I only sampled five of Serge Luten perfumes; they seem all very personal scents. They seem almost for your olfactory pleasure only. I guess you will be disappointed if you want to announce your presence since they seem very low scale in sillage. Jeux de peau smells like buttered pastry. The scent on blotter just stayed on and on after three days. In the end, butteriness wasn't there anymore but changed into something ambery.
When my 10yo daughter and I went to Mecca cosmetica in New Market to sample Serge Luten perfumes they had, this one was my daughter's favourite. She had a blotter in her p.j pocket for three days and would sniff before going to bed.
I sometimes wonder, if children can have acquired taste on things like green veggies when they get fed healthy and balanced diets of veggies/fruit/lean meat from early age, they surely must be able to be trained to pick quality scent if they were given really nice fragrance to use such as Serge Luten. Well, if we can afford, I mean. :)
Not an oriental but full of balms, an immortelle than smells like honeyed spice cake, a skin scent with great longevity.
Jeux de Peau is quite unlike anything else out there. It's as though Serge Lutens asked for an oriental bazaar done without amber.
What Christopher Sheldrake came up with, in place of citrus, vanillin and ladbanum, is a blocky structure made up of large doses of bland materials. Benzoin, balsams, honey accord, myrrh and musks, on which is mounted a helichrysum heart decorated with cinnamon, nutmeg and pepper. Resinous nuances of hawthorn and fir balsam provide highlights. There are no distinct head notes.
This makes for an oriental that breaks completely with the Shalimar tradition in both character and structure. It refers back instead through Obsession to Trésor as the blueprint from which it has been engineered.
Comparisons with Sables are inescapable, and also Eau Noire. It defines a sub-genre of pseudo florientals based on strategies to control the difficult note of everlasting flower. The key to success here is to manage the contrast in textures between two opposing materials. The coarse and strident features of immortelle, and its smooth, sweet and bland setting of biscuit, amber or lavender.
The balms draw from the skin, but also mask, a discrete animality. Somehow reminiscent of Xeryus and also Sybaris but less overtly sensuous than that classic powerhouse. JdP is better worn as a masculine even though it is marketed as a mixed scent. With a nurturing foody character it is however, definitely not an alpha male type profile.
That JdP manages to stay the right side of gourmand is debatable, the dividing line between olfactory and gustatory being a movable one depending on the circumstances. How hungry you are and your skin chemistry being the obvious factors. Are these the skin games referred to in the name, playing with the limits of how a scent can be perceived ; now the nose, and then, now the tongue?
It has a surprisingly English feel, being reminiscent at times of a school dinner dessert I remember that was made of flour, suet and vine fruits, called Spotted Dick.
The nature of the construction of JdP, and the sub-genre defining character of the theme lead me to see it as the synthesis of two important modalities of modern perfumery.
The balsamic gourmand feel serves as an antidote to the narcotic and over bearing themes of the 80s. It achieves this by replacing their toxic formulae with a simple and legible profile. It also takes the linear structure of of some water thin 90s solutions - which emerged in contrast to the big hair monsters of the previous decade, and replaces the meagre ingredients of those calorie free diet Eau's with a good portion of home cooking.
Jeux de Peau can thus be seen as a critique of some of perfumery's most notable excesses over the space of twenty years.
In essence, this is a gourmand of considerable skill which combines the ambience of comfort food with a discrete animal warmth. It's an easy and satisfying wear, but not facile, and has enough internal contrasts to sustain interest through its long, slow and almost linear evolution to dry down.
That smell, taste, touch and sex should be implicated in the simple spray of a perfume should come as no surprise to parfumista's, but how these relate one to another is a philosophical question even a savant like Serge Lutens would be hard pressed to answer.
Maybe it's better not to get too fussed about it. Maybe perfume isn't a tool of seduction, a fashion accessory or two dimensional sculpture after all.
Maybe perfume is just a game we play on the skin.
26th December, 2014 (last edited: 18th March, 2015)
Hot buns straight from the oven...
Where to start with this one? Serge Lutens - Jeux de Peau opens with a beautiful smell of bread yeast which turns into the smell of freshly baked buns straight out of the oven. It's a lovely smell, and it's light! It's not so heavy or "gourmandish" even though it's sweet. In other words, it can be worn anywhere at almost any time. It's true to it's name, which when translated means "skin games", as it plays and stays on the skin, never going too far or annoying anyone. I personally love it!
Jeux de Peau opens with a host of gourmand notes. I get the wheat, the milk and the coconut, and liquorice in the background. It's very nice and pleasing. In the background I get hints of osmanthus blossom, which can smell a little like rice and a hint of apricot, and the use of an apricot note to compliment this side to the osmanthus is really great. The pairing of immortelle with liquorice is not a new one, as done before in Dior Collection Privée - Eau Noire, but here is is gentle and sweet, and compliments beautifully with the other notes. As usual, the base is made up of sandalwood, which is itself a very creamy or "milky" note, and we have seen this wood paired up with a real milk note before Hermèssence - Santal Massoïa. But here is has more substance and lasts longer.
Overall, a wonderful warm and inviting fragrance, which doesn't offend in any way, smells very alluring, and which blends really well with the skin to make you smell delicious. If you like gourmands, you'll like this, and even if you don't, you'll still like this. That's the magic of this one! A nice perfume with a unique and quite lovely smell. Like a warm smell from a bakery in winter. Just wonderful!
Not a bad scent. Just a boring gourmand. Been there, done that. Bread and a few light spices.
Serge Lutens has done gourmand before; most obviously in the guise of Five O-Clock au Gingembre, Louve, and Rahät Loukoum. Jeux de Peau extends the line further in that direction. Yet where those earlier scents were either spicy or syrupy-sweet in their approximations of food, Jeux de Peau approaches comestibles from a more savory angle. It’s still dessert, mind you, but it’s more almond brioche than fruitcake or baklava.
A warm, yeasty, fresh baked goods accord greets the nose almost immediately, soon followed by sweetening touches of heliotrope and immortelle. Dry sandalwood balances the sweetness with a vaguely nutty influence, while a dab of the apricot familiar from Lutens’s earlier Daim Blond adds a welcome piquancy to the central arrangement. Jeux de Peau stands out as one of the few scents I know (along with Jubilation XXV and Etat Libre d’Orange’s Like This,) that successfully incorporate immortelle without drowning themselves in its dense, viscous tide.
While Jeux de Peau is extremely soft in olfactory texture, it projects well from the skin and plays out in a linear manner for several hours’ wear. The dusty cedar and mild, powdery amber drydown smells disappointingly hollow once it arrives, but at least it’s not oppressively sweet or heavy. Despite the faintly risqué name (which translates as “skin games”), wearing Jeux de Peau is a pleasant and comforting experience. Yet I feel the scent betrays its name in that, for all its cuddly texture and comforting associations, it wears awkwardly on my skin. The impression is hard to convey, but after every wearing I’m left thinking I’d like Jeux de Peau better in a room spray or a candle than on me.