Serge Lutens De Profundis

I came home one day last week to see that my Scent Twin had sent a little packet of deliciousness to me, because she’s just that kind of sweet person. One of the things in it was a decant of Serge Lutens De Profundis, the heartbreakingly lovely 2011 exclusive.

Much was made that this was going to be the swan song for the line which thankfully turned out not to be the case. But if it had been, this would have been a perfect exit. The chilly scent of chrysanthemums dominate the scent, as if they had just come from the florists icebox. There are disturbingly sharp tinges of green to it, and an earthiness that the goth in me (if there were any) would think of graves.

But I don’t think of graves. Like Gaia Serge Lutens De Profundis kind of makes me think of Fall. Back east where I grew up that is (fall in Los Angeles is a different animal I’d like to see someone capture..). The part of fall where the hardier flowers are still in bloom and the trees haven’t quite started to turn, but there’s a chill in the shadows that lets you know that winter is on it’s way. It’s a time of the year that touches something primordial in us, that which makes birds start to fly south, dogs to grow new fur and humans to bring the sweaters out of mothballs.

Oh, I’m being funny, but I remember that feeling well. I wouldn’t trade my Beverly Hills weather, which seems permanently set within 5 degrees of “pleasant” for anything, thanks, but there’s something to be said for that feeling. The slight chill down your back, that touch of goose on your grave that says another year has passed. About a hundred years ago, I wrote of Serge Noire in a review on PST that is was: listening to the radio at night at the shore: something from a ballroom in New York and the signal gains and loses strength as the clouds pass over the brightly starred sky. Or perhaps from the dance under the big tent as you steal away to the beach for a walk along the shore. You can see the Bioluminescence in the surf, almost as bright as the stars in the sky, stars that you never see in the city The air is warm with the smell of woods and the remnants of bonfires, but still has a trace of a chill.. reminding you that summer is nearly over and another year has gone by. There you stroll, your shoes in one hand, perhaps a drink in the other, your toes in the cool coarse sand, the warm hint of patch seems like a reminder of reckless, feckless youth.

This is a more feminine version of that feeling, wandering the paths you’ve wandered as a girl. Stopping at a place on the path and remembering a game you played as a child or a stolen kiss as a teen. Still feeling that teenager inside you but noting that your hands have marked the passing of time. Stopping for a moment and forgetting to think about the project at work you’re overseeing, picking up the dry-cleaning or whether that “Check Engine” light on the dash means a loose gas cap or a new car. Stopping short for one moment and just contemplating the beauty of the world and the fact that you have a place in it.

Notes from the surrender to chance, from where you can buy samples of Serge Lutens De Profundis: chrysanthemum, with additional notes of gladiolus, dahlia, chamomile, peony, woods, hay, violets, incense and candied fruit. I add that it has pretty decent lasting power, but lays very, very close to the skin.

€125 at the Palais Royale, and they don’t ship outside the EU. My sample was given to me by a friend.

Image: Miquelanxo Prado, De Profundis, Norma, 2008

  • Ann says:

    Tom, I really enjoy this scent as well. It’s funny, though, on some days, it reminds me of fall, just as you mentioned; on others it has an earthy, just-planted spring vibe to me. I like its dual personalities. Thanks …

  • Sam says:

    Oh, as everyone else has said, what a gorgeous review. You’ve captured that exquisite feeling of nostalgic yearning, haunting and touching. I loved this: “Still feeling that teenager inside you but noting that your hands have marked the passing of time.” Perfection. I haven’t tried De Profundis but now I want to.

  • kathleen says:

    I want this now

  • Francesca B. says:

    Beautiful review, Tom. I was surprised I liked De Profundis as much as I do–I think it may be because that chrysanthemum note is just so unusual. It’s traditional (at least in my tradition) to put chrysanthemums on a Wiccan altar at Samhain (aka Halloween), the night when our beloved dead come to visit us. So for me, chrysanthemums do have a death/end of the year connotation for me, but in a comforting way. Light as the fragrance is, I think I’ll save it for that time of year.

  • sherobin says:

    Beautiful review! I half want and half fear to seek this one out for a sniff, now. The feelings you describe are a little too close for me right now – I tend to get this way at midsummer! But then, isn’t this part of the reason we wear perfume?

  • Musette says:


    This is a lovely, heartbreaking review! I love the excerpt from your Serge Noire post. And…as I am tipping into That Certain Age, I notice those things even more. The end of summer has a melancholy beauty.

    xoxoxo :Devil:

  • Sara says:

    What a lovely review. I too found this one utterly unique and beautiful. I don’t think I’d wear it often enough to justify a full bell, but have been considering a decant.

  • Austenfan says:

    I tried this one recently in Paris. I liked it well enough but wasn’t smitten. It was quite hot though and maybe heat doesn’t do it justice. I got La Myrrhe instead. That one was instant love.