Serge Lutens Sarrasins: Night Jasmine

Serge Lutens Sarrasins: Night Jasmine

I’ve been in a perfume slump for a while. Not that I don’t wear any, I do (most days), but it’s usually old favourites – pretty predictable and boring stuff from Chanel, Tom Ford and Jo Malone. I also haven’t been buying much recently: a bottle a month is very low-frequency for me. There is nothing like rumours of reformulation and/or discontinuation to focus one’s mind, however, so when I heard that Serge Lutens is revamping his line, I came relatively close to panic (for a detailed overview of what is happening, see Kafkaesque).

Lutens does some of my absolute favourite fragrances, including Feminite de Bois and Iris Silver Mist. I own quite a few bottles from the brand, but I would happily own ten (or twenty) more. So as I was going to Paris anyway, I visited the Palais Royal boutique and finally bought Sarrasins – one of his bell jars that has been on my list for a while*.

Of the two Lutens jasmines, A la Nuit is probably the better known and it certainly deserves recognition: it is a hard-core, hyper-real soliflore that is not for the timid. I have a bottle and I love it, but I think I’ve become to love Sarrasins even more. Jasmine is one of the most used notes in perfumery and with very good reason: it smells wonderful and is extremely versatile. It can be anything from clean and sunny to skanky and indolic.

Where Sarrasins falls on that scale is a question of intense debate: some feel it’s springy and gentle, others find it way too animalic. Partly, it is surely a question of different tolerance levels. But I suspect some people also cannot smell all the components of the scent – this is not unusual (especially for muscs) and affects some fragrances more than others.

Lutens himself has said: „I took white jasmine and contrived to make it as black as a panther, as black as night.” It does smell dark to me (or at least darker than most jasmine fragrances, A la Nuit included), but in a soft, enveloping way, like a beautiful night. I get a faint but constant presence of worn leather – some call it outright horse-y – and a little bit of musc and spice and something that smells almost like apricots. The overall effect is to make the jasmine softer and rounder and wonderfully velvety. Although I wonder if others around me are smelling something I’m not…

People are often wary of wearing white florals in the summer, but I’ve been loving Sarrasins for that. Maybe it’s because the leather aspect makes the scent meld beautifully with one’s skin, maybe it’s the whiff of the desert wind that comes with the name, maybe it’s the dark purple colour that looks like the August sky. I’m also convinced that this is a great jasmine for men, I would definitely pay very close attention to any male wearing this.

What’s your favourite Lutens fragrance?

*I bought another scent, too, but will reveal that in a future post.


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  1. 1

    This sounds wonderful, I’m so glad you’re enjoying a beautiful new jasmine! Quite bored with my summer colognes already so want something bigger too. I first read about the Serge News last week (the link to Kafkaesque much appreciated, thank you, and her cautious optimism is interesting) but I feel pretty gloomy about it. I really enjoy the relative accessibility and volume size of the current export line – I want variety rather than gallons of any one perfume. Oh well. I think Bapteme du Feu is my most-worn this year (even more than FDB) for its surprising freshness and versatility. In previous years I’ve worn the heck out of La Religieuse (yes I wanted to smell like a candied violet for months on end) and Vitriol d’Oeillet. I want to investigate A La Nuit and Fleurs d’Oranger more thoroughly, then maybe make a final purchase from the current line. I don’t want to be stampeded into buying back-up bottles of any of them…but what to do. Who knows what they will smell like in five years(or what I will want to smell like then)? What are your thoughts on back-ups?

    • 2

      I’m not entirely sure if the 50ml size is gone forever – I thought the Paris SA told me they will have it once the old bottles are gone, but I may have misunderstood. I’ll see today if the Brussels airport still has the export line, I might get a bottle of FDB (I’m currently out) and maybe something else that I don’t own. You’ve actually made me want to retry La Religieuse again.

      The only back-up I’ve ever bought has been Fleur de Chine. I didn’t even bother with my beloved Chanel exclusifs, hoping that the new versions would still be OK. It’s possible that I will regret my relaxed attitude at some point, but I kind of think that if I really need something, there will be bottles available through perfume friends or eBay or something. And there will always be other perfumes I like and new launches…

  2. 3

    Congratulations on your new bottle! I love the color of this perfume but when I tried it last time it was “too much jasmine” for me. I should find my sample and try it again: who knows how I feel now? My tastes developed over the last several years.
    My two bell jars are De Profundis and Boxeuses. I like, own FBs and wear Ambre Sultan, Chergui and Fille en Aiguilles. There are about 10 other scents that I wear from decants and wouldn’t mind to have at least 3-4 of them as a bottle but I haven’t decided on buying them yet and I’m almost sure that I won’t buy them in 100 ml new bottle.

    • 4

      Thank you! I’m very happy with it. I don’t find Sarrasins very jasmine-y, but as I say, people have very different perceptions of it. In any case, I believe it warrants a re-try: it wasn’t an instant love for me either. Boxeuses is beautiful (I have a bell jar, too) and De Profundis is definitely on my list, although I hear people say it smells different from what it used to.

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