Serge Lutens.

The man behind the visionary eloquence of Shiseido
imagery for many years, Serge Lutens has crafted several of the world’s most
sought-after fragrances. Fragrance creators use the same vocabulary of molecules
to arrive at vastly different concoctions, from bottled provocations to
forgettable insults. I have been reading for so long about Serge Lutens’
creations, and had despaired of ever passing a bottle of any SL under my

Well, wonder of wonders – Rustan’s
has brought in several of his fragrances (from the export line) and I wanted to
hug the perfume pushboys at the counter, except they didn’t know what the hell
they were doing, and were understandably flustered when I kept asking them, “But
where’s Rahat Loukhoum?” (The Essenses people didn’t bring in Keiko Mecheri’s
Loukhoum, either. These two fragrances are, I believe, the top sellers from
these lines.)

So I went into paper strip
tester attack mode, and demanded to sniff every Serge Lutens available. Okay, not every – three
or four scents maximum in one session is my rule, otherwise I make mistakes and
end up buying stinkers like Rouge Hermes.

Daim Blond (White Suede) was the
standout. It is, no surprise, the most difficult to pull off. It teeters
alarmingly close to Eau de Leather Car Seat. But oh, so intelligent and so
unique, and it makes my skin smell like a better version of my skin. On first
spray it is acrid and cold. It is not meant to be smelled on a paper strip at

I sprayed Un Bois Vanille (vanilla
and woods) on my right wrist. It is a smoky, moody vanilla, not the candy
vanilla I prefer this summer, but its evil older sister. Douce Amere impressed
me; from the bottle, it smells like a more deftly constructed Keiko Mecheri
Paname. I wonder why? They don’t seem to share any notes. I don’t drink
absinthe, but I suspect I like any fragrance with an absinthe note in it. I also
enjoyed Datura Noir, a dead ringer for Fleur d’Osmanthus, and A La Nuit, a story
of jasmine.

Others available are Ambre
Sultan, Clair de Musc, Sa Majeste la Rose, Arabie, Santal Blanc, Fleurs de
Citronnier and Fleurs d’Oranger. If you appreciate fragrance, or are learning to
delight in it, you cannot pass up the opportunity to own at least one Lutens.

(Luc did not like Un Bois Vanille as
much as he did Daim Blond.)