10 Serge Lutens Fragrances to Try/Buy Now

10 Serge Lutens Fragrances to Try/Buy Now


Serge Lutens is in the process of revamping its export (read: cheaper and more accessible) perfume line. I will again refer you to this article for more details, as I do not have the space nor the energy to go through all of it here. What is relevant for our purposes is that at most stockists, the old bottles are still available.

Personally, I believe this is a great time to get a Serge scent or two. First of all, although I’ve not been thrilled with most of the recent launches, Lutens is still one of the greats of the perfume world and many of his perfumes represent – in my view – excellent value for money. The new 100 ml bottles will, of course, be more expensive than the current 50ml ones and therefore more of an investment. I hear that there will eventually be 50ml bottles as well, but I’ll eat my brocade skirt if the price doesn’t increase.

The other argument, beyond the price, is that not everything that’s currently available in the export line will remain there. Quite a few scents will in the future be part of the exclusive line that is notoriously difficult to get. Related to this is the issue of reformulation: it is no secret that Lutens reformulates his fragrances continuously, so if you like something, better buy it sooner rather than later. And finally, you may – as I do – simply prefer the aesthetic of the bottles as they are now.

I have picked 10 scents from the export line that I personally think are worth investing in, but everything else is worth a try, too.

1. Feminite du Bois. No surprise here, as I consider Feminite du Bois to be one of the greatest fragrances currently in existence. People who would know say that the original version Lutens created for Shiseido is superior and I’m sure it’s true. It’s discontinued, however, and I am personally perfectly happy with the current version. It’s plush woody perfection, a statement scent that is easy to wear. Read me drone on about it here.

2. La Fille de Berlin. One of the most immediately attractive of Lutens’ creations, this is a beautiful, velvety rose. I know very few people who don’t like it, unless they are fiercely opposed to rose fragrances. There is enough musk and moss and spice to add depth and interest, but at least to my nose it’s still very much a rose scent.

3. Ambre Sultan. I am not an amber fan, but I have bought a bottle of this. It’s a classic, oriental Lutens, but it’s also vintage Lutens in the sense that there is a twist. In this case, the twist comes in the form of herbs (coriander, bay leaf, oregano) that cut through the dense amber and make this one of the most celebrated fragrances in its category.

4. Fleurs d’Oranger. Another big personal favourite, this is the only orange blossom scent that I truly love. As I’ve said before, that’s probably because the orange blossom is mixed with tuberose, one of my favourite notes. Some people get an overdose of cumin from this; on me, it only adds an addictive, skin-like facet. Also, it seems that in newer bottles there is less cumin – sad for me, but possibly great news for others.

5. Daim Blond. Lutens isn’t known for his leathers and he doesn’t have many, but I think the ones he has are excellent. Daim Blond is a case in point: all suede and apricot jam and autumn sun, this is a great scent for September. It can be too sweet for some people, but I promise the drydown on your sweater will be beautiful.

7. Chergui. Of all the export line scents, this is possibly the most Lutens – or at least early Lutens. Opulent, complex, rather sweet, this is an unconventional mix of tobacco leaf and honey, amber and hay. It’s not for everyone, but those who love it really love it.

8. A la Nuit. A must try for all jasmine lovers, A la Nuit is an iconic floral for a reason. In my affections, it’s been replaced by Sarrasins from the exclusive collection, but I still wear it if I want to go all out. Every time I talk about it, I have to quote Robin from Now Smell This who called it “death by jasmine”. It’s not for the shy.

9. Santal Majuscule. A good sandalwood scent, especially one that doesn’t cost the earth, is hard to find. If you like your sandalwood rich and creamy, with some rose mixed in, there aren’t many better choices than this. It’s not what you’d call a modern scent, but who cares if it smells like this?

10. Datura Noir.
Many people would disagree with my choice here, as Datura Noir is generally not considered a Lutens masterpiece, but I have a soft spot for this strange creature. The best way I can describe it is Bronze Goddess gone bad: it’s tropical, cocnutty and fruity, with tuberose and almond. If you like the exotic beach scents but always find them too boring or too relentlessly cheerful or synthetic, try this. It’s darker and weirder, but still smells delicious.

What are your favourite Serge scents? What would you recommend trying?

8 Comments

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  1. 1
    Maya

    Just after reading this post I made an online purchase of Feminite du Bois. I hope I won’t be disappointed since I find my experience of perfume via vial and via sprayer are quite different (thinking of you Liaisons Dangereuses).
    Of the four I currently own, A la Nuit and Chergui are the most used but unlike most perfumistas my usage is strictly seasonal. On the good days Chergui smells like hay and tobacco leaf and on the bad ones like a caramel sticky bun. One that I admire very much is Bois de Violette – unfortunately it is too sweet on me but I find it delightful when I get a whiff of it. By the way- parsley and strawberry as well as blackberry and bay were purchases I made based on your recommendation-thanks.

    • 2
      Ykkinna

      I really-really hope you’ll like it! If not, I’ll buy it from you 🙂 I think FdB and BdV are very similar, but the latter is sweeter, so that bodes well for you and your purchase. Then again, I’m always astonished how differently people experience sweetness in scent. Even my own perception seems to change all the time.

      Please let me know how it goes!

  2. 3
    Jelena

    My favourite is Arabie. Few times I was very close to buying Feminité du Bois remembering how good the original Shiseido fragrance was (a friend had it), but something always stopped me, there was some note that did not let me love the perfume as much as I wanted to. And then I ended up trying and buying Arabie: it reminded me of FdB, but without that “something” that stopped me from purchasing it.

    • 4
      Ykkinna

      Arabie is another of those “very Serge” scents, I think. It was difficult to pick ten, even though the line isn’t that huge: there are actually very few that I don’t like or appreciate at all. The newer ones tend to leave me cold, but I could still wear them.

      In a way I’m happy I never tried the original Shiseido, as I can enjoy the current version without missing the old one.

  3. 5
    Eliza

    These are all must-trys, swoon. Tried Datura Noir for the first time last week from the new bottles – gorgeous. I have quite a few of these, but mainly it’s the newer ones that I wear the most. A friend remarked recently on how sweet all my Serges are – I thought I didn’t like sweet perfume that much, when all along I’ve been dosed in rich fruity dripping syrup. But with spice! And depth! And skin! The new bottles are massive alright, but look amazing ranked together in all their colours. Interestingly, in Britain, what ranged from 88-94 pounds for 50mls is now 150 pounds for 100mls. So that is in fact cheaper, here, for the moment at least. Though not cheap. But I get more pleasure from the Serges than any other perfume. There’s so much movement and depth in them. I had a bottle of Prada Infusion d’Iris once, which was beautiful, but never changed, and lasted 10 hours at a time. It bored me to death. So I might snap up a final bottle of Serge this week – FdO I think!

    • 6
      Ykkinna

      Which ones do you like best? I think most people don’t go to Lutens for the lighter stuff, even if they otherwise do wear fresh/easy perfumes. Although I might be completely wrong in that. I also don’t go to Jo Malone for deeper scents, but clearly many people do.

      And yes, price per ml is almost always cheaper with a bigger bottle. But the initial spend gets significantly bigger, something that makes them less accessible, if there is no 50 ml opion. Some people might be able/willing to spend 100 pounds, but not 150.

      • 7
        Eliza

        Un Lys, of course! 🙂 FdB and La Religieuse (which is very sweet) my most worn, I think. How could I forget that Bad Perfume Mathematics? I usually get the smallest bottle available, except once when I let myself be talked into “saving money” by buying the 100mls. And yes, it was that deathly Prada.

        By the way, there are a couple of new perfumes in the Big Serge bottles – Vetiver Orientale is really good. I don’t know many vetiver perfumes yet but this is interesting – seems quite light but with lots of movement.

        • 8
          Ykkinna

          I do like Vetiver Orientale a lot, it has been available in the bell jar for a while (incidentally, I don’t like the new launch at all). I’m kind of hoping they bring it out in 50ml as well, I would seriously consider buying it. For a long time, I didn’t care much for vetiver; now it’s one of my favourite notes. I adore Sycomore and Sel de Vetiver and there is a little known perfume called Mr Vetiver that is so lovely and quite unique (a warm vetiver with cardamom).

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