I had originally titled this essay “Serge Revisited”. I had no idea Patty was going to blog on the new L´eau scent. So, since I´ve got nothin´ else right now, we´ve gone from a revisit, to all Serge, two days running.
Just for the record (and with much respect for Serge and Patty), I’m not totally convinced “smelling like a sweaty Mongolian is hot”.
Almost 2 years ago, I debuted my first post here on the Posse, and I´ve been thinking about how my life has changed during that time. Some things are better, some things are not, but one thing remains a constant: my love of fragrances, particularly those by Serge Lutens. Just the mere mention of his name elicits discussion, sparks controversy, and above all else, reminds us why we are perfumistas. To love Serge´s fragrances is akin to loving something not everyone is meant to understand. The only thing I can think to compare them to right now are those custom-built motorcycles from West Coast or Orange County Choppers. They´re not for everyone, but if you´re a hard-core fan, you know what I´m talking about. Motorcycles scare the crap out of me, and so do some of Serge´s compositions, but the ones I love, I will love forever.
Lately, I´ve been dipping into my Serges every day. If you go back and read my post from 2 years ago, you´ll see that I was hoarding them, in the spirit of how my grandmother hoarded fine linens. I´ve since gotten over that impulse, not because I had a recent run-in with an interstate ice floe, but because I’ve finally realized, what´s the point of hoarding so many bottles of wonderful fragrance? I´d be pissed-off big time if 20 years go by before I finally allow myself to enjoy them, only to discover they´ve turned into salad dressing. So, I cracked open a few and started wearing them. Encens et Lavande was my first choice, as I was in need of some major comfort at the time. I´ve since moved on (and had my car fixed) to Rahat Loukhoum, Rousse, Louve, Bois et Fruits, Un Bois Vanille and Fumerie Turque. There´s a theme here, with the exception of Encens et Lavande and Bois et Fruits: all the ones I´ve been wearing are somewhat sweet. Not sickeningly so, but they all have it in common. I´ve left the big guns in the closet, since I would run the risk of asphyxiating not only myself but the cat, and my aunt´s steady stream of income tax clients (her office is in her basement, and it is tax season). Honestly, Tubereuse Criminelle, Borneo, Muscs Koublai Khan and the rest of that ilk would be wasted on me right now. Just like one of those brawny custom-built chopper style motorcycles; I like and admire the craftsmanship, but I would be “Uneasy Rider” if presented with the opportunity to take one for a spin. It would literally not be my speed. But, les douces parfums de Serge Lutens are really doing it for me right now. What would be the motorcycle equivalent? Probably one of those hokey sidecar thingies, and that´s where you´d find me riding.
By the way, I haven´t forgotten about Five O´ Clock au Gingembre, which I´ve raved about ad nauseam.
It feels good to finally write about actually enjoying wearing these scents, as opposed to trying to unravel a peccadillo I´ve had for so long. It gives me some insight into myself by bringing my evolving love of scent front and centre. It´s another form of catharsis, I´ve realized, to take stock of how we evolve. The other day, a friend of my aunt´s dropped by for a visit and she was wearing L´Eau d´ Issey Miyaki. I adored this scent years ago, and even hooked a male friend of mine on the men´s version. I haven´t worn it in ages, simply because it´s no longer “me”. But it smells fabulous on this woman, and I told her so. My aunt even chimed in with a backhanded, “And I like it because it doesn´t make me sneeze.” The scent totally suits her, and I happen to know it´s the only scent she wears year round. Sometimes, I wish I could be like that; it would certainly simplify the agonizing process of, “What do I feel like wearing today?” I could just reach for the one bottle, spritz and be done.
Instead, I stand in my underwear and ponder; it takes me a good 5 minutes every day to decide what fragrance to put on. Mood, wardrobe, weather conditions, work, who I´m going to be with and where I´m going to be are all in play when I choose what to wear. These days, the clothes are easy, and that´s my saving grace. If I spent that much time deciding what garments to wear in addition to what scent to put on, I´d be a first class Agoraphobic. Just think of me as the “madwoman in the basement”.
To prove that I´m only marginally insane, here´s why I´m wearing only the Serges I´ve mentioned:
Rahat Loukhoum: My good friend K. loves Turkish Delight; she eats it all the time. I can´t stand it. But, I love the way it smells. It was also my very first Serge purchase on the auction site.
Louve: Rahat Loukhoum plus powder. Generally, I run screaming from powder, but here, it works. I think the stronger almond note tones it down, and the little bit of rose keeps it from feeling too, ahem, mature.
Rousse: I adore cinnamon, but not the kind that smells like Red Hots. This is woody cinnamon, and it is almost as comforting to me as lavender and incense. Plus, it´s not foody cinnamon, which would probably leave me smelling like one of those ginormous Cinnabon pastries. Not that there´s anything wrong with that.
Bois et Fruits: I´ve used up all the Shiseido Feminite du Bois I had in my possession, and I like this better than Serge´s re-release of Feminite du Bois under his own label. It also reminds me of the day I bought it at the Salons: It was a rainy, cold November day. This is the perfect scent for a rainy/snowy, cold day, whenever, wherever.
Un Bois Vanille: Anita/Musette very kindly sent me a sample of L´Artisan´s Havana Vanille a few weeks ago. I fell in love with it instantly, and I told her, no one does vanilla like L´Artisan. Un Bois Vanille is one of a very few exceptions.
Fumerie Turque: This made me fall in love with tobacco. A few years ago when I was in San Francisco, I took a day trip to Berkeley and marvelled at all the head shops with hookahs in their windows. I briefly thought about buying one to place in the middle of my coffee table, telling all who asked that it was my new vacuum. I don´t know anyone who smokes a pipe, but there isn´t a pipe tobacco that could possibly smell better than Fumerie Turque.
Well, there you have it. We´ll tackle the big guns some other time; maybe for my 50th birthday. That gives them 7 more years to turn into salad dressing. Vinaigrette aux Muscs Koublai Khan, anyone?
Disclosure: All the Serge Lutens fragrances mentioned in this essay are from my personal collection.