Serge Lutens Sarrasins (or An Indolic Mother’s Day)

Many people feel a compulsion to slow down and look as they drive by a car accident or fire. I do something similar with fragrance. I am addicted to indoles. Wow… I feel better now. I have a strange relationship with musky and indolic scents. I actually like the smell of skunk (have half of you stopped reading now?) and I really enjoy a mild taint from Brettanomyces in wine. Basically, I like funk.

In preparation for Mother’s Day this year I sent my mom a slew of samples trying to get an idea of something she would appreciate. From past experience forcing her to sniff and sample hundreds of fragrances, I know she generally likes rose, tuberose, and Orientals. The three scents she wears most often are Carnal Flower, Chinatown, and Tresor. The bulk of what I sent her were Serge Lutens and Amouage with a few others mixed in. She doesn’t own anything by either, and I decided it is my job to fix it.

Over the weeks of her sampling things I would try to get her impression on various scents. She liked many, but nothing had really taken hold. I got a call from her one afternoon. “Oh, Derek, I LOVE this. I’ve been smelling myself all day! I just can’t get enough. Where can I get it. I want a bottle now.” After about 5 minutes of her waxing poetic about this mystery scent, I finally got her to name it. Serge Lutens Sarrasins. “It was so, so funky at the beginning. Almost like pure funkiness, I loved that part. Now it’s l this dark, sexy leather and jasmine. It’s so elegant. I feel like this is what Sharon Stone would have worn in Basic Instinct.” I was elated she had taken such a strong opinion of one of the scents, and particularly one I thought was so beautiful.

So now I know where I got my love of funk from. And got a beautiful bottle of Serge Lutens Sarrasins for Mother’s Day. She needs to be thankful I have friend who is living in Paris right now. And I guess I should be thankful she gifted me with her unique nose.

  • Tarleisio says:

    Wow – what a story! Alas, we don’t have skunks here in my part of the world – although I can just close my eyes and remember the smell…and I rather like it, too! What I don’t like at all – the word ‘obsessed’ comes to mind! – is Sarrasins – arguably one of the very best jasmine perfumes ever created, IMHO. Thick, indolic, distinctive and even a tad dangerous, when I finally met it in a sample sent by a friend, I was swiped sideways in all the best ways! Now, to get my hands on a decant, and next…a bell jar…:D

  • I am so happy every time someone discovers this gem. I feel like it is a brother form another mother that I discovered when I first smelled it. Th definition of funkininess can be quite diverse from one wearer to the other. I cannot say I smell anything funky in it. It is pure bliss, pure breath of jasmines but I do think it also smells like the fur of my cat: not dirty, not clean but definitely alive, animalic, warm, fuzzy, furry…. please stop me, i can go like this for hours.

    And yes, probably this story proves that good taste in perfumes runs in the genes.

  • Jen says:

    Yet another skunk lover. Is that really Indoles or musk? Either way, I like it. 🙂

  • Patty White says:

    I *love* Sarrasins and indoles, and if my sons were to get me a vat of this so i could swim in it, i would be delirious1 I love that your mom found it through your help! That’s a very cool story.

  • Ann says:

    Hi Derek, what a great post, and what a great son you are for getting that for your mom — wow!! I remember trying Sarrasins and loving it but darned if I can find my sample now.

  • rosarita says:

    I love this post and all the comments. I totally agree, you are a wonderfully thoughtful son!

    My mom is in her mid 80s and I give her perfume samples all the time. We have fun trying different things; her taste is for big crunchy chypres but she’s getting more discerning all the time. “Masculine” scents resonate with both of us.

    I relish a whiff of skunk, even the scent of manure being spread on farm fields south of town in the spring smells good to me. So yes, go find more skanky scents to write about, you do it so well 🙂

    • Derek says:

      Awww thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I must admit my next review is on the opposite end of the scale–clean (blasphemy, I know!) but I’ll get back to the skank soon enough. 🙂

  • Oh, you are such a great son! To take such time to find all those samples of things you thought your mom would like…you are a jewel! So glad she loved Sarrasins!

    I gave my mother (who likes perfume but is not perfume crazy like I know we are a rare breed) Amoureuse a year or so ago, and was nervous as to whether or not she liked it. When we were last at her house, I noticed it was near her mirror in the hall where she checks her makeup before heading out the door, so hopefully she likes it enough to spritz it on before she heads out. She still loves her No. 5, but I was testing to see if she might like something different. I don’t think she’d have the patience to go through a lot of samples, though I think that’s a great idea, so I just bought her the bottle. “Ya nabber know”, esp. w/ BWF’s, but luckily I think she likes it!

    • Derek says:

      Yeah, most people don’t get the joy we do out of trying a bin of samples. 🙂 Glad you made a choice your mom like. I was too scared to do that. My mom is really picky. But I would have done well after all. I would have chosen Sarrasins or Rahat Loukoum, and those ended up being her 2 favorites. 😀

  • Eldarwen22 says:

    This is the time of year that I see a lot of dead skunks at the side of the road and in my area they really stink in a bad way. I don’t mind indoles in perfume if they are used well and don’t overpower everything else from start to finish. I love Sarrasins because the indole is there but it doesn’t overpower. I think I was initally attracted to Sarrasins because of the color of the perfume itself. I’m envious of you because you have a friend in Paris to send the Paris exlusives to you and I don’t. If only Serge Lutens would make this one of his exports. Until then or I visit Paris, I’ll have to make due with decants.

    • Derek says:

      Perhai should move where you live. 😀 I many love it! Hahaha I agree, I think the indoles are well-integrated in Sarrasins. It’s really beautiful and I think even people who don’t love indoles can enjoy it. But the rest of us really soak up the first 15 minutes.

  • Derek,
    I like indoles also. Skunk can be interesting but not up too close and personal.
    I have had the experience of having a dog corner one in my basement. That is most definitely overexposure, and not something one forgets easily. I too would like to see more info on funky and skanky scents.

    • Derek says:

      Okay… That might cure me of my skunk love. And it seems like its my duty to search out beautiful, skanky scents for all of us!

  • nozknoz says:

    Derek, this is a beautiful post for Mother’s Day, and you are the BEST, which is not surprising given your amazing mother!

    Tell Patty we need a Funk tag!

    • Derek says:

      Aww. Thanks! Everyone has been so nice. Hopefully everyone is enjoying reading my posts as much as I am enjoying writing them. It’s really cathartic tabs fulfilling to write down the experience of trying a fragrance. And yes, I guess if I’m writing more a funk tag will be necessary. 🙂

  • Poodle says:

    I’ve never smelled Sarrasins but I will confess that I too am a skunk lover. Although if I smell one at night before I let the dogs out I do get a bit concerned. There’s a fence but you never know. I like funk but that would be a bit too much funk in my house.

    • Derek says:

      Agreed there. And chance are the dog isn’t an indole-addict also…

    • Poodle, You are so right to bring the dogs in! Our dogs have gotten sprayed twice, and it is incredible how far away and how long lasting that smell is, not to mention all the work to wash two big dogs several times and completely strip down and scrub the garage where they sleep, buy all new bedding, etc.!

      The smell permeated all three floors of the house for over a week. I burned candles and just had to comfort myself with the fact that after all, this was just “extra indolic super exotic tuberose”!

      • Derek says:

        I’m glad this has never happened to me. Not too many skunks in the middle of the city. But when I visit my hometown a whiff is inevitable.

  • FragrantWitch says:

    You are a good son! I imagine your Mom is pretty pleased that you inherited her unique nose!
    My mom (and grandmother) used to love the smell of skunks- she would put down the car windows and breathe deep. You are definitely not alone!