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Pretty much what it says on the box - a simple, dry, transparent accord of lavender and frankincense - Encens et Lavande finds Christopher Sheldrake dabbling in Bertrand Duchaufourís mťtier. Itís certainly unlike almost anything else in the Serge Lutens lineup. Absent are the candied fruit, syrupy amber, and deep spices that define so much of the Lutens/Sheldrake oeuvre. And where the other Serge Lutens lavender, Gris Clair, is cold, stark, astringent, and even moderately confrontational, Encens et Lavande is warm, soft, and comforting. The only ornaments on Encens et Lavandeís spare frame are a brisk and short-lived lemon top note and base notes of powdery woods and very dry vanilla underpinning the frankincense.
Simple as the composition is, its progress from opening to drydown is very much linear. Encens et Lavande endures for several hours on the skin, though its sillage and projection are relatively moderate Ė especially by the bold standards of this house. In its lean profile and modest weight Encens et Lavande stakes out new territory for Serge Lutens as a brand. On the other hand, it doesnít necessarily extend the realm of incense or lavender fragrances in any exciting directions. Next to Gris Clair or Vero Kernís peculiar Kiki, Encens et Lavande is an unadventurous lavender, and next to compositions like Dzongkha, Black Tourmaline, LíHomme Sage, Jubilation XXV, or Zagorsk, its incense is just, well, plain. Itís nice, but I donít think itís worth a trip to Paris.
12th December, 2009