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.
Madonna turns 60 today – Happy Birthday, HRH Madonna! To celebrate, I thought I would resurrect my much-loved ‘Scent a Celebrity Series’, in which I ‘scent’ (pick fragrances for) some of my favourite celebrities. So let’s jump right back in with none other than the Queen of Pop!
Madonna; no other name is more instantly recognisable and no person is more likely to divide opinion. Arguably the most famous woman on the planet and factually the best selling female recording artist of all time, Madonna is a force that is hard to define; singer, dancer, performer, entertainer, provocateur, feminist, business woman, calculating she-devil – love her or hate her, whatever moniker you throw at her will most likely apply. She has done what many other icons fail to do – achieve longevity and on her 60th birthday, we celebrate her phenomenal four decades in music.
The fascinating thing about Madonna is that her ratio of talent to fame is perhaps slightly off balance. She’s not the greatest singer or dancer in the world, or even the best looking, but she has that je ne sais quoi that makes a person a star – the x factor, as they call it. Some say that she’s just a good business woman and I’m sure she is but that does not make for such longevity. By pushing people’s buttons and having something to say (and saying it well) Madonna has ensured that she is more than a just a star, she’s that rare commodity: an icon.
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.
We’re back with another Battle of the Bottles and this time we’re battling one of the greats: Serge Lutens. Uncle Serge, as he is often affectionally referred to, is a pioneer of the niche fragrance industry and boasts a range of perfumes that can only be described as phenomenal, which certainly made picking our scented weapons for this battle rather tricky.
Luckily for us, we’re joined by the wonderful Perfumer Liz Moores of Papillon Artisan Perfumes to help us navigate the exotic and beautiful world of Serge Lutens as our guest judge. What ensues is a wonderful discussion of dastardly florals, butt cracks, fragrant fireworks and animal poop. Yup, it’s a good one.
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.
The Candy Perfume Boy’s ‘Guide to…‘ series is a Jasmine award winning fragrant exploration of the individual notes that make up the vast and multi-dimensional spectrum that is the world of perfume. In each episode, we take a detailed look at a particular ingredient, analysing its odour profile and the ‘must sniff’ perfumes that serve as reference examples within the genre.
The many fragrant trips in the series have seen us make stops at Planet Tuberose, Chocolate World and Lavender Moon. We’ve also taken journeys to discover the notes of Oud, Orange Blossom, Violet and Lily. Oh, and we mustn’t forget Vanilla – we’ve been there too (and it was particularly delicious, I must say). All-in-all, we’ve traversed some delectably smelly places, learning more and more about the world of perfume on the way. I for one have found it to be great fun, and I hope you, dear reader, have too.
In this instalment we take a look at one of perfumery’s most important, prominent and prolific ingredients – jasmine. This stuff is a vital building block in our perfumes and iconic fragrances such as Chanel’s Nº5 (a true legend) simply would be the same without it. So, without further ado, I have put together my selection of ‘reference’ jasmine fragrances – seven of the very best, to be precise – to help you guide yourself through the must sniffs of the jasmine world. Let’s go scent-trekking.
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.