Serge Lutens Gris Clair : Fragrance Review



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

In contrast to the opulent oriental themes that dominate the Serge Lutens collection, the newest release from the house, Gris Clair… possesses a cool and restrained aura, painting a vision of a mountain pass veiled in damp mists. Clean and subtle is not the new direction for Serge Lutens and Christopher Sheldrake, whose Clair de Musc and Fleurs de Citronnier explore the sensuality of musk and its affinity with transparent florals. However, Gris Clair… is different still, because its simplicity and abstraction are explored to the greater extent than in any other composition by Serge Lutens.

The lavender and ash pairing, around which the composition is constructed, immediately might provoke comparisons with Encens et Lavande, a fragrance of herbaceous brightness laced with floral sweetness of lavender and resinous incense. However, the comparison would be misleading, because Gris Clair… does not approach the smokiness of Encens et Lavande nor its complexity. …

Its transparent composition has a refreshingly crisp tone that persists through out the arrangement like an icy sting of a mountain breeze. Where Encens et Lavande warms up, shedding one layer of its composition after another and attaining a sensual richness, Gris Clair… remains a hazy mist.

The lavender pervades the entire composition, evoking the scent of tiny purple flowers crushed between the fingers, their minty sweetness and herbal woodiness cooling the skin. Smoky whispers saturate the icy lavender, while a dry note of burned wood, like an aroma of dying bonfire, adds richness to the gentle simplicity of the composition. The dryness of the base is softened by the musky sweetness that adds a subtle sensual touch.

The first impression of wearing Gris Clair… is that it is more obviously masculine than Encens et Lavande. However, it is rather understated, a vision of sun bleached flowers on the cold mountain cliffs, fitting perfectly with the name. The fragrance is quite tenacious, and despite the fact that it is less assertive than some other Serge Lutens’s creations, it leaves a nice trail. Being lukewarm about lavender as a dominant note, I cannot say that Gris Clair… is my favorite from the collection, even though I occasionally enjoy Encens et Lavande. Like other Serge Lutens fragrances, it is quite interesting, and no doubt, those who love the compositions exploring the herbaceous crispness in an oriental vein would find Gris Clair… enchanting.

Notes include lavender, ash, amber, tonka bean, iris, musk. Gris Clair… is part of Les Salons du Palais Royal Shiseido export line.

Photo: Mountain Mist by

Please see other Serge Lutens reviews:

A La Nuit
Bois de Violette
Bois et Fruits
Bois et Musc
Bornéo 1834
Cuir Mauresque
Fleurs de Citronnier
Fumerie Turque
La Myrrhe
Rose de Nuit
Tubéreuse Criminelle



  • Håkan Nellmar: Thank you so much for your review, the first one I have seen on Gris Clair. I’m not sure it will be for me, but of course I will have to try it first. January 16, 2006 at 5:43am Reply

  • Judith: Thank you for the review! Since Encens et Lavande (and Jicky) changed my mind about lavender, I have been dying to hear about this. E et L has, much to my surprise, become one of my favorite SLs; I recently acquired a partial bell jar. But this sounds much less up my alley than than one, so while I still want to try it, my lemming has shrunk to manageable proportions. Have a great day! January 16, 2006 at 7:17am Reply

  • Sisonne: V, is Gris Clair… already available?
    Your review makes me think that I perhaps won´t like it as much as I thought I would.
    I´m always thinking of Lavendar as smelling rather masculine – though I really like Encens et Lavande & think about purchasing a bottle someday 😉
    But when you wrote that Gris Clair…is even more masculine, then I doubt I can wear it. Is it better suited for warm or for cold days, what do you think? January 16, 2006 at 7:32am Reply

  • Liz: You know, Victoria, I wasn’t even remotely interested in this fragrance before I read your review of it. 🙂 January 16, 2006 at 10:44am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Håkan, this fragrance does not suit my tastes, because I find it too cold and crisp. However, if someone loves lavender more than I do, they will find it beautiful. I would be curious to hear your thoughts on it when you get to try it. January 16, 2006 at 12:07pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Judith, I prefer lavender in Jicky and Encens et Lavande, however the chilly aspect of Gris Clair… is what I find less captivating. I love a bit of warmth in my fragrances. Nevertheless, it is interesting, and I would imagine that it might gather a devoted following. January 16, 2006 at 12:10pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: C, I do not think that it has a particular seasonal character, but one has to like lavender to appreciate it. If you find lavender too masculine, I doubt that you might like it very much. However, it is clean and understated, which might make it more appealing. January 16, 2006 at 12:11pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: M, my pleasure! I think that it is definitely drier than Encens et Lavande, and although paler, the theme is oriental nevertheless. January 16, 2006 at 12:12pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Katie, this one is from the export line, therefore you should be able to try it very soon. I do not mind darker and more angular, but I do not like fresh crispness that some masculines have. January 16, 2006 at 12:19pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Liz, I hope that it will not disappoint then! 🙂 January 16, 2006 at 12:20pm Reply

  • linda: Beautiful review, V! I am not a fan of lavander, so this one doesn’t appeal to me. I’m sure I will try it once it comes to Aedes. January 16, 2006 at 12:31pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Linda, thank you. I would imagine that Aedes would have it soon. January 16, 2006 at 12:40pm Reply

  • Marina: Finally an account of Gris Clair, yay! Thank you for this, V! I recently fell in love with Encens et Lavande, so I will be curious to try this, but it does sound like a paler version of it and probably much more dry/herbal than I would like. January 16, 2006 at 8:48am Reply

  • Katie: Good lord, you are SO on top of things. I hope this one will live up to the hopes others have pinned on it already. You’ve got my curiosity now, and I wasn’t even particularly intrigued since I didn’t want to get excited over a non-export. More masculine is usually good news for me, since I like the slightly angular and/or darker edges that more “male” fragrances can bear. January 16, 2006 at 8:50am Reply

  • Robin: V, I am even less than lukewarm about lavender, so this sounds like something I am not likely to love. I was interested while I was reading your description at how many of the phrases reminded me of Iris Silver Mist. Any comparison at all, or hopeful thinking on my part? January 16, 2006 at 2:00pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, I would not say that there are many similarities, other than the mood. However, Gris Clair… is less melancholy. It is fresher, more like a bracing air of countryside, rather than the winter garden chill of ISM. January 16, 2006 at 4:19pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: D, I shall post my thoughts soon. Which one did you receive? I would be curious to hear your thoughts on Coze, in particular. January 16, 2006 at 4:41pm Reply

  • Christine: Thanks for your review! I have been dying to sample Encens et Lavande. Gris Clair (why is it written with …) also sounds great. January 16, 2006 at 5:59pm Reply

  • carmencanada: Nothing to do with Gris Clair, but I’m awaiting impatiently for your reviews of Parfumerie Générale scents. I’ve received four samples and I’m eager to compare notes with you! January 16, 2006 at 4:29pm Reply

  • carmencanada: I got Coze, Cuir Venenum, plus Intrigant Patchouli thrown in along with the new n°9. I’ve tried Coze so far.
    I was pretty blown over by the searing initial blast of pepper and pimento, plus a strong camphorous scent (the Indian hemp, I guess). I’m pretty game for that sort of a start… well, lets say that even with a cold, my flatmate could smell it, and even distinguish the powdery underlay that creates such a sharp, almost schizophrenic contrast to the spice blast. The fragrance then mellows into a very smooth patchouli with chocolate undertones and still, that powdery base laced with hot spices (as though face powder had been mixed with finely ground white pepper). The underlying bitterness of the Indian hemp remains very faintly.
    Quite interesting and well in synch with my current, Idole-induced interest for spicy, hot, hermaphroditic scents. January 16, 2006 at 5:34pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: D, Coze sounds interesting. I have a sample, but I have not tried it yet. Your review makes me want to pull out my sample right. I shall certainly let you know what I think. Thank you for your thoughts! January 17, 2006 at 12:57am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Christine, I have no idea. Maybe to emphasize its wistful, dreamy quality? I hope that you will get a chance to try it soon. January 17, 2006 at 12:59am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: V, thank you! I doubt that it will be a favourite if you do not like lavender, even though the lavender note here is rendered in a beautiful manner. January 17, 2006 at 12:50pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: J, you are welcome. The official launch is March 15th, although a few bottles have already been made available for sale. January 17, 2006 at 3:43pm Reply

  • Victoria O: Great review! I’m intrigued although I really don’t like lavender. January 17, 2006 at 12:37pm Reply

  • Bela: Most people will have to wait a few more weeks to try this: it’s coming out in March in Paris.

    Thanks for the review, V. I won’t ask how you came across that fragrance so early. LOL! January 17, 2006 at 3:30pm Reply

  • Suzy Queue: I enjoy lavender very much, and I enjoy Sheldrake/Lutens very much, and so I have to say, I just can’t WAIT to try this one!
    Your review has left me just bouncing off the walls with anticipation!

    Thank you for the preview!!!!

    Suzy January 17, 2006 at 11:50pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Suzy, my pleasure! I think that for a Lutens fan and the one who enjoys interplay of sensations that lavender offers, this shall be a wonderful encounter. January 18, 2006 at 12:02am Reply

  • linda: Today I tried Encens et Lavande and surprisingly enough I liked it very much. So I have high hopes for Gris Clair too. It never ends, does it? January 20, 2006 at 11:03am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: L, no, it never ends apparently! I am very much in the same situation. 🙂 January 20, 2006 at 11:38am Reply

  • Aaron Luce: This fragrance is insipid and wears off quickly. I guess they skimped on concentrated fragrance. It has the aroma of Perry Ellis, with some smoke. Reminds me of a barbeque. December 27, 2007 at 6:35pm Reply

  • Luna: I remember the first time I sampled Gris Clair – it was in the summer, and in the air that couldn’t decide whether it wanted to be hot or cold, I found this scent very befitting.

    It’s unusual, but I can still remember its beauty even though it’s been so long since I’ve worn it. Gris Clair is a lot less smoky/bitter than Encens de Lavande, which I found beautifully moving, but not something that can be “worn”. A lot of Serge Lutens’ perfumes are more “objects” than they are “accessories”. Does that make sense? Some of his most unusual creations are more like books made out of molecules – no one else can ever really see the same, feel the same, as you do.

    I think what haunted me the most about Gris Clair was how emotional it made me. This was the first time I bought a perfume that moved me, called up emotions in me. It wasn’t just something you spritz and forget; it was a real, almost living piece of life, something that spoke of memories, times, etc. Only Diptyque and Annick Goutal really do the same for me.

    Gris Clair has that same hot, dry intensity of the Eastern winds that blow during the winter here in Southern California. I’m planning on moving to Europe and I know I’ll miss the cold, dry, stinging sensation of a howling wind on a dark, moonless night. Something in Gris Clair, too, sparkles like winter stars, or like thin, opalescent clouds spread out across the sky, glittering with a fine sheet of ice crystals. Lavender usually has a soapy, medicinal quality to it, but Gris Clair showed to me that it can be mysterious, restrained, fresh but also dry and herbaceous. January 22, 2016 at 4:01pm Reply

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