Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
White jasmine, black jasmine. New love, old flame. That is how I think of Sarrasins, the newest fragrance from Serge Lutens’s exclusive range, and À La Nuit, the 2000 launch. Given the deep purple color of Sarrasins, one is led to expect a dark and sonorous rendition of jasmine. However, nothing could be further from the truth—Sarrasins is radiant, almost see-through, from its initial burst of citrus and wintergreen notes to the dry, leathery base. By contrast, À La Nuit has a remarkable heft, given its high calorie oriental base of vanillic balsams and resins. …
Both Sarrasins and À La Nuit are rich flowers, with the animalic facets of natural jasmine left unmasked. However, while À La Nuit plays up the less innocent aura of the flower with indole, a material present in white florals and a product of decay, Sarrasins takes a route via horse stables. The effect of warm leather saddles and animal breath is given mainly by castoreum, a material derived from the scent glands of male beavers. Its warm, smooth aroma is reminiscent of gouache paints and soft leather.
Beautiful jasmine though it is, Sarrasins neither breaks new grounds in perfumery nor offers the same unexpected juxtapositions and exaggerations as other Serge Lutens’ fragrances. I see all of its shortcomings—the slight synthetic feeling of the leather notes, the relative linearity of its structure, the presence of commercial jasmine bases already familiar to me. However, the total is not just a sum of its parts, and the effect it has on me cannot be reduced to its lack of innovation on a technical level. I smell it, and I see jasmine in all of its simplicity and clarity. I see a now old-fashioned way of rendering this classical flower. As much allure and excitement as the future holds, discovering scents that reveal the past matters even more to me at times. I understand more about perfumery smelling these fragrances, and while I am still finding my own place in it, they guide and teach me. For this reason alone, Sarrasins has a special place in my heart.
On the whole, if you love jasmine, I highly recommend both Sarrasins and À La Nuit as renditions that are very true to nature, big and uncompromising. Sarrasins includes notes of bergamot, jasmine, carnation, woods, musk, coumarin, patchouli. À La Nuit—Indian, Egyptian and Moroccan jasmines, green shoots, white honey, clove, benzoin, indole and musk. For more information about Serge Lutens fragrances and where to buy them, please consult Serge Lutens ~ Nearly All Facts.