Serge Lutens Rose de Nuit : Perfume Review

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Klee1

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

French fauvist painter Henri Matisse once observed that “there is nothing more difficult for a truly creative painter than to paint a rose, because before he can do so he has first to forget all the roses that were ever painted.” The same could be said about the perfumer and the art of creating a rose fragrance. At once familiar and desirable, the rose theme has been explored in the modern perfumery quite widely, which means that creating something new and daring requires not only forgetting the classical traditions, but also being able to erase the familiarity, to surprise and to even shock.

The beauty of Serge Lutens Rose de Nuit, created by perfumer Gilles Romey lies in its abstraction of a delicate blossom into a nocturnal animalic scent, as if the petals slowly transform into the warm skin. Every single quality one might expect of rose—sweetness, powderiness, brightness, is twisted into its opposite. Where the roses might evoke delicate softness, Rose de Nuit sheds dark petals, withered at the edges. …

If the honeyed sweetness is usually to anticipated, this composition is saturated with the leathery dryness. Like subtle gradations of color and the repetitions in Paul Klee’s paintings, the unfolding quality of Rose de Nuit leads one from the transparent darkness of rose liquor to the deep shadows of its ambery base.

Certain rose absolutes have an almost balsamic, vegetal richness, allowing the rose to reveals its familiar side only in dilution with a neutral substance. Rose de Nuit does not soften this raw darkness, but instead the composition highlights it with the chypre accord. The animalic note makes Rose de Nuit echo the aggressive impact of the classical leather chypre fragrances like Robert Piguet Bandit and Parfums Grès Cabochard, although undeniably its seductive refrain is made less shocking in Rose de Nuit.

It repeats the rose theme in the base, suggesting its smooth, satiny touch, but never offering the full view. Like glimpsing into the dark room through the carved screens, one is left to imagine the rose that is hiding under the layers of woods and amber. Yet, whether those veils conceal a lover or a flower is a mystery that Rose de Nuit never answers with certainty.

Like other Lutens’s fragrances, Rose de Nuit would also be suitable for a man, because its floral accord lacks the voluptuous sweetness found in the feminine fragrances. Those looking for a photorealistic rose rendition will be disappointed in Rose de Nuit, because its rose is rather abstract. On the paper strip, the fruity notes are more obvious, creating the apricot leather interplay, while on the skin, I find that the composition falls straight into the dark abyss.

Notes include Turkish rose, yellow jasmine, apricot, amber, musk, sandalwood, beeswax. Rose de Nuit is part of Les Salons du Palais Royal Shiseido exclusive line.

Painting: Paul Klee. On a Motif from Hamamet. 1914. Tempera on board. 27 x 22.5 cm. Kunstmuseum Basel, Basel, Switzerland. From abcgallery.com

Please see other Serge Lutens reviews:
A La Nuit
Bois de Violette
Bois et Fruits
Bois et Musc
Bornéo 1834
Cèdre
Chergui
Cuir Mauresque
Fleurs de Citronnier
Fumerie Turque
Gris Clair
La Myrrhe
Tubéreuse Criminelle

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44 Comments

  • paru: I can’t really imagine myself wearing rose but perhaps I’ll give this a sniff and see what I think. I love the quote from Matisse and I get the feeling his general philosophy could be applied to a lot of creative endeavours. January 24, 2006 at 3:57am Reply

  • Judith: I love this! I first tried it not long ago and it immediately became one of my favorites. And I have just become the proud owner of a bell jar (bought in a fit of perfume panic when I was momentarily unable to obtain another decant–no regrets, though!). I, too, love the Matisse quotation–and I think that SL has actually managed here to fulfill its seemingly impossible condition. Thanks for the review! January 24, 2006 at 7:29am Reply

  • Marina: Unfortunately, Rose de Nuit is all powder on me, and I usually can take huge amounts of powder in my scents, but not here for some reason. January 24, 2006 at 9:06am Reply

  • Liz: This is one of my most tenacious recent obsessions – thanks to you, V! Though rose has a tendency to become one of three undesirable things on my skin – sharp, musty, or sour – on me, Rose de Nuit is primarily an animalic chypre built around a rose that, as you say, peeks silently through the shadows. This is now my favorite Lutens scent after Muscs Koublai Khan. I think it’s light years better than Nombre Noir (although it’s possible my NN mini is past its peak). I also think it’s the most richly alluring and seductive SL scent, but then, that sort of thing is obviously in the nose of the beholder. :) January 24, 2006 at 11:03am Reply

  • mreenymo: V, from your description, I can’t see this one really appealing to me. Bandit is just too much for me, and though I love to sniff Cabochard, I would not wear it.

    Your review is wonderful, however, and has given me a real sense of what the fragrance is like.

    Hugs! January 24, 2006 at 11:38am Reply

  • Liz smellslikeleaves: Loved this review, particularly since it’s one of my favorite fragrances right now. While Klee would not have immediately popped into my mind as the counterpart artist, you’re right, his work does share much in common with the impression that Rose de Nuit gives. I’ve been obsessed with roses since I was a little girl–they were my favorite flower to draw, my father and I cultivated a giant garden of them, and we counted all their rosebuds each spring. While I am fond of many more typical rose fragrances, I think the dark, quirky Rose de Nuit may be my favorite rose fragrance of all. January 24, 2006 at 12:36pm Reply

  • Christina H.: Someday,I MUST get a sample of this!Sounds so intriguing and I’ll probably fall in love with something so difficult to obtain.But that’s always the case with me! January 24, 2006 at 1:49pm Reply

  • annE: It is so much fun reading all the rose-themed reviews! I used to think I didn’t much care for rose, but lately I’ve become a rose lover.
    So often after reading your descriptions, I go right to my wishlist to add another name to it (as with yesterday’s Rose d’Amour), but with today’s, I’m lucky enough to own it already. :) Rose de Nuit is decidedly a powerful fragrance, and aptly named. I use it with caution. January 24, 2006 at 1:50pm Reply

  • Laura: As you know, I’m not a Serge Lutens fan, but your rose reviews have sent me scurrying to Ta’if and 100% Love and for that I thank you ;D. Interesting Matisse quote. Am just now finishing the first volume in the Spurling biography of Matisse. Absolutely compelling reading for a painter—or anyone, for that matter! January 24, 2006 at 2:27pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: P, I cannot agree more. Matisse had a very interesting worldview, and I always love reading about him. January 24, 2006 at 3:28pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Judith, I love the abstraction of rose in Rose de Nuit and the fact that it manages to retain some of the classism, without seeming retro. It is a thoroughly modern fragrance. Congratulations on your bell jar! January 24, 2006 at 3:41pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: M, powdery is the last thing that comes to mind when I smell Rose de Nuit. However, individual chemistry can vary greatly, therefore it is not surprising. January 24, 2006 at 3:44pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Liz, smelling a shadow of Bandit in Rose de Nuit, I knew that you would be very interested in trying it. It is simply the most unusual rose fragrance I have tried. I have to say that Nombre Noir minis I see on Ebay are nowhere near the real thing. I recently tried some fresh NN, and what a difference! It is amazing. However, Rose de Nuit can hold its own, in my opinion. January 24, 2006 at 3:48pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, I also doubt that you might like it, since I know your tastes a little bit now. Of course, it never hurts to try it. Still, I am very happy that you enjoyed my review! :) January 24, 2006 at 3:49pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Liz, my grandmother had a large rose garden too, and my job was to count the buds and to remove the ones that were too small. I still remember the smell of green rose buds on my skin. I am yet to find the perfect rendition of it, although Un Zeste de Rose comes close. Rose de Nuit never fails to seduce me. It is just a brilliant composition. January 24, 2006 at 3:54pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Christina, it is such a worthwhile quest! If you like roses and chypre fragrances, this might just be the one to seek. January 24, 2006 at 3:56pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Ann, I am glad that you are enjoying them! I love rose, and I love exploring its multifaceted nature. I would have to agree on Rose de Nuit. It is certainly very powerful, and applying with caution is probably best. January 24, 2006 at 3:58pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Laura, I also wanted to read that biography. I shall move it up my list. He is a fascinating persona on all levels. January 24, 2006 at 3:59pm Reply

  • linda: Beautiful review, V! I discovered Rose de Nuit thanks to you and I love that it doesn’t smell like a typical rose. January 24, 2006 at 4:13pm Reply

  • linda: I am also curious what other dark rose fragrances should I try if I like Rose de Nuit? January 24, 2006 at 4:15pm Reply

  • Sister Kara: Dear BoisdeJasmin,

    First time commenter here. I have been reading your site for the last three months, and I am very impressed with the work you have done. I am only beginning to discover the fragrant world and you are opening many doors for me. I used to be loyal to Madame Rochas, but now I want something new. I purchased a set of Serge Lutens samples on Ebay, with Rose de Nuit among them. After reading your beautiful review, I immediately tried it. I find it very dark, but I am willing to persevere with it, because as I am learning some fragrances take time to develop.
    Thank you for your beautiful writing and above all thank you for making your site such a warm and special place to visit! Now that I made my first comment, I hope to be more vocal. All of the ladies posting here are very knowledgeable, and I feel shy.

    With fragrant regards,
    Kara January 24, 2006 at 5:45pm Reply

  • Donna: I was just talking to another perfume addict about the fact that Serge Lutens doesn’t have a chypre yet. Seems like I missed RN! Thanks for your great post. January 24, 2006 at 5:53pm Reply

  • Liz: Kara, let me be the first to say welcome to the world of fragrance! :) January 24, 2006 at 5:56pm Reply

  • Sister Kara: Dear Liz,
    Thank you for welcoming me. I feel like I entered into another world, and I look forward to learning from all of you. I tried Muscs Koublai Khan yesterday, and my husband said that it smells very sexy. I am still not very comfortable with it, but I will give it a fair chance. January 24, 2006 at 6:08pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Linda, I am very glad to hear this! I also find it wonderful, because it is not predictable. January 24, 2006 at 6:29pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: L, I would recommend Une Rose by Frederic Malle, L’Artisan Voleur de Rose, Rosine Une Folie de Rose, Caron Parfum Sacre, Caron Or et Noir. I am sure there are many others, and maybe others will add their own favourites. January 24, 2006 at 6:30pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Kara, welcome! Do not feel shy about posting, because all of us learn from each other, and it is really the best way to understand what you might like. I am glad that you are enjoying Bois de Jasmin, and I am curious about your discoveries. I also think that some fragrances require more than one trial, especially if you found them interesting, but perhaps somewhat difficult. January 24, 2006 at 6:32pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Donna, yes, I was just thinking about it last night. I also think that some of the Boix fragrances are close to the chypre genre. January 24, 2006 at 6:33pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Of course, if you ever need to know anything about Bandit, Liz is the person to ask. She is the Bandit Queen! :) January 24, 2006 at 6:34pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Kara, I look forward to seeing more of you here. Please share your thoughts on MKK and Rose de Nuit after you have given them another trial. Maybe, they would charm you in the end. If not, there are plenty of fragrances that will. January 24, 2006 at 6:35pm Reply

  • Robin: I tried it so long ago & thought it was beautiful, but that I would be more likely to reach for the admittedly more conventional Sa Majeste. January 24, 2006 at 7:48pm Reply

  • Sister Kara: Dear BoisdeJasmin,
    Thank you for your warm welcome. I look forward to participating more in the discussions. I am discovering that exploring the delights of olfactory senses can be such a joy.
    Best regards,
    Kara January 24, 2006 at 8:10pm Reply

  • Evan: “All of the ladies posting here are very knowledgeable, and I feel shy.”

    I guess I’m just one of the girls. ;)

    I really like Rose de Nuit, the characterization of it as resembling the full impact of a vegetal, winey rose absolute is a good one. I’m probably in the minority in that I don’t consider roses to be particularly delicate. They can be made delicate in perfume, but as a flower they seem to me stemmy, uncompromising and wholly capable of defending themselves. I like muscular, medieval roses, and Rose de Nuit has that quality, rather like smelling a rose crushed underfoot in the dark than smelling one’s aroma in a gentle breeze. And I concur that men could definitely wear it. I wish rose could regain its alpha-male status in the West once again. Men are still crazy about rose perfume in the Middle East. January 24, 2006 at 9:28pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, I do like Sa Majeste as well, although it has a sweet richness that bothers me a little. Rose de Nuit seems more suited to my tastes for chypre. January 24, 2006 at 10:26pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Kara, I am glad to hear it! Do join in more. January 24, 2006 at 10:27pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Evan, :) I do wish more men would comment, because it is great to hear impressions from people with as many different perceptions as possible. This brings me to the point of delicateness. I cannot disagree with you, and many of the symbolism that roses have recognize their strength and their ability to defend themselves. Yet, the feeling of craddling rosa damascena petals in the palm and experiencing their lovely softness and their silkiness still bearing the warmth of the sun is what I had in mind when I was writing. This feeling is what Rose de Nuit so brilliantly does not allow to experience, remaining masculine and indeed muscular, as you put so well. January 24, 2006 at 10:34pm Reply

  • Bela: ‘I recently tried some fresh NN’?! Where, V, where? I am green…

    There will soon be a chypre in the SL collection, of course: Chypre Rouge. I can’t wait.

    Rose de Nuit is incredibly ‘dirty’. A bit too much for me; it makes me slightly nauseous. My favourite rose scent remains Fleur de Thé Rose Bulgare. So true. So fresh. January 24, 2006 at 10:41pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: J, I cannot wait to try Chypre Rouge! Anything coming from Lutens has pleased me greatly (save for Miel de Bois, which I quite disliked). I suppose that dirtiness of Rose de Nuit is why I like it, however I agree that it may not be to everyone’s tastes. January 24, 2006 at 11:41pm Reply

  • Sister Kara: Dear Evan,

    *blushes* I am sorry not to include gentlemen as well. :D

    Regards,
    Kara January 24, 2006 at 11:45pm Reply

  • Sister Kara: Dear BoisdeJasmin and other ladies and gentlemen :)

    I have decided that Rose de Nuit is too dark for me, but Muscs Koublai Khan works better. I will have to find a bottle of it. Where can it be purchased?

    Regards,
    Kara January 26, 2006 at 3:22pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Kara, you can find the information on Serge Lutens if you look here
    http://freespace.virgin.net/lovely.perfume/SergeLutensWeb.html
    It is a fan site and it is very well done. Enjoy Muscs Koublai Khan! January 26, 2006 at 10:03pm Reply

  • Atreau: Rose de Nuit sounds like my type of fragrance but it’s just awful on me. On my mom however it’s really amazing, she wears it really well. I wish it smelled as good on me as it’s really beautiful – just not on me! :( February 1, 2006 at 11:59pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: S, I understand that it just does not work well for some people. I am sorry to hear this. February 4, 2006 at 4:42pm Reply

  • Anne of Green Gables: Since receiving SL wax samples (I was impressed with their customer service), I’ve been trying one or two perfumes a day. It feels like eating chocolates out of a chocolate assortment box. :-)

    I tried Rose du Nuit yesterday. I was wearing it for the whole day and I was surprised that I actually liked it because I usually prefer realistic, clean florals. RdN smelled modern and retro at the same time. I don’t know why but it felt a bit like a Chanel perfume (maybe because of its abstract composition?). On my skin, the apricot note was quite pronounced and I really enjoyed the leather-like effect (I wonder how this is acheived. I experienced a similar effect with Osmanthe Yunnan). It’s a very classy perfume and I’m looking forward to trying the liquid perfume if I ever get to visit SL boutique in Paris. I also think this perfume will smell really gorgeous on men. September 25, 2013 at 6:55am Reply

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