Serge Whore

by Nava

My very first post here at the Posse was titled “My Serge Drawer”, and last year I wrote about how I’ve started dabbing on my Serges with abandon. The other day, Meggie, one of my dearest buds from my Makeup Alley days, tagged me in a note on Facebook asking for my top 10 autumn fragrances. Here they are:

1. Donna Karan Cashmere Mist

2. Serge Lutens Five O’ Clock au Gingembre

3. Serge Lutens Rahat Loukhoum

4. Serge Lutens Bois et Fruits

5. Serge Lutens Encens et Lavande

6. Serge Lutens Fumerie Turque

7. Balenciaga Paris

8. Si Lolita Lolita Lempicka

9. Donna Karan Chaos

10. Serge Lutens Rousse

I know we’re going to be doing our collective Top 10 shortly, but what got me was that I did this off the top of my head; no contemplation, no rooting around in the collection. The fact that 6 of the 10 are Serge scents doesn’t surprise me. Given the fact that Serge makes up the majority of my current collection, I guess I’ve moved permanently into the “whore” category.

We periodically ask the question, “Which fragrance house is your favourite?” I think my answer is obvious; I also love Parfumerie Generale. But, in terms of actual bottles, Serge wins out. One day, I hope to remedy that.

What do my choices say about me? We discourse endlessly about how complicated a Serge composition is, and how difficult most of them are to wear. You don’t “spritz” a Serge. You have to think hard about wearing one. We’ve joked about clearing out entire gyms with blasts of Ambre Sultan, fumigating family functions by wafting Chergui, and spoken of schwetty balls and Muscs Koublai Khan more times than I care to mention. But, we’re like heroin addicts – we keep going back for more. Is that a testament to the Master or are we all just olfactory lunatics? There will be the comments of, “There’s not one Serge I can wear”, and “I hate them all”. But me? Why do I love so many of them? I even supersized the image of Fourreau Noir because I love that damn bottle so much!

Of all the new scents I smell – and there are Serges I have yet to smell, I can never seem to abandon the ones I mentioned above. Some of them haven’t been around all that long; hell, 10 years ago, I didn’t even know they existed. I try not to put much stock into material possessions these days, and lately, there is much I’ve been able to make do without. But those 6 scents and the rest of my Serges make me happy. That’s just the way it is.

Disclosure: All the scents listed above are part of my personal collection.

72 Comments

  1. I have little Tupperware containers of so many samples I’ve collected over the last three years from JAR to Tauer, and I started with Serge and really, I’m sure I’ll end with Serge as well. I can’t afford bottles of all of his wonderful fragrances and nor would I want to be able to necessarily but for that jolt of “wow, this is what niche fragrance is all about” feeling, there is, for me, no other house that encompasses the art quite like the house of Lutens. I guess, though I own not one full bottle, I’m a Serge whore, too :)

    • Oh yes! I asked myself the question, after smelling my first few Serges…do I just get everything of SL and cut to the chase???
      But some of the new things, only in the ‘exports’ do not float my boat…
      I always however will put SL in with Guerlain…the ‘if you had to choose one house’ category…. er. two houses…

      • I don’t adore each and every SL scent, but that’s OK with me. The thing is, for years everyone’s been trying to pin it down to just one “house” and I guess I was finally ready to admit he’s it for me.

    • Welcome to Hookerville, Anthony. I never said full bottles were a necessary entre into this world. Enjoy your samples. 😡

  2. I have never tried any of Serge Lutens’ fragrances you have piqued my interest.

  3. I admit. I’m a Serge whore too.
    Most bottles from a particular line I own are Serge (and if I’m lucky, I’ll be acquiring 2 more soon).
    And I agree with you, next in line, PG. That’s why I’m at the moment postponing my next visit to a store which carries them because I just know I won’t leave without at least 2 more bottles (and I reaaaally can’t afford them at the moment).

  4. My breakthrough to niche was with Serge’s assistance. I have always loved perfume, but sometime a number of years ago, I was BG in the perfume section. I asked for an “oriental”-I knew that much about my tastes. The lovely SA went through a number of trials, then said “try this”. It was in fact not an oriental, but rather Datura Noir.

    I fell way in love, and continued to explore SLs. I now adore, AS, Filles, Bois et Vanille, Borneo (Hi, March!), FdB and many others. Dat Noir is still a favorite-I wore it so often for several years that my son called it “Eau de Maman” ; )

    Today’s scent will be AS, in honor of this lovely post.

    • That’s a lovely story, Louise. And I’m wearing Borneo in honour of today’s post. 🙂

  5. …what about the infamous…Iris SM, Tub Criminjy, Laaaaaaaaaaaah M, the rock hard lethal Bois Violette, the go-to-water El Attarine, the stonking weeping Sarrasins, the hopelessly smitten Datura Noir and the junkie
    F d Oranger
    and don’t get me started on Meil de Bois and Un Lys when all the flying insects clustered around

    I sometimes wonder if in the end my desert island house would be Lutens…what would I do without Mitsouko no, too terrible to contemplate!!

    • I happen to love Sarassins and Miel de Bois. I will show them some love in the future…

  6. I’ll be sniffing for you this evening at the Embassy, March.

    My Serges are A la Nuit, Tubey Crim, and Ambre Sultan, which is one of my all-time Top 3. Oh, and I have a decant of Fd’O. And Chene. And Sarrasins, which I think I need a FB of. Does this make me a ho, too?

  7. Nave, I love the way you write!!

    Serge was my nice and it was amazing way to start. My favorites are Tubereuse Criminelle (maybe my # 1 of all time), Mandarine Mandarin, Rat Lok, Un Lys, Miel de Bois, Fumerie T., Boreno, ISM…and then are some any I have yet to try. Your post is killing that I don’t live in Paris and can’t just run down to the local Serge and sniff the exclusives. I am dying to try Sarrasins, Boxueuse…

    I probably have more Serges than any other house (certainly of a niche house), although I have to check becasue I am big Guerlain Girl, and have quite a few Chanels too…..

      • Wow I really need to proof read if I am going to write at 7:30 in the am.

        I meant to type was…

        “Serge was my first niche experience and it was an amazing way to start.”

        “and there are so many I have yet to try”

        Sorry…

        • I’ve only been to Paris once, and can’t wait for the opportunity to get back there. I would love to try Boxeuses after all the wonderful things I’ve read about it. Bois et Fruits and Feminite du Bois have always been favourites of mine.

  8. Only one Serge managed to worm its way onto my FB shelf and it’s quickly becoming my go to scent for this autumn – Bois de Violette. Gorgeous stuff! I like many SLs but never felt like I had to own a whole bottle until I smelled that one.

  9. I have never smelled any of the Serge scents. My selections here are limited. So what US stores carry his stuff? Are there any in Atlanta? (That’s my closest city.) Maybe I should order samples from someplace? I’m fairly new to all this.

    • Pam, Luckyscent and the Perfumed Court are good places to purchase samples of Luten’s wondrous line. I wouldn’t advise the samples that you can get in creams, to me they smell very differently from the actual juice.

      • What Kathy said.

        However the samples you get in solid form are actually wax, but TPC has all the actual scents.

        • Kathy and Nava,
          I will have to try Luckyscent or PC. The descriptions of SL perfumes are calling me!

    • Blue Mercury used to have a limited selection of them, but I haven’t been there in at least a year. It’s worth checking out. I can’t remember which mall in Atlanta it’s in – Perimeter?

      • Hi Pam and Kathy, I’m in Atlanta, too, and I feel your pain. No Serges to be had here right now as far as I know. Blue Mercury in Perimeter Mall did have some, but unfortunately, they went out of business a year or two ago. Wah!!! :((
        We poor niche-deprived Atlantans (and any other perfumistas in the area) need a field trip to Chicago, New York, or somewhere equally fabulous, and experiment. Or at the very least, get together and share our scents over lunch / brunch.

        Nava, thanks for the great post. Now that it’s really feeling fall-ish down South here, I’m thinking about breaking out my Serge loves: Chergui, Daim Blond and Fumerie Turque. Will be putting up my Fleurs de Citronnier for the season here shortly.

        • Thanks Ann! I wore Rahat a lot this past summer, which is odd for me. So, no need to bring that one out. Enjoy the fall weather. 🙂

        • Thanks for the Atlanta info. I’m in Birmingham and was just hoping..

  10. Rising to put on Un Bois Vanille. It’s a breezy, cool, finally Fall day, and I am so happy that you made me think of Serge this morning.

    I don’t own a single FB, because i can’t pick. I tried to make a prioritized list, and ended up with several sub-categories of #1 (1a, 1b, etc.) I thought I could probably pick 6, but only if all variations of “Bois” count as one pick.

  11. Okay, my above comment is MUCH less creepy if you know I thought March wrote today’s post. Oy…

    • I forgot to post my name up top. Rectified that a little while ago. No worries. 🙂

  12. Nava –

    I think you know I still struggle with Uncle Serge – it’s not that they’re ‘bad’ or anything, far from it. I just have yet to be truly moved, the way I am with other fragrances. Bois de Violette may change that – I have a little vial that I keep coming back to…:-?

    Lydia @ Barneys (late of L’Artisan and a rep who really LOVES perfume) is excited to see how Bas des Soie sits on my wrist – I’m looking forward to trying it next week and will report back.

    My WhoreHouse is probably Guerlain, when all is said and done. Or (early) Dior.

    It’s a crisp Autumn day here, too, – in honor of your post I shall try BdV again!

    xoxo >-)

  13. If I had to be limited to perfume purchases from just one house forever, Serge would be it. Even if an SL “isn’t me”, I still love to sniff it, keep a decant, try it again from time to time. He’s really truly disappointed me with anything. My FBs are Chergui (big love), Rousse (daily go-to), Bas de Soie (evening wear), and FdB (winter), and I’m looking to buy bottles of Serge Noire and Incense et Lavande (seriously soothing). If I won the lottery, I’d add Tubereuse Criminelle and maybe 10 others to the list. Heck, I even like Chypre Rouge! But I do draw the line at Miel de Bois….

    • I meant to say “He’s really truly NEVER disappointed me with anything.” I’m going to fire my editor!

        • Hey, I’m a former newspaper editor who’s out of a job and looking — hire me — hire me!! :)>-

            • Thanks, Nava. I feel certain something good will come my way soon. And with my son’s near-drowning this summer and all his hospital time, being unemployed has been an unexpected blessing (until all the bills come in, of course!).

                • Thank you so much. We do feel extremely blessed. Now that he’s back in school, I’m hoping to find a job soon so I can afford not only the hospital bills, but also my wicked little fragrance habit :d

  14. I admit it, I’m a full-on SL junkie. Rousse was my gateway into niche, and I’ve been collecting FBs and lovely bell jars ever since. Not every one is a hit for me, but I love his reeeeally quirky scents along with the giant spice huffers. They wear so well on me that it would be criminal not to buy them. I get the feeling Bas de Soie is not gonna be my thang, but Boxeuses is probably gonna be dead on.

    • I am craving Boxeuses in the worst way, because all the woody/plummy scents are amazing on me. And leather? Forget it. I’m a goner. Maybe in the meantime I’ll experiment with Cuir de Russie and Bois et Fruits to see what I come up with. Sounds kinda scary, but who knows?

      Rousse is such a wonderful woody cinnamon scent. So comforting on cold days.

      • Nava, you need to try Liz’s Cordovan Rose – even if you hate rose, which I don’t think you do – do you? It has this plummy-rose-leather-thing that is just wonderful, especially in the crisper weather.

        xo >-)

  15. Oh, God, do I love that bottle! Sadly, I am not a SL lover. His work reminds me of some pieces of art in museums: I can really appreciate and admire them as great art, but I never would want them in my house. I don’t want perfume to make me think; I want perfume to make me feel. I just don’t feel an affective response to the SL’s. But I am glad to hear that so many of you love them so much.

    • Yes, I’ve tried many and think of them as “Beethovens.” In our house, a Beethoven is anything that you can admire for its exceptional qualities, but not love.

      • That is a great analogy. I feel that way about a lot of the Guerlains, but I just don’t love them on me.

  16. I think of Uncle Serge as the Coty or Caron of our time. I was going to say he was our Guerlain, but, actually, Denyse has pointed out that some of the classic Guerlains are Cotys taken to the next level, whereas SL has produced masterful new perfume accords. (Although I have to note that PG Coze predates the (to me) similar Borneo.) So if you’re a ho, Nava, you’re high class, for sure! :-)

    I don’t have any SL FBs, just large decants and samples, since the ones I love most, La Myrrhe and Bois de Violette are (were?) non export, and I chose Coze over Borneo.

    I’d have to go for Guerlain (vintage) or Kilian for my desert island perfume house, but I haven’t tried most of the PGs yet. Seriously leaning toward Kilian as the Guerlain of our time. That isn’t really true – Patricia de Nicolai IS the Guerlain of our time – but several Ks are my favorite non-vintage perfumes at the moment.

    • Having drained 2 bottles of Coze, all I’m left with is Borneo. :d Coze is a sweeter scent; Borneo is dry and herbaceous, but I love it, too!

      • Really, it’s only a matter of time before I cave and get at least a large decant of Borneo, too. And Coromandel, which is to me the same basic chocolate/cannabis/patchouli idea.

  17. Nava – I hate to interrupt all this Serge lovin’ but Cashmere Mist IS at the top of your fall list…& I happen to have an unloved, barely spritzer FB of CM that I could send you for free. Lemmeknow if you’re interested. Scentred at gmail dot com

    • Thanks for the kind offer, but I’m working my way through one of those ginormous LE bottles of CM that I got at Nordies during their anniversary festivities. I’ve barely made a dent so far. 🙂

      • Oh man – I would love that!! If you’re serious I’d love to take that off your hands!

        • Sure Jen. Email me at: scentred at gmail dot com and we’ll work something out :-)

  18. I madly love that Fourreau Noir bottle. Perhaps I could get a factice filled with water the same color as the perfume– I could leave it my bathroom counter and gaze at it. . .

    • Oh, if only I could be satisfied with a factice. That’s my downfall – always wanting the “real thing”. :d

  19. Is that a testament to the Master or are we all just olfactory lunatics?

    Both?

    I started to list my Serge loves in my head but the number started to frighten me..

  20. I think so, Tom!

    Come join me in Hookerville. Maybe one day we could storm the Salons together. 🙂

  21. I admire and love some Lutens, but I don’t own any FB, just several samples. I don’t rule out the possibility of buying a FB someday and it would probably be Five o’clock au gingembre, Nuit de Cellophane, Fleur de Citronnier or Féminité du Bois.
    I don’t like many others, and there are a few that I haven’t tried yet.
    I was looking forward to trying Fille en Aiguilles but it wasn’t what I expected.

  22. I’ve tried a handful of Serges, and there’s another handful of samples in my to-test box… so far, there have been a few I thought were nice but unexciting (Nuit de Cellophane, ISM, Bois de Violette, Sa Majeste La Rose, Un Lys, Clair du Musc), a few scrubbers (Gris Clair, Borneo and Louve, gah killmenow), and a few I’d call interesting but unwearable for me (Chergui, Rose de Nuit, Tube Criminy).

    There’s just one Serge I love: La Myrrhe. Which I lovelovelovelovelove. Love x infinity.

    (Did I mention that I kind of like it?)

  23. Hello my lovely.

    Serge = 20% of my now limited collection. Nuff said.

  24. Hi, my name is ExtremeKF, and I am a Serge-aholic. It’s so great to see that so many others share my addiction. There. I said it. Addiction.

    I only just began exploring the world of niche fragrance in March 2010. My second set of samples from TPC included Feminite du Bois, Bois de Violette, and Chergui. One sniff of each, and I was lost. LOST.

    Since March, I’ve sampled over 100 niche fragrances (25 of them are Serge), and, for me, NOTHING compares to Serge. Not even close. Sure, I love a fragrance here and there from other houses (CdG Avignon, TFPB Amber Absolute, ELdO Divin’ Enfant), but I don’t gravitate toward any other house and its entire catalog they way I do to Serge. Even the few Serges I can’t stand (Cedre, El Attarine, Serge Noire), I enjoyed trying. Serge Lutens is without a doubt my desert island house.

    My favorites? That’s kind of an impossible question. I love so many: Bois de Violette, Chergui, Feminite du Bois, Bois Oriental, Un Bois Vanille, Fumerie Turque, Sarrasins, Muscs Koublai Khan, Daim Blond, Fleurs de Citronnier, A La Nuit, Fleurs d’Oranger, Clair de Musc, Arabie, Mandarine Mandarin … And I am waiting with baited breath for my sample of Boxeuses to arrive. I am hopeless. Just ask my husband. :d

    • Oh, and I already have 2 FBs: Chergui and Un Bois Vanille.

  25. serge lutens was my first niche love…fumerie,daim,(both back up bottle worth)and amber sultan..i also love gris clair, cherugui, borneo, bothe fleurs…i have chene, and even though i don’t love it, i will not part with it..chose the original f de b over bois de violette, and am crazy for miel de bois and sa majeste la rose…when i first smellled it i felt like i had cut a fresh gren smeeling rose from our garden when i was a kid..sublime..lately have fallen in love with previously “really not like” chypre rouge.serge is definately the most me line…the most breathtakingly artistic range by far..i love guerlain as well, but find that there is so much more diverse creativity in serge and amore aesthetically “perfect” range in guerlain! but hey…i thnk i am just plane addicted to perfume!

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