Serge Lutens Chypre Rouge by Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde



I was lucky enough to get some of Serge Luten’s latest release, Chypre Rouge, recently, and I had looked so forward to trying this, and the resulting… well, I won’t spoil the ending. 

Mr. Hyde (aka Patty) — My review will be very limited, and you’ll see why in a jiff, and then I’ll hand it off to March. When it first went on, it smelled of sandalwood and moss and something red, though I’m not sure what the note is, just a bitterish red, and it seemed very promising and intriguing, like a great first date.  As it dried down, I got cedar with the sandalwood, then it turned on me with a feral viciousness. It was like Le Labo Vetiver and Serge Lutens Miel du Bois met and had a torrid love affair gone bad and left me with the mess — it just smells of desperation and bitter, bitter regret, and really rotten B.O. There’s defintely some kind of honey-ish note in this, the very one I despise, and a note that turns bad on my skin.  So I’m positive it’s just a reaction on me and has nothing to do with the perfume itself.

So those of you that love Le Labo Vetiver and Hermessence Ambre Narguile and Iris Taizo, take heart, this is bound to be one you will swoon for. As for me, I’m getting rid of the rest of it as soon as I can.  Sending some to… March…

Dr. Jekyll (aka March) — I have been desperate to try Chypre Rouge since I first heard its name whispered on the blogs.  As a fan of chypres in general, I figured this one might be a winner.  But it’s been so Top Secret (and non-export, natch) that the only notes I ever saw listed were: caramelized pecans and oakmoss.    

Which — huh?  Where’s that add up?  Yeah, oakmoss is your evil granny in a chypre, but … caramelized pecans?  Was this going to be another gaggingly sweet Aomassai-type scent?  Serge can be overly sweet to me, when he’s not being manifestly evil in some other direction. Anyway, the most sensible explanation I saw on The Scented Salamander, where Mimi Froufrou, its Perfumatrix, wrote in her comments:  “I think the red refers to a red moss that Serge Lutens had a vision of or saw when he was a child. Chypre Rouge then probably follows this threadline since oakmoss is a basic component of chypre perfumes. This classic composition usually rests upon a contrast between top notes of bergamot or a cologney accord and base notes of oakmoss, labdanum, and patchouli.”

Well, her guess is as good as any, and better than most.

I should note here that Patty (from whom I got the sample, of course) described it as “tears and buttcrack.”  And I am assuming she didn’t mean that in a good way.  Not having much more to go on, I figured the best way to approach it was to dump on a fair amount of the vial and let Nature take its course.

I was anticipating one of those weird, Lutenesque blasts, like the awful cumin at the opening of Fleurs d’Oranger.  But this opened with something that smelled like … tea.  Strong, smoky, black tea — like that great lapsang note in Tea for Two, only, well, indescribably stranger.  (Okay, okay, I’m trying to describe it.)  What I smell, in roughly this order, is:

Lapsang.  Pepper à¢â‚¬” something spicy, like pepper and cloves.  Actually, this is almost a red pepper.  But at the same time, there is something sweet — think somewhere between SL’s Ambre Sultan and Chergui, leaning in the direction of Chergui.  Caramelized, but not cloying.  Incense.

Oh. My. God.  This thing is … it is unhinging me with its surreal beauty.   Sorry.  I am Having A Moment here.  It is easily the strangest thing I have smelled since Djedi, but more welcoming.  I am enthralled.  What is this thing?  And now, a note of cumin?  But not gagging me.  There is definitely some sort of alien spice thing going on in here.

Okay, the finale — the supremely perfect, I kneel-at-your-feet part, is that this thing really does smell red.  Not red like wine.  Or a sunset.  Red.  If you were going to assign this fragrance a color in your head, red is your color.  Think … cinnabar.  Chinese lacquer box.  Ancient spices.  Dust.

And the drydown?  At its heart, beneath the tea, the heat, the dust, and the cinnabar, and the pepper, and the hint of (yes, caramelized) sweetness, is the chypre base à¢â‚¬” I am guessing oakmoss, musk, patchouli and amber à¢â‚¬” in this case, pitched to the deepest, darkest tone.  After an hour, it is very close to the skin, but there is nothing tenuous about it.  To me, Chypre Rouge is, finally, this: a well of darkness, shot by a shaft of light straight from Heaven.

(Back to Mr.  Patty Hyde, rolling eyes and all) Which leads me to this week’s giveaway — one sample of Serge Lutens Chypre Rouge.  Just let me know in comments if you would like to be in the drawing.

  • romaayden says:

    😡 sounds delightful I am always on the journey to try any dark mysterious fragrances please enter me in your drawing.

  • tmp00 says:

    If I’m not too late, I’d like to be included as well.

  • Anne says:

    Hope I’m not too late. I would love a sample of the new SL. Thanks

  • Gaia says:

    I have a feeling that this is the one for me. Please count me in.

  • Karen says:

    “Some sort of alien spice thing going on here”!!! I’d like to try that. Please enter me for your drawing. I’m amazed at what goes into some of these new fragrances now. I read that cardamom, an Indian spice, is in one new fragrance (don’t remember which one.) But cardamom also is an ingredient in a Norwegian Xmas bread called Julekage, which my family bakes every year. I love julekage and the distintive taste of cardamom; I just can’t imagine dabbing it behind my ear. So I would love to explore whatever weird spice thing that Chypre Rouge has!

  • Martika says:

    Sorry this did not work out for you, Patty :(( I’m delighted however to have let you discover it, only to be able to read your comments here 🙂 My view on Chypre Rouge obviously joins March’s though I personally see no similarity with Ambre Sultan.

    PS No need to count me in, I have more than enough of this gorgeous stuff:x

  • Selah says:

    I’ve only recently started getting acquainted with SL, but I would love to be included in the drawing! This one sounds quite lovely.

  • Keeg says:

    Please count me in, too 😉

  • VeronicaV says:

    Oh gosh yes, I’d love to try it. Please count me in. Thank you.

  • Flora says:

    Wow, I am already hooked! I would love to be in the drawing for this one, if only because I have never met a Serge I did not like. 😡

  • Steve says:

    Please put me within the desire the Serge list as well.

    BTW, when this feedback area asks for “Mail (will not be published) (required)”, does that mean an email address or a snailmail-type of one?

  • Patty says:

    Mimi, I *KNEW* there was honey in there! If it wasn’t for that, I think I would have loved this.

    It think this is accurate. What I could get, before it turned bad, was bitter regret, like a wound that would never really heal, raw.

    I still got sandalwood or some kind of wood on the open, Santal de Mysore’ish, where march got Tea. So odd, but that could have been the oak wood too.

    Either way you look at it, this one will be love or hate, depending on chemistry, and I’m just torched that it is hate for me when I know it should be love.

  • carol says:

    Patty, you say it turned on you with feral viciousness as if that were a bad thing…

    I’d adore a trial of anything that sparks such divisive reviews. Count me in! :d

  • minette says:

    Yes, please, with caramelized pecans on top! I’d love to try this!

  • Amy K. says:

    Please add me to the drawing – I’ve never even heard of this particular SL before, but with a description like that, how can I resist?

  • sybil says:

    I’m guessing I’m going to be a Mr. Hyde, but in the permanent hope I’ll be a Dr. Jekyll, please sign me up! What a great, compelling review from both of you…(I found myself wondering how could it[possibly be that horrid/fabulous? I MUST smell this!)

  • Victoria O says:

    Oh put me in the drawing! I can’t wait to try this! It has been so long since i have found a SL to love. Please let it be this one!

  • Wow, I really hope my skin chemistry is closer to that of March’s than Patty’s.

    It’s incredible you say it smells of desperation because when I read the press release + an interview of Lutens, I just wanted to cry because of the sadness that was palpable in both accounts.

    And it smells red, and it’s like a shaft of light plunging in a deep dark well, and it smells of desperation… God, you made me seriously shiver, in a good way.

    Hey, FYI, I have a few more of the notes included in Chypre Rouge: “Update: notes include oakmoss, oak wood, labdanum, honey, beeswax.”

    Great reviews guys!

  • violetnoir says:

    Okay, I’ll take a crack (no pun intended) at the giveaway, Patty. :d


  • BBliss says:

    Fascinating how differently noses and chemistry work! Please do enter my name in this one. I am still searching for a SL to adore…I know, I’m just frangrance-defective in this area! 🙁

  • ˇAlica says:

    I would like to try Chypre Rouge SL even more and more after excellent Jekyll´s :-))) description.

  • Robin says:

    Cannot decide which one of you to believe, LOL…

  • Tigs says:

    Oooo.. please sign me up for the draw. A shaft of light from heaven or tears and buttcrack? I must know.

  • Justine says:

    I can’t resist throwing my name in the pot, and since so many others out there want to try it too, if I win I’m happy to have you split my sample in half and share with another lucky soul. From what I’ve heard about Lutens, the juice goes a long way….

  • eaumy says:

    Since I often like what Patty dislikes and like what March likes, my guess is that I’ll be a Chypre Rouge gal. Please sign me up for the drawing. Thanks!

  • Ina says:

    I’m prepared to love you, Chypre Rouge. Please add me to the drawing! Please! Add! Me! :((:((:((

  • annE says:

    How could anyone *not* want to try this after reading this? Sign me up!

  • IrisLA says:

    Doesn’t sound like my cup of tea, but I must sample anyway. Please enter me in the drawing.

  • Leopoldo says:

    Throw me in the draw, sweet cheeks!

  • chayaruchama says:

    I forgot, in my ravings, to beg for a chance at the draw, please?

  • Sariah says:

    Patty – thanks for the heads up, so glad I will actually be able to buy it in a store if me likes.

  • chaya ruchama says:

    I forgot, in my ravings- could I please be included in the draw? Thanks-

  • Nina says:

    Oh, this sounds exquisitely evil! Desparation, regret and cumin…I want to be in the draw for this!!

  • trinity says:

    Well, I love Ambre Narguile, and hate Miel de Bois and anything with cumin, so this is a must-sample for me. Lutens fragrances either always make mad, passionate love to my skin or bitch-slap me cross-eyed. Its never neutral. Please sign me up for the drawing!!

  • Emotenote says:

    Oooh, sounds perfect for my “I’m mad at my husband so I’m going to wear something Skanky” stash. Black cashmere, Enfar, any inscenses (which are my faves), mure de musc (which I’ve unfortunately found smells like our new puppy), and yes, March, the FRACAS which I love and if I wear enough everyone leaves me alone when I need some peace, sign me up!

  • cait says:

    Beggging for a sample, my dears! Begging.

  • Solander says:

    Oh yes, I’d love to please! 😡

  • chaya ruchama says:

    Aren’t you females wonderful !!!
    Loving dissent…my mother would bang your heads together…[but NOT me!]
    Skanky good or skanky evil, I’ve got to smell this one [and everything else I can get my paws on, who am I kidding?]
    I’m such a junkie- especially where chypres are concerned- it fits the torchy, Kurt Weill flip side of my overtly sunny disposition…

  • Yukina says:

    Ooh, I’m intrigued. I love the colour red, so I’m definitely up for trying out a bit of this. Please sign me up for the draw 🙂

  • Marina says:

    WANT! “It just smells of desperation and bitter, bitter regret, and really rotten B.O”. Clearly, a Holy Grail.
    I am in Judith’s position. I cannot wait!!!

  • Patty says:

    Judith, I figured my hatred for it would cause many of you to perk right up. :d

  • Patty says:

    Sariah, this one is actually going to be an export, but they won’t hit U.S. outlets until the first part of September, I believe.

  • Judith says:

    Oooooh, ooooh, ooooh! I am supposed to be getting a small decant of this! Oooooh, ooooh, ooooh, I want it NOW!!! Ooooooh, Ooooh, OOOOh! It was mailed from France yesterday; how long will it take? That’s too long! *Looks around for places to buy it unsniffed*
    PS Great reviews guys! In its own way, Patty’s was (almost) as instrumental in persuading me to buy this as March’s 🙂

  • rachael says:

    Sounds fascinating, I’d love to try it. It’s also nice to hear both of your opinions on something.

  • shifts says:

    Great review, loved reading it! Can’t wait to try it on.

  • Elle says:

    Very happy sigh. Unsniffed FB purchase w/out doubt. Another happy sigh. Goes to lovingly arrange a place for it on worshipped perfume altar.:x

  • sariah says:

    my goodness, March’s comments have me just drooling, sign me up! Just my luck that most of the Serges that I love are non-export, and now I’m intrigued by this one.

  • dinazad says:

    Sounds like something I’d like to wallow in (sorry, Patty)! So, even if I was a lucky winner only a few days ago, please enter me in the drawing!