Myrrh and Almonds : The Secret of Serge Lutens La Myrrhe

As a complement to my article about Autumnal Fragrances, I recorded a video about the fragrance that scented my fall this year, Serge Lutens La Myrrhe. Early into the spring lockdown, I decided to devote more attention to studying, wearing and enjoying my old favorites, rather than seeking out anything else. Partly, it was a matter of necessity–I transferred my studio to my home and I didn’t want to bring all of the fragrance samples from the office. Partly, it was influenced by my desire to pare things down to the essentials. It was a much needed antidote to the persistent commercial message of buying things.

So I would sometimes spend days analyzing a fragrance, finding its nuances and decoding the stories hidden within its accords. It reminded me of the time I was a perfumery student and would spend weeks studying a single fragrance. I can tell you that I didn’t miss anything. On the contrary, I’ve learned a great deal about fragrance over these past few months.

One of the rediscoveries was La Myrrhe. In my video, I explain what makes this fragrance so unique, how the perfumer Christopher Sheldrake solved the problem of using an overdose of myrrh and why it is one of my most autumnal of fragrances.

If you have perfumes that fit specific seasons for you, I’d love to hear about them. And of course, I’m curious what you think of La Myrrhe.

I also wish everyone celebrating Thanksgiving a wonderful holiday. Stay safe, healthy and enjoy some delicious food and nice scents today.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

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56 Comments

  • Carla: Happy Thanksgiving Victoria! Excellent video.
    For me late fall is a time to turn inward, becoming more introspective and also reorganizing the home. I review what is truly essential and what is not necessary (hello Marie Kondo). So I return to a perfume that I feel is really “me”. This usually means a somewhat unusual perfume that I feel is therefore special like Iris Silver Mist. (Actually I love Iris Silver Mist in all seasons.) November 27, 2020 at 10:01am Reply

    • Victoria: I do too. Iris Silver Mist is perfect anytime for me. November 28, 2020 at 7:15am Reply

  • Tara: Happy Thanksgiving to you too! Now I want to try La Myrrhe. It’s one of the few Lutens I haven’t tried. November 27, 2020 at 10:02am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s definitely worth trying if you can find it. November 28, 2020 at 7:15am Reply

  • Fazal: You look so happy and excited holding the bottle in your hand and talking about the perfume, I am almost convinced it is your most favorite perfume ever. I do remind myself though that the perfume you have mentioned/praised most often, or at least it seems so to me, is Chanel No. 19 or maybe Cristalle. November 27, 2020 at 10:14am Reply

    • Victoria: 🙂 I have many such favorites, although yes, you can tell when I really like something. November 28, 2020 at 7:16am Reply

  • Marsha: Great article Victoria! I’m going to have to find a sample of La Myrrhe. November 27, 2020 at 10:32am Reply

    • Victoria: Please let me know what you think! November 28, 2020 at 7:16am Reply

  • Tourmaline: Dear Victoria,

    Thank you for your interesting article and video. Like many other readers, I am looking forward to smelling La Myrrhe sometime. I must also investigate the other fragrances composed by Christopher Sheldrake.

    So, to the myrrh he added bitter almonds, eh? I know they contain arsenic, so an alternative name for the perfume might be La Myrrhe et Le Poison… Only kidding!

    You said that you would like to hear about perfumes that fit specific seasons for us, and I am happy to oblige. I have narrowed my list down to 90. Like you, I don’t only wear the fragrances during their allotted season, but I usually do.

    SPRING

    1. Mûre Sauvage (Yves Rocher 2010)

    2. Honeysuckle {Original} (Avon 1963)

    3. Le Chèvrefeuille (Annick Goutal 2002)

    4. Diorissimo (Christian Dior 1956)

    5. Lily of the Valley (Yardley 1980/1994)

    6. April Violets (Yardley 1913)

    7. Violetta (Penhaligon’s 1976)

    8. Les Météorites (Guerlain 2000)

    9. Pur Désir de Lilas (Yves Rocher 2002)

    10. Boronia (Elizabeth Carole/Deco 1976)

    11. White Jasmine (Woods of Windsor 2005)

    12. Roses {Original) (Yardley 1970)

    13. Tea Rose (Perfumer’s Workshop 1972)

    14. Paris (Yves Saint Laurent 1983)

    15. Bellodgia (Caron 1927)

    16. Chloé “Classic” (Lagerfeld 1975)

    17. Jontue (Revlon 1975)

    18. Anaïs Anaïs (Cacharel 1978)

    19. Le Jardin (Max Factor / Dana/H & BF 1983)

    20. Beyond Paradise (Estée Lauder 2003)

    21. Miracle (Lancôme 2000)

    22. Nina (Nina Ricci 2006)

    23. Diamonds and Emeralds (Elizabeth Taylor 1993)

    24. L’Air du Temps (Nina Ricci 1948)

    25. White Shoulders (Evyan 1949)

    26. Jardins de Bagatelle (Guerlain 1983)

    27. Delice des Fleurs Rose et Violette (2011 L’Occitane)

    28. Rive Gauche (Yves Saint Laurent 1969/2003)

    29. Caprice de Printemps (Yves Rocher 1997)

    30. L’Aimant (Coty 1927)

    31. Le Dix (Balenciaga 1947)

    32. Après L’Ondée (Guerlain 1906)

    33. Cabotine (Grès 1990)

    34. Yvresse (Yves Saint Laurent 1993)

    35. Chamade (Guerlain 1969)

    36. Oscar (Oscar de la Renta 1977)

    37. Nahema (Guerlain 1979)

    38. Lipstick Rose (Frédérick Malle 2000)

    39. Ma Griffe (Carven 1946)

    40. Chant D’Arômes (Guerlain 1962)

    SUMMER

    1. Green Tea (Elizabeth Arden 1999)

    2. Limoncello (MOR)

    3. 4711 Original (Muelhens 1792)

    4. Eau de Guerlain (Guerlain 1974)

    5. Eau Dynamisante (Clarins 1987)

    6. Aqua Allegoria Pamplelune (Guerlain 1999)

    7. Aqua Allegoria Herba Fresca (Guerlain 1999)

    8. Aqua Allegoria Pamplelune (Guerlain 1999)

    9. Aqua Allegoria Rosa Pop (Guerlain 2016)

    10. Aqua Allegoria Pera Granita (Guerlain 2016)

    11. Pleasures (Estée Lauder 1995)

    12. Diamonds and Sapphires (Elizabeth Taylor 1993)

    13. Ivresse d’Été (Yves Rocher 1997)

    14. Clair de Jour (Lanvin 1983)

    15. Pink Lemonade (Demeter Fragrance Library)

    16. Eden (Cacharel 1994)

    17. Voile D’Été (Guerlain Terracotta 1999)

    18. Y (Yves Saint Laurent 1964)

    AUTUMN

    1. Violette (Molinard 2016)

    2. Trésor (Lancôme 1990)

    3. Volupté (Oscar de la Renta 1992)

    4. Insolence (Guerlain 2006)

    5. L’Heure Bleue (Guerlain 1912)

    6. Tocade (Rochas 1994)

    7. Ombre Rose (Jean-Charles Brosseau 1981)

    8. Poison (Christian Dior 1985)

    9. Bird of Paradise (Avon 1969)

    10. Rose Ispahan (Yves Rocher 1996)

    11. Cantate (Yves Rocher 1995)

    12. Lolita Lempicka (Lolita Lempicka 1997)

    13. Délires d’Automne (Yves Rocher 1997)

    14. Diamonds and Rubies (Elizabeth Taylor 1993)

    15. Samsara (Guerlain 1989)

    16. Intimate Original (Revlon 1955)

    17. Mitsouko (Guerlain 1919)

    18. Femme (Rochas 1944/89)

    19. Marshmallow (MOR 2000’s)

    20. Jicky (Guerlain 1889) M/F

    WINTER

    1. Fantaisies d’Hiver (Yves Rocher 1997)

    2. Bal à Versailles (Jean Desprez 1962)

    3. Phul-Nana (Grossmith 1891)

    4. Youth-Dew (Estée Lauder 1953)

    5. Opium (Yves Saint Laurent 1977)

    6. Cinnabar (Estée Lauder 1978)

    7. Loulou (Cacharel 1987)

    8. Shalimar (Guerlain 1925)

    9. Chantilly (Houbigant/Dana 1941)

    10. Ciara (Ultima II/Revlon 1973)

    11. Vol de Nuit (Guerlain 1933)

    12. Laetitia (Rancé 1806/2008)

    Happy Thanksgiving to all you Americans! November 27, 2020 at 10:49am Reply

    • Victoria: What an incredible list! Your system and organization alone are impressive. November 28, 2020 at 7:17am Reply

      • Tourmaline: Thanks, Victoria. I’m fortunate to have so many originals. November 28, 2020 at 9:08am Reply

    • Matty1649: A very impressive list. I’m a massive Guerlain fan, I’m pleased to see so many on your list. November 28, 2020 at 11:04am Reply

      • Tourmaline: Hi Matty,

        Most of my favourites are Guerlains. It’s hard to imagine the world of perfumery without them! November 28, 2020 at 10:26pm Reply

  • Filomena: I am exhausted from reading the 90 favorites. However, Victoria, I loved your video and you look absolutely beautiful and serene. That color is gorgeous! Although I have purchased and sampled many Serge Lutens perfumes through the years, I don’t recall sampling La Myrrhe. I will have to see if I have a sample somewhere in my sample box. November 27, 2020 at 11:22am Reply

    • Tourmaline: Hi Filomena,

      I’m exhausted from compiling the list! I agree with you about Victoria looking beautiful and serene, and that colour is indeed flattering for her. November 27, 2020 at 11:46am Reply

      • Filomena: I am sure it was not an easy task. I have so many perfumes (having been into it for many decades) that it would take me a month to catalog my favorites! Great job! November 27, 2020 at 4:06pm Reply

        • Tourmaline: I keep a list of the 270 or so fragrances that I own. The list is in order from citrus down, as per Michael Edwards’ classification system.

          The trick is to remember to add each new fragrance I buy to the list. Occasionally I realize that a recent purchase is missing, so I then add it.

          The job last night was to select my favourites and put each under one of four headings, depending on the season in which I usually wore it. November 28, 2020 at 5:31am Reply

    • Peter: Aloha Tourmaline. I’ll pick one favorite from each of your Seasons:
      Spring Rive Gauche
      Summer Aqua Allegoria Pamplelune
      Fall Mitsouko
      Winter Vol de Nuit
      You know how much I love the Guerlains. November 27, 2020 at 8:22pm Reply

      • Tourmaline: Indeed I do! Those are lovely fragrances.

        I forgot to ask you what scent you wore for Thanksgiving… November 27, 2020 at 9:26pm Reply

        • Peter: Portrait of a Lady seemed appropriate for my small celebration. November 28, 2020 at 12:36am Reply

          • Tourmaline: That’s another one I look forward to smelling! November 28, 2020 at 12:55am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for your kind words! I like that shawl very much. November 28, 2020 at 7:18am Reply

  • cookie queen: It might be the most beautiful of all the Lutens. Autumn is good, but a heavy frost or snow is the LM time for me. You know I love it. x November 27, 2020 at 12:20pm Reply

    • Cyndi: I have to say that for autumn, my favorites for many years have been:
      YSL Opium edp
      Chanel Coco edp
      Guerlain Shalimar edp
      Guerlain Mitsouko edp
      Guerlain L’Heure Bleue edp
      Guerlain Insolence edp

      All of these are classics ( or oldies depending on how you look at it), but all of them signify autumn to me November 27, 2020 at 3:59pm Reply

    • Victoria: Perfect, isn’t it! November 28, 2020 at 7:18am Reply

  • Tara C: I love La Myrrhe, it smells like fall to me as well as Chêne and L’Air du Désert Marocain. November 27, 2020 at 12:35pm Reply

    • Victoria: I agree, they have a similar spirit for me. November 28, 2020 at 7:18am Reply

  • Kathy: Your description makes me think I would love this, but what about reformulations? Since it was launched over 25 years ago, would I even being smelling the same thing? For example, I love Bas de Soie, which might be the only SL I have that I feel confident is the original vision. I also love Serge Noir, but when I read reviews, I feel sure my recent bottle is not what it once was. Once burnt, twice shy…. November 27, 2020 at 1:25pm Reply

    • Victoria: My bottle is not 25 years old. I bought it about 5 years ago. I imagine that it had been reformulated, but I don’t know what the difference would be. Smells good to me. I also don’t think that Serge Noire is that different these days; I still remember the original launch from 2008. November 28, 2020 at 7:21am Reply

      • Kathy: Posted as new instead of reply, please excuse: That helps to know; I have limited perfume sniffing where I live, and sometimes have thought that samples were not what was in the bottle I ended up with! Also, thank you for your mention of “opaque” perfumes. I’ve definitely experienced that with some but not had the word for it. November 29, 2020 at 10:14am Reply

  • Lindsay Anne Magnuson: I’m intrigued by your review, and really appreciate the detailed explanation of why myrrh is challenging. I learned something new, and now want to try this fragrance. I’m still not sure I understand the aldehydic quality. Thank you! November 27, 2020 at 1:33pm Reply

    • Victoria: I can make a video about it. November 28, 2020 at 7:21am Reply

      • Lindsay Magnuson: Thank you that would be fabulous! November 30, 2020 at 9:22pm Reply

  • Cyndi: I have to say that for autumn, my favorites for many years have been:
    YSL Opium edp
    Chanel Coco edp
    Guerlain Shalimar edp
    Guerlain Mitsouko edp
    Guerlain L’Heure Bleue edp
    Guerlain Insolence edp

    All of these are classics ( or oldies depending on how you look at it), but all of them signify autumn to me November 27, 2020 at 3:59pm Reply

    • Victoria: I find this style perfect for cool days. November 28, 2020 at 7:23am Reply

  • Cyndi: Oh, I almost forgot: Door’s Hypnotic Poison November 27, 2020 at 4:01pm Reply

  • Peter: Mahalo Victoria. You seemed transformed in this video. You are a schoolgirl with a ‘crush’ on La Myrrhe.
    Ever since I read your 5 star review, I’ve been quite curious. With Nina’s recent endorsement and today’s video: I need it!
    Unfortunately Luckyscent doesn’t carry this bell jar. I’m keeping my fingers crossed and I’ll keep checking. November 27, 2020 at 8:11pm Reply

    • Victoria: Oh no, I am not sure why they don’t carry it. November 28, 2020 at 7:23am Reply

    • Nina Z: I had to get my bottle from Serge Lutens in Paris because it is an exclusive available only in the bell jar. It is available now on the Serge Lutens web site, but is expensive. However, if you want to get a sample–which you always should before you buy–you could get one from one the US sample sellers like Surrender to Chance. November 28, 2020 at 8:20pm Reply

      • Peter: Aloha Nina. Mahalo for the Surrender to Chance recommendation. If I like La Myrrhe, I’ll try the SL website. I did purchase Tubereuse Criminelle from Luckyscent. I love it! I recently ordered a larger bottle of the Aftelier Cuir de Gardenia. I really appreciate both of those suggestions. You have a fantastic nose and I hope that I love La Myrrhe as much as you and Victoria. November 28, 2020 at 9:11pm Reply

        • Martha: Thanks for mentioning Surrender to Chance. I just placed an order for several I’ve wanted to try. November 29, 2020 at 10:36pm Reply

      • Peter: Hello again. A wonderful website. Besides La Myrrhe, I also ordered samples of Victoria’s favorite Serge Lutens: A La Nuit, Iris Silver Mist, and Une Voix Noire. Mahalo nui loa! November 28, 2020 at 9:46pm Reply

        • Nina Z: Very nice! I’m so pleased you found my suggestion helpful. You’ll have so much fun testing these. Report back when you get a chance. November 28, 2020 at 10:14pm Reply

          • Peter: Aloha Nina and Victoria. I just received my samples from Surrender to Chance. They were well packed in a cute box. I chose the 2ml glass spray vials. Anyway, I tried La Myrrhe first. I love it. The perfume is well balanced, as you mentioned. I feel enveloped in a rich cloud.
            I’m looking forward to trying the other Serge Lutens. Mahalo nui loa for sharing the love. December 6, 2020 at 5:53pm Reply

  • Aurora: What a delightful video, your enthusiasm is contagious and I would love to smell La Myrrhe.

    I have been wearing Robert Piguet Visa a lot for its jammy stone fruits which seem appropriate for the season and I’ve pulled out Parfum Sacré to wear it, its opulence and spiciness makes me think of fall colors, it has Myrrhe too and is rather thick, it is one of my favorite dark rose too. Do you like it Victoria or would you consider it flawed because it is rather dense? November 28, 2020 at 7:11am Reply

    • Victoria: Parfum Sacré is a beauty, and I think that it makes a good comparison with La Myrrhe, because it’s far denser. If you can compare them side by side, you can see what I mean. That being said, it’s still one of my favorites. November 28, 2020 at 7:15am Reply

  • Tara C: I forgot to mention my other favourite myrrh perfumes which are lovely for fall: Eau d’Italie Baume du Doge, Annick Goutal Myrrhe Ardente and Annette Neuffer Avicenna Myrrha Mystica. Each shows slightly different presentations of myrrh. The Myrrh Ardente for example has a bit of that root beer smell, whereas La Myrrhe has a bit of a mushroom smell on me. November 28, 2020 at 10:02am Reply

  • Natalie: I have Jo Malone Myrrh & Tonka and it fits late autumn and winter for me. I get an almond note after a couple hours of wearing it. I have so many other perfumes that fits specific seasons for me. However, starting in winter after the new year starts I don’t stick to any seasonal rules and start wearing florals at times to try to evoke spring. November 28, 2020 at 4:51pm Reply

    • ClareObscure: Hi Natalie, Victoria & other fragrance fans. I’m jumping in here at the mention of Jo Malone’s Myrrh & Tonka. Of the ones in dark bottles by JM, it is irresistible. There is an incense note which, along with the other ingredients, takes me to a desert fantasy of billowing white robes, a hot dry breeze & exotic spices of the middle east. Redolent of Christmas fireplaces, “Baby, it’s Cold Outside” playing… the opposite of a bleak, wet winter in Manchester, UK.
      Surrender to chance? Sounds great but if it’s based in my native USA 🇺🇸 I suspect they won’t ship to the UK.
      I enjoy reading these comments & after acknowleging my ‘perfume passion’, about 5 years ago my nose is getting more adventurous. My biggest challenge is giving fragrances time to get past long held perfume aversions. Sometimes it works & other times the first impression was the right one. December 2, 2020 at 12:18pm Reply

      • Natalie: Hi Clare,
        What a wonderful visual description of the scent. Makes me think of the movie Lawrence of Arabia with its stunning cinematography. December 7, 2020 at 3:58pm Reply

  • Nina Z: How wonderful that you’re spending time deeply appreciating the fragrances you already have.

    La Myrrhe is absolutely my favorite Serge Lutens fragrance. A friend gave me a sample, which I instantly loved, and then I had to jump through hoops to get a bottle because Serge Lutens doesn’t ship it to the US. My friend in Belgium ordered it from Paris for me and then when visited her there, it was waiting for me. Then I split the bottle with another perfume-loving friend when I returned to California.

    I don’t have a list of favorite autumn fragrances but I can say that my latest autumn favorite is Voyage 2019 from Hiram Green. It’s a spicy oriental, and I always find spicy perfumes comforting and uplifting. November 28, 2020 at 8:32pm Reply

  • Nina Z: The other myrrh fragrance I love is Myrrhiad by Pierre Guillaume. It’s sweet and comforting, and it smells powdery to me even though I can’t identify which note is creating the powdery impression (no iris?). His site lists the notes as Myrrh, Black tea, Liquorice, Vanilla. November 28, 2020 at 8:45pm Reply

  • Kathy: That helps to know; I have limited perfume sniffing where I live, and sometimes have thought that samples were not what was in the bottle I ended up with! Also, I appreciated your mention of “opaque” perfumes. I’ve definitely experienced that with some but not had the word for it. November 29, 2020 at 10:11am Reply

  • Debi Sen Gupta: While not relevant to this topic, I saw this article and thought it may interest you.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/18/at-home/welcome-to-our-museum-of-smells.html

    You may have come across it elsewhere December 1, 2020 at 3:15am Reply

  • ClareObscure: Like so much of our “normal” lives, before this pandemic, I miss the Department Store in Manchester, UK. Kendals, in better times; like so many other big dept stores, used to have career sales staff for brands like Annick Goutal & Serge Lutens. They were very generous with samples. Of course, looking back now, I just didn’t see how great those times were in fueling my ‘perfume passion’ & desire to smell such a range of fragrances. During this madness, many of the best fragrance counters won’t let customers try anything. Shopping is no fun now… I hope people can be more carefree again, sometime soon. December 2, 2020 at 12:33pm Reply

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