Patty sent me a surprise taste of the new Serge Lutens Sarrasins, which is why I do things like offer her my first-born child (please, take her! She´s yours! I´ll throw in some earplugs and a year´s supply of CVS makeup!) The only description I´ve seen of Sarrasins is a floral with dominant notes of jasmine and ink.
I couldn´t tell Tunisian jasmine from jasmine growing in an alley in Sarasota, Florida. But I like jasmine as well as the next perfume freak, and I like mine dirty. My jasmine ideal is probably Montale Jasmin Full and the underrated Armani Prive. To me the entire point of wearing a jasmine-heavy scent is that naughty funk in the base. Serge Lutens Sarrasins is surprisingly skank-free on my skin. It´s heady – what you´d expect from a white floral from Serge – with a curious synthetic note (I´m guessing the ink?) along with a whiff of Play-Doh, humorous rather than offputting. There are other flowers at work with a green edge – maybe a dab of muguet and/or gardenia. It is fairly linear on me, with a musky base emerging over several hours, but nothing that would scare the horses. The drydown is mildly nutty.
The next question is: how does Serge Lutens Sarrasins compare to Lutens’ A La Nuit? I am probably the only fragrance blogger (and possibly the only jasmine fan) who doesn’t like A La Nuit, and a test-drive of the two side by side reconfirmed that. A La Nuit opens with a cloying cherry-jam-powder note, and when it fades it’s replaced by the faint smell of vomit. That’s the way it smells to me, but maybe it smells like heaven to/on you. (Indoles are often described as a whiff of garbage, or feces, but this is the only scent in which I get vomit.) So — I prefer Serge Lutens Sarrasins to A La Nuit, but that’s not saying a ton. Serge Lutens Sarrasins is considerably less sweet and more musky than A La Nuit, and less sultry than Datura Noir. It smells very expensive, as it should, being from Serge. It also reminds me of Ellie D., and like Ellie, it leaves me a bit cold, while I appreciate the artistry afoot here. I´ll be curious to hear from you lovers of big white florals when it hits the streets. My guess is you´ll be loving it.
This post has been hanging out in my drafts for a few days while I tried to sort out the missing piece that was bothering me. It came to me a couple of nights ago in the wee hours: I met the Serge Lutens line right around Miel de Bois. I remember that first day I smelled some Lutens, at Art with Flowers with Bill (do you remember your first time with Serge?) Regular readers know I’m not the queen of Lutens personally — some of them (e.g., Borneo) I loathe. But Lutens makes extraordinary scents; there is nothing else like them. It took me a day to recover my equilibrium after my introduction to the line, and not just because I’d put on MdB. I am not overstating it when I say the Lutens line was a revelation in terms of what fragrance could be; they are often like a scented journey, and I am happy to be on it.
So it caused me visceral pain to write the words “it reminds me of…” when writing about Serge Lutens Sarrasins. Is the world of perfume so big (or so small) now that Lutens can’t slay me anymore with some freakishly lovely originality, something that makes me want to weep at its beauty and smack my forehead in astonishment? Chypre Rouge did it for me, although very few of you; the others recently, like Rousse, not so much. I put the last two drops of Serge Lutens Sarrasins on my skin yesterday and meditated awhile on the empty vial. Maybe I’ll get a different impression when I’ve got a bottle to spray from, but, lovely though it was, the magic was gone. I’m hoping it’ll be back soon; my hopes for Louve are not high.
image: Process of Understanding, by Cameron Boyle, www.artrocksgallery.com; quill pen ink, clay, black charcoal, coffee, various teas.