged with sweet cedar wood. They pull the ol' switcharoo. I like the duality very much.

Today I'm testing another Serge Lutens classic: Gris Clair. This fragrance opens with an icy blast of lavender edged with cedar and musk. It's very cold in feel and I'm waffling on whether I like this rendition of lavender. It's very close to aftershavey in feel. However, it soon morphs into lavender tinged with ashy incense. THIS stage I like very much. Despite the potential harshness of the notes, it's nicely subdued and smooth. And we're not done with the drydown yet. Still farther in, I get a touch of sweet vanilla. It's a lovely progression. Still, I'm not sure it's worthy of a full bottle for me-which is kind of unfortunate, because Gris Clair is in the export line and thus relatively easy to obtain in the US. It's even made an appearance at some fragrance discounters.

When I heard that Serge Lutens was doing an iris and hyacinth fragrance, I simply had to get my hands on a sample of Bas de Soie as soon as possible. I've had it several weeks now and so great was my anticipation of it and so sure was I that I would need to buy it RIGHT AWAY, it's actually taken me that long to come around to the idea that it is not for me. I've sampled and resampled, but no dice. Here's what went wrong.
The first two minutes of Bas de Soie are for me heaven on earth. The iris is immediately there in all its cool, rooty glory. It's complemented by a gorgeous green hyacinth. They are harmonious together, neither overwhelming the other. The combination made me think that, despite its fanciful name, this is really a very elemental fragrance. You get elements of earth, air, and water all in one dose. But the magic, unfortunately, does not last.
The drydown of this fragrance on my skin can be termed nothing less than a Powder Explosion. All I smell is powder. For hours. It lasts A Long Time. If you like Lorenzo Villoresi's Teint de Neige - another powder bomb, though that one is intentionally so - you may also go for Bas de Soie.
I like my powder in moderation. Sorry, Serge.

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