Beauty Without Fuss

Tuesday 24 May 2011

Project Perfume - Serge Lutens

If you're in Paris, and if you're at all interested in perfume, then there's one pilgrimage that you have to make, and that is to worship - just a little bit - at the shrine of Serge Lutens, which you can find at Palais Royal, just behind the Louvre.  It's a stunning store, as different as different can be from the Caron store I showed you yesterday, but, possibly even more beautiful:

We were there to take a "perfume journey" with Sandrine, the wonderfully knowledgeable manager of the store, who received two rather travel-weary bloggers with beautiful grace and hospitality.  We were whisked up the magnificent staircase to "Uncle Serge's" private domain at the store, which is a peaceful haven replete with both Japanese and Moroccan touches, and, during a well-needed sit down, we were introduced to both the Export Line, and the Bell Jar collection, which is only available at this single - and singular store.

Sandrine started off talking to us about the Serge Lutens history - I had no idea he began his career as a hairdresser (again, bad beauty blogger alert) - and mentioned his links with both North Africa and the Far East.  We began, of course, by smelling Feminite Du Bois, which was Serge's first fragrance collaboration with Shiseido, and was possibly the first ever wood-based perfume created exclusively for women.  I own a sample of this, and it's a perfect cuddle of a perfume, reminding me of grey cashmere, and it's something I both hoard, and save for those days where a little comfort wouldn't go amiss.  It is quite rightly considered a classic.  There are three other fragrances in the "Bois" collection, et Fruits, et Musc and Oriental.  I loved all of them.

We then had a whistle-stop tour of the rest of the collection, the ritual of being told the story of the perfume, then dipping the strips into the jars to sample the scent, and the discussion of the notes being, to me a little slice of peaceful perfume heaven, right there in the city centre.  Particular standouts for me were Boxeuse - which, we were told is the scent of a lady boxer, sweet and leathery, for me, lacking a real punch, but a lot prettier than expected.  Sarrasins, a perfume on my list, didn't make much of an impression, but Tuberose Criminelle and Un Lys were real hits with both Hilda and I.

I then had to smell the two other "big-hitters" on my list: Iris Silver Mist, and La Myrrhe.  I have read a lot about Iris Silver Mist, and was looking forward to trying it, but at the point of smelling it, I'd had a little olfactory overload, and was totally anosmic. I couldn't smell a thing.  However, I took a few minutes out of sniffing at this point, and came back to it ... and ... well ... I didn't like it.  Cold, metallic and melancholy, the smell of the tears of a graveyard statue. On my skin it wasn't "me" at all.  It's another Lutens that I can appreciate the structure and the artistry of, but not wear.

Or ... can I?  On the drydown, which took a good two or three hours to reach, there was a beautiful, powdery and buttery scent, which was elegant and wearable, and I liked this a lot more than I did at first.  It's eccentric, for sure, but potentially loveable. This is definitely a scent I'll be searching for a sample of in the future because, as challenging as it is, I think it's definitely one that warrants further investigation.

As for La Myrrhe? Reader, I married it. Erm ... what I mean is that I felt strangely compelled to buy a bottle.  From the rosy and slightly aldehydic opening, which is both traditionally "perfume-y", and yet manages to remain undated, to the balsamic and slightly medicinal undertones, which are slightly mysterious and yet strangely welcoming, the bottle sang out my name loud and clear.  I've worn it a few times since, and in spite of MrLippie's assessment that it's "nice, but nothing original" - something I wholeheartedly disagree with - I love it.  A few more wears and I'll review it more fully, I think.

We also took a look at the Serge Lutens export line, where I once again fell for the apricot and leather beauty of Daim Blond - which I always think smells like the essence of a suede rose - to the extent where I wondered anew why I don't own a bottle, and the makeup collection, which you can see here:

I had, at one point, been determined to purchase a Serge Lutens lipstick, as they are in beautiful shades, and with a gorgeous satin texture, but at seventy five euro each - and discovering I couldn't choose between three of the shades! - I felt they were a little too rich even for my blood. They shall remain, for me, a thing to save up for ... in the meantime, I shall go to Harvey Nichols at every available opportunity and swatch, and dream ...

The Fine Print: Trip to Serge Lutens arranged by PR, but my very grateful thanks go to Sandrine for a wonderful afternoon. Purchases were acquired.  My credit card cried a little bit.  It had had a very hard day.

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  1. "the scent of a lady boxer"? Ermmmm ok then!

    The store is beautiful and Uncle Serge sounds fascinating. What a great experience.

  2. I have Muscs de Koublai Khan and it is absolutely unique and utterly hypnotically mesmerising.

  3. I absolutely love Daim Blond and Chergui.... Such beautiful fragrances! x


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