Christopher Sheldrake: 58 posts

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.

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Serge Lutens L’Incendiaire : Fragrance Review

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It’s hard not to take a second look when a maestro of exclusive perfumery offers you something even more exceptional. When Serge Lutens presented L’Incendiaire last year, it promised ultra rarity (Paris only and maybe some distant Middle Eastern outpost), luxury and drama. How can it be anything but intriguing? I eagerly extended my wrist to be anointed with the precious potion.

Lincendiaire

My first impression was that L’Incendiaire should make any Serge Lutens’s fan feel giddy. It has enough incense to perfume all the souks of Arabia. Its amber and musk accords are prodigious. It takes dark to another level. It smolders. It heaves. But nothing about it made me want to swoon (much less part with the $600 that buys you 50ml of this fantasy). L’Incendiaire is beautiful, but it’s about as nuanced as a three hour Bollywood drama. At some point, you crave a break.

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Serge Lutens La Religieuse : Fragrance Review

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“Whatever you do, just don’t be boring,” used to say my longtime ballet teacher. In her class, being off music and being boring were the worst crimes, because while everything else–a wrong arm position, an awkward turn or a weak jump–could be corrected through careful guidance, not listening to the music and not caring to excite the viewer spoke of more serious flaws. My teacher’s admonition flashed in my mind when I first smelled Serge Lutens La Religieuse.

serge-lutens-la-religieuse

La Religieuse belongs to the collection of understated compositions from the master-duo, Serge Lutens and Christopher Sheldrake. It’s in the same polished and well-mannered corner as Nuit de Cellophane, Un Lys and Sa Majesté la Rose. If you want a pleasant fragrance that doesn’t try too hard, the type of perfume that sales associates call an “office scent”, it’s a good choice. If you want a soft, fluffy jasmine, La Religieuse will also hit the spot. But if you come to Serge Lutens to be thrilled and surprised, then you might want to pick another magic carpet ride.

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Serge Lutens L’Orpheline : Perfume Review

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The other day I was trying hard to figure out why exactly I disliked Serge Lutens’s L’Orpheline as much as I did. Because I didn’t simply not care for it; it made me recoil and I had difficulty wearing it multiple times in order to review it. With some fragrances, you need a longer courtship to learn their moods and see how they can match yours, but in the case of L’Orpheline, I liked it less and less with each wear.

lorpheline

On the face of it, L’Orpheline should be the right one for me. It’s an incense blend, and I love incense. It intriguingly promises to layer incense with cream, and I’m game for such surprises. It’s also the product of a collaboration between Serge Lutens and Christopher Sheldrake, and I have so many perfumes created by them in my wardrobe that I can be easily called a fan. So, why does L’Orpheline fail so dramatically to entice me?

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Serge Lutens Laine de Verre : Perfume Review

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Laine de Verre continues Serge Lutens’s quest of toying with the artificial and unexpected. The name in French means glass wool, which is a type of fiberglass used for insulation. It’s certainly not something one would anticipate inspiring a perfume, but it’s all the more reason for Serge Lutens to try. The fragrance, built around shimmering, cool notes, promised to be a shocking and unusual item.

laine de verre

“A domestic quarrel between my feminine and my masculine,” mentioned Lutens’s press release, once again living up to its reputation for an enigmatic turn of phrase. I usually aim for balance and harmony myself, but I was still game to experience any upheaval in a perfume bottle. There was none, but the opening of Laine de Verre was unexpectedly classical and clean.

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