Serge Lutens Fumerie Turque : Perfume Review

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Delacroixalgiers

Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

Serge Lutens Fumerie Turque is the scent that pervades Eugène Delacroix’s Algerian themed paintings, in which the darkness of shadows frames rich colors. Both the painting and the fragrance are romanticized visions, focusing on the sensual elements. The eye beholds a group women reclining on embroidered pillows, with a narguile smoking next to a bowl of sweetmeats. One woman looks directly at the viewer, the other gazes to the side, as her companion leans closer. What captured is but a moment of an afternoon filled with heat and languor.

Likewise, Fumerie Turque, created by Christopher Sheldrake in 2003, is a composition of sensual character that develops slowly. Nevertheless, its every facet harmoniously segues into another, despite the dark and seemingly uncompromising nature of each accord. Smoky notes soften slowly revealing tobacco leaves soaked in honey and caramel redolent rum.

“Color gives the appearance of life,” said Delacroix, and nothing could be truer of Fumerie Turque. Rose is a vibrant element that lifts the composition, lending it a particularly sensual feel. Floral notes are seamlessly blended into the tapestry of Fumerie Turque, tempering the sweetness of balsams and the darkness of smoke. Translucent ambery notes appear almost immediately, yet as the fragrance dries down, they begin to solidify and darken. Warm vanillic accord is supported by the delicate softness of leather, which lends a decadently luxurious sensation to the elegant drydown.

Notes include currants, white honey, candied Turkish rose, Egyptian jasmine, smoked leather, beeswax, Balkan tobacco, Peru balsam, patchouli, tonka bean, styrax, juniper, vanilla. Fumerie Turque is part of Les Salons du Palais Royal Shiseido exclusive line.

Eugène Delacroix. Women of Algiers in Their Apartment. 1834. Oil on canvas. Louvre, Paris, France, from abcgallery.

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35 Comments

  • parislondres: Beautiful review dear V! I really like this perfume. It is incredible layered with a tiny drop of En Avion. :))

    Have a lovely day!

    :)) September 28, 2005 at 3:00am Reply

  • MC: Beautiful review as ever Victoria. I think this scent might be the jewel in the Palais Royal collection – I prefer Chêne and Iris Silver Mist, but Fumerie Turque seems to capture the essence of Lutens’ aesthetic in a remarkable way. September 28, 2005 at 4:27am Reply

  • Judith: Concidentally, I am wearing FT today–or perhaps not so coincidentally: it’s a wonderful, complex scent that seems just right for Fall. The layering N. suggests does sound incredible (thank you!); I will try it later when I am more awake.

    Beautiful review and picture–both are so evocative!

    P.S. After some dithering yesterday, I finally sent away for samples of Zagorsk and some others in the CdG incense series. Now, I can’t wait to try them. Your blog and its contributors continually broaden my horizons–thank you! September 28, 2005 at 8:59am Reply

  • Judith: Arrrgh-coIncidentally, I’m still too sleepy to be able to type “coincidentally.” September 28, 2005 at 9:02am Reply

  • Marina: What a lovely review. With this phrase: “the darkness of shadows frames rich colours”, you described my favourite kind of perfumes (and paintings :-)). If I had some Fumerie on hand I would have sprayed some liberally. September 28, 2005 at 9:20am Reply

  • Tania: Perhaps I didn’t give it a proper chance! I found the top accord so acrid, like a face full of real bonfire smoke, that I swore it of immediately. September 28, 2005 at 10:15am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Thank you, dear N! Your layering suggestion sounds very interesting. I have to try it for myself. Thank you for this inspiration. September 28, 2005 at 10:28am Reply

  • Liz: To me, Fumerie Turque is the odd epic in Serge’s collection of poems and short stories. Certainly one of the most lasting and changeable perfumes I own, ornate and evocative. FT is very different at 9 am than it is at 9 pm, which suits my own Jekyll-and-Hyde personality just fine. 🙂

    Thanks for the great review! September 28, 2005 at 10:33am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Mike, thank you. You are right! Fumerie Turque seems to capture best what the collection is about and how the inspirations are framed. I would also name Chêne and Iris Silver Mist among my favourites, which have a completely different character. September 28, 2005 at 10:36am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Judith, I love how it develops on the skin, from dark and smoky to caramelized rose and leather. It always surprises how amazing the transformation can be. This, of course, keeps drawing me back to FT over and over again.

    Thank you for your kind words. I am glad to hear it. 🙂 September 28, 2005 at 10:40am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Judith, when you receive your CdG samples, I would love to hear what you think and which one you would find to be the most interesting! September 28, 2005 at 10:44am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Thank you, Marinochka! I love thinking about visual/olfactory associations. Fumerie Turque is Delacroix’s Algerian paintings. Chergui is El Greco. What would be a perfect fit for Muscs Koublai Khan? 🙂 September 28, 2005 at 10:47am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Tania, the top notes are indeed very strong, but they soften relatively quickly, revealing the most beautiful heart and drydown. I think that you should definitely revisit. September 28, 2005 at 10:49am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Liz, thank you! Ah, you hit the nail on the head by describing Serge Lutens collection as poems and short stories. I almost want to say that each fragrance is an element of a larger story, like Arabian Nights stories are. I also find the constantly changing character of Fumerie Turque very alluring, because it is impossible for me to get tired of it. It is very unpredictable. September 28, 2005 at 10:53am Reply

  • linda: Beautiful review! I love, love, love FT! I even like its initial blast of smoke. September 28, 2005 at 12:49pm Reply

  • Liz smellslikeleaves: This is such a beautiful and evocative fragrance, and as MC said, is quintessential SL to me. And you hit the nail on the head, V…Delacroix’s lush, vibrantly colored oriental paintings are the perfect visual equivalent. September 28, 2005 at 12:56pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Linda, thank you. I used to dislike the smoky top notes, but I think that my tolerance for anything dark and smoky has increased. Now, I like them too. September 28, 2005 at 1:01pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Liz, I was leafing through an album on Delacroix last night, and I felt inspired. Serge Lutens’ sources of inspiration are certainly in the same key. Now, I need to return to Louvre and take a closer look at the painting. September 28, 2005 at 1:05pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: N, by the way, I am wearing the combination of Fumerie Turque and En Avion right. I must say that it is quite beautiful, with the spice notes being more prominent and the cool darkness of En Avion paired beautifully with warmth of amber in FT. Thank you for the inspiration to try it! September 28, 2005 at 1:14pm Reply

  • carmencanada: V, I just thought of the Muscs Koublaï Khan painting: Ingres’ “Le Bain Turc”. This is what art historian Kenneth Clark writes about it in “The Nude: A Study in Ideal Form”: “The result is almost suffocating; but in the middle of this whirlpool of carnality is [Ingres’] old symbol of peaceful fulfillment, the back of the Baigneuse de Valpinçon. Without her tranquil form, the whole composition might have made us feel slightly seasick. The two reclining figures on the right are in attitudes of relaxed sensuality unparalleled in Western art, and at first glance we participate in the languor and satiety; but after a minute we become aware of a design so densely organized that we derive from it the same intellectual satisfaction as is provided by Poussin and Picasso.”
    Now, isn’t this a perfect description of MKK? The figure of the “baigneuse”, to me, is the rose note, rising through the animality of civet, ambergris and castoreum with a note of tranquil harmony. September 28, 2005 at 2:01pm Reply

  • Liz: Great description by Kenneth Clark! I like Le Bain Turq, but for me, any painting evocative of my (dearly, dearly beloved) Muscs Koublai Khan needs to have a naked man in it as well. 🙂 September 28, 2005 at 2:45pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: D, what a perfect imagery! Last night I wore some MKK, and yes, you are right–the rose note was rendered as very animalic, ornamented by the rich civet and castoreum notes. September 28, 2005 at 4:15pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Liz, yes, I do agree! A naked man is missing here. 🙂

    Here is a painting:
    http://www.artchive.com/artchive/I/ingres/ingres_bain_turc.jpg.html September 28, 2005 at 4:16pm Reply

  • carmencanada: Perusing Kenneth Clark’s book in my bath, I suddenly realized that, while Serge Lutens’ fragrances can find their pictorial equivalents in 19th Orientalist paintings, he is better represented by the Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes… Nijinski, drawn by Leon Bakst, would obviously wear MKK or Ambre Sultan or La Myrrhe..
    see the picture : http://www.schworks.nl/diaghilev.htm
    Or these: http://www.imagidanse.com/…/ Affiche/affiche2.html.
    I would say that they correspond to Lutens’ orientalist ferociousness, eroticism and modernity. September 28, 2005 at 7:08pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: D, Lauren Bacall in “The Big Sleep” could not wear anything but Bandit. At least, that is what I am envisioning. What about “To Have and Have Not”? Especially, when she says to Bogart, “You know you don’t have to act with me, Steve. You don’t have to say anything and you don’t have to do anything. Not a thing. Oh, maybe just whistle. You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and … blow.” Oh, I just love that scene.

    Yes, I absolutel agree that there should be a connection between Nijinski and Guerlain Bouquet de Faunes. I posted on Bouquet de Faunes last week, including a photo of a stunning vintage bottle. I wish I could get a whiff of that fragrance.

    Have you ever seen any of the bottles from Poiret’s Parfum de Rosine? Very beautiful and clearly influenced by the oriental genre in fashion and other arts. September 28, 2005 at 7:59pm Reply

  • carmencanada: And, please bear with me, I’m off to great images and their correspondence to perfume.Can you imagine Lauren Bacall in “The Big Sleep” wearing anything by Bandit? Same time frame. picture 1946. perfume 1944.
    Oh, and back to Nijinski, I’m sure that he inspired Guerlain’s Bouquet de Faunes (1922) said to be even more animalic, though the ballet was premiered ten years earlier.
    Oh, and if SL could be comparend to a couturier of the time, one would have to go for Paul Poiret, another great sensualist and modernist in love with the Orient.
    Now doesnt she [link is no longer working] reek of musk ?
    Nice game to play, though, isn’t it ? I hope I’ve started something, I would love to see the imaginary museum of each scent from all of you! September 28, 2005 at 7:29pm Reply

  • carmencanada: There is a bottle of fragrance in To Have and Have Not, I think… When Bogart visits Bacall’s room, he smells it. Can’t identify it though, don’t have the DVD. Seen the film about 60 times. Glad you love it as much as I do ! September 29, 2005 at 5:14am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: I must have seen the film about 60 times as well! I know many scenes by heart. Lauren Bacall is such a stunning woman, and in that film she showcases her talents really well.

    Will watch it later and try to figure out what perfume she has. I recall the bottle, but I need to see it again. Perhaps, I will recognize it. September 29, 2005 at 11:31am Reply

  • carmencanada: I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure that one out. Let’s imagine, just for the beauty of the name, that it was “Sous le vent” by Guerlain, a leather chypre from 1933… They’ve actually produced it for the new boutique, but just to smell.. I’ll try to go there tomorrow (just 20 minutes away from home)and report! September 29, 2005 at 5:47pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: D, please report on Sous Le Vent. I was in correspondence from a rep who said that it shall be released in 2006. I am waiting impatiently. Meanwhile, I am looking forward to your report. September 29, 2005 at 8:08pm Reply

  • Liz: Very late to this party, but I DO have an imaginary museum for each favorite scent, and for my most beloved Bandit three images come to mind:

    – a cormorant perched on a rock, drying its outstretched black wings
    – a green aurora in a black sky
    – a profile shot of poet/artist Mina Loy, head titled back, hair a dark cloud, cigarette dangling from her lips

    The last of these can easily be found on a Google image search of Ms. Loy. As for the first, I have on my desktop an picture I Photoshopped of a cormorant perched on a bottle of Bandit parfum. 🙂 October 1, 2005 at 4:15pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Liz, I love the images you selected for Bandit, especially the shot of Loy. As for your love of Bandit, I now have no doubts at all. Not that I did previously! 🙂 October 1, 2005 at 7:40pm Reply

  • Heidi: This is a great perfume! Smells like tobacco leafs on a field in the summer. November 6, 2006 at 10:52am Reply

  • James: I was ready to plunk down the money for this one based on the names and reviews alone. I love smokey, mysterious deep scents that reveal themselves over time.

    On me, Fumerie Turque did not unfold or smolder. It was a confection that from start to finish was pure, pardon the expression, old lady dusting powder, a thinned down version of dime store Emeraude. The only association I could make when I smelled it was that of an incontinent powdered bottom in a retirement village. Uncomplex, un-tobacco, un-anything but sweetness and treacle. I couldn’t see this unisex fragrance being worn by anyone male, or any woman under 70. This was a pure scrubber for me although I didn’t want it to be (LOVE Muscs Kublai Khan and its risque skank). I was so glad to buy a $5 sample of this and saved myself a bundle. November 14, 2006 at 9:09am Reply

  • Bois de Jasmin: There is no accounting for personal tastes! What you describe does not even remotely remind me of Fumerie Turque. Are you sure that your sample was fresh? November 14, 2006 at 1:40pm Reply

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