Serge Lutens Cà¨dre

I joked with someone recently that I was going to do a blog post of the fragrances I love that nobody else does.  I could list them, then quote from places like Perfumes: The Guide, or Makeupalley reviews, articulating the many ways people mock and dislike these sadly misunderstood gems that are dear to my heart.

Today’s pick: Serge Lutens Cà¨dre, which garners a tepid 43% rebuy rating on MUA along with comments like “mishmash” and (not entirely undeserved) criticism along the lines of, where the hell is the wood?  You’d think something called “cedar” from the line that’s killed us over and over again with cedar would have some cedar in it.

Fortunately for me I am an idiot.  Having avoided this thing like the plague, because it’s called Cà¨dre, which I learned in Serge-speak translated to “hamster-cage”  early on in my complicated relationship with Maison Lutens, I am pretty sure I had never actually put this on my skin.  But there we were at Sniffa and the guy was showing us some of his favorites, not the usual stuff, please, and Santal de Mysore was nice enough.  And of course I love Fleurs d’Oranger.  So when he waved a scent strip under my nose I wasn’t paying much attention to the name, and …. gosh, that’s gorgeous.

The folks at Serge Lutens don’t usually issue a list of notes, or anything else coherent for that matter, but I found this: cedarwood, tuberose, musk, amber and cinnamon.  And that, I suppose, would be a decent guess.  The cedar is there, but it’s in the base and buried under a lot of sweetness; this would kill me in the summer.  The tuberose is nicely counterbalanced, not to say smothered, by the amber and spices.  And I, the person who might reasonably be expected to dry-heave at what I have just written, found that on my skin everything came together.  It is … zsheenyus.  I get something that smells quite strongly like honey, with a little of honey’s muskiness, and a soft sweetness that is simultaneously woody and milky.  It’s a strange smell, I admit, and one I find quite beautiful.  I bought a bottle.

Cà¨dre is going to fit quite nicely into my Serge Lutens lineup that seems to be the perfect complement to my recent experiments in improving  my wardrobe (see yesterday’s post).  I’d expected that donning a pretty scarf, say, or a pair of pearl earrings, would have me reaching for classics like Mitsouko or Jolie Madame, and I’m sure they’ll get plenty of wear as the weather gets cooler.  But my Lutens scents seem to complete my new outfits in exactly the way I want.  They are chic but a little strange, warm but unfamiliar.  Instead of falling into my familiar matchy-matchy trap of wearing a fragrance like vintage Rochas Femme with my pearls and pumps, the unexpected richness of something like Fleurs d’Oranger, Santal Blanc, or Cà¨dre makes everything old feel new again, a classic with a twist.

PS If you find yesterday’s topic interesting, please read down for Carter’s informative, lengthy comments on personal style.  I need to hire that gal.

47 Comments

  1. March, you totally get it and don’t need me to tell you anything. Like you said: take the pearl earrings, add a Serge Lutens edge. Wear Mitsouko with hot black jeans and simple but beautiful white shirt or a cashmere v-neck and a funky vintage bracelet. Very simple and elegant, but with an element of toughness, which can be in the form of a super bag, or even just a fab lipstick or rich nail color.

    The most telling thing from yesterday’s post — and the most important, in my opinion — is that you said that you *liked the way you looked* when you were out with your father. You stepped outside of your comfort zone just a bit, fixed your hair nicely, and wore something really fun and cool but carefully thought out, and it boosted your confidence. Confidence IS style, and style is confidence. What’s more, I bet your father picked up on it, perhaps not even consciously, and it enhanced his enjoyment of being with you and looking at beautiful things.

    I love Cedre. I was surprised by it, too. Serge is like that sometimes, isn’t he? (*)

    • I did like the way I looked, and so did my father, who’s almost blind and yet mentioned several times how pretty I was. :”> I’m sure it was positive reinforcement. Actually… I know that dressed up I remind him of my long-dead mom (not in some pervy way, you know what I mean). So it makes him happy.

      I think Cedre can be loved if you go into it with no preconceptions about the cedar bits.

  2. I hate white flowers in perfume (I like them fine on their stems in the great outdoors). Most particularly I Hate Tuberose. Wearing a tuberose scent is like being beaten to a pulp by a giant bouquet, like being drowned in the river by a comic mafioso in a chequered suit with a metric ton of white flowers attached to your feet. The moment a sales lady waxes poetic on the newest tuberose scent, I excuse myself politely, go outside to retch and take a migraine pill just to be on the safe side. With three exceptions, much to my surprise: Miller Harris’s Noix de Tuberose, Fracas parfum, and SL Cèdre. I love the weird way flowers, wood and so many other things are woven together in Cèdre so it smells completely different every time you sniff your wrist. Like one of those “changeant” silks which look gold-coloured or green or some other perfectly nice colour, and change to purple or red or brown or something weirdly in-between the two main colours when you move. I think I’ll wear it today. And I’ll take a migraine pill, but not because of tuberose. I have a slight headache, and I swear I feel Ms Migraine flexing her muscles and whipping her tail in the next room. She’s getting ready to pounce, but I won’t let her.

    • I hear you on the tuberose. Other than Carnal Flower it’s pretty much migraine territory on me too. I like the smell but just can’t bear to wear it. But Cedre is different, more diffuse and creamier.

      Your description of it as a silk is excellent and actually how I’d describe my typical Serge journey in general. The Lutens scents tend to go on doing that on me for an entire day.

  3. Well, I can only echo what Carter says (I know she and I *must* be on the same page). Never go the full hog: vintage or vintage-looking outfit? Contemporary, edgy scent.
    But then, rules are made to be broken, and I sometimes pile on: leather dress, leather scent (but one’s by YSL and the other from Chanel, so there was a bit of a catfight).
    I never took the time to explore Cèdre, but I shall.

      • Good thing Karl Lagerfeld wasn’t involved or it would have been heedeous!

        • Of course if it wasn’t vintage Chanel, KL actually *was* there. My money would definitely be on Karl, in that case. Such a jealous boy!

  4. Oh, March,

    I’m there too: late 40s, now working from home and keenly aware that I both need to refine and up the oomph factor. While I can schlump around at home, I still need to look half-way decent for the school run, reasonably polished for out and about, and seriously pulled together for meetings. I noticed recently I can’t wear the same style jeans I used to, that anything loose looks awful (I too am petit but also curvy). My go-to look is pencil skirt, knit top, high-heeled boots. Also, I finally bit the bullet and cut my dark brown-streaked-with-grey hair in a mouth-length curvy bob. It is easy, it looks chic — and I started getting compliments about how I look after several years of not very much at all. As to fragrances, def the Mitsouko calls with increasing frequency. So do the LDDM, Rose de Nuit and TF Scent.

    • Your go-to look sounds great — dressed up but comfortable. And I see a bob in my future, I look good in shorter hair. It sounds like you’ve hit a good balance of fragrance and fashion.

  5. Cedre has been a work-in-progress on my affections. My first spray had that severe disappointment of “where’s my wood”, and I dismissed Cedre as a flukey error on M. Lutens part. Ach, the tuberose!

    I believed myself completely anti-tuberose, but Carnal Flower changed all that. Although I don’t adore super-tuberosed perfumes in general on me, somehow CF works. Since then, I’ve tried numerous others, and some I truly enjoy.

    And the joke was on me-I got a huge “mini” bottle of Cedre as a gift at Lutens when I was making a bell jar purchase this summer-and am not only liking the sweet flowers, but also smelling the wood, finally. I’ll be wearing it today-along with a cazh but sophisticated pants ensemble 😡

    • CF is my only tuberose, no lie. I like to always have a small sample around. It’s pretty magnificent, no? I like to wear it in the spring when I wish it was warm already. And as I said up there somewhere, I think it’s the name that sinks Cedre, it sets up expectations for something wildly different than what you’ll smell. To me, Miel de Bois would almost be a better name for THIS one.

  6. Hmm, I really like Cedre (I don’t have many SL fragrances, but I do own that one). I didn’t realize it doesn’t get that much love. It has mine. 🙂

    • Well, I confess that I knew if I typed “nobody likes Cedre” on here several people would respond that they do!

  7. I’m afraid I’m not on board the Lutens luuuurv train at all, but like the others commenting here (and my comment yesterday about still wearing my vintage Guerlains even though I don’t wear the chic and expensive suits any more)I do like the relative subversiveness of wearing a Mitsouko or Vol de Nuit with a rather unexpectedly informal outfit.

    I am on board the silk scarf train though – but I think that might merit a separate post. I especially love my Guerlain perfume bottles one!

    • That’s definitely the anti-matchy-matchy thing. Just like a bright red lipstick, Mitsouko and the vintages feel deliciously subversive with casual clothes. And I am jealous of your Guerlain scarf!

    • Oh! I saw that on one on the fleabay and thought very seriously about bidding on it 😕 Did you get it at auction?

      • God, I wish we could edit these things after posting. It’s not fair that we can’t take it back and have a do-over (insert sighing guy here).

      • No, bought it at 68 Champs-Elysees back in the day on one of my “let’s see how much I can carry home with me” shopping tripettes. I’m sure they were made by Hermes as the weight of silk is identical.

  8. Funny, I have loved almost all the serges from day one. However cedre, arabie and chypre rouge were kind of meh…then this fall, all of a sudden i fell in love with all three…i kind of fell out with fleur de orange in the summer cause the cumin note just soared way to high and then all of a sudden in the cooler weather it regained my love!!!(as the cumin dropped)
    For me, clothes define a style…mostly casual: with the cheaper/basic items being relpaced seasonally IE looser and longer tees after seasons of really tight fitting…the more expensive items are the really “exeptional” timeless pieces (skirts, shirts..) and or belts/accessories..Clothes for me are a creative visual outlet.
    Now the scents…well i can use them to enjoy, to learn, to give me more oomph, edge…to relax, to dream, to raise energy levels. I always mix cloth styles with an opposite or complimentary fragrance…never the same and mostly i just choose without even connecting it to my clothes!!!…i guess simply put..my creative emotional outlet..

    • Hehe that guy argued with me about the cumin note in FdO, and there are plenty of people online who’ll tell you there’s no cumin. And I’m not going to argue about whether SL lists cumin in the notes (I don’t care), but I’m not the only one who smells it! So does TS in The Guide… I found it shocking at first. The scents are definitely the place for creative emotional outlet.

  9. Cedre was always been on my list of like enough to buy a decant, but not quite enough to buy a bottle. Last year I started to experiment more with tuberose scents, and wouldn’t ya know, I seem to have run out of Cedre.

    Oh and after yesterday’s post, I headed out to a consignment shop in Old Town and found a great suit, needing few if any alterations. Modern clean lines, zippered jacket, etc. Cries out to be worn with pearl earrings and Serge.

    • I don’t even think of Cedre as a legit tuberose scent, since I don’t much care for tuberose in the first place (on me anyway). And good for you with the consignment shop find.

    • Yay, Melissa! Consignment shops are the best! They allow me to buy things that I could never in a million years afford when they first come out. It’s such a great way to obtain exceptional quality and top design at an affordable price <:-p

  10. After reading the posts from yesterday and today, I am now feeling a bit more OK with my personal “uniform”. I am getting tired of it, however, so will pursue a change. Carter’s advice is right up my alley as I don’t like to shop. If I can find 1 or 2 great pieces at a time to work with what I have, BINGO! Makes the prospect of shopping not seem so horrible because given a choice between cutting the grass or heading to the store, where’s that lawnmower?

    • Well it sounds like you have a basic uniform that works, and adding a couple of key pieces to it per Carter would be minimal pain, right? And then you can come mow our grass! :d

  11. I hope you’ll seriously consider doing the post on fragrances you love that no one else does. Then we could all come out of the closet. Mine much-maligned favorite is Love in White which the Guide describes this way:

    “If this were a shampoo offered with your first shower after sleeping rough for two months in Nouakchott, you’d opt to keep the lice.”

    • Hahaha I remember that description! That was one of my favorites, probably one of the cruelest in the book. They must have gotten bored coming up with new lines like that.

      • Impossible to read that and forget it. It leaped right off the page and seared my eyeballs b-(

  12. Can I just gush out some Posse love ? This blog is populated with amazing people, wish one day we could all be in one non-virtual space. Yesterday’s post is just an example of the wit and talent. And one of the best friends I have met in recent years has been a fellow Posse reader. There is so much inspiring and life-changing stuff going on under the perfume guise. Thank you all. ^:)^

    Last w-e I gave to my (much youger) cousin a Joseph biker leather jacket from the 80s. It had sat in my wardrobe for all these years waiting to be-revamped and now it seemed the season had finally arrived. But on me it looked exactly that, a re-vamped old jacked from my youth, too big and baggy, however my artist cousin made it fabulously trendy and cool. Lesson learned.

    • Hey, thanks! I wasn’t sure (I never am) whether folks would tune in yesterday… lots of fun discussion and feedback. And I too have met and made friends with some great people through perfume. I love being able to come on here and kick things around like this.

      The jacket sounds like a perfect example. It just needed to find the right person.

    • Wavelengths! Silvia, I have a fantastic Royal Canadian Air Force jacket…have been hanging on to it for its coolness, though I have not worn it in a few years, knowing that it no longer looks right on me. Had just decided *this* weekend that I needed to keep my eyes peeled for the right next owner. Thanks for giving me further courage. :)>-

  13. I love Cedre, and I am not a tuberose fan. But mixture of woods and spices and honey make it very wearable for me. In fact it is the only SL that I have 2 bottles of.

  14. I’ve got a sample of Cedre…maybe I’ll be brave and wear it tomorrow. Like you, I’m not a tuberose fan, generally speaking. It’s too heady and veers off into migraine territory for me. I find it stunning and ironic to realize that I wore Fracas for several years in college and post-college. How in the world did I stand myself?!?! @-)

    • Lord, I don’t know how you stood yourself either. 😉 Although to be fair some women seem to soak it up. I like to smell it in the air but not on me.

      Did you try the Cedre?

      • Hey March!
        I wore Cedre all day today and really enjoyed it. I didn’t smell any tuberose in it at all. It must be blended in very well indeed! I did catch some refreshing menthol-like fumes, but they weren’t too astringent. I think the other ingredients sweetened and softened it up on my skin. It was very wearable. Maybe I’ll have to get a decant when my sample runs out.
        Dina
        (~~)

  15. The minute I stopped looking for the tuberose in Cedre I started loving it. It was one of the first Lutens I tried, and I remember clearly how fearfully I dabbed the smallest amount possible on the back of my hand, and how overwhelmed I was by it. But then, post-Carnal Flower love affair, I tried again last winter. I still have a little trouble with the opening, but that dry down!

    Also, totally love the way you are matching your perfume and clothes. My favorite time to wear Joy or Mitsouko is with jeans, white shirt, red lips, messy updo… And I too find, as Carter said a-way up there, that it is very much about how the clothes/perfume make me feel. Sometimes I worry about my eye, and my tendency towards the delusional, but the fact is that, with the exception of photographs, attitude goes a long, long, way. Sometimes too far, as when the sales ladies refuse to believe I am as short–or as wide–as I really am…

    Anyway, many 😡 😡 😡 😡 to you for bringing the topic into the forum. I’ve long suspected that perfume love is part of a larger project of dressing up, and just becoming, for many of us…

    • Carnal Flower is my only tuberose, and you’re right, if you don’t look for tuberose, Cedre may work.

      Wasn’t this a fun post! Of course you contributed immensely… :d I do think Joy and Mitsouko (also things like vintage Femme in my case) worn with jeans is really fun, I agree with you.

      I love all the comments on here about becoming, and clothing as costume.

  16. You’re right about me enjoying this post, considering I mentioned Cedre in that “Fall Favorites” thread. I do lub it, and I have to confess that it’s one of three Lutens partial, used bottles I bought on the bay — unsniffed — at the beginning of my perfume edumacation a couple years ago (the others were Chene & Santal Blanc, so I don’t think I did too badly).

    The stuff is just so sweetly creamy that I can’t stand it; serious comfort to sniff it on your sweater and really snuggle down with it on a chilly day. But you’re also right that it (and I’d say Chene as well) is supremely elegant and makes one feel, as they say, like a million bucks. Nice to see you pay tribute to this beauty.

    • Wow, good buys on eBay! And it is a sweet, creamy comfort scent for sure. I love the smell it leaves on my clothing, I’d say that about Santal Blanc and the others also.

Comments are closed.