Serge Lutens Nuit de Cellophane : Perfume Review

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Cellophane

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

If Nuit de Cellophane arrived under a big perfume house label, I would probably not have smelled it more than a couple of times and forgotten it, but it is a testament to the pull of Serge Lutens’ name that despite my initial disappointment, I kept revisiting it. I suppose that I have held hope that one day I would smell this bland fruity-floral and will figure out what Serge Lutens was trying to achieve with it. It has been a year since I have first smelled Nuit de Cellophane and no such revelation has occurred—it still smells like shampoo to me and I still do not care for it.

The idea of Nuit de Cellophane sounds very appealing—an accord of osmanthus framed by sandalwood and animalic notes. Osmanthus flowers smell deliciously of ripe apricot with a hint of warm leather. This complex and nuanced scent is a perfume in itself, and it is rare to find a fragrance that is built predominantly around this note. The opening stage of Nuit de Cellophane is the aspect I dislike the most. The sharp, fruity note that comes through evokes not the velvety softness of apricot skin but rather some drugstore peach shampoo. It is neither pleasant nor interesting, and while eventually it softens enough to reveal the osmanthus heart, the banality of the first impression stays with me.

As the composition develops, the apricot-leather accord becomes stronger, with jasmine and rose highlighting its appealing sweetness. The animalic accents are subtle, never rising above the osmanthus, even in the late drydown. It is a pleasant fragrance at this stage, light and easy to wear. Considering that such compositions are easy enough to find (and often at a much lower price point, I should add) I cannot find any other quality that makes Nuit de Cellophane appealing to me. On the other hand, whenever I crave a rich osmanthus experience, I reach for Hermès Hermèssence Osmanthe Yunnan, Ormonde Jayne Osmanthus or Lutens’ own Datura Noir.

Serge Lutens Nuit de Cellophane includes notes of mandarin, mandarin zest, jasmine sambac, osmanthus, Mysore sandalwood, castoreum, and civet. It is available in 50 ml Eau de Parfum. Nuit de Cellophane is sold in the export range. The export line fragrances are available from Aedes, Beautyhabit, Luckyscent, Barneys New York, Bergdorf Goodman, and from some Neiman Marcus locations.

Sample: my own acquisition

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21 Comments

  • sweetlife: “neither pleasing nor interesting” Well all right then!

    I smelled this at the same time that I first sniffed Chanel’s Beige and can’t untangle the two in my mind. How would you compare them, V? August 10, 2011 at 9:36am Reply

  • Andy: I wish osmanthus was a more highlighted note…I can remember my surprise and delight when I smelled real osmanthus for the first time. I hadn’t imagined such small flowers could have such a wonderful fragrance. I don’t really quite understand the difference between peach and apricot in terms of fragrance, other than perhaps apricot is supposed to be a little more citrusy and floral than peach. The leathery aspect of osmanthus always make me think of peach instead, though. Either way, osmanthus is such a lovely and underrated floral. August 10, 2011 at 11:50am Reply

  • Emma: I gravitate towards osmanthus when it’s hot and humid and I’m not indoors all day with AC on. I’d like to add that from my own experience, Nuit de Cellophane lasts and doesn’t turn, it remains fresh all day/night. I agree it’s not the most complex and interesting Lutens or osmanthus, but for what it is, a more approachable commercial Lutens which apparently has been Lutens best seller since it was launched, it does the job. I like Hermes Osmanthe Yunnan too but no lasting power whatsoever, even when staying indoors I still had to reapply a couple of times throughout the day, it is a beautiful fragrance but like always with Hermessence the feel is more refreshing eau de toilette than perfume. August 10, 2011 at 1:18pm Reply

  • Victoria: Hmm, Beige is a powdery floral, whereas NdC is crisp, fruity floral. Quite different to my nose.
    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile August 10, 2011 at 1:50pm Reply

  • Victoria: The way I was taught, to make an apricot, you mix a peach accord with sweet orange (or just C 14 with sweet orange.) You are completely right, it is the citrusy facet that makes such a big difference.

    I was completely blown away when I first smelled osmanthus in bloom. The flowers looked so tiny, but the scent was anything but!
    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile August 10, 2011 at 1:52pm Reply

  • Victoria: I was looking forward to your thoughts, since I remember that you are a big fan of Nuit de Cellophane, esp in the summer. On Osmanthe Yunnan, I completely agree, it has no lasting power. I just love everything else about it, so it is a pity.
    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile August 10, 2011 at 1:54pm Reply

  • Elizabeth: Not just shampoo….shampoo scented with a J’Adore knock-off! Might as well just get J’Adore. August 10, 2011 at 2:28pm Reply

  • Victoria: I will take even the reformulated J'Adore over it!
    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile August 10, 2011 at 2:30pm Reply

  • Emma: Victoria, I wouldn’t call myself a big big fan of NdC by any means but it just does the job when I need something functional as a feminine fresh fruity floral that lasts all day by hot and humid conditions. Hermes Jardin sur le Nil also has great lasting power by a hot humid summer day in NY, however I think it has changed too, less citrucy and green, it’s not much but ebough to bother me somehow… August 10, 2011 at 3:46pm Reply

  • sweetlife: I am certain you are right, but I remember Beige drying to something very shampoo-like that hung about forever. Need to retry. August 10, 2011 at 5:26pm Reply

  • Anne: Oh dear! Sounds like a complete waste of Mysore sandalwood.

    I was at the shops just now and I gave myself a little spritz of Guerlain’s Idylle Duet. Nice, a little fuity, maybe a touch of shampoo lurking in there somewhere (I thought, tho’ I only gave myself a tiny spritz in case I hated it). As with NdC, ID has its place, but whether you should pay top price for ‘nice with a touch of fruit and shampoo’ is a question we all answer in our own way, I guess! August 10, 2011 at 11:32pm Reply

  • Suzanna: I’ve never been able to relate to J’Adore, and the same holds true for this one, which I envisioned as created to appeal to the massive J’Adore market (in other words, I imagine the thinking holds that there must be niche Lutens customers who are secret admirers of the J’Adore style).

    After a long while and a few repeat testings, I found it banal but wearable for those occasions where a non-scent scent was a good idea (olfactory fatigue, heat, hormones). Its place might be taken by any other similar fragrance, though. August 11, 2011 at 11:20am Reply

  • Joan: I didn’t like it either. August 12, 2011 at 11:03am Reply

  • Galina: It’s so unpredictable with perfumes, isn’t it? Beside the composition itself, there are also skin chemistry, individual preferences, temperatures and got knows what to consider… I’ve seen nothing but bad reviews of this one by professionals, and yet this is the first perfume in years that clings to me like a second skin and that I’m already using a 7th or so bottle of and never get tired of it. I use other Lutenses from time to time: Feminite de Bois, Gris Clair, Eau de Gingembre, but always return to this one – and, interestingly, find almost nothing in common with J’Adore, which I hate. Where the latter is cloying and loud, EDC is a subtle, softly glittering warm floral with a distinct charm I find quite hard to identify – but it still fascinates me and makes my days, though I’ve been using it for four years now. One thing they say about it is absoluely right: it’s a jack of all trades amoung perfumes, which cannot be worn only with ports clothes – otherwise it’s fine anywhere and it any weather. And the way it opens up, warm and crisp at the same time, in the cold weather is absolutely stunning.

    I’m not a great discerning nose, but I’m quite choosy where smells are concerned and react strongly to them. So what is it – skin chemistry? and could it be that Maestro Lutens somehow worked this in?

    Baffles me, as this one was snubbed by almost every perfume reviewer I read, but I loved EDC, from the first sniff off my wrist… and still do. And people love it on me. September 14, 2012 at 2:52am Reply

    • Victoria: Galina, I’m sure that it smells wonderful on you! It is a well-made perfume, just feels different, less edgy than other Lutens, hence the disappointment for some (like me). But I know that it is easy to wear and if you like these kind of fruit inflected florals, it is a great selection. Quite polished and elegant. So, wear it with pleasure! September 14, 2012 at 4:28am Reply

    • Megan Radford: I agree with you completely! I am a fan of mainstream soft florals, but was looking for something a bit different for my wedding. This might be it! To me it smells very similar to Trésor in Love by Lancome, but with a touch of fairytale poetry mystique. It also is close enough to my signature scent (Leila Lou by Rosie Jane) that I will feel comfortable on my big day.

      For anyone looking for a beautiful, romantic fruity-floral that not every other girl will smell like, this is it. <3 July 16, 2016 at 1:10am Reply

  • Galina: Victoria, the funny thing is that I was never a fan of sweet powdery fruity florals – and this is the only one that I, all of a sudden, could wear, and with great pleasure. I’m still trying to figure out what it is that makes it different and allows me to wear it without suffocating… I could wear much more edgy things like Tea for Two, easily – my point was that perhaps there’s something there that some people miss just because it doesn’t mix well into their skin chemistry. I didn’t like it on the blotter, by the way – thought it was just another sweety-killer, but gave it a try on the wrist and it made all the difference. September 14, 2012 at 4:45am Reply

    • Victoria: I really don’t think that this is a question of skin chemistry, but rather of an emotional connection you make with a perfume. You’re lucky to find a scent that does that to you. September 14, 2012 at 5:23am Reply

  • lila: I’m wearing it right now and you are so right. It’s a peach shampoo! I just love your reviews!! May 7, 2013 at 7:28pm Reply

  • Aimée: i chose Nuit de cellophane as one of my samples while ordering my beloved Tubereuse, based on the perfumer’s description. as you said, appealing. it was such a disappointment that i turned to your blog curious to see if you had reviewed it…just as you say, the opening note is terrible. this perfume works like a bad copycat of Tubereuse Criminelle. Chemical opening followed by floral scent. Except that what works for TC doesn’t work for NdC…I get raving compliments for TC, I doubt I would get any for NdC… March 17, 2016 at 11:43am Reply

    • Victoria: It was disappointing. While I don’t think that it went for the same effect as TC, Nuit de Cellophane was surprisingly bland. March 21, 2016 at 10:44am Reply

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