Coming up: The Big Dish on Uncle Serge, from my perspective

Bell jar of La Myrrhe, so far the only Serge Lutens that I truly love. Image from Fragrantica.

(It’s Elisa’s fault.  She brought up Five o’Clock au Gingembre when I was cursing my bad luck with the gingery-yet-shaving-creamy Bois 1920 Sushi Imperiale.  I started talking about my general feelings about Lutens’ fragrances, going down the list of the ones I’d tried – and then realized – HEY, this’d make a great post!)

I’m doing some polls at Facebook perfume groups and Fragrantica, concerning general thoughts about Serge Lutens fragrances.

I’m doing a poll here, too.  Want to weigh in, before I post my comments on Friday afternoon?  Please do so!  Edit – HEY, if ya gotta choose “Other,” please please explain what you mean in comments.  I’d really appreciate knowing what goes on in your head with regard to the Serges.

[polldaddy poll=5579062]

Also, if you have a favorite or favorites from this house, I’d love to hear which one(s) you love.

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34 thoughts on “Coming up: The Big Dish on Uncle Serge, from my perspective”

  1. I have mixed feelings. Some I love and most I find to be a hodgepodge of icky stewed things. But mostly, I feel confused by the outpouring of love for SL from the perfumista/blogger world. I just don’t get the fascination. And I roll my eyes every year when his new scents come out and everyone goes nuts over wanting to try them and trying to decipher his (the company’s) vague, mysterious (and silly) marketing prose. For the record, the SLs I love are mostly the ‘normal’ florals; such as Fleurs d’Oranger, Sa Majeste La Rose, Bas de Soie, Datura Noir, Fleur de Citronnier, and a few of his more simplistic spice scents like Rousse, Five O’Clock au Gingembre, etc.

    1. “Icky stewed things”! I mean, I do know what you’re talking about, but that’s funny.

      I’ll post my reaction to the SLs I’ve tried when I do the dish on Friday.

  2. Totally agree with Abigail, also on the “icky stewed things” – Arabie, I’m looking at you.

    As you might expect from me, I like the simpler Serges such as Un Lys (in my top five scents, period), also Bas de Soie, and even the new Vitriol d’Oeillet (when it softens down a bit). Chergui is cosy in winter but I have to be in the mood for it. Beyond that, I glaze over a bit trying to think of what else I have time for. Apart from the rumtopf business above, I struggle with indoles, excessive soap, camphor, pine needles and “non-specific general weirdness”.

  3. Shamefully, my avatar and Twitter background are taken from an SL bell jar. Okay, so they also do a nice line in Indonesian puppet graphics (or wherever this fetching design is from).

  4. There are Serge Lutens fragrances that I love. . .MKK, Chergui, Un Lys, Fleur d’Oranger, Sa Majeste La Rose; but many more that I dislike. I’m with Abigail on the “icky stewed things,” as well. His fragrances never bore me, though. Even if the scent is a “hot mess” as Fille en Aguilles has been described, at least it is hilariously odd. The only one, no two, that I did not get were SL’s L’eau and Nuit de Cellophane. Too mainstream and normal. I confess, I want M. Lutens’ scents to be avant garde.

    I’d rather have the “Ethel Merman” Tuberose Criminelle, which is so out there that I reapply, just to enjoy the medicinal/camphoraceous ride over and over again, but never wear out of the house. . .for fear of freaking normal folks out. That being said, when I go to Paris, I’m longing to try Rose du Nuit and De Profundis and considering a purchase of Boxeuses or Miel de Bois.

    Can’t wait to hear your take, Mals. Be well.

    1. Thanks for sharing! I’m really enjoying what people have to say – because, and this is probably the point of the issue, nobody who’s tried them doesn’t have an opinion.

      I’ve reviewed TC: didn’t mind the camphor/wintergreen, but could not get past the decaying-flesh aspect in the topnotes to that cold beautiful tuberose after. It’s still the Rotting Raw Chicken of Death to me (probably because I’m now familiar with so many other high-end tuberose scents that have interesting openings but don’t take me through the garbage can).

      Just tried Jeux de Peau yesterday, and couldn’t stop giggling.

  5. Some fragrances I love, some are not me – and that is normal, in such a broad offer. What I don’t really appreciate: many fragrances smell like tiny variations on a same theme.

    My love love love:
    Tubéreuse Criminelle. I had an epiphany on that one. I couldn’t be without. Last summer I carried it along with me in all my travels: it is marvel in a bottle. I wear it to sleep, I wear it to read, I wear it for a night out.

    My “just likes” or “very close to love”:
    A la nuit, chene, the bois series, Chergui, un bois vanille, fleurs d’oranger, daim blond, fumerie turque, vetiver oriental, feminite du bois… I’m forgetting some.

    The only “hate and scrub” fragrance to date is l’eau serge lutens.

    All in all, I find Serge Lutens fragrances interesting and distinctive, though his signature wood-dried fruits is a combination I enjoy wearing on the right day, but don’t love.
    I find his gourmands brilliant, but I’m not in gourmand mood often .
    I always get the feeling that SL’ fragrances are unfinished, and this is my major complaint. Florals lack a base, orientals are too streamlined – they smell like building blocks rather than finished fragrances. As a lover of complex, layered fragrances, with interesting developments, SL’ style is not really meant for me. I don’t read Haiku’s when I want to read poetry. I read Neruda.
    Yet, I am so glad he is making fragrances with a distinctive style – and he made one of my absolute favorites, so kudos to monsieur Lutens.

    1. That’s a thoughtful commentary! (We will just not discuss Tubereuse Criminelle, which I think is interesting and well done and just too difficult in the opening for me.)

      What’s clear to me now is that I must test more Serges. You’re right, there is typically a distinct style to them, and whether a particular fragrance speaks to you or not, the line is at least worth investigating.

  6. Big fan here! I recognize the “icky stewed” thing but I do not mind that much. And this is just in some of these fragrances. I have tried most of them and the only one I thought was terrible was Jeux de Peau: too literally a gourmand. And Datura Moir (yikes!!!) What I like about them is that the notes sort of converse with each other. I like to follow the progression and see where it goes.

    Favorites are Sarrasins, Daim Blonde, Muscs Koublai Khan (it’s going to be my Xmas gift to myself), Fumerie Turque, Vetiver Oriental, Iris Silver Mist, La Myhrre, Borneo 1834…. pretty much all of them.

    1. I just tried Jeux de Peau yesterday and laughed all the way through it. It is so literal pastry! More on that tomorrow.

      I knew some of the Sergeoholics would show up, sooner or later. I’ll be honest and say that I do NOT get the intensely possessive Creed love that keeps popping up on Basenotes, while though I am not a huge Serge fan, I do understand why people are crazy about his fragrances. There’s nothing else like them.

  7. To my great surprise, I loved MKK (which I initially sniffed only out of curiosity). It’s the only SL I own.

    I like Fleurs d’Oranger and Fille en Aiguilles.

    I’m meh on Chergui, Arabie, Ambre Sultan, Daim Blond, Feminite du Bois, and La Myrrhe (sorry).

    And I dislike Louve.

  8. I love some of the SLs that are relatively unloved like Louve, Rousse, and Five O’Clock au Gingembre. I love La Myrrhe, and I wish that they would feature it as an export soon. The only floral one I’m crazy about is Fleurs d’Oranger which is sunny and bright on me with no hint of the cumin so far.

    I could be happy with most of them if they were gifted to me, but I just don’t have an overwhelming urge to have or even try all of them. Jeux de Peau sounds terrible to me because I cannot stand the smell of butter!

    Why is it that I feel like it is considered some kind of sacrilege to be lukewarm about these fragrances? I guess I have an unsophisticated palate? I’m to a point that I don’t really want a lot of challenges from my perfume.

    1. Kathy, I think you’ve pinpointed why you’re lukewarm about them: they’re challenging. Even La Myrhhe, which I do love so much, is something that grabs my attention and keeps it. I can’t just put it on and smell nice.

      One of my other fumie friends was talking about liking what he called “the simpler ones” like Rousse and 5:00 and Sa Majeste… does that sound like a reasonable theory to you?

    2. It’s not a sacrilege I assure you. There is no such a thing when it comes to perfumes (at least). Everyone’s entitled to their own taste. Most (but not all) SL perfumes are thick and spicy. Most of them are dark/gloomy. It is understandable why many find them uncomfortable or indifferent.

      1. I think you’re right, MoS, and my rule of thumb is always “You like what you like.”

        It’s certainly possible to say of some scent, “It’s well-made and coherent and lovely, but I don’t like it.” Or, conversely, “It’s cheap and trashy, but I love it anyway.” (I have a few of those. I’m not ashamed! 🙂 )

        1. You know, when I re-read my post, I’m afraid that it sounded snarky instead of tongue in cheek re: sacrilege. There just seems to be this hushed reverence about the SL fragrances, and I don’t really get that for myself. It makes me sad to fall for something that I can’t easily obtain (I’m looking at you Bois Oriental), so I usually ignore the non-export launches.

          I do think that I love the simpler fragrances from the line for the most part. I find Rousse and Five O’Clock to be really cheerful scents that I can spritz with relative abandon.

          After saying all of that, I admire the SL fragrances for their originality, and you certainly can’t say that they are just like a dozen other fragrances you can smell at the store. I also admire how they have managed to maintain an exclusivity even If I don’t like it. I have to admit to owning a partial bell jar of Rahat Loukoum (and I never use it anymore!), and there was such a feeling of satisfaction in obtaining something so difficult to obtain! My perfume budget has been unfortunately slashed lately, so I am mostly trying to use up my endless supply of decants – one of them is a small decant of MKK that I am afraid to actually use because it presented a huge challenge to me!

          This post is my longwinded way of saying that while I can take or leave the SL fragrances personally, I think that they are an important part of the fragrance world, and I think that they changed the landscape by using unique and sometimes daring combinations.

        2. Now that’s a good idea for writing! Cheap thrills! I love it when I find a really cheap, forgotten by aficionados, fragrance that I really love. Plus with the really cheap ones you can have all the fun of buying blind. One of my favourite cheap thrills is Diesel Zero Plus Masculine. If Musc Ravageur is too expensive for you, check this one out!

  9. I own several SL’s, but the only one with a back -up bottle is La Myrrhe. Like memoryofscent, I thought ambers were something I mostly couldn’t wear, but last month I tried Ambre Sultan and thought I’d “died and gone to heaven”! Immediately bought a FB and have no regrets. You just never know : )

    1. You never know!

      Well, I think people do know which lines tend to work for them and which don’t. I tend to do well with SSS and Chanel; I haven’t had a single Patou smell good on my skin, even the vintage stuff; PdNs and Tauers either work beautifully or not at all. You seem to do pretty well with the SLs, if you own several.

  10. I have mixed feelings, probably, like about any other house. My most recent love is 5 O’Clock au Gingembre. Makes me move my other tea scents in a darker corner because they are just not as pretty, end of the story. I also love Un Lys and Ambre Sultan — but I can only dab them, can’t spray them, they get overwhelming.

    I am looking forward to finding out what you’ have to put out on a Serge big dish for us!

  11. I’m mixed on Serge, like many of the others who have posted here. I own and adore Chergui. This is a top three “go to” scent for cooler months.

    I own MKK, just about never wear it. I own JdP and it’s an odd one on me. I truly think it depends on my “cycle” – sometimes it’s sour on me and sometimes it’s a delight. I don’t regret buying it, but know that I have to carefully consider before I spray. I’m also liking Fille un Aiguilles and although I don’t own it – I just may sometime soon.

    I’ve sniffed most of the scents available in the US, and while I find some interesting (Amber Sultan, Louve) , some I really do not care for (Iris Silver Mist, Arabie), most leave me kinda “meh.”

    1. Chergui was thiiiiiiis close to love for me, but there’s some note in there – a musty-dusty thing as it shifts from tobacco notes to drydown – that I just hate, and I can’t justify owning it because I disliked that part so much.

  12. I selected “Other”. I’ve only tried a few and none of the typical “stewed fruits” ones or any of the weird ones. But I love Chene and have a large decant of that. There’s something so comforting about it to me. Others I’ve sampled are Daim Blond, Santal Blanc and Un Bois Vanille – didn’t really care for any of them. Un Bois Vanille was nice, but not any nicer than the many vanilla-centric scents I already have! There isn’t a store near me that has them, so I have to order samples and none of the others has really called to me to order or swap for.

    1. And now I remember I just sampled Bas de Soie the other day – came as an extra in a swap and I did not like that one at all.

    2. Oh, I know what you mean about the samples! The ones I have, I’ve either bought from TPC or received as swaps. (Dear Daisy strikes again – she sent me the Jeux de Peau. And, I think, the Bas de Soie.)

      Chene is one that I *think* I’d like.

  13. I’m probably a fangirl. I haven’t tried as many Serges as others have, but they tend to work pretty marvelously on my skin as compared to many other lines. Serge probably accounts for a quarter of my (still very small) perfume collection, which is only equaled by Rochas. I own (and absolutely love) Fleurs d’Oranger (probably my very favorite Serge- it’s so bright and yet retains a touch of something very human), Jeux de Peau, and MKK (the cuddliest perfume I know, despite the hype). I really enjoyed Ambre Sultan and would probably own it if I didn’t already feel I had amber covered with cheaper bottles; and I’m currently quite tempted by Serge Noire, which comes out as lovely dark and non-foody cinnamon on skin, although I don’t like it as much on paper. Clair de Musc is, for me, superlative in its style, but not intriguing enough to add to my collection when it came to a choice between it and MKK. The exceptions are Bas de Soie, which wasn’t my style so I found it a bit meh, and ISM, whose carrots I found too distracting to enjoy it.

    1. Good to hear from another fangirl! Anything that accounts for a large percentage of what you’ve chosen to buy is definitely a winning line for you.

      ISM is very carroty, isn’t it?

  14. I tend to find them intriguing and unwearable. JdP was a downright scrubber – very sweet and buttery to me, in a synthetic way that made me feel like a very large fairground snack. Douce Amere was a scrubber, too! Fleurs d’Oranger is too bright and sweet. Chergui too masculine. 5 O’Clock I like a lot at first but find the drydown boring. Bois de Violette is lovely, but heavy on the violet whereas I prefer FdB. Sarassins I liked a lot but find mostly straight jasmine, not very complex. Other than Feminite, only other one I really love is La Myrrhe, which I bought in Paris two weeks ago and am saving for my birthday.
    I think my views will keep changing, though – they are worth smelling repeatedly, since they are so unusual. Perhaps my nose will catch up?

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