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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Perfume Review: Serge Lutens Muscs Koublai Khan, Gris Clair, Borneo 1834 and Daim Blond

Review by Tom

In this review I am going to add my two cents in on what Colombina has already written about a few of the SL scents. Of these, I hope to own all.

Muscs Kublai Khan

Muscs Kublai Khan is the most musky of musk. I had to write that at first I just didn't get it. I though perhaps that my chemistry neuters musk. I didn't get the heady, crazy fecal note that drives everybody wild in this scent. So much so, that I thought that the sample of Padparadscha that the very kind eBay seller sent me was mis-labeled. The initial blast of cedar (hamster cage) was enough to fool my untrained nose.

Now that I have had test-driven it (and am going though some serious passive aggressive you-forgot-my-birthday related stuff to get a bell jar that better be coming or I will be in a serious pout) I have to say that I bow before it: it is the ne-plus-ultra, the God-Emperor of musk. For me, this is the scent of having been loved: the scent of clean bodies having been in, (ahem) compromising positions. This is what I would imagine the singer of "Down in the Depths on the 90th Floor" would spritz before retiring, sadly to her bed. This scent could keep the most jaded from jumping.

Gris Clair

I don't know if Gris Clair was an overt attempt at a summer scent, or just a happy accident. While it's not summery in the way that some scents are by being light, the lavender note in this is so chilly that's it's wonderfully refreshing on a hot day. Although the fragrance does, as Colombina points out, dry down to wonderfully smoky woods and amber, on me the cold lavender is never far away: the least bit of movement brings the topnote out again, and welcome it is.

I actually think that there is something more than lavender in there, I almost get a hint of menthol. Not enough to be smelled precisely, but enough to impart a chill. I usually rely on lavender to put me to sleep; I spritz my pillow with a bottle of Annick Goutal lavender that I got at closeout, and it works on me better than Ambien. The lavender in Gris Clair is as bracing as cold water slapped on your face. In hot, especially humid weather, I finds it's chill especially welcome

Borneo 1834

This perfume, brought by a dear friend from the Salon in Paris as a present (alas, not to me) was the real start of my love for Serge Lutens. Patchouli previously had been as popular with me as say, garlic toast to Count Dracula or dresses with backs and fronts to Paris Hilton. From the first whiff I had of it, I knew I was doomed- I had to own it. I don't get the camphor in the opening that Colombina does, at least not as strongly, I do get a deep, rich almost burnt cocao and the smell of patchouli leaves, leaves, not oil. There is almost nothing oily about this scent, none of the ghastly 70's swinger patchouli, none of the cloying sweetness that can come from chocolate notes. This smells like something that has been long-forgotten, bone dry but still powerful, like something found in a temple. (oh, golly, someone get the dart gun and fill it with anti-hyperbole serum!)

Daim Blond

Luten's ode to white Suede is another one of his that while suited for cold weather (where the Suede notes really sing) works equally well in hot. On me, the first blast of Apricot Kernel and Iris hit unusally hard, a blast of sweetness that initially put me off the scent. It fades almost immediately to the suede note, letting little whiffs of the other notes one me chiefly iris, pop through until it finally get to the wonderfully musky, powdery finish. Like Gris Clair, the top note has a way of popping up, chiefly if I do anything that would make me perspire even the tiniest bit. Luckily, I have grown to appreciate and even love the almost syrupy hit, since the musk and the hawthorne at that point cut it considerably.

MKK and Borneo are only available at the Paris salon. Gris Clair and Daim Blond are available in the states at Barney and Aedes. Note that Daim Blond is $120 rather than the usual $92

10 Comments:

Blogger elle said...

Wonderful reviews! LOL at the passive aggressive tactics to get that bell jar. :-) MKK really is the most gloriously primal scent I know. I hope you get it as well as full bottles of the other three.

8:01 AM EDT  
Blogger lilyofbp said...

Great reviews! I agree with you that Daim Blond and (especially) Gris Clair are great for hot weather--and I adore MKK! Unfortunately, I wasn't fond of Borneo when I smelled it (I think it was the chocolate; I usually can't do that), but you are inspiring me to give it another chance!

8:38 AM EDT  
Anonymous dinazad said...

Sighhh.... and Borneo smells of "griottes", kirsch-saturated cherries dipped in dark chocolate, on me...... I promised myself a bottle (to be shared with a friend) for Christmas....

9:00 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

All my favorites, apart from Borneo, which I don't dislike at all, but...it doesn't rock my world, sadly. I want dinazad's skin chemistry! Griottes!

9:11 AM EDT  
Anonymous Ina said...

Great reviews, Tom! Daim Blond is absolute perfection. MKK played various tricks on me but I love it, for the most part. Borneo is one of a kind, and Gris Clair, unfortunately, has no chilly effect. Instead, I get overheated lightbulbs.

10:07 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Elle, thanks! In paradise all our dressing rooms look like a weel-stocked Sephora...

Lily, some people just don't care for Borneo. I'm glad the other ones work on you. 3 out of 4 ain't bad.

Dinazad- "griottes"? Sounds delish! I am as jealous as Columbina. I love the way it smells, but cherries would add to it.

Ina- overheated lightbulbs? As much as that made me laugh, that's too bad

11:42 AM EDT  
Blogger The Scented Salamander said...

I enjoyed your reviews very much.

1:47 PM EDT  
Blogger Erin said...

Liked your reveiws, Tom - and thanks for pointing out the Daim Blond price hike, never noticed that before!

2:47 PM EDT  
Blogger chaya ruchama said...

Enjoyed your reviews, Tom!
Sadly, I don't have access to MKK or Borneo...sigh...

I'm afraid that Gris Clair hasn't appealed as yet.I think that's because I fell in love with Incense et Lavande years ago, and the sandalwood in Gris Clair smells Australian to my nose [translation: strident, metallic edgy, not soft and curvy like Mysore].

On Daim Blond we agree- the drydown is spectacular- and because it's labelled as EDP, it costs more [along with Un Cedre] than the rest of the exports.

I wonder what kind of damage all of us sybarites could do, if assembled under one roof.
What a pleasant thought!

Many thanks-

6:44 PM EDT  
Anonymous dinazad said...

Warning! About to wax poetic on the subject of Gris Clair! It's like a boulder on the bank of a river in the last very hot days of summer: very hot, but with a cold, stony center. With silvery lavender bushes which have shed their strong-smelling flowers and smell dry and hay-like in the sun.... VERY high on my "must-have" list!
For anybody in Switzerland or travelling here: Marionnaud now carries Serge Lutens, which takes many of the scents (not Daim Blond, unfortunately) out of the three digit price range....

4:34 AM EDT  

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