I’ll be honest, it’s been quite some time since a Serge Lutens fragrance has struck a chord with me. Also, whilst we’re on the subject of honesty, I’ve only ever been a casual lover of the brand (revoke my fragrance nerd card, go on, I deserve it) always enjoying the baroque, brooding florals (Tubereuse Criminelle, Sarassins, Iris Silver Mist, Fleurs d’Oranger etc.) over the richly stewed ambers, spices and sweets. So whilst I appreciate Serge Lutens fragrances, they’ve never really been “me” except for the odd exception and it’s a long while since one stopped me in my tracks and had me cooing with lust. You can probably tell where this is going…..
Enter La Dompteuse Encagée, the brand’s latest perfume. It’s a curious beast launched in signature Lutens style, with ad copy that reads more like a riddle than anything remotely useful in terms of discerning what it actually smells like (something about a lion tamer and vague references to cancel culture – “society on the lookout for the slightest misstep”). That aside, what Lutens presents us with is an enigmatic, icy floral that warms with time – and that, my friends, is something I am fully on board with.
I think it’s been a long time since I’ve fallen for a new Serge Lutens fragrance. Perhaps it was La Religieuse in 2015 or La Fille de Berlin in 2013, I can’t remember, but I know it has been a while! I adore many of his back catalogue greats (especially L’Eau Froide, Tubereuse Criminelle, Sarrasins, Iris Silver Mist, Feminite du Bois, and Fleurs d’Oranger) but many of the new ones have failed to resonate. There have been interesting elements to his fragrances of late, but it seems that he has moved away from the dense orientalism and fleur fatale inspirations of his past, opting for yet more abstraction in fragrances that don’t really make as much of a mark.
Well, I am pleased to say that Lutens’ ‘meh’ streak has come to an end with the latest addition to Collection Noire (the most widely available Lutens collection): Le Participe Passè (The Past Participle). In the usual Lutens way, the perfume is presented with little information other than a riddle that is difficult to decode, with Lutens only telling us this: “past moments that surge into the present have many scents. I have interpreted that which most evokes the past.” Thanks for that, Serge – real helpful! Anyway, this new scent is more than a riddle or a description, it’s something much more than that – Le Participe Passè is quite the spectacle.
I’m always crushing on something scented or other. My nose knows no limits. Candy Crush is where I showcase the beautifully scented things I’m crushing on right now so you can hopefully develop a crush too.
Serge Lutens is a man of aesthetics, both visual and olfactive. In his career he has not only worked as an olfactory architect, he has also been a photographer and a make-up artist too. Each of the things that he lends his hand to has an incredibly distinct style, whether it be the sharp, elfin style of his photography and make-up work, or the hedonistic orientalism and deadly botany of his fragrances. Everything he does looks, feels and smells like it comes from Serge Lutens, especially the bottles for his perfumes, which in a strange way are a visual interpretation of his muse in glass.
One can always count on Serge Lutens to create something interesting. Year-on-year he offers up thought-provoking fragrances that push the boundaries of conventional perfumery. They are often orientals, gourmands and florals that smell otherworldly and are paired with poetic descriptions filled with riddles. This year’s addition to the collection is Baptême du Feu, a battle-inspired fragrance that takes cues from the fairgrounds and gun ranges M. Lutens frequented as a child. To find out my thoughts on this latest instalment in the Serge Lutens saga, click here to read my review at Escentual.com.
A new fragrance from Serge Lutens is always news worthy, especially when that brand spanking new perfume is a floral, my most favourite of all genres. Lutens’ latest fragrance, a jasmine-based scent (Uncle Serge’s third jasmine-centric outing) named ‘La Refligieuse’ is certainly very good news. This is an unusual and low-key jasmine with a few gourmand facets thrown in for good measure. Click here to head on over to Escentual to read my review.
When doing an A-Z Guide to Fragrance, as I have been doing for Escentual over the last two years, one finds some letters to be difficult. For example, ‘Q’ stumped me for quite some time, until I thought that it could be representative of ‘Questions’ (as in fragrant FAQs), and I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to do for ‘X’ or ‘Z’, but they’re a little way off yet so let’s not panic. Anyway, some are hard to pick a theme for, whilst others are pretty easy. ‘S’ was one of the easy ones.
‘S’ could stand for ‘Shalimar’ or it could stand for ‘Sandalwood’. In fact, it could stand for many things. In my mind however, ‘S’ could only, and should only be representative of one thing in fragrance and that is ‘Serge Lutens’. Since the early ’90s, this olfactory enigma has been presenting us with some of the most beautiful, challenging, confusing and fascinating fragrances. He’s a man who speaks in riddles but presents olfactory tales in captivating prose. He is Serge Lutens, and there’s not much more to say than that. Click here to read this week’s Escentual column.
One can always trust Serge Lutens, or ‘Uncle Serge’ as he is often reffered to in affection, to do something a little bit different. Over his career, Lutens and his perfumer and right hand man, Christopher Sheldrake have created a wealth of opulent, angular and fatal perfumes that smell beautiful, challenging and often entirely unique. To put it simply, to enter the world of Lutens is to take a step into the unfamiliar.
For my Escentual column this week, I’ve reviewed the latest addition to the house of Serge Lutens – the strangely named ‘L’Orpheline‘ (The Orphan). Without giving too much away, it’s a difficult perfume to pin down and right from the outset it feels awash with contradictions and an overall fuziness that blurs the lines between strong juxtapositions. If that has you suitably intrigued, simply click here to head on over to read my review. As always, don’t forget to leave a comment with your thoughts if you’ve given L’Orpheline a sniff.
“The Scent a Celebrity Series is my vain attempt at picking perfumes for those who don’t know any better, yes I mean celebrities. Let’s face it, most celebrities are incapable of choosing decent clothing, boyfriends, girlfriends, movies, (insert-celebrity-mistake-here) let alone having the ability to make decisions about something as important as their scent – that’s where I come in. Never fear, my dear schlebs, I will ensure that you are appropriately scented, all you need to do is listen.”
– The Candy Perfume Boy
Like most people on this fine Earth, I love Disney. Yes, I accept that they give one false expectations of love, romance and the presence of talking tea cups, but I’ve found my Prince so all is forgiven. It’s not the Disney Princesses or Princes that interest me though, for it is a simple fact that the pleasant and saccharine things in life aren’t necessarily the most captivating. Instead I have found myself loving the devious, the dastardly and the down right depraved spirits that are the Disney Villains.
For this episode of the Scent a Celebrity Series I am assigning perfumes to four of my all-time favourite Disney villains, ranging from the squid-y sashay of Ursula the Sea Witch to the campy hypnotism of Aladdin’s arch nemesis, Jafar. So read on dear perfume lovers and Disneyphiles, but do proceed with caution, as these villainous perfumes may appear as innocent cartoon follies at first, but deep down they are nothing but trouble.
It’s a strange paradox that the king of non-mainstream perfumery’s most divisive fragrances are those that are the least unusual – the L’Eau series. This is evidenced by the fact that there was practically a public outcry when Lutens launched his first ‘eau’. Die hard perfume nuts were found weeping in the street, bell jars were burned and bottles upon bottles of Ambre Sultan were smashed in moments of despair.
OK, I accept that I may have dramatised the situation a bit there but the truth is that many were disheartened that Serge Lutens, the man behind so many of perfumery’s modern greats, was going against his own grain by releasing anti-perfumes that were evocative of cold water and clean linen as opposed to life’s darker and more dangerous aspects. But people need worry not, both perfumes in the collection so far (L’Eau and L’Eau Froide) have turned out to be pretty decent, acting as a welcome change from Lutens’ usual oeuvre and showing how clean fragrances really should be done.
The latest perfume to be added to the L’Eau collection is ‘Laine de Verre‘. Taking its name from everyone’s favourite mode of loft installation – fibreglass – this new L’Eau penned by perfumer Christopher Sheldrake is as unusual as it is fresh and relaxed. Serge Lutens, in his usually riddle-filled way, states that the perfume is inspired by “complementary opposites” , elaborating further that the conflict is himself and the masculine and feminine. With that in mind, it’ll be no surprise that Lain de Verre is a genderless, inhuman fragrance that piques interest.
“With Laine de Verre, it is the metal which, physically, takes shape within its fragrance…”