100 Fragrances Every Frag-Head Guy Should Try, part 19: Serge Lutens

    100 Fragrances Every Frag-Head Guy Should Try, part 19: Serge Lutens

    post #1 of 6
    Thread Starter 
    For todays rather late installment, I give you my salute to another of the most important lines in perfumery today, Serge Lutens. Though best known for perfumes that masterfully balance sticky sweetness with spicy undertones over woody and resinous basenotes in tribute to the bazaars of the middle east, Serge also deserves kudos for his simpler florals and, on a deeper level, for his self-referential style, going back through the years to quote his older perfumes in clever ways that reward his fans for paying attention to the little details he clearly works hard on.

    Serge Lutens

    53. Feminite du Bois by Serge Lutens




    Serge Lutens first designed Feminite du Bois for Shisedo before he launched his own line, but its now available under his name. Purists will insist that you track down a sample of the original Shisedo version, but Serges version is great on its own and easy to find, so thats the version I went with.

    As Serges first scent over which he had complete creative control, it ended up predicting many of the themes hed return to with the rest of his line, from plummy rose to dried fruits to the use of aldehydes and patchouli with the fruit and rose to make sparkly jam. As such, Feminite is required sniffing as a guidebook to the Lutens line, as well as because of its cult status. Smellwise, it clearly owes a debt to Egoiste and its mix of patchouli, rose, plum, and aldehydes over sandalwood, but Feminite has more sparkle and life and expands the sandalwood into a rich buttery stew, resplendent with a bazaars worth of dried fruits and spices.



    54. Arabie by Serge Lutens




    Arabie is probably the ultimate Lutens. Its thick and sweet but medicinal and somewhat strange. Its a dense mix of his favorite ingredients, resulting in the smell of dried fruits and pie spices over a thick, bready base, but with just enough cumin to give the illusion of a both sweat and Middle Eastern food. Theres also a strange mentholated quality that makes sure that no one mistakes Arabie for a gourmand.



    55. Chergui by Serge Lutens




    A heavily-suggested Basenotes favorite, I couldnt possible leave off Chergui. Its a deft mix of patchouli and that tobacco smell from Le Male, but somehow sparkling and with an aromatic herbal green element keeping it bright. Its got the Serge Lutens thickness, but without being at all standoffish or sticky sweet.



    56. Sa Majeste la Rose by Serge Lutens




    Sa Majeste la Rose is on this list for two reasons. First, its here to demonstrate that, in addition to his famously complex fruit spiced oriental concoctions, Serge also does really nice, relatively simple florals quite well. Second, like the entries in the Necessary Sniffing post, its also a great example of a very common mixture of notes.

    Of course, its mostly rose, but its the supporting notes that make a rose perfume. Almost all rose perfumes (Sa Majeste included) top their rose with violets to make it smell brighter and a pinch of faux lily to give it a leafy green undertone. They also commonly use honey as a basenote, because its a surprisingly good compliment to the rose, while berries give a subtle depth. Seriously, there must be hundreds of rose/violet/lily/berry/honey perfumes out there if you can name a straight-up non-dark rose perfume, its almost guaranteed to follow these notes. As such, its a mix thats worth getting to know. To compliment this common structure, some perfumes add a pinch of mint to the top (Jo Malones Red Roses is known for this), while older perfumes often use aldehydes to give a subtle waxy feel (this is one of the tricks in Sa Majeste) or a touch of patchouli to give depth.


    57. Ambre Sultan by Serge Lutens




    Amber, like leather, is another one of those smells thats open to interpretation. Sure, theres ambergris, but its a whole different thing and the actual ambergris tincture Ive smelled is rough and almost moldy smelling and resembles oud more than any amber perfume I know. As such, the smell we know as amber is actually a complex mix of ingredients, usually stryrax and balsams (which give its medicinal and buttery facets), and often incorporating vanilla and frankincense for character.

    Ambre Sultan has made this list not only because its one of the highlights of the Serge Lutens collection, but also as a truly great amber perfume. It balances the amber perfectly, with enough buttery creaminess to give depth, but also with enough herbal twang to give it brightness and balance. Ambre Sultan pairs its amber smell with a typically Lutens spice bazaar of cumin and curry, as well as green herbs and sweet dried fruits.
    post #2 of 6
    I always look forward to your posts. I guess I'll have to give Ambre Sultan another sniff now.
    post #3 of 6
    I really enjoy reafing your blog. Serge Lutens is not available in my country, but I will try to sniff it someday.
    post #4 of 6
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Wit_Siamese;bt6087

    I really enjoy reafing your blog. Serge Lutens is not available in my country, but I will try to sniff it someday.

    FYI, here in BKK Serge Lutens is available at Shisedo counter at Siam Paragon, Emporium and Shisedo @ Siam Discovery. You should ask SA for it.
    post #5 of 6
    Thankyou Rogalal, for sharing your experience and thoughts with us. Reading your blog is both educational and entertaining!

    Oh... and Serge Lutens is amazing! Truly an example of where perfume becomes art! His scents may not be wearable every day, but every time I put one on, it's an experience! My absolute favourites are Fille en Aigulles and Vetiver Oriental. Both "green" perfumes done in a typically Lutens style. I encourage anyone to try these two out, even though they are not as popular as the aforementioned ones.
    post #6 of 6
    Great post. I enjoyed reading it. I tried Ambre Sultan just the other day and I am amazed at how great it really is.
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    11/3/11 at 6:49pm

    rogalal said:



    For todays rather late installment, I give you my salute to another of the most important lines in perfumery today, Serge Lutens. Though best known for perfumes that masterfully balance sticky sweetness with spicy undertones over woody and resinous basenotes in tribute to the bazaars of the middle east, Serge also deserves kudos for his simpler florals and, on a deeper level, for his self-referential style, going back through the years to quote his older perfumes in clever ways that reward his fans for paying attention to the little details he clearly works hard on.

    Serge Lutens

    53. Feminite du Bois by Serge Lutens




    Serge Lutens first designed Feminite du Bois for Shisedo before he launched his own line, but its now available under his name. Purists will insist that you track down a sample of the original Shisedo version, but Serges version is great on its own and easy to find, so thats the version I went with.

    As Serges first scent over which he had complete creative control, it ended up predicting many of the themes hed return to with the rest of his line, from plummy rose to dried fruits to the use of aldehydes and patchouli with the fruit and rose to make sparkly jam. As such, Feminite is required sniffing as a guidebook to the Lutens line, as well as because of its cult status. Smellwise, it clearly owes a debt to Egoiste and its mix of patchouli, rose, plum, and aldehydes over sandalwood, but Feminite has more sparkle and life and expands the sandalwood into a rich buttery stew, resplendent with a bazaars worth of dried fruits and spices.



    54. Arabie by Serge Lutens




    Arabie is probably the ultimate Lutens. Its thick and sweet but medicinal and somewhat strange. Its a dense mix of his favorite ingredients, resulting in the smell of dried fruits and pie spices over a thick, bready base, but with just enough cumin to give the illusion of a both sweat and Middle Eastern food. Theres also a strange mentholated quality that makes sure that no one mistakes Arabie for a gourmand.



    55. Chergui by Serge Lutens




    A heavily-suggested Basenotes favorite, I couldnt possible leave off Chergui. Its a deft mix of patchouli and that tobacco smell from Le Male, but somehow sparkling and with an aromatic herbal green element keeping it bright. Its got the Serge Lutens thickness, but without being at all standoffish or sticky sweet.



    56. Sa Majeste la Rose by Serge Lutens




    Sa Majeste la Rose is on this list for two reasons. First, its here to demonstrate that, in addition to his famously complex fruit spiced oriental concoctions, Serge also does really nice, relatively simple florals quite well. Second, like the entries in the Necessary Sniffing post, its also a great example of a very common mixture of notes.

    Of course, its mostly rose, but its the supporting notes that make a rose perfume. Almost all rose perfumes (Sa Majeste included) top their rose with violets to make it smell brighter and a pinch of faux lily to give it a leafy green undertone. They also commonly use honey as a basenote, because its a surprisingly good compliment to the rose, while berries give a subtle depth. Seriously, there must be hundreds of rose/violet/lily/berry/honey perfumes out there if you can name a straight-up non-dark rose perfume, its almost guaranteed to follow these notes. As such, its a mix thats worth getting to know. To compliment this common structure, some perfumes add a pinch of mint to the top (Jo Malones Red Roses is known for this), while older perfumes often use aldehydes to give a subtle waxy feel (this is one of the tricks in Sa Majeste) or a touch of patchouli to give depth.


    57. Ambre Sultan by Serge Lutens




    Amber, like leather, is another one of those smells thats open to interpretation. Sure, theres ambergris, but its a whole different thing and the actual ambergris tincture Ive smelled is rough and almost moldy smelling and resembles oud more than any amber perfume I know. As such, the smell we know as amber is actually a complex mix of ingredients, usually stryrax and balsams (which give its medicinal and buttery facets), and often incorporating vanilla and frankincense for character.

    Ambre Sultan has made this list not only because its one of the highlights of the Serge Lutens collection, but also as a truly great amber perfume. It balances the amber perfectly, with enough buttery creaminess to give depth, but also with enough herbal twang to give it brightness and balance. Ambre Sultan pairs its amber smell with a typically Lutens spice bazaar of cumin and curry, as well as green herbs and sweet dried fruits.

    11/3/11 at 8:18pm

    Indaco said:



    I always look forward to your posts. I guess I'll have to give Ambre Sultan another sniff now.

    11/7/11 at 1:50am

    Wit_Siamese said:



    I really enjoy reafing your blog. Serge Lutens is not available in my country, but I will try to sniff it someday.

    11/8/11 at 4:46pm

    jss said:



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Wit_Siamese;bt6087

    I really enjoy reafing your blog. Serge Lutens is not available in my country, but I will try to sniff it someday.

    FYI, here in BKK Serge Lutens is available at Shisedo counter at Siam Paragon, Emporium and Shisedo @ Siam Discovery. You should ask SA for it.

    8/21/12 at 8:07am

    Mistertaz said:



    Thankyou Rogalal, for sharing your experience and thoughts with us. Reading your blog is both educational and entertaining!

    Oh... and Serge Lutens is amazing! Truly an example of where perfume becomes art! His scents may not be wearable every day, but every time I put one on, it's an experience! My absolute favourites are Fille en Aigulles and Vetiver Oriental. Both "green" perfumes done in a typically Lutens style. I encourage anyone to try these two out, even though they are not as popular as the aforementioned ones.

    11/20/12 at 4:09am

    Kingpharroh said:



    Great post. I enjoyed reading it. I tried Ambre Sultan just the other day and I am amazed at how great it really is.





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