Brand Spotlight: Serge Lutens and 5 Favorite Perfumes

Niche perfumery is synonymous with originality, boldness and surprise, and Serge Lutens deserves much of the credit for shaping it and giving it a set of codes and accords. Lutens was born in France and became successful as a photographer and artist, and his first sojourn in Morocco in the ’60s inspired him to experiment with new media and styles. When he eventually came to perfumery, he already had a concept that was revolutionary at the time–the scent of woods for women. Inspired by Moroccan cedarwood, it became Féminité du Bois, and it launched a new era in perfumery.

Féminité du Bois was created in collaboration between Serge Lutens and perfumer Christopher Sheldrake (who also creates perfumes for Chanel these days.) While it remains an iconic fragrance, Serge Lutens’s collection is full of other gems. In my new series spotlighting different brands, I talk about Serge Lutens and five of his best fragrances.

Of course, I could have picked more than five perfumes. I also admit to being guided as much by my tastes as by objective criteria but the selection holds. It illustrates Lutens’s different styles and inspirations.

For other Serge Lutens reviews, please take a look at Serge Lutens Perfume Reviews.

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52 Comments

  • Nikos: I just dabbed a little El Attarine from a sample I digged out in praise of your video. Not my favorite from the line, I wanted it a bit more heavy on immortelle and I find a kind of “plastic” quality to it that gives me instant headache. That’s why it was buried so deep in my drawer! My own favorites from Lutens are Iris silver mist, Sarrassins and L’orpheline. But I doubt I could pull off wearing any of them. I still wish I could smell De Profundis before its current state. It’s kind of a myth almost as big as it’s “creator”. August 16, 2021 at 9:00am Reply

    • Victoria: I haven’t smelled De Profundis in a while; my bottle is old. Is it really that different now?

      As for El Attarine, immortelle is already quite prominent in that composition, and if it were heavier, the formula wouldn’t be balanced. It’s a difficult material, and dosing it properly is complicated. August 16, 2021 at 9:11am Reply

      • Nikos: Maybe my sample of El Attarine was not so “good” as I get none of the immortelle. Serge Lutens used to be stocked on the shelves of Shiseido stands in a big department store here in Greece years ago, then disappeared. So the only way to try it is through samples. As for De profundis (again from a sample) to my nose is a very soft floral, more violet than chrysanthemum and also not very strong on the soil accord or incense but more of a clean musk. Many people complain that it’s greatly changed. I really can’t have an opinion on that as I have no idea how the bell jar version smelled. August 16, 2021 at 10:27am Reply

        • Martha: I’ve gone through 4 bell jars of De Profundis in the last 9 years or so (can you tell it’s one of my very favorites?) and was sad when they moved it to the tall black spray bottles, which are not as pleasing to my eye or as functional, since it’s really hard to tell where the circle for the spray is located, blending in as well as it does with the rest of the black.
          To me De Profundis doesn’t smell as much like incense as it has in the past. I remember sitting in the choir in Westminster Abbey for a special service where incense was used and noting with pleasure how close it smelled to De Profundis. But I still love it.
          I’d love for Victoria to do an update on it. I’m loving her YouTube channel. August 16, 2021 at 11:56am Reply

          • Victoria: What a beautiful description! I’ll be sure to make a comparison between the two versions. August 16, 2021 at 2:11pm Reply

            • Nikos: Indeed such a beautiful image. We will be waiting eagerly for that comparison! Thank you Victoria. August 17, 2021 at 10:07am Reply

          • Martha: I am wearing De Prfundis now. I put on two sprays about 3 hours ago, and the incense is back. It wasn’t apparent right away. It smells wonderful. It would be great to see how the old and new compare to an educated nose. August 16, 2021 at 2:19pm Reply

        • Victoria: Was it a wax sample or an alcohol sample? I’ll be sure to try the latest version to see if it’s different. August 16, 2021 at 2:10pm Reply

  • Fazal: I have mentioned it several times before that my most favorite Lutens is Sarrasins. Others I would add to the top 5 list may be

    1. Sarrasins
    2. Feminite du Bois (let me have the liberty to choose the Shiseido version here instead of the Lutens version)
    3. Santal de Mysore
    4. Tubereuse Criminelle
    5. La Fille de Berlin August 16, 2021 at 9:26am Reply

    • Victoria: Shiseido’s version was the best, but I’ll take any Féminité du Bois. Overall, your list overlaps a lot with what I actually wear (+ Iris Silver Mist and Bois de Violette). August 16, 2021 at 2:08pm Reply

      • Fazal: I enjoy Bois de Voilette, too. However, I struggle to enjoy Iris Silver Mist even though it is one of the most beloved Lutens among the brand’s fans. I guess I don’t like the carroty aspect of iris which is what Iris Silver Mist focuses on but rather the lipsticky aspect as in Dior Homme. August 16, 2021 at 2:53pm Reply

        • Victoria: Yes, you have to like that kind of earthy iris to enjoy ISM. August 17, 2021 at 2:11am Reply

  • Eudora: Thanks Victoria, loved the video. More please! Whatever brand, you make everything interesting.
    I remember perfectly the first time I smelled Ambre Sultan, maybe my first niche perfume experience and was like WOW! August 16, 2021 at 9:33am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, I’m so glad to hear that you like the series. I’ll add more brands, and I’m making a list. August 16, 2021 at 2:08pm Reply

  • cornelia Blimber: My Lutens favourites:
    Ambre Sultan. I wear it not often, because it must remain something special. It is a wonderful, solemn perfume. And it reminds me of the resin my brother used on the bow of his violin.
    Iris Silver Mist, so earthy in the beginning, and at the end as a surprise that fragile, flowery smell. The drydown reminds me of a perfume from a remote past, could be Climat vintage.
    Gris Clair.. I love lavender. I have an old bottle, not reformulated.

    I never smelled a perfume in the bel jar. August 16, 2021 at 10:14am Reply

    • Cornelia Blimber: I agree with Eudora.
      My alltime favourite brand is Guerlain, but you wrote so many posts on Guerlain already!
      However, I would like to read on Guerlain again. August 16, 2021 at 10:18am Reply

      • Victoria: I’m more than happy to talk about Guerlain! August 16, 2021 at 2:09pm Reply

        • Viktoriya Semyz: Wonderful suggestion, yes please! Could you please give your thoughts on the Legendaries collection. Also, the fact they they have started to make the disappeared classics like Fol Arome and Kadine available, albeit at very high price. August 17, 2021 at 5:10am Reply

    • Victoria: Beautiful choices with equally beautiful descriptions. August 16, 2021 at 2:09pm Reply

  • KarenA: Fun, informative video Victoria! La Fille is one of my all time favorite perfumes and one of the few I’ve bought replacement bottles when I’ve emptied one. August 16, 2021 at 10:35am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you! I also like La Fille de Berlin, which is one of my favorite roses. August 16, 2021 at 2:10pm Reply

  • Sylvia Long: Thank you for the evocative post. You makes me want to try Silver Mist, though Iris is usually not my favorite.
    I adore Santal Majuscule for the lovely sandalwood. It and La Fille de Berlin are my winter choices.
    I’d like to try De Profundous but I hear it has been changed. Do you recommend the current version? August 16, 2021 at 11:09am Reply

    • Victoria: I need to revisit De Profundis. My bottle is from the original launch, so I will compare them. August 16, 2021 at 2:10pm Reply

    • Tara C: I find the current version sadly has too much white/laundry musk. Wish I had a vintage bell jar. August 16, 2021 at 2:18pm Reply

  • Aurora: Lovely post, my favorite is Bois de Violette.

    Would you be able to make an updated Chanel les Exclusifs? August 16, 2021 at 1:19pm Reply

    • Kitty Devereaux: Would love to read those updates! August 16, 2021 at 1:25pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’ll be glad to do so. I just need to try them again. My bottles are all from the original launch. August 16, 2021 at 2:12pm Reply

  • Aida: My absolute favorite is Chergui…I bought it at a perfume shop in Paris and wore it to a sunset cruise on Le Seine. That said it’s a very sentimental fragrance for me 🙂 it’s very warm and extremely unique but definitely ambery and rich. Absolutely love it, each time I spray it I’m transported to that monumental trip.
    Much love August 16, 2021 at 1:38pm Reply

    • Victoria: Chergui is a gem! August 16, 2021 at 2:12pm Reply

      • Aida: I can’t even tell you how much joy it brings me when I wear it 🙂
        Knowing how much I love Chergui, what other Serge Lutens gem would you recommend for me? 🙂♥️ August 16, 2021 at 2:21pm Reply

        • Victoria: Have you tried Fumerie Turque? August 17, 2021 at 2:10am Reply

  • Tara C: I was very surprised to hear your favorite is El Attarine, I love it too and it gets very little attention. My other favorites are Rahat Loukhoum, Bois de Violette, Mandarin Mandarine and Une Voix Noire. August 16, 2021 at 2:15pm Reply

    • Victoria: It’s underrated, because it’s much more subtle than the name would suggest and SL’s style would lead us to expect. I notice that people always want something else out of it. Yet, I find that it’s crafted nicely. Glad to hear that there are more fans out there. August 17, 2021 at 2:09am Reply

  • Jennifer Mariel Shaw: I too love Cherugi. August 16, 2021 at 5:50pm Reply

  • Filomena: I still have three bell jars from Serge Lutens…De Profundness, Une Voix Noire and Iris Silver Mist. It is difficult to pick two favorites, but I would think my favorites would be Chergui and L’Orphaline, August 17, 2021 at 12:31am Reply

    • Victoria: Nice choices! It’s hard to make a wrong selection with this line. 🙂 August 17, 2021 at 2:11am Reply

  • OnWingsofSaffron: Ah, Lutens! Where to begin, where to end? A couple of random thoughts:
    I used to wear Bois de Violette a lot: so very elegant for all. Then I personally love the Fleurs d’Oranger scent too, an opulent white flower. Borneo is fantastic as is À la nuit.
    There are some „difficult“ scents I nonetheless enjoy like Miel de Bois or Serge Noire; they‘re great for layering btw. Some Lutens are a bit disappointing like the somewhat screechy Bas de Soie. I may be somewhat old fashioned but my admiration for SL somehow stopped when they repackaged/repriced the whole line; I only have the Palace logo versions. I haven‘t bought any new fragrances and I categorically refuse to buy the outrageously priced gold line! Last note: the most coveted SL scents in their vintage glory seem to have completely disappeared from ebay. I have yet to encounter a bottle of Sarrasins, Rose de Nuit, La Myrrhe or say El Attarine, or also La voix noire. Of course they are available in reformulated versions but …
    Thanks Victoria, for that illuminating post! August 17, 2021 at 11:41am Reply

    • Victoria: Bas de Soie is one of the perfumes I never really liked. Your characterization is spot on. Thank you for sharing your list with your enjoyable descriptions. August 17, 2021 at 3:41pm Reply

  • Eudora: Dear Victoria, let me ask you something. I would appreciate if you write in the post the name of the 5 perfumes you mention in the video. I am not very familiar with SL and forgot the names. I would have to watch the video again, no problem. But I missed the info the first time I read the post. Just a thought. Thanks. August 17, 2021 at 2:57pm Reply

    • Victoria: It’s in the comment box under the video. August 17, 2021 at 3:39pm Reply

      • Eudora: 🤭 August 18, 2021 at 7:12am Reply

  • Charlotte: Thanks for this lovely and informative video! I too enjoy Serge Lutens’s fashion photography; he has a real flair and originality.

    I have read so much about the Lutens line but haven’t tried many. I love Santal Majuscule and have a small bottle of La Vierge de Fer, which I find pretty and polished on some days, and a tiny bit dull on others! I adore and covet Feminite du Bois; maybe I’m fortunate never to have tried the Shiseido version to compare it with 🙂

    I would love to see a brand spotlight on L’Artisan Parfumeur, Annick Goutal, or Hermes. I second the Guerlain suggestion too! August 19, 2021 at 2:55pm Reply

    • Charlotte: PS Victoria I remember you said in a much older post that you were not a fan of the Serge Lutens version of Feminite du Bois; have they updated the formula again, or do you think your perspective has changed over time? August 19, 2021 at 3:07pm Reply

      • Victoria: I have a bottle and I wear it, but in comparison to the original Shiseido version, it’s much thinner and flatter. But I still gave it 4 stars (the original was one of my rare 5-star reviews):
        https://boisdejasmin.com/2010/12/serge-lutens-feminite-du-bois-perfume-review.html August 19, 2021 at 3:25pm Reply

        • Charlotte: If you still gave the reformulation four stars despite those problems, the original must be truly stunning 🙂 August 19, 2021 at 3:29pm Reply

          • Victoria: It was! If I only had wear one perfume, I would be happy with the original FdB. August 20, 2021 at 4:12am Reply

    • Victoria: All noted, thank you very much! August 19, 2021 at 3:23pm Reply

  • Silvermoon: Thanks for the informative video, Victoria. I visited the SL shop in Paris some years ago. A striking place, even a bit intimidating. Anyway, I bought two bell jars (Iris Silver Mist and Tubereuse Criminelle). The other three bottles of SLs that I have are Feminite de Bois, Fille de Berlin and Ambre Sultan. Probably FdB is my favourite of the lot. I remember trying Sarrasins and liking that a lot. And Musca Kublai Khan was outstanding, if a bit much. I had never heard of El Attarine and am now curious to try it.

    Love the idea of doing a few videos about the different brands, and hearing about your top picks. August 20, 2021 at 3:12pm Reply

    • Victoria: Muscs Koublai Khan is excellent, but it needs a careful application. I find it too much otherwise. August 21, 2021 at 3:09am Reply

  • Alityke: My five would be:-
    Sarrasins
    Boxeuses
    Ambre Sultan
    Daim Blond
    Arabie
    Oh heck! I need six! FdB is a non-negotiable.

    ISM I find “cold”. It smell icy. The only other scent that gives me that sensation is 4160 Tuesdays Doe in the Snow which is made to smell that way.

    Boxeuses is oft overlooked but I find it to have a strong link to FdB. The plum is softer, the almond of RL is there but that wonderfully worn leather underpinned by Lutens cedar, all so finely balanced they could pirouette on a pinpoint. Heavenly! Living in the U.K. buying another bell jar from the EU website will have challenges.

    I would like you to do your Top Five video of Floris, Penhaligon & strangely The Body Shop August 31, 2021 at 5:02pm Reply

  • Cherie: Thank you for a wonderful informative post. So many that I love from this House, I wish I could visit their boutique – we only get a limited range in our country. I think my absolute favourite is Santal Majuscule, which is perhaps not the most complex but it is just so comforting. I recently picked up a bottle of Fils de Joie and that is really interesting, I very much enjoy it although I wasn’t sure at first… a dear friend just sent me a sample of Iris Silver Mist, cannot wait to try it!. September 3, 2021 at 12:39am Reply

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