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.