Serge Lutens Un Lys : Fragrance Review

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Un-lys

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

Pretty, classical, romantic… Un Lys is somewhat of a wallflower next to the quintessentially dark and cerebral Serge Lutens blooms like dramatic Tubéreuse Criminelle, voluptuous Fleurs d’Oranger, animalic jasmine of Sarrasins, or even dusky Bois de Violette. Yet, what Un Lys lacks in drama, it more than makes up by its bright, uplifting character. It is a fragrance I reach for when it has been raining too long or when I crave a waltz, for Un Lys is truly the olfactive equivalent of Strauss’s Blue Danube, given its radiance and romantic elegance!

Un Lys opens up on a crisp green leafy note, which gives it a vibrant, springtime reminiscent feel. The fragrance, its name meaning lily in French, is based on an accord of rose and muguet (lily of the valley). This basic accord in perfumery can be altered to create a whole range of florals, from rose to tiare, and in Un Lys, its creator Christopher Sheldrake manipulates it to suggest a multifaceted flower. One moment, the earthy almond note of lilac is very strong, only to oscillate into the direction of fruity jasmine and then into the indolic Casablanca lily impression.

The backdrop of the fragrance is accented with vanilla, which considerably softens the whole structure and gives it a smooth, lustrous impression. A lush dose of vanilla takes Un Lys from the ethereal realm of lily of the valley fragrances like Diorissimo. It also gives it a seamless appearance, both a hallmark and a drawback of Un Lys, because while the rough edges are nowhere to be seen, the character of the composition is slightly compromised. It is not the most memorable of Lutens’s fragrances, but in this case, I do not mind it, just like I do not mind the lack of drama. Some fragrances are so pretty that they should be allowed to be just that.

Un Lys is sold in the export range. The export line fragrances are available from Aedes, Beautyhabit, Luckyscent, Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman, and from some Neiman Marcus locations.

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14 Comments

  • flittersniffer: I have a bottle of this and it is in my top five scents overall! It is also one of the few Serge Lutens I like. I reckon it’s the vanilla which makes it for me I think, as I am not especially drawn to Diorissimo, for example. I also like Vanille Galante a lot, which has the same combination of lily and vanilla. The new Van Cleef Lys Carmin is also pretty, also “dense” like Un Lys, but sweeter, while Muguet Blanc goes the other route and is cooler and “thinner”, if that makes any sense. On balance I definitely find Un Lys the most affecting of all the lily scents in my collection (and I have a few!) October 18, 2010 at 11:52am Reply

  • Carla: A simple photo of a Lutens bell jar can make my heart leap! Diorissimo reminds me of my mother, so I love it. However, I have not liked other lilies I’ve tried. That’s alright, there are so many other flowers in the garden to love. October 18, 2010 at 12:21pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: I agree with you completely, in its category, it is by far the best. Many lily fragrances are either too indolic or too green muguet (which often has functional product connotations.) Un Lys is quite nicely balanced. October 18, 2010 at 12:22pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Carla, my mother used to wear Diorissimo as well, which is why I love this fragrance, although it has been changed so dramatically over the years that I no longer recognize it. October 18, 2010 at 1:58pm Reply

  • carmencanada: I have a soft spot for Un Lys, essentially for the same reasons as you. When my original bell jar turned bad, I repurchased, not a frequent gesture for me nowadays…
    Amusingly, when I take my group of young, mostly American students from the London College of Fashion to Serge Lutens as part of my lecture on perfume, Un Lys is what they most frequently walk out with, along with Rahat Loukoum (though when there is an Indian student, Sarrasins is the preferred selection). October 18, 2010 at 5:47pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: D, I am not surprised at all by these choices. Rahat Loukoum is the one most people I know prefer. It is my least favorite Lutens, but it is mostly because I really do not care for this type of almond note. October 19, 2010 at 5:08pm Reply

  • ChickenFreak: One of my very favorites. In my mind, though, it’s only half a floral – along with the vanilla, there’s a grainy sweetness that always makes me think of penuche fudge, so that when the weather is a certain halfway-warm temperature, I react to it almost as a gourmand. October 20, 2010 at 2:54am Reply

  • Elizabeth: Un Lys is my favorite Lutens, which I suppose makes sense, since I am a (relatively) young American student, as Carmencanada said! I tried the other, more unique ones: Tubereuse Criminelle, La Myrrhe, Sarrasins, etc, but Un Lys is the one that I wear the best. I love its romantic, ethereal air. Btw, in my defense, I also wear and love Jicky and Shalimar in parfum. :) October 20, 2010 at 9:43pm Reply

  • sweetlife: I can only wear Un Lys successfully once in a blue moon, but on those rare dates I enjoy it very much. I like what you say about pretty sometimes being enough. I feel that way more and more these days… October 21, 2010 at 9:55am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: C, I completely agree on the gourmand feeling. Another fragrance that strikes me in a similar manner is Guerlain Ylang Vanille. October 21, 2010 at 3:24pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Elizabeth, Un Lys is a great choice for a floral that wears easily and manages to transition elegantly from day to evening. And the quality is excellent! October 21, 2010 at 3:25pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: A, there are days when I want to read “The History of Western Philosophy” and there are days when I reach for a detective novel. Same thing with perfume. :) October 21, 2010 at 3:26pm Reply

  • Flora: I love Un Lys with a passion; lilies are my favorite flower, and wearing this feels like being in a garden of sensuous white Madonna lilies in the evening as they pour out their scent. I also “magnify” white florals on my skin, so I must be careful where I wear this! I never thought I would find a lily perfume this good, and to me it’s a masterpiece. November 29, 2010 at 12:27am Reply

  • Victoria: D, I wore it on Thursday, for Thanksgiving dinner, and it made me feel so happy! November 29, 2010 at 8:44am Reply

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