Fall o’clock au Serge Lutens

Some reviews of my Lutens full bottles.

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Fall o’clock au Serge Lutens

Show & Tell Weekend

Some reviews of my Lutens full bottles.

Bornéo 1834: this was my first Serge Lutens, and it proved to be a gateway drug. A dark yet polished, minimalistic yet opulent masterpiece. The dominant players are patchouli and cacao, and they are evenly matched here. One whiff I get mostly patchouli, another mostly cacao, then again they’re perfectly intertwined forming their own, dense accord. The patchouli feels dry and somehow old here, it doesn’t have that moist earthiness it has in some other perfumes, like L’Artisan Voleur de Roses. The cacao has a very silky feeling. I find it less dusty and more reminiscent of dark chocolate than in Lutens’ Vetiver Oriental. Along with patchouli and cacao there is a distinct boozy note, especially in the opening. Like a shot of rum in a hot chocolate. During its long dry-down, Bornéo gets muskier and a little spicy, but never really smells dirty to me.

Daim Blond: this is the odd one out in my Lutens collection, since it is much more blended and perfumey than my others. There is the signature Lutens element of stewed fruit: in this case apricot simmered with a barely-there cardamom. But they’re folded in with a soft, fuzzy leather (not at all animalic). This suede note reminds me of a luxurious cream-coloured sofa, not a biker jacket or boot barn. Then there’s also something floral but it’s hard to say what kind. I don’t pick up on Iris at all, although there is a vague powderiness in the opening. The apricot has a slightly boozy character. The dry down is more pure leather with a little spiciness. An addictive, sophisticated perfume, but one I use sparingly since it got moved to the bell jar line.

Féminité du Bois: Rightly an icon and my ultimate fall perfume. The last fruits of the season, bringing in the firewood, the first mulled wine after a breezy forest walk,… it’s all there. I’ve had FdB for 7 years and I still feel like I discover something new with this perfume regularly. The notes are a whirlwind that appear not in succession, but in alternation as the perfume dances off the skin. This time, I notice a strong, delicious blast of stewed, spicy plums as the first accord. If you’ve ever had (or, even better, made) German Pflaumenmuss: this is it. Dark, sugary plums with cinnamon and cloves. Then quickly the “bois” of its title takes over, and I get mostly a gorgeous cedar with a prickly fresh ginger note. Sometimes I think I get a faint trace of sandalwood too. But the plums keep bubbling up intermittently, and the clove note is present throughout. As it dries down further, there’s some cumin in the spice mix as well, giving the perfume a warm, lived-in feel. It’s worth mentioning I despise most fruit notes in perfume, but I think Lutens does them particularly well, and nowhere more so than in Féminité du Bois.

Santal Majuscule: “Santal Majuscule” means capitalised sandalwood. This is a bit of a misnomer because the standout note here is rose. I do find sandalwood noticeable throughout as well though. The rose is realistic but not very sweet. The sandalwood buttresses it and protects it from acidity. The sandal note is interesting, it’s not going for the dusty-sweet aspect of sandalwood that many other perfumes emphasise, but instead renders it more classically woody, with a waxy, fresh, tangibly “alive” feeling. It reminds me of lacquered wood in terms of texture. The cacao note is imperceptible to me. Lutens does cacao brilliantly – in Bornéo 1834, Vetiver Oriental, and the new Écrin de Fumée the note really shines. But here I’m not smelling it. As such, Santal Majuscule is a 2-note affair for me, linear, somehow “clearer” and less dense than my other Lutens. It has a wonderful understated elegance and never disappoints.

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