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  1. #1

    Default Has Serge Lutens 'lost the plot'?

    Looking at the SL releases since 2004, there's only been a couple of noticeable ones - Borneo 1834 (although some have stated how similar this is to A*Men) and Gris Clair (which I've recently bought as a warm weather scent - something previously unthinkable for SL frags and the only reason why I bought it). Apart from that, either disappointments (Miel de Bois, Chypre Rouge, Bois et Musc) or rehashes of older releases (Mandarine Mandarin / Fleurs d'Oranger, Gris Clair / Encens et Lavande) have been added to both the export and exclusive lines..

    I'm sure not everyone will agree with this point but there does seem to be a concerning lull, in the level of creativity of this house. Do you think their golden age has come to an end or that the best is yet to come?

    I'd be very interested in reading your thoughts on the future direction of this house.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Has Serge Lutens 'lost the plot'?

    Personally I think a three year lull isn't too bad considering the effort it takes to create a high caliber perfume, from the actual hours put in mixing and experimenting, to the big money spent on funding the effort, advertising and distribution.

    I adore Gris Clair (one of my all-time favourites), but I haven't tried Borneo. Two nice releases in 3 years is pretty good since they only have one main perfumer working there and pulling the strings (Chrostopher Sheldrake).
    Last edited by Maxwell; 8th June 2007 at 12:04 AM.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Has Serge Lutens 'lost the plot'?

    Maxwell, I completely agree with you. However, by the standards of SL, this recent performance could be considered a concern. After all, in the past, every release year had at least one fragrance that was either interesting, groundbreaking or brilliant.

    I haven't had Gris Clair for long but I love it too - the heat transformed it from a cold 'electrical' smelling scent into something totally refreshing and pure. Great stuff!

  4. #4

    Default Re: Has Serge Lutens 'lost the plot'?

    niche(nch, nsh)
    n. 1. A recess in a wall, as for holding a statue or urn.
    2. A cranny, hollow, or crevice, as in rock.
    3.a. A situation or activity specially suited to a person's interests, abilities, or nature.
    b. A special area of demand for a product or service


    To me, Serge Lutens is one of the true niche houses. My definition of niche is whats presented above - " a special area of demand for a product or service". Its quite a bit different than what the FiFi foundation considers niche (the # of outlets at which a fragrance is sold, which qualifies David Beckham Instinct as a niche fragrance) and is similar to the definition of niche in other domains. Serge Lutens, like Montale, have a narrow focus of area and design principles which guide how they design their fragrances - its that moroccan/arabian atmosphere that they aspire to replicate in their fragrances (barring a few exceptions ofcourse). This is quite a bit different than the other "niche" houses like L'Artisan, Creed and Frederic Malle; these houses are typical classic houses in the vein of Guerlain and Caron. Their scope of perfume design isn't as narrow as Serge Lutens. Heck, L'Artisan and Malle dont even have an in-house perfumer. Demeter is another house which I consider truly niche: they are focused on creating "solifore" everyday smells like playdoy, thunderstore, dirt, etc. In a way you can say that Creed et al are also niche by this definition: their focus is on creating "excellent & unique" fragrances - but many would argue that thats too broad to classify as "niche". Eitherways, being niche or classic doesnt imply that one is superior than the other - its just a different classification as far as I am concerned.

    Having said all that, I think that the current problem with Serge Lutens is that its niche is too narrow - theres only so much you can do with arabian smells, and Serge Lutens has more or less done 'em all. Serge Lutens didnt envision the house to keep pumping out fragrances till the end of time - as far as I know, the next 2-3 fragrances will be the last from the house. Shiseido will then make the Serge Lutens fragrances part of its permanent collection. Even if the last few dont turn out to be that great, Serge Lutens fans have a reasonably large catalog to enjoy for the foreseeable future.
    Last edited by zztopp; 8th June 2007 at 12:54 AM. Reason: typos
    -

  5. #5

    Smile Re: Has Serge Lutens 'lost the plot'?

    Miel de Bois is as genius as any other highlight in the SL line. Rousse and Chypre Rouge were nothing to write home about, but give Mr. Lutens a chance. Gris Clair really came out of nowhere - who knows what he will come up with next.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Has Serge Lutens 'lost the plot'?

    Lutens / Shiseido have created an impressive gallery of fragrances in 15 years only. They created an interest in new kinds of perfumes first, educated their audience through the years, and achieved quite a few wow effects on their path. Naturally, they are now faced with the problem of continually raised expectations from a growing audience. And that is the only problem I can see. Examples mentioned of perfumes which disappointed, or gave the impression of of being rehashes do not worry me. Other persons may perceive (actually have perceived) the ones criticized a little different. If you look at reviews, echoes can be quite mixed. Whether or not they represent the BN audience is questionable. Our community certainly does not reflect the preferences and dislikes of perfume wearers in the western world. My personal impression is that of a growing interest in Lutens' perfumes in recent years. There are people buying Gris Clair or Rousse today who never even heard of Ambre Sultan and Daim Blond. Fashion minded men looking for special items would still rather visit counters like Mugler's or see what they can get in an Armani shop. I saw Boss-Baldessarini bottles discretely placed near their suits and shirts in a men's fashion shop the other day, caps off - and I new: that's how I would like to buy my colgnes: as an accessory. 'Would like to...' but I can't because I am a frag freak who treats colognes, as if there were the main issue in a man's wardrobe. Who needs shoes to go with my sillage?
    Last edited by narcus; 8th June 2007 at 06:50 PM.
    'Il mondo dei profumi è un universo senza limiti: una fraganza puo rievocare sensazioni, luoghi, persone o ancora condurre in uno spazio di nuove dimensioni emozionali' L. V.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Has Serge Lutens 'lost the plot'?

    I'm less of a fan of many of the more recent ones - but that could just be my tastes. A perfumer gets bored doing the same thing over and over, so they take new directions like a musician.

    That said, I think there's a problem if a perfume house has to keep churning out a certain number of "hits" per year. There are just so many fragrances out there it's silly. I hope that they are putting out new ones because they're inspired to do so, not because they have to.

    Lutens says he almost never wears his own fragrances!
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  8. #8

    Default Re: Has Serge Lutens 'lost the plot'?

    I agree that they've painted themselves into the corner of the souk, so to say. Their best strategy would be to increase the pause between releases considerably, but make every one of those a real thunderbolt, the defining niche event of that particular season. They should rarefy rather than issuing too many ho-hum things, which, while perhaps decent, appealing to a percentage of fans, and selling well, certainly are a far cry from the great creations of the 90s. But such a strategy does not conform with market pressures as they govern even the niche world these days and Shiseido would probably not go along. Though its high-time somebody in the business dared a "less-is-more" approach, I'd say.

    Also, how much time can Sheldrake pour into Lutens in his current position, which is hardly a 40hr/week job?
    My Wardrobe
    II est de forts parfums pour qui toute matière/Est poreuse. On dirait qu'ils pénètrent le verre.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Has Serge Lutens 'lost the plot'?

    Quote Originally Posted by the_good_life View Post
    I agree that they've painted themselves into the corner of the souk, so to say. Their best strategy would be to increase the pause between releases considerably, but make every one of those a real thunderbolt, the defining niche event of that particular season. They should rarefy rather than issuing too many ho-hum things, which, while perhaps decent, appealing to a percentage of fans, and selling well, certainly are a far cry from the great creations of the 90s. But such a strategy does not conform with market pressures as they govern even the niche world these days and Shiseido would probably not go along. Though its high-time somebody in the business dared a "less-is-more" approach, I'd say.

    Also, how much time can Sheldrake pour into Lutens in his current position, which is hardly a 40hr/week job?
    I couldn't agree with you more, and it was something I mentioned in another thread sometime ago (something along the lines of 'taking stock'). There does seem to be more pressure to release more than a couple every year, which seems to be damaging their reputation. If you look at the 90s, nothing was released in 1999 (but Muscs Koublaï Khän came out the previous year, with Arabie being released in 2000 - well worth the wait, some would say) and there was only one release both in 1993 (Ambre Sultan - one of the most popular SL scents) and 1997 (Santal de Mysore - what a thunderbolt of a release that was). I'd much prefer it if this house continued with that same attitude.
    Last edited by Trebor; 8th June 2007 at 08:43 AM.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Has Serge Lutens 'lost the plot'?

    Quote Originally Posted by Trebor View Post
    Maxwell, I completely agree with you. However, by the standards of SL, this recent performance could be considered a concern. After all, in the past, every release year had at least one fragrance that was either interesting, groundbreaking or brilliant.

    I haven't had Gris Clair for long but I love it too - the heat transformed it from a cold 'electrical' smelling scent into something totally refreshing and pure. Great stuff!
    Yeah, that's true. Though I think my perspective on this is probably a little skewed since Gris Clair is my all-time favourite SL fragrance. The problem with fragrance reviewing is that it's so subjective that what's amazing to one person could be drab to another.
    Here's hoping that the new "white almond" SL coming out is good. I have no idea what a "white" almond would smell like, but it sounds interesting.
    Last edited by Maxwell; 8th June 2007 at 04:15 PM.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Has Serge Lutens 'lost the plot'?

    Personally, I still think there's some avenues for SL to explore - even more if they can find a new angle on their original concept. For example, after five minutes of brainstorming, the following are ideas that I don't think SL has covered yet (or not extensively enough):

    A strong and spicy tea scent - preferably with mint
    Something herbal or vegetal - Vetiver Oriental comes closest to this concept
    Incense
    Clove
    Nutmeg
    Moroccan wine
    Something creamy

    Sketchy, I know, but I think you get my drift. And I don't even live in Morocco!
    Last edited by Trebor; 8th June 2007 at 04:25 PM.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Has Serge Lutens 'lost the plot'?

    I weighed in on this topic incidentally on another recent thread, but at the risk of redundancy I'll quote myself. (After all who else will?)

    "When it comes to the Lutens-Sheldrake line, I've generally had love-it-or-hate-it experiences, but their run of scents did tend for a long time to be very distinctive. Now, as I look back on those I know, I've begun to wonder whether the heavy, sweet, ambery house note hasn't slipped into self-repetition. I've noticed that many of my favorites in the line are the ones that veer away from the signature amber syrup accord. I would like to see them bring out more scents like Gris Clair, Sa Majeste la Rose, Un Lys, and Douce Amere, which extend their range and better demonstrate their versatility as perfumers."

    As an addendum, I agree that both Chypre Rouge and Rousse were both disappointingly conventional. My reaction was neither love nor hate, but "So what?"

    I do have great fondness for Mandarine-Mandarin, which to my nose has nothing to do with Fleurs d'Oranger. The latter is very much a floral fragrance with oriental undertones, while former is all about candied citrus peel and spices - plus a distinct smoky accord that's quite surprising in a citrus-based fragrance. Oh well, to each his own!
    Last edited by Off-Scenter; 8th June 2007 at 04:34 PM.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Has Serge Lutens 'lost the plot'?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vibert View Post

    As an addendum, I agree that both Chypre Rouge and Rousse were both disappointingly conventional. My reaction was neither love nor hate, but "So what?"
    Chypre Rouge is conventional? What else smells like that? I didn't like Rousse much at all - it just seems like a mess in a cloud of cinnamon powder, but Chypre Rouge is wonderful and unlike any other fragrance I've ever tried. I'd be really curious to know what's similar!

    Has anyone tried Sarrasins by the way? And by Sarrasins do they mean Saracens of Buckweat? It's the same word in French! I'm guessing Saracens...
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  14. #14
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    Default Re: Has Serge Lutens 'lost the plot'?

    Quote Originally Posted by GAIVS IVLIVS CAESAR View Post
    Chypre Rouge is conventional? What else smells like that? I didn't like Rousse much at all - it just seems like a mess in a cloud of cinnamon powder, but Chypre Rouge is wonderful and unlike any other fragrance I've ever tried. I'd be really curious to know what's similar!

    Has anyone tried Sarrasins by the way? And by Sarrasins do they mean Saracens of Buckweat? It's the same word in French! I'm guessing Saracens...
    Conventional, not to be confused with redundant. It doesn't necessarily mimic any other scent in particular, but I don't think it explores territory any more far-flung than say, Mitsouko, or Coriolan, or maybe even Geir. In a repertoire that that includes Muscs Koublai Khan, Tubereuse Criminelle, and Ambre Sultan, Chypre Rouge strikes me as "ordinary."

    My reactions to Serge Lutens scents tend to be extreme. Either I detest them (Miel de Bois, Arabie, Fumerie Turque) or very much enjoy them (Muscs Koublai Khan, Tubereuse Criminelle, Iris Silver Mist, Mandarine-Mandarin, Sa Majeste la Rose, Fleurs d'Oranger, and Un Lys). Only a few that I've tried have struck me as just so-so, and both Rousse and Chypre Rouge are among them.

    I'd never dare to presume that because I find a scent "ordinary," it oughtn't appeal to anybody else. In fact, we may actually perceive Chypre Rouge very differently. Or it may smell far more interesting on you than on me. That's part of what makes scent interesting!

  15. #15

    Question Re: Has Serge Lutens 'lost the plot'?

    SL and co. need to come up with a new take on something they haven't explored before. He has done an amazing musc, so many great woody orientals and a handful of beautiful florals. I often wonder, what he would do as his version of an aquatic?

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Has Serge Lutens 'lost the plot'?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ruggles View Post
    SL and co. need to come up with a new take on something they haven't explored before. He has done an amazing musc, so many great woody orientals and a handful of beautiful florals. I often wonder, what he would do as his version of an aquatic?
    Let's see, an aquatic with honey, amber, indolic jasmine, cinnamon, vanilla, and then some more honey - could be a hoot!

  17. #17

    Default Re: Has Serge Lutens 'lost the plot'?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vibert View Post
    Let's see, an aquatic with honey, amber, indolic jasmine, cinnamon, vanilla, and then some more honey - could be a hoot!
    That's funny. But I'm serious. He couldn't use those ingredients as it wouldn't be an aquatic. Gris Clair certainly isn't one of his "Candy Coated Dreams".
    Last edited by Kevin Guyer; 29th August 2007 at 01:51 PM.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Has Serge Lutens 'lost the plot'?

    I don't think so.

    I have and love Borneo 1834, Miel de Bois, Cèdre, Chypre Rouge and Rousse, and hope to have Mandarine Mandarin one day. Haven't tried Sarrasins yet.
    "Wovon man nicht lesen kann, darüber muss man schreiben."

  19. #19

    Default Re: Has Serge Lutens 'lost the plot'?

    No i don't think he has,the man has been elevated to an almost demigod status i've owned 9 different full bottles and had liquid samples of about 3/4 of the rest of them and although not all of them were for me none were boring and that's the way it should be .Who wants bland?i think it's a case of him being judged on his past creations which i imagine when they first were released onto the market were perceived as being almost avant- garde in their appeal and to most people who are not into fragrance they still are it's a case of being hoisted by one's own petard for Serge Lutens .

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Has Serge Lutens 'lost the plot'?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ruggles View Post
    That's funny. But I'm serious. He couldn't use those ingredients as it wouldn't be an aquatic. Gris Clair certainly isn't one of his "Candy Coated Dreams".
    Very true. An aquatic with the clarity of Un Lys, and perhaps the kind of near-perverse twist that makes Tubereuse Criminelle so great would be something indeed.

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