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


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

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

2 thoughts on “New Perfume Review Serge Lutens L’Orpheline- Lost in the Light

  1. Haha re. "without going all Sigmund Freud"… 😉 :p   I've responded to you in depth regarding L'Orpheline at your comment on my site, and discussed several of the points that you raise here about an artist's development in style, so I'll just say now that I'd love to know what you thought of Vierge de Fer. I thought that was the worst of the three, and the one that didn't deserve to be a bell jar, let alone carry the Lutens name. Not that Laine de Verre was enjoyable in any way, but it was slightly less traumatic than Vierge de Fer. 

    • Kafka,

      Vierge de Fer is just like Laine de Verre and L’Orpheline to me. I actively dislike all of them. This was why as I struggled through my two days of wearing L’Orpheline I finally realized Uncle Serge and I are no longer sharing the same perfume wavelength. It was sort of liberating to allow myself to quit rationalizing and just say to myself “L’Orpheline is not for me.” Now that I think I am letting him go watch L’Incendiare pull me right back in.


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