Serge Lutens: Am I Missing Something?

One of the best things about having my own blog is the e-mails I receive. Many of them are nice tales of how a particular perfume has enhanced some part of their life. Many others are questions about whether I think this fragrance is good for a man, or a woman. Will it be good in the summer/winter/fall/spring? In the nearly two years since I started Colognoisseur I haven’t had a piece provoke a number of e-mails claiming I am missing something until I did my abbreviated dismissive reviews of the new Serge Lutens Section D’Or releases. I received almost a dozen e-mails all with a variation on the theme that I am missing the grand theme M. Lutens is attempting with not only Section D’Or but the other recent releases which I’ve also been unhappy with. The one-on-one discussions were good enough that I thought I’d address that core issue.

It was sometime around 2000 when I was gifted a sample of Ambre Sultan. There are these wonderful moments when I discover a new perfume brand that I like. The complexity on display was unlike anything else I had smelled. I would work through obtaining the rest of the collection over the next few years. Once bell jars had been brought back from Paris and I had them all I realized what an artistically diverse collection they were. To this day I return to certain touchstones within those early fragrances as baselines to compare new releases against. Only the very best are able to stand up to that comparison favorably. So at this point I would say I was in sync with the artistic vision of M. Lutens.

i dont get it

At least for my tastes the first sign things were changing in M. Lutens vision came with the release of L’Eau Serge Lutens in 2010. This wasn’t the first release I didn’t care for, Miel de Bois gets that honor. It was that L’Eau was so light and inconsequential. When I read this was coming I thought to myself, “Now we will see what crisp clean aquatic can be at its best.” It didn’t hold my interest but there is no brand which does that from A to Z. I forgot about L’Eau Serge Lutens because another string of excellent releases followed. Which reached a personal crescendo with the over-the-top rose of La Fille de Berlin. At this point in time I would say I was ready to build a shrine to M. Lutens, so I would say I still enjoyed his vision.

The next two releases of La Vierge de Fer and L’Orpheline I did not get. The felt like extensions of the themes explored in the L’Eaux series. Except now they went across the line to nearly unwearable. When wearing them prior to reviewing them I had to use a cosmetic wipe to remove them when I got home because they had become annoying to my senses. In my reviews I mentioned that M. Lutens move to the sunny side of the street had left me in the shadows wondering what happened. I freely admit the vision behind all of these was not shared by me.

Which brings us to the Section D’Or. These should have been exactly what I was looking for but for the first time when it came to Serge Lutens all six felt derivative and in the case of a couple poorly designed. One of my correspondents pointed out to me my love of great raw materials and felt these all displayed that in simple constructs. I retried them on the strip and one of things which put me off is in each case there is either a note which provides active dissonance or the raw material is not that special.

The most active give-and-take I had with my correspondents was over the concept that I was pre-disposed to not liking them because I want M. Lutens to stay mired in his past and to not evolve. That is the one which provoked some soul searching and caused me to write all of this out. As I mentioned above I have not enjoyed the new direction but Section D’Or should have been something I could find one to make my own. After all of this I have decided a couple of things. First, for now I won’t review a new Serge Lutens release unless I absolutely like it. I am not at my happiest when writing negative thoughts about different perfume brands I admire. One of the reasons Colognoisseur is mostly about the things I like is because those are the things which make me happiest when sitting at the key board. If you know there is a new Serge Lutens release and there is nothing to be found here on it you can safely assume I feel similarly as I have about the recent releases. Second, I think I do want to live in the past when it comes to Serge Lutens. There are so many of those perfumes which resonate with me. I clearly don’t share the current vision so there is no need for me to continue to hammer that point. There are still things worth writing about in those previous releases and now might be the time to start thinking about those perspectives.

Finally, I want to thank my correspondents who provoked some thought without rancor. I had a number of well-thought out points which were explained with passion but not unproductive emotion. I am keeping your names anonymous for the time being because I suspect if you wanted this to take place in public you would have used the comments.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Reviews Serge Lutens Section D’Or- When the Music Stops

1

As a music fan there is a moment when my favorite acts eventually stop being relevant. There is that moment when you listen to the new music and realize it is not as good as what came before. Eventually the musician realizes it and goes on tour playing the hits. At that point I usually content myself with the music which captivated me in the beginning. There hasn’t been a perfume equivalent until I received samples of the five new perfumes which make up the Serge Lutens Section D’Or.

Serge Lutens was the brand of niche perfumery which represented everything I loved about that phrase. The creative direction of M. Lutens. His partnership with perfumer Christopher Sheldrake is one of the greatest in the niche sector. There are so many amazing perfumes which have come from them it is all the more disappointing to see where the brand is now. I received samples of the five new Section D’Or fragrances; Cannibale, Cracheuse de Flammes, L’Haleine des Deux, Renard Constrictor, and Sidi Bel-Abbes. For the first time I just wasn’t moved to wear any of them. I kept hoping that over time I would decide one was worth spending a couple days with but after many weeks I think the answer is no. I usually review things after wearing them for two days so these impressions are not like my normal review. I have smelled them extensively on strips and they each have claimed a small part of my forearm for a few hours. Any of them might get better if I was to bite the bullet and wear one. The truth is there isn’t one of these I want to do that with.

Christopher-Sheldrake

Christopher Sheldrake

Cannibale is perhaps the one with the most promise as it has its moments. Most of those are around a heart of myrrh, cistus, and rose. This leads to a base of incense but also intrusive woodsmoke. There is a fleeting reminder of the trademark Lutens stewed fruit but even that can’t make this more interesting.

When I reviewed the first Section D’Or L’Incendiaire I said this was perfume where it had been done before and done better by another brand. Cracheuses de Flammes is an amber rose which has been done by many before and I would say most of them are better. This is simple Turkish rose and warm amber. There is nothing special about this perfume.

L’Haleine des Dieux was so unbearable I couldn’t even bear to revisit it on the strip and I used an alcohol wipe to remove it minutes after I put a bit on my skin. Pine sap and sage provide an unpleasantly acerbic opening which falls into an unbalanced jasmine and balsam heart. Too much styrax and vanilla makes this oh for three. If I was handed this blind there is no way I would have guessed this was a Serge Lutens scent.

Renard Constrictor was the only one I actually considered wearing. The pine and the styrax are back but this time surrounding a pretty gardenia on a bed of amber and musk. As with the other Section D’Or releases there is not one iota of a new idea here just something seen many times in other brands.

Sidi Bel-Abbes should have been the one which lifted my mood. With notes of cumin, tobacco, leather, honey as the focal points this should have soared. It never leaves the ground as the cumin acts like a battering ram bowling over everything in its way not allowing for even a moment of beauty. The name comes from a French Foreign Legion outpost. This made me feel like I was in battle with it all the time.

When I can’t even bring myself to do a proper review of five new Serge Lutens releases it is sad confirmation that the music has died in the Palais Royale.

I can’t remember if I cried/ when I read about Section D’Or/ Something touched me deep inside/ The day the perfume died/ So Bye Bye Mister Serge Lutens/ drove my Fiat to the Palais but the Palais was closed/ and Chris and Serge were drinking absinthe and rye/ singing this will be the day that I die.

Adieu! It was fun while it lasted.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Barney’s New York.

Mark Behnke

Get Off My Lawn!

2

Change; for such a small word it has such a large effect. For most, we dislike change we want the things we like to stay the same. Our view of perfume brands is no different. There are times when I wonder if I am falling into the trap of resisting all change just because I don’t want to give it a chance. Am I the old man wearing vintage perfume standing on the porch telling these modern compositions to get off my lawn? Of course, I’d like to envision myself as the antithesis of that always looking for new experiences the past be damned. It has been an interesting week to consider whether that is true or not.

Earlier this week in his regular column for Style.com Arabia called “Message in a Bottle” perfume writer and reviewer Luca Turin wrote of Guerlain in his review of the new Aqua Allegoria Teazzura, “These days, Guerlain fragrances are more like seventeenth century concertos of average caliber, commissioned by the dozen for delivery a month hence. Much like baroque concertos, they are intended to perpetuate a house style, to serve as background music to frivolous conversation as opposed to devoted silence, to develop foot-tapping tunes in an unambitious way, and generally to be pleasantly unobtrusive.” I don’t on the whole disagree with that statement but are we wanting something that no longer exists? The “house style” is still recognizable we just liked the previous version. Do I want the grand perfume houses to stay true to the past? Or do I want innovation? Which by necessity means hewing to modern trends and customers?

keep-calm-and-get-off-my-lawn

The second event this week was my review of the new Serge Lutens Le Religieuse. I am on record for not appreciating the new aesthetic Serge Lutens has imposed on the newest releases. I have publicly wished for a return to the past. I woke up this morning to a passionately worded e-mail from a reader who actively disliked the past releases I adore and conversely owns all of the new ones. She thinks Le Religieuse is as good as it gets when it comes to Serge Lutens. After an exchange of a few e-mails I started to wonder if I am so reluctant to let go of the past I can’t embrace this new direction. There were many who told me if I gave L’Orpheline more of a chance I would come to see its charms. I did wear it some more but I found nothing to enjoy. I said in that review that I just think that for this current phase of Serge Lutens perfumes I am not their audience.

I admire both perfumers a lot. I think Thierry Wasser has done a creditable job steering Guerlain through the last few years. I think Christopher Sheldrake is the perfect facilitator of M. Lutens’ visions. I don’t think it is lack of skill or desire. I don’t think these are perfumes without an audience. I think I am not that audience and that brings me back to my metaphorical porch waving my cane. All artistic endeavors should not seek to please everyone they should try to please a specific audience. There are plenty of other perfumes out there which do thrill me and they come from venerable brands as well as precocious independents. I still believe there is a future Guerlain and Serge Lutens which will challenge me and thrill me. At that point I’ll put down my cane and go join the kids on my lawn.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Serge Lutens Le Religieuse- Freezer Burn

There are times when a perfume creative team gets too focused on a theme and in their endless variations on it keep missing the mark by a larger margin each successive attempt. I am thinking a lot about this as I have been wearing the latest from Serge Lutens, Le Reilgieuse.

Since 2010 M. Lutens in his role as creative director, along with perfumer Christopher Sheldrake, have been working on the theme of ice. Like a perfumer’s version of “Frozen” everything M. Lutens touches these days he seemingly wants to freeze. I have found little joy in these creations. Le Religieuse translates to “nun” and the press picture seems to confirm that with an abstract nun’s habit unfurling like wings behind the bottle. The note list is much abbreviated calling out only four ingredients; jasmine, civet, musk, incense. Now there is no official list but that list of ingredients sounded wonderful except I was wary of the ice that was also mentioned. Imagine my surprise when I received my sample and I spent the better part of three days trying to find any of those four notes. The ice and snow that I found and what was buried underneath seemingly suffered from the cold.

serge-lutens

Serge Lutens

There is definitely a floral in the opening moments and there is definitely a mix of synthetics encasing that floral in a block of ice. The only thing I am sure of is it doesn’t smell like jasmine to me. There are no indoles it has a high pitched fresh floral quality but it never seems like anything natural. The ice gets in the way so I feel like I am getting fragments of something which should come together. It is almost like a jigsaw puzzle of different florals. If the plan was to have them come together in the heart over incense that would have been great except there is no incense. There is something almost like elemi but again it is hazed over with frost which obscures what might be here. When I saw the note list and it said civet I was really looking forward to that. When M. Sheldrake unleashes civet in one of M. Lutens concepts something special happens. Except I don’t detect any civet. White musks? Oh yes a lot of them; all imparting that chill M. Lutens so desires.

Le Religieuse has 14-16 hour longevity and above average sillage.

La Religieuse reminded me of when I clean out my freezer and way in the back I find a frost encrusted foil wrapped object. There is a label on the outside which identifies what is inside but the prolonged exposure to the cold has had a deleterious effect on the contents; making them unrecognizable. That is exactly how I feel about Le Religieuse it seems like M. Lutens left it out in the cold too long. M. Lutens in the press release ends the text with the following, “I have told the youth within me that the white which clouded my vision was “snow”.” Right there is the truth about the recent output by Serge Lutens it is clouded by snow and it doesn’t look like there is a forecast for a thaw any time soon.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample I purchased.

Mark Behnke

That Unattainable Object of Desire Shiseido Nombre Noir- Exquisite Construction

Every ten years the British film magazine Sight & Sound asks a panel of critics to vote on the best movie ever made. For many years the film anointed as best of them all has been Orson Welles’ “Citizen Kane”. Although in the most recent 2012 poll Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” nudged it down to number two on the list. The thing about lists like this is it reflects an extra level of scrutiny over whether the movie is interesting to watch. For my taste Vertigo is a much better film because I enjoy watching it more. Citizen Kane never emotionally engaged me. I admired all of the film techniques and the look of the film Mr. Welles pulled off. It was noteworthy because many of the camera techniques and framing were being done for the first time. In the end I have probably watched Citizen Kane four or five times. I’ve watched Vertigo dozens of times. When it comes to perfume I believe our equivalent to Citizen Kane is Shiseido Nombre Noir.

nombrenoir

Shiseido Nombre Noir was released in 1982 composed by Shiseido in-house perfumer Jean-Yves Leroy under the nascent creative direction of Serge Lutens. Messrs. Leroy and Lutens decided to go very big with their composition and at the core was a precious osmanthus and an overdose of damascones. Damascones are one of the key components of rose oil. In rose oil they are the molecules which impart that jammy aspect of the best rose oils. On their own as a raw material they explode with kinetic vibrancy and it took an equally unique osmanthus to hold this together. It causes the early part of Nombre Noir to smell like the most expensive lipstick accord ever as another equally inspired choice of orris sets up this rich floral opening. It eventually softens into a really silky honey-based accord by the end.

Nombre Noir was discontinued supposedly due to the cost of producing the bottle which was a strikingly different design for the time period. The truth was more likely the choice of using the damascones in overdose. These molecules are very light sensitive and decompose rapidly upon exposure to light. In reality, the true smell of Nombre Noir is probably only experienced from a sealed bottle for the first few times you wear it. That amount of fragility of the damascones truly make Nombre Noir an unattainable object because even if you find a bottle it is almost surely decomposed. Luca Turin declared Nombre Noir one of the five greatest perfumes ever in his book “The Secret of Scent”. Mr. Turin is the perfume equivalent of the Sight & Sound poll. Bottles turned up carrying hefty price tags and I cringed at what these buyers were getting.

nombre-noir-2

Nombre Noir is just like Citizen Kane for me as it never engages me emotionally. I am not sure something as full of stark planes of accords all intersecting in an abstract kind of snowflake is meant to be emotional. The engineering of balancing the notes and finding the right balance is admirable. There is beauty here but it is unapproachable for me. Ten years later M. Lutens would oversee a masterpiece for Shiseido which is both technically flawless and emotionally engaging in Feminite du Bois.

Disclosure: This review was based on multiple sample of Nombre Noir I purchased or had gifted to me.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Serge Lutens L’Incendiaire- Uncle Serge Does Oud

Is a movement over when the last stalwarts capitulate and join the bandwagon? I found myself asking this a lot as I wore the new release from Serge Lutens, L’Incendiaire. Uncle Serge has steadfastly avoided jumping on the oud craze that almost every other niche line has happily embraced. I was eagerly looking to Serge Lutens return to the darker style of fragrance which has seemingly been replaced with perfumes pitched to a different market, which does not include me. L'Incendiare was described by the press materials as containing, “rare resins, saps, ambers, and tarmac”. I was excited to try something composed by perfumer Christopher Sheldrake which captured that snippet.

I have written that I thought that many of the recent releases by Serge Lutens have felt like they have played it safe looking to appeal to one specific segment of the perfume wearing audience. Those have mostly been lighter bodied compositions and I have finally come to grips with the concept that I am not part of that audience. I am the audience that “rare resins, saps, ambers, and tarmac” sounds divine to. I had expectations of something a bit avant-garde from Messrs. Lutens and Sheldrake. I was surprised upon sniffing it and wearing it for a few days that L’Incendiaire is still playing it safe but at least this time I enjoyed the effort.

L’Incendiaire is a pretty simple perfume to describe in a few words; it is a smoky oud. Now it is a smoky oud as envisioned by M. Sheldrake which makes it good. It just feels like a throwback to some of the early oud perfumes from other luxury brands where the oud was there front and center and a few dancing partners were added. These perfumes were mostly ways of showing oud to a western audience. L’Incendiaire acts like it is introducing oud to an audience that is most likely overwhelmed by oud at this point.

Christopher-Sheldrake

Christopher Sheldrake

L’Incendiaire starts off with a mix of wood smoke along with a hint of sharp acridness. The opening seemed to promise what the snippet had implied. Before L’Incendiaire can get too far afield it is firmly pulled back to the middle of the road by the presence of the oud. Myrrh is present also in what has become one of oud’s favorite perfume partners. Here is where I would have hoped for something different to skew this fairly common combination. M. Sheldrake lets the myrrh and oud smolder for hours before fading away.

L’Incendiaire has 10-12 hour longevity and very modest sillage. It is a pure parfum strength which accounts for the longevity and the sillage.

Am I happy that I got a new darker Serge Lutens? Yes I am. Am I happy it is an oud fragrance? Yes I am. Do I wish for a little more risk taking? Yes I do.

The bottom line is L’Incendiaire is an oud perfume that fully lives up to the Serge Lutens aesthetic. It just seems that other perfume houses got to this one first and did it as well or better. I am happy to have a small decant of it but this is not one that will join the other bell jars in my collection. If you like smoky oud fragrances I think you will like L’Incendiaire.

Disclosure: This review was based on a decant I purchased.

Mark Behnke

The Gold Standard: Jasmine- Serge Lutens Sarrasins

1

This is going to be a version of The Gold Standard where some are going to disagree vehemently. The reason for that is there really are two versions of jasmine in perfumery. Which one you like best is all about your tolerance for the more vivid notes of unadulterated jasmine. Jasmine when it is extracted also carries a significant amount of a chemical class called indoles. Indoles are a very pungent chemical and some people, like me, love them; others run away. This is why you see jasmine in both forms in perfumes. There is the straight indolic jasmine and there are the cleaned-up greatly reduced in indoles jasmine. One is a child of the night and the other is a freshly scrubbed ingénue. My choice for The Gold Standard in jasmine is a perfume which not only proudly displays the indoles at the core of jasmine but doubles down with even more skank in the base. That perfume is Serge Lutens Sarrasins.

Christopher-Sheldrake

Christopher Sheldrake

Sarrasins came out at the very end of 2007 and perfumer Christopher Sheldrake turns in one of his most simple compositions, ever, for Serge Lutens. There are five listed notes but each of them when used in their most natural form provide nuance to burn. It is instructional that if your raw materials are suitably complex you don’t need to gild the lily, or the jasmine, in this case.

Bergamot is listed as a note and it is sort of like a matador note as it is the only representative of the light in the entire development. As soon as you notice it is gone under one of the most indolic jasmines I’ve encountered in a perfume. It was exactly what I wanted as the sweet floral character is countered with a raw dirty accord. This jasmine has dirty smudges on her cheeks and her debutante days are well behind her and she is all the more interesting for it. Most perfumers would just let the indoles naturally carry the day but M. Sheldrake decides to add a slug of castoreum. It almost feels like the jasmine is growing fur as if it is a carnivorous flower in a Hogwarts greenhouse. A wonderfully redolent patchouli swaggers in and labdanum applies the last bit of intensity.

Sarrasins has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

serge sarrasins

It is almost ridiculous to say they don’t make them like they used to when I am referring to perfume made seven years ago. Sarrasins feels like a perfume which is out of step with current aesthetics and would’ve been at home on a counter containing the original Patou Joy and Chanel No. 5. For all of that it feels like a perfume unstuck from time, it also feels timeless in its uncompromising adherence to the style of Serge Lutens circa 2007. There is no other fragrance which exemplifies indolic jasmine better than Sarrasins.

Disclosure: This review is based on a bottle I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Serge Lutens L’Orpheline- Lost in the Light

2

When a perfume brand evolves sometimes it evolves with the perfumista who loves it and sometimes it grows away. Artists have to be encouraged to follow their muse and that doesn’t always mean that old fans will remain fans and new fans won’t try the new direction. I am one of those who is having a hard time sticking with the new direction Serge Lutens has taken over the last three years. Ever since the advent of the L’Eau series M. Lutens has decided he wants to walk in the light. My problem is I don’t want to walk in his version of the light. The latest release L’Orpheline finally made me see the light.

serge lutens

Serge Lutens

M. Lutens has said in a few published interviews that many of his fragrances are meant to pay tribute to his mother who abandoned him during World War II. Without going all Sigmund Freud a perfume which translates as The Orphan is probably dealing with some of these issues. An artist’s life experiences often make for compelling art but L’Orpheline is just painful to me. When I received my sample of the spring release Laine de Verre I couldn’t bring myself to wear it. It was full of jagged aldehydes, an overdose of cashmeran, all over synthetic musks. The worst Serge Lutens fragrance ever. In L’Orpheline, perfumer Christopher Sheldrake, recycles the aldehydes and cashmeran and this time adds in incense in place of the musk. Which is an improvement because I at least was able to wear L’Orpheline for a couple of days and I couldn’t wear Laine de Verre at all.

Christopher-Sheldrake

Christopher Sheldrake

Those aldehydes are the beginning of L’Orpheline and for me it is a collection of all of the most unpleasant aldehydes. It is overtly metallic, unnecessarily sharp, and irritating. It is an example of all of the worst qualities aldehydes bring to a fragrance. At least in L’Orpheline the cashmeran is kept a little more under control but just as in Laine de Verre I am not sure what M. Sheldrake is going for in this aldehyde-cashmeran accord but I just don’t like where it takes me. It lingers around for way too long like this before I get some relief from incense and patchouli in the base; which actually serve to remind me of other perfumes from the brand I like better.

L’Orpheline has 8-10 hour longevity and above average sillage.

Over the last three years only La Fille de Berlin has been the kind of fragrance I want and love about Serge Lutens. Everything else has been an attempt to take things in a different direction. If you have enjoyed the L’Eaus then I think L’Orpheline will be another which you will enjoy as it is that audience for whom it is made for. Alas I am not that audience.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample I purchased.

Mark Behnke

Serge Lutens 101- Five To Get You Started

8

I’ve been doing this a long time and as new brands come, and go, I tend to be there at the beginning which allows me to grow along with the perfume house. I often wonder how somebody new to the world of niche perfumery deals with some of the larger lines that they hear so much about. When you are faced with trying to figure out a place to start you generally have to rely on your best guess at what will work for you. With this series I am going to take some of the larger perfume houses and suggest five introductory fragrances as a place to start your journey. First to get this treatment is Serge Lutens.

Desktop8

Serge Lutens (l.) and Christopher Sheldrake (r.)

Serge Lutens was established in 1992 and for over twenty years Creative Director Serge Lutens and perfumer Christopher Sheldrake have been creating some of the best perfumes in the niche perfume space. With over 40 perfumes released under the Serge Lutens label it is a formidable task to figure out where to start. With Serge Lutens the best place to start is truly at the beginning.

Feminite du Bois was originally created under the Shiseido label but now is under the Serge Lutens imprint. I remember smelling Feminite du Bois for the first time and being absolutely fascinated that a fragrance with Feminite in the name had such a pronounced cedar heart. The real genius here is the pairing of violet with that cedar note. The core accord is bracketed by orange and a trio of spicy notes to create a vibrancy one rarely finds and it is a hallmark of Serge Lutens fragrances that will appear time and again. Feminite du Bois underwent a re-formulation when Serge Lutens acquired it from Shiseido but this is one of those which manage to keep the spirit of the original alive.   

In 2000 with the release of Ambre Sultan this style would become more refined with another inspired pairing of herbal notes with a warm amber. Bay leaves, coriander, oregano, and angelica root provide a feisty contrast to the languorous warmth of amber made even warmer with the additional resins of benzoin, styrax and a full suite of balsamic notes. This is often the fragrance which turns many into amber fanatics.

sa majeste la rose bottle

Also in 2000 Sa Majeste La Rose shows M. Sheldrake’s adeptness with a simple rose soliflore. By using an opulent Moroccan Rose as his nucleus he then sends into orbit around it lychee, clove, and honey to impart a mobility to the rose which elevates it to something much more than just a soliflore. Sa Majeste La Rose is one of the most versatile entries in the entire Serge Lutens line perfect for a wide variety of uses.

One of the hallmarks of the Serge Lutens style is a “stewed fruit” accord which pops up frequently. In 2004’s Daim Blond it shows up swathed in cardamom, orris, and suede leather. You will swear there are dried apricots in the note list, they aren’t listed but they are there, and this is a good place to see if you like “stewed fruit” in your fragrance.

Five O’clock au Gingembre is my last choice as it shows the skill of M. Sheldrake with a gourmand in the Serge Lutens style. An exquisite tea accord leads to a mix of gingerbread, ginger, and cinnamon which have an unusual warmth that will make you think a tray of gingerbread cookies are cooling somewhere nearby. It slowly settles into a honeyed cacao and vanilla finish that manages to keep from turning into treacle and always stays terrific.

Serge Lutens is one of the perfume houses that really produces quality fragrances year in and year out and if you’ve been needing a place to dive in the five above make for a good place to introduce yourself to Uncle Serge.

Disclosure: This review is based on bottles of these fragrances which I purchased.

Mark Behnke