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.